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Human rights groups call for abolition of death penalty

Human rights groups call for abolition of death penalty


Calls for the abolition of the death penalty were echoed around the world last week.{{more}}

Thursday, October 10 marked the 11th World Day Against the Death Penalty, with human rights organizations continuing their call for an end to capital punishment.

Here at home, president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Human Rights Association Nicole Sylvester, in a press release, made a call for authorities to deal with the root causes of crime, such as high unemployment, poverty, drug abuse and other social ills, instead of focusing on the death penalty, which, according to her, is not a deterrent to crime.

“What we the citizens want more than anything else is to feel safe, secure and to be protected from crime. The death penalty does not make us safer,” she wrote.

“We need to focus more on the less fortunate and marginalized in our society.”

According to the website, the focus this year is on the Caribbean region, where few executions take place, but where a core of countries remain strongly opposed to the abolition of the death penalty.

The website pointed out that of the 25 territories in the Caribbean Basin, 10 countries are abolitionist in law: Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador (for ordinary crimes only), Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Two countries are considered abolitionist in practice: Grenada and Suriname, while 13 countries are retentionist: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Sylvester, in the release, also said that her association continues to support the right to life, and called for a system of compensation to be introduced to assist victims of crime.

The release also made recommendations to help prevent or reduce crimes, especially of a violent nature.

“We are of the firm view that enhanced police investigation skills are now imperative. We need forensic labs to better detect crime, which will assist in making our society a safer place.

“There is a need for human rights education to be introduced into our schools, in social studies, health and family life subject areas, which will teach students of their rights and more importantly, responsibilities.

“Let us all focus on how we can each contribute to making St Vincent and the Grenadines safer for all of us.

“Let us focus on lives, not death,” the release said.

The last time capital punishment was carried out in SVG was on February 13, 1995 when Douglas Hamlett, Franklin Thomas and David Thomas were hanged. They were all convicted of murder.