Death penalty moratorium

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has called on several Caribbean countries to impose a moratorium in the application of the death penalty.

In a statement to coincide with the release of its latest publication titled “The Death Penalty in the Inter-American Human Rights System: From Restrictions to Abolition,” the IACHR said it had examined the death penalty situation in the nine-member states during the last 15 years.

It said countries involved are Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.

“Taking into account these standards and developments in the region, and in light of the objective of gradually eliminating the death penalty in the inter-American system, the Commission urges the OAS (Organization of American States) member states that still have the death penalty to abolish it or, at least, to impose a moratorium to its application.

“In addition, the report recommends the states to ratify the Protocol to the American Convention to Abolish the Death Penalty; to refrain from any measure that would expand the application of the death penalty or reintroduce it ( and) to take any measures necessary to ensure compliance with the strictest standards of due process in capital cases,”

The IACHR is calling on states to adopt any steps required to ensure that domestic legal standards conform to the heightened level of review applicable in death penalty cases, and to ensure full compliance with decisions of the Inter American Commission and Court, and specifically with decisions concerning individual death penalty cases and precautionary and provisional measures.

In the report, the Commission highlights some advances related to the imposition of the death penalty in the region in recent years. Of particular importance have been the advances related to the mandatory imposition of the death penalty, that, when this is imposed after a conviction for a crime without the opportunity for presenting or considering mitigating circumstances.

As a consequence of the development of the inter-American standards that established that the death penalty contravenes the American Convention and the American Declaration, as well as of the interaction between the inter-American organs and the judicial bodies of the Commonwealth Caribbean, among other factors, there has been progress in the elimination of the mandatory aspect of the death penalty in the majority of the countries of the Caribbean.

The IACHR, an autonomous body of the OSA, said it expects that additional progress will be made in this direction until its repeal in all countries of the region.