Protest over death penalty

Jamaica National Security Minister Robert Montague.

Two Jamaica Human Rights organizations are opposing plans by National Security Minister Robert Montague to resume hanging as a means to dealing with the escalating crime problem in the country.

In a joint statement, Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ) and Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) said, “while we understand the minister’s need to send a strong message about his handle on crime, we believe that he could have been more prudent in making his comments about the resumption of hangings.”

Recently, Montague said the Andrew Holness government remains committed to mobilizing all the resources at its disposal to wage a “relentless war” against criminal elements “intent on destroying our nation.”

He said as a result, the government is currently exploring the possible resumption of hangings and that the junior minister, Pearnel Charles Jr, has been asked to consult with several stakeholders, including the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Office to determine if there are any “legal impediments” to be addressed.

But the opposition spokesman on justice and governance, Mark Golding said the death penalty is not the answer to the country’s crime situation.

SUFJ Director Carla Gullota in the statement said: “Montague’s comments about a resumption of the death penalty has fed into the frustrations of many Jamaicans and has served to ignite passions about what is a very widely debated issue.”

“If we are not careful, this frustration could lead to citizens taking matters into their own hands once they come to appreciate the well-established legal impediments which make the resumption of hanging highly unlikely in Jamaica,” she added.

JFJ Chairman Horace Levy noted that the position of the group is that there should be a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty, given the state of the justice system.

The human rights groups said that there is an abundance of evidence which shows that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent to crime.

The two human rights groups said several countries and states in the United States, which continue to practice capital punishment still have very high rates of violent crimes and the international trend is that more and more countries are abolishing the death penalty.

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