Francis concerned about crime, says hanging not solution

Human Rights Activist, Mary Francis, has said that her opposition to capital punishment does not mean that she is unconcerned about murders, especially among young males in Castries.

Francis told the Times that the murders are a cause for concern.

The outspoken Attorney at Law spoke in the aftermath of calls by the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) candidate for Castries North, John Charlery, for the resumption of hangings.

“I wonder if he has heard about the  murders in Chicago for the month of January and in the United States, capital punishment is the law,” Francis said.

Chicago had 51 murders in January, an increase of more than 75 percent over the 29 murders in January 2015, and the City is reported to be on pace for 602 murders this year.

Mary Francis observed that Chicago has s a lot of oppression, poverty and blacks living in deplorable conditions.

According to Francis, those conditions are linked to the murders.

“I am concerned, but also we are seeing an increase in anger throughout the world,” the Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights told the Times, while recalling that one academic had described the current era as ‘the age of anger.’

She declared that people of reason and people of faith are able to control their emotions, but it is different or young people who are growing up today.

“As leaders we are supposed to enlighten the people. Just saying ‘Oh, bring back hanging’ is not going to solve the problem,” Francis told the Times.

She described as ‘ridiculous’, the argument in favour of hanging as a deterrent to murder.

Francis also said it was unfair to suggest that human rights activists are to be blamed for the spate of homicides because the activists want a moratorium on executions.

“You well know that the standard has evolved over the years and the right to life  is the most basic human right – without life there are no other human rights,” she declared.

She noted that the majority of countries in the world have abolished capital punishment.

“Even in Saint Lucia, our law has actually been reformed to allow for different  stages – so you have capital murder and non-capital murder,” Francis observed.

She asserted that the problem is the socioeconomic situation in Saint Lucia which gives rise to crime.

“You have to look into what is happening in the homes and so forth – we know it is not one reason why you have an increase, it is throughout the Caribbean,” Francis told the Times.