People's Partnership's Verna St Rose-Greaves says if Government moves ahead with its plan to resume hangings she will have no choice but to leave.
Speaking to I95.5 FM yesterday St Rose-Greaves, who is Special Advisor on Children's Affairs to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said if she could not influence change with regards to the issue she would walk. "I will have no choice but to step out," she said. She said she was very passionate about the issue and that she had done a lot of work and research on it. "I have spoken to people on death row in several countries, I have spoken to murder victims' families... I have raised children whose parents have been killed," St Rose-Greaves said. "I have raised children who have killed people, in the context of the state, in the context of welfare, and I know there were things that needed to be done that were not done as a society," she added.
She said the death penalty has been an issue with all former Governments. "People have been calling for pop-necks, people want people in Woodford Square, people want to stone people," she said. She said other alternatives should be considered instead of hangings. "How do we pull back and have those conversations that will allow for us to even consider other things like how do we take care of our children," she said. "What about our prisons? What are some of the things that led us to the place that we are in? How do we roll back and put things in place that will counteract some of the fallouts? What do we do for victims?" she asked. 0The topic of the death penalty was recently brought to the fore by Minister of Works Jack Warner. In his capacity as acting Prime Minister Warner said he believed hangings will curb crime.
He said: "I am convinced that, were we to reinstitute hangings, which is the law of the land, it will have a dent on crime. I am convinced." According to Warner there were 295 convicts on death row. "The law says death by hangings. And if a person is convicted and has of course used all his measures of relief up to the Privy Council, why should he stay in the prison anymore?" Warner asked then. A vociferous St Rose-Greaves in a newspaper article yesterday said she remained opposed to the PP's move to recommence hangings. Her statements have been supported by president of the Downtown Owners' and Merchants Association Gregory Aboud.
"On a personal level I happen to agree wholeheartedly with her that hanging is barbaric and reduces us to the very level of the murderers whom we claim to dislike so much," Aboud told the T&T Guardian yesterday. Aboud felt lawlessness in T&T was stimulated by the fact that 50 per cent of murderers and rapists could not be caught and convicted.
Secretary General Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS)– Sat Maharaj: I" am supporting the death penalty. The SDMS is of the firm view that because of the tardiness of both the legal and prison administrative systems the criminals in our land are free to terrorise the population. "Only strong measures could bring back the old days when life and property were respected and protected."
Pundit Bramdeo Maharaj–IRO past president:
"If we didn't have to exercise the death penalty it will be better. If people know they can kill whoever they like and continue as they like they will be encouraged to kill. "It will be good to have it there as a deterrent. If it is not a deterrent then what is a deterrent? "Quite a few murders are committed in self-defence. If the murders are premeditated then we should administer the death penalty."
Yacoob Ali–ASJA president
"ASJA's point of view is that Islam allows the death penalty for murder. There should be also compensation by the offender of the crime to the family of the slain. We have absolutely no objection to the death penalty being reinstated."