Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall said Government has found itself between a rock and hard place, with its position on the death penalty in Guyana, as the recent passage of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill showed that it otherwise supported the penalty.
Nandlall argued that Government, through Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, had inserted some 14 mandatory death penalty offences in the last AML/CFT Bill, which, incidentally was rushed through all three readings in Parliament, recently.
President David Granger last Thursday said that he, at this point, did not support the death penalty in Guyana. In fact, his words were that he had no intention of executing anyone.
Nandlall, a front bencher of the parliamentary Opposition, contends that the Government’s stance was rather contradictory.
During the debate, Nandlall argued that the death penalty was not a penal measure that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) insisted upon. He argued too that many countries like France and the United Kingdom (that are FATF-compliant) do not have the death penalty in their laws.
According to Nandlall, the 14 mandatory death penalty cases in a singular Bill will put Guyana in conflict with previous postures adopted at the United Nations and Organisation of American States (OAS).
He said he had enquired whether that was the posture the Government of Guyana wished to adopt on the death penalty in the year 2016, having regarded the international climate on this issue.
Last week, the Head of State made his position clear on the death penalty in Guyana, noting that he has no intention of executing anyone.
Although the death penalty remained enshrined in Guyana’s laws, there has not been any execution for decades. According to the President, the death penalty remains on the statute books, but Government is yet to pronounce on whether it will be abolished or not.