Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman, in response to a question from a media representative on Government’s current position on the death penalty, said Government is in no rush to remove it from the Statute Books, according to GINA.
Trotman, during the post-Cabinet media briefing today, recalled that Government participated in a European Union (EU)-sponsored forum in December 2015, on the death penalty.
Recently enacted laws against the financing of terrorism which contain the death penalty, he added, were requested and are in compliance with international recommendations such as those from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Government now finds itself in a position where it has been asked to enact laws such as those to avoid being named a “pariah state”, Minister Trotman said.
Since the early 1990s, the Government had instituted a moratorium on the death penalty, “As the President rightly said, we don’t relish taking lives wantonly. We have no intentions of enforcing it.”
He added, however that, “At the present time, Government is not rushed to remove it from the books. Before we do so, we will have widespread consultations.”
The minister further explained that Guyana’s anti-terrorism legislation provides for the death penalty in keeping with requirements by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and to ensure that the country is not blacklisted.
However, ahead of a judicial colloquium on the death penalty on Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel, top international representatives called for this clause to be removed from the legislation.
Judge Navi Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed hope that the death penalty will be removed from the books completely.
She explained that governments should not just pass a law because something terrible occurred.
“Law is not done emotionally. The rule of law follows international standards and Guyana is very much a part of the international community… so you have to pass laws that are sound and definite and not responding each time there is a terrorist act committed here or in France or wherever. Of course, these are terrible crimes and the UN has very specific requirements for counter terrorism measures,” she stated, emphasising that these measures do not comply with the capital punishment.
On this note, she urged that Guyana advance forward and not backward in its efforts to abolish the death penalty.
Pillay stressed that it ought not to be just a moratorium but it must be abolished.
Moreover, Assistant Secretary General from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, also pointed out that there is no evidence that proves that the death penalty deters any crime, including terrorism.