Minister John King (FILE)
The removal of the mandatory death penalty is a perfect chance for Barbados to prove it is serious about staying in line with the developed world, says Minister of Culture and Sport John King.
The Member of Parliament for St Philip West said it was time for Barbados to be no longer aligned with jurisdictions that still maintained a mandatory death penalty, such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, Kuwait and Singapore.
He made the point in the House of Assembly on Tuesday during the debate on an amendment to the Offences Against The Person Act, which would remove the mandatory death penalty for those found guilty of murder and allow High Court judges to use sentencing guidelines.
“These countries still have mandatory death penalties. I feel the opportunity for mitigation is still very important. It is important that we have a choice and the judiciary not be hamstrung by legislation,” King told the Lower Chamber.
He added that the amendment of the legislation allowed Barbados to “do the right thing” since the sentencing options could save a human life.
He gave a scenario in which a person with mental challenges was involved in a capital crime and convicted of murder, saying the death penalty would not be an example of justice being served.
He said there was a need for a clear understanding of what removing the clause entailed.
“I hope that as the debate goes on, the general public understands the death penalty itself is still very much on our books, but just being moved from being the only option open to judges,” the first-time MP said.
He added that the amendment did two important things: it boosted the ability of the country to stay in line with Caribbean Court of Justice rulings and with a convention signed with the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. (BA)