Thursday, July 08, 2004

TT: Privy Council legislating its own morality for the Caribbean

Eight months after the Privy Council found that this country's death penalty was not a mandatory sentence, the Council reversed itself yesterday, saying that it was up to Parliament to make such a change.

The judgment, on the appeal of convicted murder Charles Matthew, means that anyone found guilty of murder after yesterday will automatically be sentenced to hang. However, the 86 prisoners currently awaiting execution have been granted a reprieve.

Since they had been given the hope of being re-sentenced following the first judgment-on the appeal of convicted murderer Balkisoon Roodal-it would be a "cruel punishment" to now affirm the death sentences, so their sentences were all commuted to life imprisonment, the Council ruled.

The judgment was greeted with pleasure by Attorney General John Jeremie who said in a statement to the media that "the (Privy Council found that it) has no licence to read its own moral values into the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution".

"I consider the law in relation to the application of the death penalty to be finally and conclusively determined by (yesterday's) decision," he continued.
Now it's up to Jamaica to tell the Privy Council to bugger off!


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