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Removal of death penalty has emboldened people to kill – PM

Removal of death penalty has emboldened people to kill – PM

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High-level officials are taking necessary steps to address the spate of killings that have been taking place in this country.

Over the weekend, St Vincent and the Grenadines recorded three killings, bringing this year’s homicide count to 34.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves revealed yesterday morning that he heard of the murders on Sunday, just before attending the Remembrance Day parade. He revealed that he called for a meeting, which took place yesterday afternoon with several officials, to discuss steps that needed to be taken in relation to the matter.

“It is a painful matter,” Gonsalves declared yesterday morning. “We are meeting this afternoon with the Commissioner of Police, his top ranks, and with [national security advisor] Sir Vincent [Beache] and the Permanent Secretary [in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey] for us to review what we have been doing policing wise and to see what other additional measures which we can take to address the policing dimensions of this, to better secure our citizens. Of course, as you appreciate, the issue of causes of crimes is a complicated matter.”

Gonsalves, who is also the Minister with responsibility for National Security, shared his belief that media, family issues and issues relating to greed are some factors that contribute to crime in this country.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister opined that the removal of the death penalty by the Privy Council and Court of Appeal has emboldened some persons to kill.

“I am satisfied at the fact that our Court of Appeal and the Privy Council have tied our hands in relation to the death penalty is a factor which is involved. You may recall that we had put the issue before the people to have an effective restoration of the death penalty for murders of a particular type, but we know the fate of the draft constitution. It didn’t meet with the approval of the people,” he said.

“We may have to come back to that to see in what way we can seek to redress that area. But there is no doubt in my mind that where the death penalty has been effectively removed, that it has emboldened some people to kill. That’s not the fault of any government. That’s the Privy Council and the Court of Appeal. Some persons may argue that the death penalty has never been a deterrent, but I feel that in our – I consider in our context that it is.”

The Prime Minister added that the fact that he has called a high-level meeting suggests that the Government is responding in a proactive manner to the situation.

“We have to simply look at all we are doing and we have a good framework, but we have to decide on some other tactical things.

“What we have to make sure is that we improve our detection and make sure that we have the prosecution properly prepared, so the persons that are brought before the court will at least – if effectively that we do not have the death penalty – that they can be penalized appropriately with a lengthy jail term,” Gonsalves said.(BK)

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