Member of Parliament for St Thomas, Cynthia Forde, has issued a ‘not in my backyard’ declaration to would-be killers: the central parish is not to be a dumping ground for murderers to dispose of their victims.
She was at the time debating an amendment of the Offences Against the Person Bill 2018, which lawmakers passed in Parliament to abolish an automatic death sentence for murder. Forde noted that many of bodies discovered in St Thomas were murdered elsewhere and dumped in her rural constituency.
“St Thomas is not only now a dumping ground for garbage, it is now a dumping ground for bodies. It is a case where people are murdered elsewhere and brought and dropped in Hangman’s Hill. That area had about five as far as I could remember,” said Forde, who seemed to suggest that the gruesomeness and senselessness of taking a life was being compounded by the tainting of the constituency she has represented for just over two decades.
The amendment, which brings the country in constitutional compliance with the Caribbean Court Justice (CCJ) ruling, will make it no longer mandatory for the death penalty to be applied in cases where persons are found guilty of murder. The change in no way abolishes the death penalty.
Forde, the Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, explained that while she supported the amendment, justice still needed to be stern and dispensed quickly.
“What is happening in the world? Where have we failed as adults and policy makers that this kind of carnage is going on in society and we seem to be helpless? Yes, I am glad that this death penalty component has been retained but I want the courts to be a little more efficient. Do it quick and if the judge has to make that determination then so be it but at least we would be free of the negativity that is destroying this place,” said Forde, who contended judges should be free to dispense with justice in a free and dispassionate manner.
The Minister argued that thought must be spared for the families of murder victims as well as the injury that the death would have wrought upon dependents.
“The cost associated with this type of murder and maiming of people in this society is extremely high. It is cruel, it is heinous, it leaves us with orphans, and it leaves us with families that are helpless, especially when the breadwinner goes. The taxpayers also have to pay major cost to look after the prisoners at [Her Majesty’s Prison] Dodds while looking after families of the victims, who are forced on welfare because the breadwinner is gone,” she stressed.