Almost a dozen inmates who are currently on death row at Dodds prison will have to be resentenced once the Offences Against the Person Bill 2018 is amended.
That is the word from Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Dr Jerome Walcott, as he spoke today during debate on the amendment which seeks to repeal the mandatory death sentence for persons convicted of murder in Barbados.
He said the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the island’s highest appellate court, had already ruled that it was unconstitutional.
“They are currently 11 persons who are on death row in Barbados and based on this ruling, they will now have to be resentenced because their sentences are now considered by the CCJ to be unconstitutional,” Dr Walcott said.
“There are 62 persons awaiting trial for murder and six for manslaughter. If we were not to pass this bill today, it would put our judicial system in a quandary. You would have 68 persons who are there to have trials done and at the back of that, at the end of it all, judges will know that they are confined by the mandatory death sentence, but if they convict someone and sentence them at the end of the day they know that the CCJ has already ruled that that is unconstitutional.”
Dr Walcott explained that the amendment was not about removing the death penalty from the statute books.
However, he contended that Barbados had signed on to several conventions which clearly state that a mandatory death sentence was not lawful.
“I believe that we are in a bind. We have survived over the years. We have discussed and we have utilized our mandatory death penalty and we have debated it. We have made promises to amend it. We’ve made promises to the UN and we’ve made promises to the Inter-American Court of Justice, but I think our reckoning time has now come.