Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, Lenard Montoute has said that while crime is of serious concern to the island, he does not believe that capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, will restrict criminality.
He shares a different opinion from National Security Minister Hermanguild Francis who recently indicated his support for the death penalty. Francis also bemoaned the practice of criminals being handed down minimal sentences despite the fact that their offenses warrant more severe punishment.
Montoute said, “I happen to be one who does not believe that capital punishment is a deterrent. However, it is our law that the consequence of certain actions could be imprisonment, hanging and so on. I believe that if it is a law [then] the law should be enforced. However, I would feel a lot more comfortable if we find other avenues to deal with perpetrators of crime other than the gallows.”
Montoute informed that he has spoken to Francis with regard to devising programmes that would help counter the growing crime problem.
He said that while some are convinced that there is an increase in crime he believes there is instead, an escalation in homicides.
“We intend to put some programmes in place. We devise programme that not necessarily directly relates to crime, but hopefully they can impact the community and individuals in such a way that it would avert their engagement and indulgence in crime,” he said.
“While I will not jump on the band wagon to say that we have an increase in crime like many are saying right now, we certainly have a spike in homicides and that is very disconcerting. It’s a major concern to us because as you would appreciate, the majority of the victims are young people. The perpetrators are also young people and as far as I’m concerned we have two victims – two sets of victims – both the perpetrators and the people who suffer the consequences of crime and of course, the family…” the minister stated.
He added, “So while we have to look at crime-fighting…as a ministry we [also] have to look at prevention of crime, and so we believe that tackling crime is multifaceted. And you have to look at it from a variety of angles. Not just social but economic…”