Death penalty not a FATF requirement, says former AG
Contrary to claims made by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, his predecessor Anil Nandlall is contending that the death penalty is not a requirement under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regime.
Despite the fact that Guyana signed on to join worldwide efforts to abolish the death penalty, Williams argued that having the capital punishment enshrined in the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation is a strict requirement of FATF.
He contended that the death penalty along with hefty fines will definitely deter terrorists from launching terrorist activities in Guyana.
Weighing in on the discussion, former Attorney General in a Facebook post highlighted that in other countries deemed FATF compliant, the death penalty is abolished.
He pointed out that in France, where FATF is headquartered, the death penalty had been abolished decades ago; and the country is still FATF compliant.
“So is the UK and many leading countries in Europe and elsewhere, and these countries do not have the death penalty,” he emphasised.
Nandlall, who is also a People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament, reminded that during the debate on the AML/CFT Bill in the National Assembly last year, he objected to many aspects of the content of the Bill, including the death penalty clauses.
“I pointed out that the Bill created 12 offences which carried the death penalty as their sanctions – the most death penalty offenses in a singular Bill in one hundred years of criminal jurisprudence in Guyana.
“I asked if the Coalition Government is certain whether this is the posture they wish to adopt and the signal they wish to send on the issue of death penalty in the year 2016, having regard to the international climate on this vexed question.
“I pointed out that if Guyana is to pass a Bill containing so many death penalty Offences, it will invoke the ire of the international community and the United Nations and that it will put Guyana on a collision course with positions Guyana has adopted on this issue in the Region, Latin America and at the United Nations,” he expressed in his social media post.
Nandlall wondered whether the Attorney General comprehended his presentation, given the fact that his objections were wholly rejected.
The former Attorney General lamented that the country will only suffer, having the death penalty still enshrined in its laws while standing in solidarity with the worldwide movement to abolish the capital punishment, which has been deemed inhumane and completely ineffective in deterring crime.
Given the circumstances, Guyana appears to have found itself in a diplomatic dilemma.
Williams alluded to the apparent conflict during a recent news conference as he was fielding questions from the media on the possible reinforcement of the death penalty to deter criminal activities locally.
Williams justified the inclusion of the death penalty in the AML/CFT Act on the basis that it dissuades individuals from launching terrorist activities here.
Asked then if the same rationale could be aptly applied in relation to other horrendous crimes, the Attorney General provided an ambiguous response.
Foremost, he explained that Cabinet has not discussed the issue and therefore he does not want to make any pronouncements on the matter.
However when further prompted, the Attorney General indicated that it may not be correct to claim that the government wants to abolish the death penalty.
“I’m not sure you can probably say that ‘we’ don’t want the death penalty,” he opined.