Barbados has been urged, once again, to seriously consider doing away with its death penalty.
The plea from the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and The Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Mikael Barfod, following a tour of Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds in St Philip this morning.
“I can’t help but mention that in the maximum security prison you have eight prisoners on death row. You have not executed any person for the 28 years, and don’t get me wrong; that is a very good thing.
“[But] why don’t we take the last step and abolish the death penalty. It is something that I have raised many times and that is an issue which means a lot to the European Union, because in the 28 EU countries, not a single one has death penalty on its books,” he said, suggesting that such a change in mindset would have to be led by the political directorate.
Drawing reference to Europe, the ambassador noted that there had been a majority of people who had been in favour of the death penalty for a while and it was the political leaders who championed change.
“Nowadays the opinion polls show a majority that is clearly against the death penalty, but it also comes with the quality of the prison system. If you can rehabilitate people, you don’t need to execute anybody. If you can keep them safe from the populace at large for a number of years, then you have a chance to work on them. Look at Europe; we have offenders that you don’t have the likes of them here [in Barbados].
“The system [here] speaks for itself. You have not executed anybody for 28 years, so you can live without the death penalty. I cannot see how having it on the books can give any sort of satisfaction. It certainly brings you out of line with a number of human rights defenders in Europe and other the large areas of the world . . . . I do believe that if you don’t have the death penalty, it is a positive move towards helping convicted people to come to terms with what they’ve done and be rehabilitated. Additionally, if you make a mistake, there is still a chance for an appeal,” Barfod stressed.
The ambassador’s visit coincides with World Human Rights Day celebrated yesterday. “I would like to congratulate the Barbadian Government for their rapid construction of the facility here which really demonstrates a real dedication to human rights of those who have broken the law. That is an important thing because prisons to a large extent, mirror society itself and if human rights are respected in society, they are usually respected in prison.
“I think that that, to a large degree, is the case here. The prison gives a good impression the facilities are very good. I can not comment [however] on how the prison is run on a daily basis . . . but the facilities look very impressive,” he told Barbados TODAY. (RG)