“We should not be fearful of abolishing the death penalty” – Human Rights Lawyer Mary Francis

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“We should not be fearful of abolishing the death penalty” – Human Rights Lawyer Mary Francis
Human Rights Activist and Attorney-at-Law Mary Francis.
Human Rights Activist and Attorney-at-Law Mary Francis.
Human Rights Activist and Attorney-at-Law Mary Francis.

Human Rights Activist and Attorney-at-Law Mary Francis said she plans to continue advocating for the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in Saint Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean region.

Francis told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today in an interview that while the law has been bypassed for almost two decades here, she still believes that it should be removed entirely from the constitution.

The attorney said the European Union (EU) has been pushing the Caribbean to become part and parcel of the world-wide movement against the death penalty for a number of years.

The UN General Assembly had also adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. This was aimed at encouraging the abolition of the death penalty.

Francis maintains that the death penalty does not serve as a deterrent to crime, but rather a a form of revenge.

“We understand that the crime situation in the Caribbean is very high, but this death penalty is part of our pre and post independence law and by virtue of how our constitution was written,” she told SNO.

She reminded that Saint Lucia’s laws were adopted from England and it’s been more than a quarter of a century since that country has abolished the death penalty.

“It must be recognised that 1994 was the last time we had an execution. So in fact most of the Caribbean and the OECS they have actually put a hold on hanging which is our form of death penalty.”

But Francis has advised that the government amend the laws and have it removed and replaced with an alternative such as life imprisonment, stating that killing is wrong whether it is by the state.

She continued: “In Saint Lucia I think there are about 50 men right now awaiting trial for murder. If all those young men had to be hanged, what would happen?” she questioned.

While she admitted that they have done vicious crimes and deserves to face the full brunt of the law, she believes that the government must look at the root of crime.

“We have to attack it from societal level, to ensure that young men don’t turn into to those types of individuals who commit serious crimes, especially murder,” she asserted.

Francis recalls that her advocacy work began in 1999, when she worked on a case alongside a few other prominent lawyers to have the first death sentence case committed to life imprisonment.

She said the perpetrator was due for execution when the judge decided to stop the prosecution of the individual and accepted the application for the person to be put on life imprisonment.

In the same year, Francis got five persons who were on death sentence to be committed to life imprisonment.

“I have done work in the past and continue to believe that maybe in terms of building a more humane society we should set the example and move to do that. We should not be fearful of abolishing the death penalty because it could increase more vicious crimes. There is no scientific evidence to prove that,” she told SNO.

Francis, who is very vocal about several other human rights issues here, has been invited to attend a special conference organised by the EU to discuss the death penalty in Georgetown, Guyana this month end.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have long criticised Caribbean countries mandatory death penalty as too harsh and in breach of international law.

Even though the capital punishment is on the books in a number of English-speaking Caribbean states and polls have shown strong support for the death penalty, executions are rare in the region.

The last execution took place in St. Kitts and Nevis in 2008, when Charles Laplace was hanged for murdering his wife. That was the region’s first outside Cuba since an execution in the Bahamas in 2000.

Politicians of former British colonies have long complained that the London-based Privy Council, the highest appeal court for many Caribbean countries, has stymied their attempts to execute murderers. The regional Caribbean Court of Justice is the highest court of appeal for Barbados, Belize and Guyana.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. I don't know if you just came from the US. However, take off that mask you are here wearing sweet old lady. Take it off. We are not sloshed.
    You did not know that the Halloween Festival Costume Party was over? Yes. Yes. You can go home now. Take a rest. Yes, I can attest to it that it is all over!

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  2. POULE fOO

    You said that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person" but it is not a human rights LAWYER who can guarantee those rights. Only the government can guarantee those rights.

    You also said that she has "an obligation to work to strengthen the State’s capacity to prosecute perpetrators who commit murder.' Mary is not a prosecutor, she is a lawyer and lawyers essentially defend rights of individuals. The state is charged with the prosecution of individuals. Therefore the state is responsible for enforcing human rights. In essence Mary can highlight issues which she finds contravenes the rights of accused persons. This is different to the general presumption of ADVOCACY for human rights. This is why such advocacy is left to NGO's (which by the way, there are none in St. Lucia as they all are infiltrated by politicians and political wanabees). The government is also responsible for passing a Human Rights Act in the country to directly apply the provisions of the ECHR.

    The reason for Mary taking so much maypwee from the public is because they don't understand her role and is because the government has reneged on its role and responsibility to protect us, we have found it convenient to blame her. Why don't we ask the government to pass the human rights act, anti-corruption act, freedom of information act to better be accountable to the people who elect them? Lets see what they will say! All this defamation of Mary is just politicians and their hacks playing on peoples' emotion to deflect ther own responsibility and focus that attention on others. By the way Poule Foo i am very familiar with such matters, especially human rights maybe more than just a reader.

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  3. Poule FOO

    Mary Francis is a human Rights LAWYER. Is that too hard to understand? Whether she does advocacy or not is dependent on what she thinks that she can highlight and what she has the capacity to do. Still you are missing the point that human rights are enforced against governments or administrations and their agents and not against individual persons!!!! So why should she speak about a crime committed on a citizen by another citizen? She would instead speak about the state deficiencies to provide Justice to all whether accused or victim. Why don't you take on the role of being an advocate.

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    • Wam There
      I think that you have not dared to read my link in its entirety, plus your logic is twisted. First, I will address your statement, "So why should she speak about a crime committed on a citizen by another citizen?" St. Lucia certainly has a notable murder rate, hence, Mary has an obligation to work to strengthen the State’s capacity to prosecute perpetrators who commit murder. After all, the victims lost their lives and under Article 3 -Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

      There is a perception by most St. Lucians that Mary is running this human rights thing as a gig. I can't tell her motives. However, as a lawyer who is mainly fighting for criminals, it raises all kinds of red flags for me. Once again, I am asking you to read the entire link that I posted because I have no interest in writing lengthy articles in this forum. By the way, I do not live in St. Lucia, but my relatives are there and I care about their safety.

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  4. This woman only sings for her bread n butter. Criminals pay her who else is she going to sing for...sing sing sing like a canary but just know you better pray it's not at one of their hands you die.

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  5. These comments are disgusting. It is not about the death penalty. It is the mandatory nature of the death penalty. Which means that it is not judged on a case by case basis and is therefore arbitrary. This is where human rights come into play. The right to be heard, the right to due process, the right to a fair trial.

    If the accused is found guilty, then he is sentenced to death. It is mandatory for murder charges which is a common law offence. Arbitrarily sentencing someone to death if guilty without taking facts into consideration is not fair.

    There is also the issue of saving laws clauses.

    I believe that we should have the death penalty for some cases but the mandatory nature of the penalty for certain crimes is arbitrary and goes against human rights treaties that have now become a part of customary international law.

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  6. Just to re-educate the mindless persons on this post. Human Rights deals specifically with rights owed by the state to its citizens. It does not have anything to do rights between people as these are not rights but a"duty of care." As every citizen owes the other a duty of care over which the Government has the legal right to enforce by its judiciary. Now you see why our society can't move forward, because adults can't understand basic things. They then go to teach the children the same perverted meanings of such things, what then do we expect to produce? Same revolving sense of violence and ignorance.

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    • Wam There

      Please read the information on this United Nations website concerning Human Rights Defenders. Is Mary fulfilling her role?

      http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/Defender.aspx

      These are not summary executions carried out by the state. Read before you write garbage.

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  7. mary goes to school for her pratice so y u all on mary back. it wrong for ppl to do crime but the great book witch the bible say say vengeance is for the lord to take care off.what bout some lawyers who recieved monies to set them criminals free when they know they are wrong nothing for that,i know this things are getting outta hand and we need a solution to correct it .perent train a child and do not let dem go astray

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  8. A violent society only begets violence and more violent offspring. How could one condone killing when they in turn practice it upon the offender. Do we call ourselves a christian nation, however convenient this may be? If we want to adhere to this principle let us start by raping all those who have raped, chopping all those who have chopped and stabbing all those who partake in stabbing. A man who smokes marijuana should be smoked in a chamber. Am just saying, since laws are built on precedence.

    Imagine a young man who picks up a gun and engages in violent interactions such as gang was, robbery etc. Do you think that such a person has any faculty to at any time be in fear of loosing his life? In fact he may even see himself as a hero going to the gallows. Remember the guy spitting on journalists on his way to court in the presence of police officers. Life in prison makes people reflect on their crimes while society remains humane and the children are rared in a compassionate society. They then reflect what is taught to them. Otherwise, life will always be looked upon by them as being short, hard, fast and brutish. This sounds quite close to Roman times, doesn't it?

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  9. Mary - Did you even take the time to think of the 97 year old (elderly) who was raped. If a rapist did these despicable acts to you or your mother WOULD YOU LIKE IT??????????????

    Stop defending criminals of St Lucia. People are scared to visit St Lucia because of these crime.

    St Lucia has turned the new Jamaica Now.

    You need to resign or your need to be disbarred for these kinds of actions that you have taken.

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  10. It is all good an well to support a cause, and I do understand the whole concept of Human Rights; however, as a St. Lucian and member of a community one has to question why is it our dear Mary Francis does not come out and speak of the rights of other individuals who are being violated. We need to hear your voice when our precious gems are raped, brutalized or murdered. We need you to stand with all other St. Lucians who will voice their opinions on these issues. Yes you mentioned “We have to attack it from societal level, to ensure that young men don’t turn into to those types of individuals who commit serious crimes, especially murder,” and “Look at the root of the crime" but what exactly is your contribution to ensuring this is done? How do we start? What can be done? Give suggestions Mary! As far as St. Lucians can see/hear you are only supportive of one segment of society. Prove to us that we are wrong, that you are supportive of all! Your efforts are commendable but you are sending out the wrong message!!! The onus is on you Mary to right this wrong that you have imprinted in the minds of concerned and disgruntled St. Lucians.

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  11. Auntie Mary stop ... you dishonoring woman and people all over the world.... it`s time that you lay this rubbish to rest because its enough already .... there comes a time when we should do something concrete or pack up and leave and i think its time that you leave out of respect, because all i hear you do is talk about the criminals....

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  12. It Never fails to amaze me. What do these so called HUMAN RIGHTS lawyer's drink??. I thought they were on the side of Innocents falsely accused and imprisoned by overly HARSH systems. BUT NO!! NO mention from her lips of those innocents suffering in Jails with little or NO hope. Her sympathies are for those who want to kill us and our Families. What kind of training do Lawyers like you and others like you get?? Who train you all?? Do they NOT have any brains to think for themselves?? Why do they want to save people who don't care for other's lives?? They don't even care for their own lives, so WHY are you champion their cause; they can speak for themselves can't they?? What do you suggest we do with these people when the jails overflow, let them out?? ANSWER me these question's. And don't say anything about being Christians either, because God recognise people and Governments need to maintain Law and Order; also not everyone is Christian, like the people you prefer to associate with and abuse the rest of us. Or is it these people keep you Mrs Mary Francis and people like you in a JOB, and losing them is bad for Business!?.

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  13. Mary are you a human rights activist for the ONLY criminals because that's the only people you seem to care about. What's about the victims of murder,rape, child abuse, elderly abuse. Everyone you open your mouth it's always about rights for criminals

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  14. Why is Mary only talking about protecting criminals? After the execution of Solomon Vitalis there was a calm in St Lucia for over 5 months. Check the record, ask those Prison Officers who were working at the Prison in those days. Mary Francis do you have sisters, daughters and a mother? When one will get rape I want you to represent the rapist.

    (29)(1)

  15. Poor Victims!

    In this climate of uncertainty where heinous crimes are being committed all over Saint Lucia, where the population is more and more uneasy, even frightened (especially women). Instead of pushing an agenda that is truly about human rights and that will inspire hope to the people of this country, your statement Madam, is always as one-sided as usual.

    My heart reaches out to all those who have suffered and are suffering at the hand of violent and wicked men.

    I believe in forgiveness but that does mean that people shouldn't answer for their crimes, even if it is the death penalty.

    Let justice be justice and not a masquerade. Show me the countries where abolishing the death penalty has reduced crime and has at the same time brought more justice.

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  16. Lady, go away! You don't have any form of deterrence. The police rate of detection and apprehension are extremely low. You trying to make the place even shittier for St. Lucian quality of life.

    (5)(2)

  17. It's not "us" who have to be fearful of the death penalty. It's the murderers or those who are contemplating killing!!

    It took Europe 5000 years to conclude that the death penalty was not working. And all that time they were far better schooled than the rest of the world. Our society is just 170 years old (post emancipation) and 500 years (post discovery).

    Our societies are not the same! We have to decide for ourselves whether its a deterrent or not. Ask the people.
    And by the way I don't hear anyone asking to abolish prisons. The prison population is constantly increasing. Prisons have existed for thousands of years. So is prison a deterrent ?

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  18. Even if it is not a deterrent to crime it is a better option than feeding them and taking care of them for the rest of their lives. What we need to do is fix the system so that from your death penalty conviction to exhausting your appeals take no more than five years. We also need an efficient way to perform the act. I am okay with firing squad (Okay we cannot do that. Human Right will be on our tail. Hanging should do)

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  19. ok more than 50 men a waiting trial for murder, but how many people that more than 50 men they have already killed, do you think the victims family is not feeling the pain up to now, them guys need to be killed as well, their need to make some example out of these fellas,---- now MARY if it was your man and children these guys had killed, you wouldn't beat your meg backside at all, mary you alone cannot defend hanging ok, its time to put it back

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