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Govt supports mandatory death penalty, rendition to fight terrorism

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan addressing the National Assembly during the debate on the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist-related Activities Bill, 2015.

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan addressing the National Assembly during the debate on the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist-related Activities Bill, 2015.

Government Wednesday night justified the mandatory death penalty and rendition of terrorists and passed the Anti-terrorism and Terrorist-Related Activities Bill, despite concerns by the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).

PPPC Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall appealed to government to send the “unvarnished” bill to a parliamentary select committee to facilitate proper consultations and arrive at a law with minimum acceptable standards.

In the end, government used its one-seat majority in the 65-seat National Assembly to pass the Bill that would soon be assented by President David Granger.

Declaring that “draconian times require draconian measures,” Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan justified the use of the death penalty where terrorists and extremists challenge democratic values and human rights.  Ramjattan, who was the lawyer for a teenager whose genitals had been burnt by police during a murder investigation, acknowledged that human rights and the death penalty were sometimes on a collision course but in the end it is the need to protect the larger good of citizens that prevails. Arguing in favour of the death penalty, he said such a penalty would discourage terrorists from carrying out various acts. “It does affect me personally-the death penalty-I have always argued against it but draconian measures are needed….It has a dissuasive effect, as I said, and that is important because when people feel they could terrorise, in accordance with the provision of this act and will not be hanged, it may not have that preventative, dissuasive effect.

But Nandlall chided government for not taking into consideration the international lobby against the death penalty and that even Guyana had amended its laws to allow for the death penalty only if certain persons such law enforcement personnel are murdered during the course of their duties. “If that is our position, then so be it because we would be sending some very, very strange messages to our people in terms of our legislative agenda and the international community,” he said.

He noted that a number of Caribbean countries, France and Britain, which have similar anti-terrorism laws, do not have the death penalty even as the Bill in Guyana contains the death penalty for 14 terrorist and terrorist-related offences.

Nandlall upbraided Ramjattan for arguing that the death penalty leads to a reduction in crime.

The PPPC's Shadow Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs makes a point in the National Assembly during the debate on the anti-terrorism law.

The PPPC’s Shadow Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs makes a point in the National Assembly during the debate on the anti-terrorism law.

The Public Security Minister hoped that the new law would help prevent Guyana from becoming a safe haven, train ground or a place where their funds could be easily accessed and for financing terrorist activities.

Backed by laws, Ramjattan said Guyana would be seeking international training assistance; build stronger prisons for terrorists and purchase drones and boats to monitor Guyana’s vast borders through which guns are smuggled from neighbouring Brazil and Venezuela.

The Minister supported the provision in the anti-terrorism law that will allow Guyana to transfer terror suspects to other countries. “Some people feel that we are now doing the wrong thing by going the great leap of rendering.  I believe that sometimes it is necessary that when certain information comes from another country and a person is a suspect and a known one, that the extradition process is an extraordinarily lengthy and so you can do a transfer,” he said.

He noted that Britain has been using rendering, a necessary tool to fight terrorism, and that Guyana should use it.

Nandlall also expressed concern about provisions in the Guyana law that permits the authorities to go the High Court to obtain a  detention order, resulting in legislating the loss of a pre-charge liberty for 72 hours initially and more time afterwards on grounds that it is likely that the person would interfere with a probe into terrorism.

The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, in wrapping up the debate, said offences such as terrorism would always collide with terrorism. He announced that soon there would be a lot of phone-tapping and surveillance to protect Guyanese from terrorists.

Guyana passed the Interception of Communications Act several years ago to facilitate wire-tapping of telephone conversations through a High Court order.

  • SYL

    In reference to the death penalty,in one of my previous comments, I mentioned where three guys in an Arab state stole a cell phone , penalty lost of one hand each, and was done at the market square. Its harsh, but its called DETERRENT .
    When I visited Indonesia one of the first sign is clear as crystal is ” DRUG TRAFFICKING , PENALTY DEATH” .Once you think about the crime, the execute it then bear the consequences. The human right guys need to understand that when one feels it he knows it . What about their family and close friends getting killed , how would they respond.Mr security minister “HANG THEM HIGH” give them the priest , if they so desire, they say a prayer to God, then hang them.Amnesty didn’t work, so if you cannot get the demons out of the man , then kill the man with the demons, THEY NEVER CONSIDER THEIR VICTIMS, SO WHY CONSIDER THEM.Please do not waste tax payers money on prison cells, have enough judges, quick trial punto finale, just the same way they treat their victims. Finally , check the SINGAPORE MODEL. CLEAN UP THE CRIME IN GT, AND DON’T FORGET THE SLICK WHITE COLLAR SMOOTH OPERATORS CRIMINALS. HAPPY NEW YEAR , 2016 TO ALL.

  • Dharamkumar02

    The Death Penalty must be implemented in Guyana. This was what President Hoyte did and calm came to Guyana. Hang the Corrupt Criminals in the PPP first then the ones in Death Row. Only then Guyana will be a place of sanctity.