Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks with members of the media following a visit to Duncan Street, Port of Spain on Thursday. PHOTO by JENSEN LAVENDE
DOMA - Death penalty useless without detection
...how can we make anyone fearful of hanging when we are unable to solve less than 10% of murder cases. If there are no arrests, how can we contemplate prosecution, conviction and then hanging?
THE Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) today issued a statement in response the explosion of violence in Port of Spain, and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's comment on Thursday that Government would be revisiting the death penalty as a deterrent to murders.
The following is DOMA's statement -
The subject of the reintroduction of hanging and the death penalty has been raised by successive governments over the past decade with predictably little effect on the country’s crime problem.
We understand the pressure which the government of the day must feel facing so many horrific murders that take place in the full glare of daylight. While we sympathize with government ministers including the Prime Minister in the face of this pressure, we consider it unwise to allow the occasional invocation of a new wave of hanging to be discussed as if somehow this will bring an end to the blood in the street is that flowing so freely.
It seems obvious to us that the death penalty can have no effect unless we are able to threaten convicted murderers with such punishment, but how can we make anyone fearful of hanging when we are unable to solve less than 10% of murder cases. If there are no arrests, how can we contemplate prosecution, conviction and then hanging?
Pronouncements about the introduction of the death penalty may tragically be interpreted as desperation at best or worse, as a lack of respect for the common-sense of the citizens.
We feel obligated to once again bring to the attention of the national community the issue that is receiving no attention, which is the abysmal detection rate and the total failure to make any arrests or to provide any convictions for the most heinous of crimes, that of taking the life of another human being.
In our respectful view, what adds tremendous importance to this point is the fact that apart from stimulating serious crime by allowing criminals to go free repeatedly, we are also creating a cycle of violence by not providing any justice to the family and friends of the victims. These families and these friends are forced to seek their own justice in the form of revenge and this has accelerated the multiple daily murders that are becoming so common.
So bad is the significance of this failed justice, that we know of other jurisdictions where whole families are sometimes assassinated and/or an entire community is attacked and the residents are forced to barricade the streets in order to protect themselves from outsiders seeking vengeance. The possibility of this type of state of affairs, given our low detection rates is very real in the circumstances that exist in Trinidad & Tobago. The firebombing of houses and apartments is evidence of the likelihood of this type of scenario becoming a common reality in the not distant future.
Until and unless the failure to make arrests is recognized as the central cause of this gruesome state of affairs, then we regret to prophesize that announcements regarding the death penalty or hanging will have little or no effect on the vicious state of affairs in our beloved Trinidad & Tobago.
Downtown Owners & Merchants Association.