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Death Penalty plan Diversionary Tactic
The plan by the Government to amend the Constitution in order to facilitate the death penalty not only flies in the face of T&T’s international human rights obligations, but is yet another tactic to distract the population from the depressing state of the country. The Government well knows that the majority of the world, over 111 countries, has abolished the death penalty, recognising it as a violation of human rights. It also knows that there has never been any conclusive evidence proving that the death penalty has a meaningful impact on crime, be it a deterrent or otherwise. This move is simply a way to satiate the bloodlust of the masses and make the population feel that crime will soon be under control, when in reality it will just waste precious time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. Section 4 of the Constitution of T&T guarantees the right to life. This same right has been the basis of abolition worldwide. Justice Chaskalson of the South African Constitutional Court stated in the opinion banning the death penalty that “the rights to life and dignity are the most important of all human rights... and this must be demonstrated by the State in everything it does, including the way it punishes criminals.”
Human rights are based on recognition of the fundamental dignity of the human person, and to derogate from one right is to derogate from them all. The Government seeks to appeal to the desire of “the majority” for such human rights viola- tions to take place. However, such an appeal is folly. The majority must never be allowed to take away the rights of any minority, even the rights of convicted criminals. This is tantamount to mob rule and is a grave injustice. A society that desires to achieve developed nation status cannot be a society that condones killing in any form, even by the due process of law. To move in this direction is to take the country a step back from the egalitarian society we hope to build. As a concerned citizen, I demand that the Government stops this nonsense, and stops these childish tactics of diversion. Start treating the population as equals and level with us. We understand that you are working with limited resources to combat the crime situation and cannot expect miracles. We expect honesty, humility and diligence. I voted for Kamla Persad-Bissessar three times in 2010: in the UNC internal elections, in the general election, and in the local government elections. I had hoped for a change from the condescending way in which politicians treated the people under the PNM administration.
Needless to say, I am sorely disappointed. At the very least I expect the Prime Minister to not waste my tax dollars on a policy that will have no meaningful effect on crime. I demand that she reconsiders her position. To all death penalty advocates, I demand that you conclusively prove with cogent evidence that the death penalty has a real effect on crime. And to all those who will cite obscure passages from holy books to say that God demands the killing of criminals, your opinion is beside the point. Human rights must never be decided by the moral persuasions of any individual or majority; it must be decided by an objective and impartial standard that fully respects the dignity of the human person. That objective standard is provided by international law, not by any man or his idea of God.
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