The leader of a delegation from the United Nations, which met with President David Granger at the Ministry of the Presidency yesterday, Mr. Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations Headquarters, expressed satisfaction with the President’s stance on the death penalty in Guyana.
Mr. Simonovic said that the President’s strong statements against assenting to capital punishment and seeking public consultation in the matter must be respected and appreciated.
President Granger, during a recording of his weekly television interview programme, The Public Interest, had reiterated his position that he did not intend to order the execution of anyone. Instead, he said, he will be guided by advice from the National Assembly and public consensus and even hinted at the possibility of a Referendum.
“I am advised by Cabinet. I am advised by my coalition partners. I am advised by the National Assembly and in the final analysis, by the People of Guyana. Guyana is an independent sovereign state and it is not for me to get ahead of what the people want. I do not envisage any circumstance under which I would be willing to assent to the death penalty even though it remains on the books. There has been a moratorium of over two decades and what I would say is that if the Cabinet were to consider it, if the National Assembly were to consider it and even if there was a deadlock, we can go to a Referendum. Let the people say what they want to occur in this jurisdiction; in the state of Guyana. That is transparency; that is openness; that is consultation. What do the people want? So that is my approach,” the President said.
Mr. Simonovic said that he is especially appreciative of the President’s insistence on taking a decision only after the citizens of the country have been consulted and their views made known.
“[The] President’s statement that we have heard recently that during his tenure there will not be any execution is very encouraging. I would think that also it is very encouraging that the government is thinking in terms of establishing a committee that will be reflecting on the issue of death penalty. It is extremely good because experience in other countries have proven that the more you raise information, the more discussion about the death penalty, there is a strengthening of the trend of moving away from it so we welcome this development very much. We also think that this discussion is a good opportunity to make a formal decision,” he said.
Mr. Simonovic was accompanied to the meeting by Ms. Khadija Musa, Resident Representative of the United Nations; Baron Marc Bossuyt, President Emeritus of the Constitutional Court and Member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; Ms. Navi Pillay, Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Former Judge of the International Court of Justice; Mr. Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mr. Rajiv Narayan, Senior Policy Adviser, Secretariat of the International Commission against the Death Penalty and Mr. Derek Lambe, Head of Political Press and Information Section, Delegation of the European Union in Guyana. (MOTP)