Scotland Yard’s death penalty ultimatum reignites debate

The gallows at 1735 were last used on February 21 1991 when Tyrone Nicholas was hanged for murder (File photo)
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By Adia Wynter

Discussions into securing forensic assistance from London’s Scotland Yard police for the murder investigation of Customs officer Nigel Christian are still ongoing.

Britain has requested a guarantee, before it will agree to help, that the death penalty will not be sought nor posed should a party be named guilty.

Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, who has been involved in communications with Scotland Yard, explained that the issue cannot be determined by the government.

“The government cannot get involved in that situation. We have a system of separation of powers, so the judiciary will act on its own,” he clarified.

But Benjamin added, “the matter is being discussed, and action will be taken one way or the other very shortly”.

Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Armstrong told Observer no one had formally approached him regarding the issue.

“UK policy is that it will not deploy its resources while a country still has the death penalty on its books … but their policy cannot inform my decision,” he said. “However, given that they are seeking to provide assistance to the police locally, I have to balance that with the law, our constitution and statute – and what is practicable and reasonable,” he explained.

The DPP added that for the death penalty to be imposed, the case must be the “worst of the worst and the rarest of the rare”.

Meanwhile, members of the public are weighing in on the much larger debate of the ethics of capital punishment – and whether it serves as a deterrent.

Some believe it is necessary and shouldremain on the country’s statute books.

One man told Observer, “The death penalty is first and foremost, and it is a priority to our country. The way things are happening in our country, we need to have that.”

Others say the death penalty is no longer of use due to its crude and archaic nature.

One man said the punishment is not suiting to the 21st century and that Scotland Yard’s request to the government is not an unreasonable one.

“It is 2020; if you are giving someone a lifetime sentence in place of the death penalty, I agree with Scotland Yard,” he said.

One young lady said, “I don’t think that people like us should be judge and jury over someone’s life. I am not comfortable with that, but if it is a thing where someone committed a heinous crime, I think they should be sentenced to life in prison.”

Comments under a post on Observer Media’s Facebook page viewed the matter through a religious eye.

“As a God-fearing country, we should be mindful of His words. Vengeance is His. Taking lives should only be left up to him,” one young man commented.

Another comment said, “It doesn’t act as a deterrent but there seems little point in keeping someone incarcerated for the rest of their lives if they have committed a crime so heinous that it goes against all social norms.”

Although capital punishment remains on the country’s statute books it has not been imposed since 1991.

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