Barbadians Told Not to Rush the Death Penalty

Barbadians are being told not to rush the death penalty, but having signed unto the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2000. The Court made the decision that Barbados should abolish the death penalty and change its Constitution in 2007.

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Barbados Parliamentarian Adriel Brathwaite, is asking Barbados not to rush the death penalty, and not to be found in a position where it is being pressured to carry out hangings.

These hangings have been written into the Barbados laws for those who commit murder. It is therefore interesting that Mr. Adriel Brathwaite who is both a lawyer, and a
parliamentarian, saying to us that we should not be so fast to carry out the laws of the land. Surely he is not saying that.

The last hangings in Barbados took place in 1984 when Noel Ricardo Jordan, Melvin Inniss and Errol Mopsie Farrell were hanged.

Eighteen years later, four persons almost had their executions carried out after receiving the death penalty for murder.

Michael McDonald Huggins, 27, Frederick Benjamin Atkins, 31, Lennox Ricardo Boyce, 25, and Jeffrey Joseph, 27, are scheduled to be hanged next Tuesday 2 July. Death warrants were read to the four men on Wednesday 26 June, following the rejection of their petitions for clemency by the Mercy Committee.

Huggins was convicted for the 1999 murder of 21-year-old Stephen Ricardo Wharton. Atkins was sentenced to hang in July 2000 for the October 1998 murder of 20-year-old Sharmaine Hurley. Boyce and Joseph were sentenced to death for the killing of 22-year-old Marquelle Hippolyte on April 15, 1999.

On July 28th, 2002 a Barbados appeals court justice issued stays of execution for four convicted killers. In 2005 Michael Mcdonald Huggins, death warrant was read the second time in just under three years and was again granted a stay of execution by the High Court.

It is understood that the stay was pending the outcome of a petition before the Barbados Court of Appeal by two other death row inmates, Lennox Joseph and Jeffrey Boyce.

On the website of Amnesty International that should they take place, the executions would flagrantly violate international and domestic law and thus constitute murder.

This might be the case as Barbados because of the 13 Caribbean States that are members of the British Commonwealth and also members of the OAS, only two have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court: Trinidad and Tobago, which accepted the Court’s jurisdiction in 1991 and then denounced it in 1998, and Barbados in 2000.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued its judgment on the preliminary objections, merits, reparations and costs in the case of Boyce et al v Barbados, on December 17, 2007.

Michael Mcdonald Huggins case was commuted. In relation to the other three petitioners, Frederick Benjamin Atkins passed away before the Court hearing as a result of an illness, and Lennox Ricardo Boyce and Jeffrey Joseph already had their sentences commuted by the Barbados Privy Council.

Under this same decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights the Barbados Government was instructed to abolish the death penalty and to change section 26 of the Barbados Constitution.

This judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is binding on Barbados and there is no right of appeal.

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