Grenadian attorney, Anslem Clouden is calling for the removal of the death penalty from the islands law books.
Clouden who recently returned from an abolitionist conference in Madrid says capital punishment “is indeed cruel, inhumane, degrading punishment,’ and should be stopped.
He said capital punishment was used by plantation owners during slavery as a means of terrorizing slaves and bringing them into subjection.
“When the slaves were hung in the squares of the plantations…it [was] to frightened people psychologically into submission.”
Grenada is one of two countries in the region being called defacto abolitionists, since though it has the laws on the books, it makes no moves to enforce it. The last execution in Grenada was in 1978.
Clouden a lawyer of 33-years said as an abolitionist, he has accepted that “for every crime there should be a punishment,” however he added that he believes the root cause of crime is not from an innate propensity in a person to be violent but from the failures of the political, economic and judicial system.
“This violence is rooted in the economic disparity that exists in our region. It is morally and ethically wrong to hang someone.”
He is advocating a reform of the laws and the setting up of a juvenile court system to deal with young offenders.
He bemoans the fact that Grenada, though a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), still is without a functioning juvenile court or correction facility for teenagers who would have gotten themselves on the wrong side of the law.
“It is lamentable that a young man should be sent to Her Majesty’s Prison; a prison that is overcrowded, where you have all kinds of licentious behavior and for the most part is not suited for young people. But there is no alternative.”
“While he is there, there is no facility for rehabilitation and reform.”
“After two years, he returns to society and can’t find a job because he now has a criminal record and the stigma that goes with it.”
The Madrid conference which convened mid-October and dubbed the “Great step to contribute and accelerate the process of stopping and abolishing the death penalty in the Caribbean”, was attended by was attended by human rights activists, non-governmental organizations, and Caribbean individuals and organizations representing the cultural diversity of the region.
The main purpose of the conference was to develop strategies in support of the abolition of the death penalty in the Caribbean.
Thirteen countries of the region still have the death penalty on their law books and St. Kitts/Nevis was the most recent country to execute someone in 2008.©