THE DEATH PENALTY AND LESSONS LEARNT FROM T&T

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By SUNSHINE REPORTER

I would never forget June 4, 1999.

It was the day when the Gov­ernment of Trinidad and Tobago demonstrated testicular fortitude and began the hanging of the gang of nine, men who had reigned ter­ror against law abiding citizens of this country and who had finally met their death on that fateful day.
The leader of that gang of nine was Nankissoon Boodram a.k.a. Dole Chadee a drug trafficker and a drug lord who terrorised this country for twenty years, who lived like a king in Piparo and whose hands stretched across interna­tional waters, so powerful he had
become.
But then one day, according to evidence that was presented in a court of law, Chadee slaughtered the Baboolal family over an ap­parent drug dispute and acting on Chadee’s orders, his men executed Hamilton Baboolal and his sister Monica in the most brutal fashion in January 1994 and then shocked the nation when we heard the news that Baboolal’s father and mother were also casually gunned down.
The Government in power was the United National Congress and the Attorney General was none other than Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, a team that determined that the country must never have to document such an episode without a meaningful re­sponse in its history and purposed to send a strong message to crimi­nals and murderers in Trinidad and Tobago.
And so, on June 4, 1999, the death penalty message that was to be sent was delivered. at 6:00am that morning. The trap door gave way beneath the feet of Nankissoon Boodram a.k.a. Dole Chadee and by 9:00am that morning two of his other lieutenants, Joey Ramiah and Ramkalawan Singh also met their fate. The message had been sent.
Over that weekend, the six other gang members met their fate and even though the State reeled under the legitimate bloodshed of these gangsters, Ramesh Lawrence Ma­haraj was able to show to past ad­ministrations and set up a model for future administrations to get past the Privy Council’s 1993 ruling that seemed to create an obstacle for States willing to implement the death penalty in their jurisdiction.
What Ramesh Lawrence Ma­haraj was capable of doing was causing the mighty Privy Coun­cil of England to cede to Trinidad and Tobago’s constitutional right to enforce a law that states: “Every person convicted of murder shall suffer death.”

Follow the path laid down by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj

Of course there were naysayers, people who feel that their moral­ity exceeded the will of the people of this country, the framers of our Constitution but the majority of our people, who while feeling the weight of death among us, felt that the time had come for a message to be sent.
There were those who ascended platforms, articulating with rheto­ric so verbose with an intent to en­sure that such an act never happens again; to deliver a message that capital punishment will never af­fect the murder rate in our country but we have lived long enough to witness the lie they told and to ad­vise our Government to follow the path laid down by Ramesh Law­rence Maharaj.
Our records show that between 1994 to this present date our coun­try has been plagued with unlawful killings that ought to have demand­ed the kind of response that a UNC Government delivered in 1999.
Our records show that it was only during the period 1995 – 1999 under the austere partnership of Basdeo Panday and Ramesh Law­rence Maharaj that the murder rate declined progressively in our his­tory.
Our records show that the lowest murder rate that this country ever recorded over the past three de­cades was the very year, 1999 when Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj bit the bullet, said enough was enough and set up a plan to enforce the laws of Trinidad and Tobago and decided: “Every person convicted of murder shall suffer death.”
In 1999, the year that hanging re­turned to Trinidad and Tobago, the year that nine persons who were convicted of murder suffered death, only 93 persons were murdered.
How come 1048 citizens have been slaughtered over the past two years and not a single murderer, not one convicted of murder in our Courts of law has suffered death?

There are many arguments scholars can preface on either side

Ishmael Samad, one of the most vocal in the challenge against the death penalty being executed upon nine in more than four days felt that the killings were too much for the nation to bear. But his silence is deafening during a period where more than nine innocent citizens are slaughtered by gang men in less than two days.
Where are our Members of Parliament who took an oath to uphold the Constitution of our country, swore on the Holy Bible, the Bhagavad Gita and the Holy Qur’an to be guardians of our Con­stitution? Yet thousands are dying and the persons convicted of mur­der are not being made to suffer death in accordance with the dic­tates of our Constitution.
There are many arguments that scholars can preface on either side of the fence in support of and against the implementation of the death penalty but the truth is that is not the issue here. Neither is it up for debate.
If there is a change in policy, a change in the morality of the ones who are elected to serve I do not have a problem but that change ought not to be used to influence the rights of citizens as chronicled in our Constitution. If our Parlia­mentarians are of the view that such a change is necessary then frame it in law and bring it to the Parliament.
I find it extremely difficult to understand the sympathies being extended to common, cold-hearted and callous criminals while inno­cent citizens going about their own business in a law-abiding manner are being cut down and no protec­tion is being offered by our Gov­ernment.
Are we to interpret this to mean that our Government is in collusion with the gangsters in our country?
Is this what the Minister of Na­tional Security alluded to when he spoke about this kind of relation­ship? because clearly under this administration the law is not being upheld, the Constitution is being ignored and the only ones who are benefitting from the inactions of this Rowley Administration are the gangsters in Trinidad and Tobago.

The death penalty is not a choice our gov’t has to make

I recall that when the Bill to de­criminalise the possession of up to 30g of marijuana or the possession of four female plants that Govern­ment Ministers were warning the public that until the law is passed that transgressors could face the full brunt of the law.
No Bill is before the Parliament to change the penalty for murder yet the killers convicted of murder in our courts of law are not being made to face the death penalty as outlined in our Constitution. And this Government and Stuart Young expect us not to believe the confes­sion of Members of Parliament in collusion with gangsters does not refer to the sitting Government MPs?
The record shows that there is a positive correlation between PNM Governments and murder and neg­ative correlation when other Gov­ernments are in power.
The simple analysis is when you have a Government prepared to up­hold the law, crime is reduced, the people live and the murderers die.
When the law is not upheld, when the people sworn to uphold the Constitution tamper with our rights, crimes swells, our people die and murderers live contrary to our Constitution.
The death penalty is not a choice the Government has to make. It is a mandate that our Constitution in­sists must be implemented.
It states: “Every person convict­ed of murder shall suffer death.” If Young and Rowley have a problem with that then we must now ask the question whether they are in power to protect the murderers or those who gave them their vote for them to rule?
Implement the death penalty now.