University of the West Indies Wins Death Penalty Debate

Debate Participants Abigail Durand (untop) and Jose Thomas (below)

In an effort to influence the state’s decision when voting on the topic of the Death Penalty at the United Nations Level, Former Magistrate-now Attorney Tiyani Behanzin organized a debate on the topic, which took place on Monday November 12th.

Attorney Behanzin says much of the Eastern Caribbean has the death penalty on their books, but is not passing such sentences because the bar to carry out such sentences is very high.

He added that a lot of states in the Eastern Caribbean are looking to change the law to make it easier to execute, so a debate on this topic is essential.

The controversial debate which took place at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, saw students from the Dominica State College (DSC) and students of UWI battling it out to prove their side of the topic.

The DSC opposed the topic and was represented by Jose Thomas, Jernel Jno Baptiste and Donalie Dailey, while UWI was in favour of the topic, with Dominique Newton, Kadisha Jno Baptiste and Abigail Durand presenting their side.

UWI student Ms. Abigail Durand in her presentation, stated that a report of the Caribbean Human Development done in 2012, which was prepared by the United Nations Development Progam revealed that, with the exception of Barbados and Suriname, Homicide rates including gang related killings have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean.

She stated such crimes have been dropping or stabilizing in other parts of the world.

Audience at the Debate

Ms. Durand argued that presently in society there are not adequate methods to deter crime which in this case the death penalty should be used as a means of doing so, as criminals prefer a jail term rather than a death sentence.

She stated there is clear positive societal spinoffs from implementing the death penalty, as in Trinidad and Tobago, during the period of 1994 Glen Asby and 1999 Dole Chadee executions fell by 24 percent.

This percentage then exponentially rose when explicit threats of the executions being implemented subsided.

In further arguing the UWI’s side for the death penalty Ms. Durand says, there are brutal murderers living and eating comfortably in prison under tax payers’ money, and some may even learn a skill or two while their victims are hurting with no closure which cannot continue.

Ms. Jose Thomas of the DSC who opposed the death penalty, says capital punishment does not serve as a deterrent, and supporting such punishment would diminish the value of human life.

She also pointed on the high possibility where an innocent person can be executed, and the glitches in the composition of capital punishment would not fit within the society of the Eastern Caribbean.

She says Trinidad and Tobago who imposes the death penalty, is a strong example of the failure of this punishment.

Ms. Thomas argued that the country in February 1st 2011, had 42 prisoners on death row who are awaiting execution, while between 2002 and 2010 the murder rate was an average of 460 murders per year.

In her mind, this clearly shows that capital punishment does not deter crime as some may seem to think.

Audience at the Debate

Ms. Thomas also said if someone is wrongfully convicted of a crime and sentenced to death, one cannot bring back the dead, so it is best that the death penalty is not used.

At the end of such strong arguments by both sides there could only be one winner, which emerged as the University of the West Indies (UWI).

The DSC racked up 556 points for their presentations while the UWI totaled 587 points.

The outstanding speaker of the debate went to Ms. Jose Thomas of the DSC.

The DSC received $500 for the participation in the debate while winners, UWI received $750.

© 2012 SAT Telecommunications Ltd.

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