Dr. Kwame Nantambu

PNM's Retrograde Death Penalty Politics

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
March 05, 2011

Monday, 28 February 2011 will not only live in infamy but it will also be recorded as one of the darkest days in the history of public policy decision-making process in T&T. This historic, albeit unforgettable, day witnessed the opposition PNM voting against the constitutional amendment to resume hanging as the most effective penalty/punishment/deterrent for murder.

The fact of the matter is that this vote in Parliament required a special three-quarters majority, namely 32 positive votes to pass. Unfortunately , that did not happen. The Constitutional Amendment Bill was defeated because twenty-nine (29) members of the ruling People's Partnership (PP) government voted "Yes" to the amendment while eleven (11) members of the opposition PNM voted "No."

Indeed, this PNM "No" vote is the most and worst anti-We the People vote of all time. To all intent and purposes, it appears obvious that the opposition PNM had already decided/planned that it was going to cast the "No" vote from the very beginning of the decision by the recently elected PP government to introduce the death penalty as the sentence of last resort for the crime of murder in T&T.

Indeed, this premeditated PNM decision comes to the fore when one examines the multiple concessions the PP government gave in to the PNM but the disloyal PNM opposition, in its own insular wisdom, just kept moving the death penalty goal post at every turn.

The fact of the matter is that it should be noted that all highly respected legal authorities/associations in T&T and other Caribbean countries have advised, including the then ruling PNM government, that the death penalty constitutional amendment was the way to go. The PNM agreed to this course of action when it was in power. All of a sudden, now that it is in opposition, the PNM is against such action. It is for this non-action on the crucial and vital death penalty legislation that the PNM should remain in opposition, ad infinitum.

Indeed, this PNM turn around speaks volumes to the stark reality that the opposition PNM does not want the ruling PP government to succeed in the fight/battle against crime in T&T. Hence, it is using any and all means necessary to thwart the PP government's crime fighting initiatives.

The fact of the matter is that the PNM's unconscionable, egregious and infamous "No" vote is against the backdrop that 91 per cent of the citizens is in favour of the resumption of the death penalty. Ergo, the PNM should be made to pay for this anti-people "No" when national election comes around. The opposition PNM has put the lives of T&T's citizens at risk . The blood of our citizens is on their hands.

The stark reality is that drastic times call for and summon drastic actions and this is exactly why the PP government wanted hangings to resume for murder in T&T.

The time for excuses and scoring political brownie points is long gone. Criminals have been both laughing at and overtly ignoring previous governments' crime fighting policies. Now is the crucial life-saving time for the PP government to bite the bullet and in the process, let the criminals bite the hangman's noose for committing the crime of murder of another human being.

This was and still is the salient message in the death penalty legislation of the PP government.

The heydays of mammaguy, pappshow and congosa are over, period.

The message behind and in front the death penalty is very simple; it is not rocket science:

"Criminals beware
All yuh got to hear
Murderers beware
Dis year all yuh got to hear
(If all yuh kill anybody
All yuh getting de death penalty)"

Indeed, neither history nor T&T's electorate, including grieving parents of murdered children, will absolve Dr. Keith Rowley and the "No" voting eleven members of the opposition PNM for what occurred on Monday, 28 February 2011 in Parliament.

In the final analysis, " Magnum (Non) Est P.N.M. Et (Non) Pravalebit."

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies.

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