Towards the elimination of the death penalty
IACHR invokes to take measures to avoid the death penalty.
The Inter American Commission on Human rights, or IACHR, has called for a moratorium in the application of the death penalty in the Americas after releasing their latest report entitled “The Death Penalty in the Inter-American Human Rights System: From Restrictions to Abolition” on Aug. 3.
The report shows the analysis of the practice in nine countries of the continent during the last 15 years: Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the United States and Trinidad and Tobago.
The report highlighted some advances in not applying the mandatory death penalty, that is, the imposition of death penalty upon conviction for a crime without an opportunity for presenting and considering mitigation circumstances in the sentencing process. Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia have abolished the mandatory death penalty.
However, as crime rates have been rising across the Caribbean, there has been renewed interest among governments to reinforce death penalties as a deterrent to crime.
Although the American Convention on Human Rights does not prohibit the imposition of the death penalty in states that maintain it, there are a number of restrictions and limitations, including that “it may be imposed only for the most serious crimes and pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court and in accordance with a law establishing such punishment, enacted prior to the commission of the crime”.
The report made a series of recommendations for member states, saying that “states should refrain from any measure that would expand the application of the death penalty or reintroduce it.” The recommendations, it added, are fully consistent with a universal international trend to abolish the death penalty. The report condemned the “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners waiting on death row.”
Both the Jamaican and the Trinidad and Tobago governments have spoken out in response to the report.
“The death penalty will not be delayed or removed due to a recent conscience vote by parliamentarians” in favour of keeping it, said Mark Golding, Jamaica’s minister of Justice. Meanwhile, the Trinidad and Tobago government said it will maintain the mandatory death penalty. —Latinamerica Press.