Call to hang
“Let the gallows swing” is the widespread plea from Barbadians angered by Friday night’s tragedy in Tudor Street, The City, where six young women perished.
But assailed with such calls from a highly emotional crowd of onlookers in the aftermath yesterday morning, Attorney General Freundel Stuart said: “I am not satisfied myself that swinging the gallows changes values in a society.”
Speaking exclusively to the SUNDAY SUN, the Attorney General said: “It is values we are dealing with here. When young men, if they are young men who have committed this crime, decide that things like the right to property, the right to work for an honest wage should be put at risk by what happened here on this street yesterday evening, that is a value issue and the homes that produced these people, the social institutions that socialised them now have to be mobilised to make sure that we create a kind and gentler society.”
He added: “When we hang, we get rid of that particular perpetrator, but the values issue remains. The factory that produces people who commit this kind of crime is working perfectly in Barbados and other parts of the Caribbean.”
While conceding he understood the people’s anger, the Attorney General argued: “You hear these responses whenever a tragedy as great as this occurs. Everbody in Barbados quite frankly believes in the death penalty until their son is involved . . . . Then they want the best lawyer and they want the system to be kind to persons close to them.”
But he said the death penalty was always going to be “a devisive issue” among Barbadians.
“For some it will be a solution; for others it will not be a solution.”
Stuart pointed out that Barbados had “a standing issue” with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the death penalty, and remarked “it is a decision that the society will have to make”.
“What the Inter-American Court wants us to do is to remove the mandatory death penalty, so that a judge will have a discretion to determine whether a particular case before him is a case fit for the death penalty or whether there were extenuating circumstances that would make a lesser sentence acceptable.”
The Attorney General said Barbadians were “being taught a very harsh lesson that such crimes were not limited to people in other parts of the world”.
“They can happen here and we now have to look into our own backyard and clean it up,” he said, adding: “These are issues we have to resolve and we are certainly in the process of dealing with them.”