JIS News

Debate on whether the country retains or abolishes the death penalty, began in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 11), with Prime Minister, Bruce Golding opening the discussion.
At the end of the Debate, Members of Parliament will be requested to give a conscience vote on the issue.
In his presentation, Mr. Golding told the Lower House, that concerns have been raised about the risk of sanctions, primarily by the European Union (EU), as the EU is opposed to capital punishment.
“That is not my view, and I have had discussions with several persons in the European Commission and in the European Parliament, and while they expressed their views, some of them very strongly, my understanding of the official position of the EU, is that they do not like the death penalty,” Mr Golding said.
“They would encourage countries to abolish it, but if a country chooses to retain it, then provided that country maintains a judicial system in which a person is able to secure, and is guaranteed a fair trial, and that due process is observed, then the law can take its course. They would not applaud it, but they will not regard that as something that ought to be the subject of any sanctions,” he added.
Mr Golding stressed that it was important for Parliamentarians to determine in what direction they believe the country should go, in its judicial criminal justice system.
“If we are to abolish, let us abolish, and if we are to retain, let us affirm that, and let us carry out the law as the law prescribes. On this side, every member is free, nobody is subject to any pressure, and it’s for that reason that I’m not prepared, in opening the debate, to pronounce in terms of where my vote will go. Where I will vote will be known when the Clerk rises to take the vote of members,” he said.
Opposition Member of Parliament, Robert Pickersgill, said that a debate and a conscience vote on the substance in the motion, as tabled, would “not take us anywhere.”
“Unless the motion is amended to some specific undertaking by this Government, in this Parliament, as to what it intends to do in the event of a vote for the retention of the penalty, we further contend that this debate on conscience vote would amount to nothing more than a grand public relations attempt, signifying nothing,” he said.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications, Laurence Broderick, noted that there are too many “shortcomings in the justice system.” However, he said he would support the retention of capital punishment.
“We must ensure that the system is cleaned up. Full use must be made of all technological advances, for example DNA, to ensure a system that we can confidently say protects the innocent. So, at the end of the day, in light of what is happening to Jamaica, I have no choice, at this point in time, but to say, for the ultimate crime, we must implement the ultimate punishment. The death penalty must be enforced. I therefore affirm my support for the retention of the death penalty,” he said.
North East St. Catherine Member of Parliament, Gregory Mair, said despite the high crime rate and the suffering of those who have lost loved ones to crime, he could not support the death penalty, as he believes in the sanctity of life.

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