Asserting that there are compelling arguments both for and against the death penalty, National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, has come out in support of a referendum on carrying out executions for criminals convicted of capital murders.
The last execution in Saint Lucia took place in 1995.
“The public has a say – Saint Lucians can decide ‘yes, this is what we want’,” he said.
The minister admitted that there is pressure from other countries not to carry out the death penalty.
“You are supposed to be independent but you are not really independent because you need to get grants and you need to get assistance from some of these countries, but it is on the law books and again – it is not automatic,” Francis observed.
But he said if there is pressure from outside forces there was need to go to the people of Saint Lucia and explain the situation to them:
“We want aid from England and Sweden and those countries, but at the end of the day if we implement the death penalty then we will not get the type of monies that we need to take care of our people, ‘what do you want us to do as a government?'”
Asked whether he was indicating that there should be a referendum, Francis said:
“Yes. You can do that and then it sends a loud message to the persons out there that this is what the people want and at the end of the day you have to give people what they want.”
Asked whether he intended to push for the referendum, Francis responded in the negative.
“I would not lead any charge on the death penalty,” he stated, asserting that the DPP is the one who decides whether to seek the death penalty.
Francis referred to Wednesday’s double homicide at Tamarind Heights, Active Hill, in which a man and his girlfriend were stabbed to death.
He expressed the view that if the perpetrator goes through the system and is found guilty, he was sure that if the the DPP should ask for the death penalty no one would fight it.
“That is a discussion we need to have – I don’t want to say exactly how I feel about the death penalty, but the death penalty is on our books so if you commit murder there is a possibility that you can be sentenced to death, ” Francis explained.
He stated that since there is a provision for executions in the law, Saint Lucia should follow the law.
“Whether I like it or I don’t like it, that is what the law says,” the former Deputy Police Commissioner said.
The Minister was a guest last night on the DBS Television programme, Newsmaker Live, with host -Timothy Poleon.