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Use the noose says Ramesh
Former attorney general Ramesh Maharaj, who implemented the death penalty in 1999 which saw the hanging of nine people soon after, is calling for it to be implemented again. The death penalty went on hold during the last administration and attempts to implement it again by this Government were blocked by the PNM Opposition in Parliament in March last year. Last Wednesday, Works Minister Jack Warner, upset over the crime situation, called for the passing of legislation to bring back hanging and declared his intention to advocate for it.
Maharaj, asked for a response, began with the reminder that the death penalty was not abolished and that it is still law. “That hasn’t changed. The problem is it is not being implemented. If it is the law it should be implemented.” “There is a lot of work to be done by the Government to implement it.” The former AG said one of the aspects of the law that needs fixing was that the judgement of the court had to be carried out within a certain time. Former death row convicts who were not executed after several years used this as a ground for the revoking of the sentence saying the long wait caused undue trauma.
Maharaj noted, however, that there was a problem in T&T with catching the criminals to begin with. “In any case, they have to catch the criminals and there is a problem in T&T with detection of crime.” A National Security source who preferred to comment under the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the “jury is still out” as to whether hanging is a deterrent to crime or not but agreed it should be enforced if it’s the law. He said the death penalty was implemented to act as a deterrent to others but said it was very difficult to ascertain whether it actually is. “Flaws in the criminal justice system, like procrastination, make criminals feel they can beat the hangman’s noose,” he said.
He noted that countries like Singapore and some American States use the death penalty as a deterrent to crime. “As soon as you land in Singapore’s airport, you are bombarded with notices warning that illegal smuggling of drugs is punishable by death. “In US States, you get the death penalty for crimes like kidnapping and terrorism.” Former minister in the ministry of national security in the last administration, Donna Cox, said the PNM also want hanging to resume because of the crime situation. “We support hanging because it is the law of the land. The law says everyone convicted of murder shall suffer death.”
Cox, Laventille East/Morvant MP, said the Opposition did not support legislation in Parliament last March because it was concerned about certain clauses and called for a redraft of the bill. Warner made the call for the resumption of hanging at the funeral service of fishermen Ravi Ramsaran and Kassinath Ramsaran in Felicity. The two brothers went fishing last week with Prem Squires. The three men did not return and their bodies were found floating in the Gulf of Paria last Friday. It is believed they were attacked by pirates. Fellow villagers, during a protest, called for the resumption of hanging.
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