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November 16, 2022

Death penalty not the answer

Following is a press release (edited for length) by the Caribbean death penalty abolition organisation, Greater Caribbean for Life

The Greater Caribbean for Life (GCL) considers that the recent declaration of the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations (CFPWA) calling “for the death penalty to be applied to anyone found guilty of killing a police officer” is misguided.

Whenever there is a spike in crime in any country in our region, there are always some voices calling for the resumption of capital punishment. GCL sees the CFPWA’s call as an opportunity to evaluate whether this Association’s proposal is the best solution to addressing the heinous crime of murder of any police officer, or indeed, of any person. We believe that it will not contribute to the desired reduction in crime and violence in our region.

GCL firmly agrees with CFPWA that the life of each police officer matters, as is the life of each person. GCL’s record is clear. Since our foundation in 2013, we have consistently expressed our solidarity with the victims of crime of capital cases, and violence in our societies.

GCL continues to call on States to provide  more effective responses to the needs of victims of crime. Members of our organisation live in the region and are not exempt from crime and violence which adversely impact all our lives. However, we recommend solutions that are more in keeping with building just, peaceful societies and nurturing adherents to the rule of law.

There is no empirical evidence to show that capital punishment for the murder of police officers, or murder in general, reduces homicides and violence. This argument for the death penalty is based on opinions and misconceptions rather than facts.

One good example is the situation in the United States, the only country in the Americas where people are executed annually. A study conducted there by the Death Penalty Information Center in 2017 concluded that during the 19 years (1987 – 2015), the police officer murder rate was higher in the death penalty states (0.218 murders per one million population) than the rate in the United States (0.195) or non-death penalty states (0.159).

Texas is by far the state with more executions and the state with more murders of police officers in the entire country.

State executions are not a feasible alternative to reduce crime. There are non-lethal alternatives to deal with the root causes of violence and murder. We invite the CFPWA, and other parties interested in developing effective long-term solutions, to initiate urgent and effective dialogue with our governments. Let’s stop crime, not lives!