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AG aiming for swift justice as T&T moves to resume hangings
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi says implementation of the death penalty cannot be done in an irresponsible and halfway manner. He said for that reason Government has presented a legislative framework which will accelerate the process.
Al-Rawi said 11 of the 33 convicted killers on Death Row have had their sentences commuted because they have passed the five year Pratt and Morgan time frame. In such cases the sentence is automatically commuted to life imprisonment.
Of the 22 persons remaining, he said: “We are tracking all of them for as long as it takes.”
Government has sought the help of former AG Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj under whose tenure in 1999 Dole Chadee and his gang of eight were hanged for the murders of members of the Baboolal family in Williamsville.
Al-Rawi said he is convinced hangings will be a deterrent to those who want to commit crimes.
“If there is consequence and it is swiftly delivered it will occur to those who want to commit crime that maybe they should not,” he said.
He said swift punishment are major deterrents to crime in Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
The AG said a hanging will take place with the first person who finishes the appellate process before the five years is done.
“My job is to apply the law and ensure it moves faster, as we are making everything work sharper and faster,” he said.
This includes eliminating preliminary inquiries, introducing judge only hearings and ensuring the DPP’s office gets the necessary staff, the AG said.
“That is why we agitated the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to get 32 attorneys for the DPP’s office,” he added.
The AG explained that after the High Court sentences, the matter goes to the Appeal Court, then to the Privy Council and the person also has the right to petition the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
“All of that must finish before five years in keeping with Pratt and Morgan, so the High Court has to rush the clock,” he said.
Asked whether he is concerned about the length of time the process takes in the local courts, Al Rawi said: “Our judicial process does not trouble me as much as the Privy Council. It takes six years right now.”
He recalled that in one case the Inter-American Commission delivered a judgement after 11 years.
Recently Al-Rawi said he had done a comparison of persons hanged when Maharaj was AG and found that the time between the Court of Appeal, the Privy Council and the Commission is seven months.
Maharaj explained that he was able to fast-track matters because he spent every day monitoring what was happening.
“If it became necessary for me to take a plane and go and see the Lord Chancellor (in the UK) I did it. I
“f I had to go before international human rights bodies I did it because I demanded that the government was entitled to have its case or application heard very quickly and the international bodies should not deliberately delay these applications and frustrate us carrying out the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, and we were successful,” he said.