Constitution Amendment Capital Offences Act 2011

To enact stricter penalties against convicts, the Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan recently introduced this bill that will impose capital punishment on those who commit a specific category of murder. Currently, convicts can be sentenced to the  death penalty, but because of a policy that maintains a 5 year limit to executing the sentence after conviction, set by the British privy counselor, the highest court of the county, death row inmates, using appeals, are able to avoid death by the hands of the state. The bill aims to circumvent this limitation , making it easier to carry out the sentence.

The bill, if passed, will amend the constitution to contain clauses that give the president the authority to set time limits to appeals, after which a person can’t ask the court to reconsider its verdict. When the limit expires, the committee to whom the convict is appealing, is required to make a decision regardless of the progress of the appeal. As the bill intends to add to the constitution, it requires a special majority of 3/4ths the members of the House of Representive in order to pass.

The bill also mandates the penalty to those convicted to the charge of Murder 1, the most serious murder conviction. Included in this category are murders of police and prison officials,  murders motived by discrimination,  murders intended to intimidate a person into not testifying against someone.   Under the Murder 2 category, the  bill details the specifics that will lead to the death penalty.

There are also some clauses in the bill that are design to ensure the fair execution of the penalty, but  these are insufficient to satisfy the concerned organizations that believe the time limits to appeal “violates defendants’ rights by denying them due process guaranteed under international law”

The second hearing of the bill was on the 17th of February, 2011.


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