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Nelson said no to death penalty

 A commendable legacy of Nelson Mandela is the abolition of the death penalty in South Africa. He denounced it as an act of the utmost cruelty and barbarity and its abolition became “one of the touchstones of commitment to a new social order.” Soon after his release in February 1990, then president FW de Klerk at the request of Mandela announced an immediate moratorium on executions. The last hanging was on February 2, 1989.

In 1997 the South African parliament enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act that removed the death penalty from the statute books, acknowledging that capital punishment is inconsistent with the prohibition of “cruel, inhuman, degrading punishment.” Despite several calls for its return in order to reduce the country’s high murder rate, it has not been reinstated.

The T&T Constitution also prohibits “cruel, inhuman, degrading punishment.” Chapter 1 Part 1, Section 5, Subsection 2:b explicitly states: “Parliament may not impose or authorise the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment.”

Morgan Freeman, who starred as Mandela in the remarkable film Invictus, describes him as “a man of incomparable honour, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve—a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind.” 

We in T&T can pay our tribute to Madiba by also removing the death penalty from our statute books.

Ishmael Samad

via e-mail

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