Foreign delegation in Guyana to push for end to death penalty

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From right, Randy Suuskind, Deputy Director of the Equal Justice Initiative of the USA, along with the European Ambassador, Jernej Videtič, Co-Executive Director of the death penalty project based in the United Kingdom, Saul Lehrfreund and Surinamese Parliamentarians Krishnakoemarie Mathoera and Patrick Kensenhuis.

A delegation of international experts on the death penalty are in Guyana to advocate for the abolition of the use of capital punishment in the country.

The team which hosted a press conference on Tuesday said they plan to make a submission of their proposal to the National Assembly here.

The delegation has been organised with the support of the European Union (EU) and British High Commission in Guyana.

Co-Executive Director of the death penalty project based in the United Kingdom, Saul Lehrfreund will be joined by Randy Suuskind, Deputy Director of the Equal Justice Initiative of the USA, Surinamese Parliamentarians Krishnakoemarie Mathoera and Patrick Kensenhuis and will be supported by Nigel Hughes to push for the abolition to the National Assembly tomorrow.

Currently, some 17 prisoners in Guyana are on death row even though Guyana has not carried out an execution since the year 1997.

In his presentation, Lehrfreund pointed out that the death penalty according to research does not necessarily deter crimes.

“The first assumption or justification that some countries rely on is that the death penalty is an effective criminal justice sanction because it deters crime and makes society safer and we would strongly argue that this is a myth and that there is no evidence whatsoever that the death penalty provides any deterrent effect than other forms of punishment” Lehrfreund argued.

The Director further argued that the public would only be hesitant to accept the abolition of the capital punishment since their opinions is often characterised by a lack of knowledge on the subject.

According to Lehrfreund it is impossible to ensure that innocent people are not sentenced to death, all the more reason why the death penalty should be abolished.

Susskind the America Equal Justice Deputy Director revealed that the United States is also currently moving to have the death penalty abolished in all states.

“The death penalty is actually on its way out in the United States. It is currently active but it is waning and its just a matter of time before over the course of the next years or so where the death penalty would likely be abolished. The trends are very clear and over the last ten years, out of the 52 states , 10 have since abolished the death penalty” Susskind stated.

Suriname recently joined 142 nations that have abolished the death penalty.

As such, the Surinamese MP’s are expected to share their experiences with the National Assembly.

According to Mathoera and other members of the Human Rights Committee, Suriname, which after the abolition made several new changes in terms of security, have made new strides.

“We have seen after three years of abolishing the death penalty, the impact of crime is not dramatic, it has no impact on crime. Our home side rate is very stable, it is one of the lowest in the region, Latin America and the Caribbean so that is what we have to show for the effects, so it is a misconception” one of the Suriname MPs said.

The death penalty was imposed on Guyana through the British colonial rule.

Since then, the UK has rejected capital punishment and today is vocal in advocating for global abolition.

In 2016, at least 60 death row prisoners were exonerated around the world.

Wrongful convictions remain a distressing reality wherever the death penalty is imposed.(Kizzy Coleman)

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