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The death penalty question

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The last man to die by the death penalty in Belize was Kent Bowers who was hanged at the Belize Central Prison in 1985.  “Bring back hanging” is one of the regular phrases that we hear when crime seems to go unabated and the courts are unable to provide justice.  When Nicolas Guevara was 34 years old, he was convicted of murder and last week at age 60, Guevara was released from prison. The Caribbean Court of Justice had set aside mandatory life sentences which then requires the Supreme Court of Belize to impose fixed-term sentences.  It is an act of humanity shared with someone who had not shared that with his victim during his youth. However, the Attorney General, Mike Peyrefitte says we must abide by the law when it comes to prison sentences.

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General: “People want everybody to hang except their own children. So when the people would say ‘hang them !’ now ‘my son, no my son spare my son.’ Listen the law that we have is the law that we have and the powers given to the Chief Justice at this stage allowed him to do what he did. If a person is in prison for a certain length of time and the judicial bodies make a decision to release that person it must be with good reason. And it’s not that we don’t have hanging on the books, it’s still on the law and we have it but the CCJ decisions have indicated that those are reserved for the worst of the worst considered murderers. We have not met that legal bar according to the CCJ at this point but I’m sure that if we do then we will proceed with what the law says. But it’s not like we have taken it off the books and there is a lot of debate as to whether or not hanging or not hanging would solve the problem so it’s a matter of opinion and I am not aware that there are that many people who are asking for hanging necessarily. People would say that because it’s just a knee jerk reaction tm any things but at the same time people say ‘hanging the prisoners won’t make a difference.’, ‘putting them in jail won’t make a difference. You need to improve education, you need to improve social infrastructure, you need to reduce this.’. So many people believe that there are many different solutions to the crime situation and that’s just one opinion. To me just simply hanging a person won’t necessarily solve crime.”

While Kent Bowers was the last man was hanged in 1985, the last woman to be hanged in Belize was 36 year old Nora Parham in 1963.

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