PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 16, CMC – Prime Minister Dr, Keith Rowley Thursday said he supports the death penalty and that his administration is working towards having it implemented as it moves to deal with those citizens bent on committing murder ‘with impunity” in Trinidad and Tobago.
Rowley, speaking at the end of the weekly Cabinet news conference, told reporters that “this fight against the criminal element is a national crusade” and urged the public to assist the police in carrying out their investigations.
“This just require that we stay on the job and do what is required. There are people in this country who has chosen crime as a way of life,” he said, adding that “we are being traumatised by a very small minority and we are going to take the best chance in law to protect us”.
Rowley said that even when people are incarcerated “they are running criminal empires from inside the jail and we are going to take steps to ensure that this does not go on”.
He told reporters he does not care whatever the backlash could be from his position but he wanted to make it abundantly clear that he is a “firm believer in capital punishment.
“It is the punishment for the crime,” he said, noting that “it is my view that people acting with impunity that nothing will happen” when they commit the crimes including murder.
Rowley said that the Attorney General Faris Al Rawi has set up in his office the mechanism to monitor persons who have been convicted of murder and is moving to ensure that they pay the penalty keeping in mind the Pratt and Morgan ruling of the Privy Council that persons on death row for more than five years can’t be executed.
Despite Trinidad and Tobago hosting the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the oil rich twin island republic still uses the London-based court as its final court.
Rowley said that former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj is also assisting the government so that “persons of recent vintage (convicted of murder) will pay the ultimate penalty”.
Rowley said that his administration is providing all the necessary resources to the security forces to deal with the crime situation here and reiterated a call for the law abiding public to help the police in their investigation.
Rowley said there were some people who were bent on committing crime not as a result, for instance of having lost their jobs, but who believe that it is their right to take lives and property from other nationals.
The last execution in Trinidad and Tobago occurred on July 28, 1999 when Anthony Briggs was hanged after being convicted for the August 1992 murder of a taxi driver, Siewdath Ramkissoon during a robbery in August 1992.
Briggs was hanged just over a month after the members of the Dole Chadee gang were hanged over a three-day period.
Dole Chadee, Joey Ramiah and Ramkelawan Singh were executed on June 4, 1999, while Clive Thomas, Robin Gopaul and Russell Sankeralli were hanged on June 5, 1999.
On June 7, 1999 Joel Ramsingh, Steve Eversley and Bagwandeen Singh were hanged.
The Chadee gang were hanged for their involvement in the murder of the Baboolal family in 1994.