Politicians lack the testicular courage to abolish the death penalty in Trinidad and Tobago.
This is the belief of Attorney-at-law, and Chair of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice Leela Ramdeen.
She made the comment after the Privy Council dismissed a challenge on behalf of death row inmate Jay Chandler, regarding the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty in Trinidad and Tobago.
Chandler was sentenced to death by hanging in 2011, for the murder of another inmate at the Golden Grove Prison, Arouca.
British based NGO “The Death Penalty Project” appealed Chandler’s death sentence on the grounds that imposing the punishment automatically, without an opportunity to apply discretion, violated his right to protection of law and was therefore unconstitutional.
However, the Privy Council denied the appeal, ruling that the savings law clause of the constitution protects laws written prior to Trinidad and Tobago’s independence, including the death penalty laws even if it may be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
This has reignited the debate over the death penalty and its usefulness.
Ms Ramdeen, a well-known advocate against the death penalty, claims that there is no benefit to having a mandatory death sentence law.
She noted that Trinidad and Tobago remains the only country in the English-speaking Caribbean that still has the mandatory death penalty.
She suggested that the reason for the law still existing was simply politicians playing politics.
Quoting law enforcement experts, Ms Ramdeen pointed out that efficient policing and swift justice were greater deterrents to crime than the death penalty.
Ms Ramdeen suggested that the money spent on supporting death row inmates and the large prison population could be saved if an investment is made in addressing social ills.
Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj was the last Attorney General in T&T under whom the death penalty was carried out.
Amid the international furore surrounding the hanging of Anthony Briggs just one month after Dole Chadee and his crew were executed, Lawrence-Maharaj maintained that the death penalty will help cut crime.
Log on to Izzso media where tomorrow to find out whether he still feels the same or if time has changed his perspective.