Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has made it clear that the Government will uphold the law when it comes to the death penalty, but said due process must be followed.
Trinidad and Tobago is one of several countries like China, India, the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which still retains the death penalty for anyone convicted of murder. However, following the disappearance and murder of Andrea Bharatt, calls from citizens have intensified for the state to apply the law.
“I really welcome the public’s advocacy but I want to assure them that there is no reluctance on the path of the Government to see the law applied,” Al-Rawi affirmed.
During an interview with Guardian Media, he said citizens must understand that the wheels of justice have to be sped up before unravelling the rope.
“All aspects of the system have to work. It is not a matter of waking up one morning and saying, ‘Let us hang!’ It is a matter of saying, why we cannot apply the law and what are the elemental pieces needed to be fixed,” according to the AG.
Meanwhile, former Attorney General, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, noted that reinstating the “hangman” is not an easy task.
During his tenure in 1999, Dole Chadee and other members of his gang were hanged.
According to Maharaj, Trinidad and Tobago’s murder rate had decreased after the executions.
“I caused a study to be done to determine whether if the death penalty was implemented it would cause a reduction in the crime and it was in the affirmative”, Maharaj stated.
He added, “My view is that we are living in dangerous times in which some of our citizens do not seem to have respect for human life.
Maharaj further stated, “It really needs to send signals to criminal elements that—listen, if you commit the crime, we are going to catch you, we are going to prosecute you. If it is to jail you, we will jail you and, if it is the death penalty, we are going to carry out the death penalty!”
If repeat offenders are not brought to justice, Maharaj warned that crime will continue to escalate.
To reach the stage of the death penalty, Maharaj indicated that an aggressive plan had to be rolled out to ensure those who committed murder were convicted and all appeals are dealt with expeditiously. This he said was done through a Case Management Unit.
Al-Rawi stated that a similar Case Management Unit has been operationalised.
As of 2018, 42 prisoners were on death row, however, 12 of them could not meet the hangman due to Pratt and Morgan.