Euro­pean Day against the Death Penalty

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - State­ment by EU Am­bas­sador, Mikael Bar­fod Mikael Bar­fod is the EU Am­bas­sador to the Eastern Caribbean coun­tries, OECS, CARICOM and CARIFORUM.

As we com­mem­o­rate the Euro­pean Day against the Death Penalty on Oc­to­ber 10th, the abo­li­tion of the Death Penalty re­mains a key ob­jec­tive for the Euro­pean Union’s hu­man rights pol­icy. We are there­fore pleased that there have been no ex­e­cu­tions in Bar­ba­dos since 1984! The last ex­e­cu­tion in any of our coun­tries was seven years ago (in St. Kitts and Ne­vis) and Gre­nada has not had an ex­e­cu­tion since 1978!

We are acutely aware that the Death Penalty re­mains on the books for Bar­ba­dos and the Mem­ber States of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) for his­tor­i­cal rea­sons. How­ever, changes are oc­cur­ring. The manda­tory Death Penalty was dis­con­tin­ued in the OECS coun­tries due to the 2002 Eastern Caribbean Court of Ap­peal rul­ing which deemed it un­con­sti­tu­tional. We con­grat­u­late Bar­ba­dos on the ini­tia­tive to also abol­ish the manda­tory Death Penalty which is al­most com­plete. In line with this ten­dency, and given the ex­is­tence of a de-facto mora­to­rium be­cause of the length of time since an ex­e­cu­tion has been car­ried out, the next step should be taken: ac­cept­ing a le­gal mora­to­rium.

With the in­crease in crime, par­tic­u­larly mur­ders, in re­cent times, there have been re­newed calls for the Death Penalty. De­spite the sup­port that the use of the Death Penalty still re­ceives in Caribbean com­mu­ni­ties, I chal­lenge lead­ers to show more courage, launch a public de­bate and lead the way in the fight against the Death Penalty.

The EU sees the Death Penalty as cruel and in­hu­mane, and sci­en­tific re­search has shown that the Death Penalty in no way acts as a de­ter­rent to crime. Its abo­li­tion is es­sen­tial for the pro­tec­tion of hu­man dig­nity, as well as for the pro­gres­sive de­vel­op­ment of hu­man rights. This is a moral is­sue about the value of hu­man life. As a deeply re­li­gious Caribbean so­ci­ety this is one of the ba­sic tenets that as a com­mu­nity we hold dear. Sen­ti­ments such as ‘it is cheaper to kill them than to keep them in prison’ have no place in this era of civ­i­liza­tion.

There is a world­wide move­ment against the Death Penalty and even here in the Caribbean it was abol­ished in Suri­name – your fel­low CARICOM Mem­ber State – in March of this year! In the re­gion, Haiti and the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic have also abol­ished cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. The his­toric mile­stone of over 100 death penalty free coun­tries has been achieved!

The in­ter­na­tional out­cry against the Death Penalty is also well present in the United Na­tions (UN) frame­work of which we are all a part. In 2007 the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly adopted a res­o­lu­tion es­tab­lish­ing a mora­to­rium on ex­e­cu­tions with the goal of abol­ish­ing the death penalty, and ev­ery other year such a res­o­lu­tion is put to vote. I take this op­por­tu­nity to urge your lead­ers to vote in favour of such a mora­to­rium or at least to ab­stain, in­stead of vot­ing against it, re­flect­ing the sit­u­a­tion of no ex­e­cu­tions on the ground for al­most ten years!

For those who may yet be not con­vinced, I make a call for a de­bate be­tween the stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the church and the le­gal fra­ter­nity. Let us put the facts to the test and come up with a po­si­tion based on prin­ci­ples and not on emo­tions and his­tor­i­cal cus­toms. The EU re­mains strongly com­mit­ted to this fight.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.