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01 March 2011

Capital punishment does not reduce murders!

The Editor:

The so-called debate on the death penalty in Parliament has revealed nothing but the low calibre of this
country’s politicians.

Both sides are officially in favour of capital punishment, yet were unable to make the amendments they
wanted in order to making hangings easier to carry out. This is one instance where political partisanship and
political incompetence (in the sense of politics essentially being the art of compromise) had some good
effect. That is because State killing of criminals will not help improve this country’s crime rate, let alone its
moral character.

In a mature democracy, moreover, a debate which involves taking the life of other human beings, even the
most callous and violent ones, would not be conducted along party lines. Instead, Members of Parliament
would be allowed by both sides to have a conscience vote. Indeed, since in our system each elected MP is
there by constituency and not party (in theory) they are free to vote as they choose (again in theory). There
are, in fact, members on the Government side who have stated their opposition to the death penalty, but
they have clearly decided – at least for now – to put their jobs above their conscience. That, too, reflects the
calibre of our politicians.

Most reprehensible in this latest attempt to resume hangings, however, has been the attempt by politicians,
particularly Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, to get support by highlighting the death of an eight-
year-old boy. Apart from the fact that capital punishment does not reduce murders, it is also possible that
resuming hangings, by increasing the society’s violent tendencies, could actually put children in more danger
of being hurt or killed. But, clearly, such considerations count for nothing with a PM and a party whose main
concern in staying in power.

T&T Humanist Association

FYI Only:
Communications & Information:
Shane Collens (868) 624-8248

Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

c/o 4 Hillcrest Avenue, Cascade
Trinidad and Tobago