PNM’s Retrograde Death Penalty Politics

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
March 05, 2011

HangingMonday, 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.

14 Responses to “PNM’s Retrograde Death Penalty Politics”


  • The day the three(votes) were missing
    Was a symbol of renewal of life,
    a symbol of hope in a country despairing about crime,
    but willing to commit further crimes
    in the furtherance of the ending of crime.Go figure.
    Hanging, in my memory, began with Dr. Dalip Singh for carving up, surgucally, his Swedish wife, but his skill was defeated by the tides in the gulf. Whatever goes to sea, comes back.
    Along the way came Boysie Singh, for the murder of Thelma HAynes. Poolool brothers did not wait on the hangman, they poisoned themselves, their grimacing death masks forever seared in the memory of my sister, a medical assistant.
    And then , our mass hanging of the Chadee Nine WAS the day that lived in infamy, a weekend rather. We executed three, then three, then three, pausing incongrously for Sunday, the day honoring the Christian God, who was crucified on a Friday, in the most heinous judicial murder in the history of man. In 2011, supposed Civilized people still call for a murder to compensate for murder. Barbarians roam the earth masquerading as Educated men and women. When, since the forced death of Socrates has a political execution been justified? Savorarola?Have we moved no further from Atilla, and Jenghiz and Pontius Pilte, than next door?

    • I agree with you to a certain extent, for instance the statement you made about it being a barbaric act. however i would like you to consider the feelings of those individuals who have to live the rest of their lives in misery after their husbands, babies, mothers, daughters, etc have be killed by these individuals.

      Yes, the convicted individuals should go through the judiciary system in a just manner initially, but if they are eligible for hanging, i believe it will deter future murders from commnitting these horrific acts.

      Will your comments be the same if someone you knew personally was murdered, god forbid. ?

  • Gerd REINHOLD Prof. Dr. phil.

    What are you people of my beloved Trinidad and Tobago doing with criminals? This shall be civilized. Who is better: the murderer or those who murder the murderer (by hanging!) It has been proven, that death penalty does nowhere in this world helps to prevent murders or at least to reduce the number of them . . .!

  • The PNM has extensive links with “community leaders” and gangs; remember the Ambassador Hotel and Crowne Plaza “summit meetings”?
    Some of these community leaders may well have ordered executions of rivals and could be themselves at risk of execution if hanging is reinstated. Their sudde opposition to the death penalty needs to be considered in this context.

  • This looks to be a one-sided discussion, since reasoning people CANNOT be for the death penalty, which is a ridiculous response to crime. I have noticed that in the state of Texas where I live, the sun goes behind a cloud on the days that people are executed, just as the world grew dark when Jesus was executed.We who stand in the shadow of HIS cross must venerate his sacrifice, but not emulate the unreasoning attempt of the Romans to eradicate all “troublemakers”in the lands they ruled, when the troublemakers were people who resisted the Roman yoke on their necks, as a matter of survival.
    The British took the Death Penalty to India and Africa, as well as to the Caribbean, but there is no record of a single brit being executed in any of those regions, for any crime, no matter how heinous. Picton, an early colonial governor was recalled for hanging a 13 year old girl from the rafters by her thumbs, with a spike under her toe, in case she thought of resting her foot there. Cudjoe details this attrocity of Picton and his henchman Beggorat, in Beyond Boundaries- his book about Colonial TnT. No one would have dreamed of hanging Picton for his excesses among the slave population, including burning at the stake for alleged witch-craft. You see, long before the Americans made it state policy, it was generally understood that white people were not to be hung for crimes against non-whites, but the opposite was to be effected at every opportunity.
    When Britain, supposedly a Christian nation, got tired of drawing and quartering as a specctator sport, they began deporting people to Australia. One young girl of eleven was deported for being in possession of half a yard of fabric and “Could not give a good account of herself, and how she came by it”.Take note of the parenthetical remarks. Do some research into our criminal records in TnT and see how often such remarks pepper the old colonial justice system.
    I think of a stutterer, Say King George VI, stopped by the police somewhere who did not know who he was. He would not be able to give “a good account of himself”. Indeed no stutterer would, it being a condition aggravated by anxiety. For such, you could have been deported.
    The police approach(old times), the wappie players run. I never could have seen what was wrong with wappie, though I do not understand the game. The police open fire, one man is hit, he died. It good for him, he shouldn’t have been gambling in the first case. Then the state institutes a lottery system. And no one ever got arrested for selling Sweepstakes based on the races once held in three places in TnT and now confined to SAnta Rosa.
    You see, crime is what poor people do, when wealthy people do the same, it is aclled by another name.

    Should the woman driving the Lexus that killed one policeman and critically injured another, be hanged for the death? Should she be hanged because she was here illegally? That explains the delay in charging her. They had to get things right and claim she was a UWI student. What of the fifteen year od allegedly driving a car on the Diego Martin Expressway, that killed someone, and allegedly an older person got behind the wheel instead of rendering aid to the dying? Is that gross negligent homicide and hangable offense, or only when some poor young man, whose life has been a total aggravation, shoots someone? Even in the course of committing a crime?
    These two CArnival DAys, there will be no murders. People are out enjoying themselves. There will be pressure vents for their rage. If you see Kamla playing mas and wining on Keith, do not be surprised. Today and tomorrow all is well. Wedbnesday is a different matter as the lid of the pressure cooker that is life in TnT get screwed back ito place.

    Hanging is a desperate attempt at playing politics, by people who have not a clue about what drives anyone to absolute despair.
    You simply cannot execute all the enraged people. Other solutions are needed.
    Bush, as Governor of Texas, executed 40 people in a year- a record. No dent in crime, drug trafficking, or gun running. He tried executing a number of people in Iraq, inclusing Saddan Hussain.All that blood is coming back on America. Crime is even mor e out of control world-wide.
    The God of Creation seems to be asking us to design other solutions.

  • Kudos to Dr Natambu!! you could not have articulated it better!I do hope that the citizens of T&T NEVER forget this nasty pnm game played on us!Where there’s a will, there’s a way!The pnm shall always be in opposition OR may disappear altogether!

  • Zaks, your faith in hanging is about equal to my belief in a God who walked on water. Amen? There is no empirical proof that others can accept, but we believe it works, Amen?

  • it has been shown that the death penalty has not reduced nor deterred crime. we in america have various modes of the death penalty , yet we are seeing the escalation of crime in all the major cities. i believe a life sentence with no parole would make more sentence. an eye for an eye is not the way to go my fellow trinidadians.thanks for listening.

  • Veiws are very passionate when action should be the course in restoring our civil discourse.let’s invigle the authorities to pursue vigouriously the revamping of our judicial system to seriously deal withcertain crimes that’sdestroying this nation’s fabric.
    While the punishment must be swift,the will to clean up society of deviants,mustbe firmly established by unwavering strenghtening of process.
    Nothing could be achieved if the will,which is that of the citzenry is impeded by those in the miniority lobby of so call advocates of human right pf mitigating for these criminals and focossing on giving such deviants the right to snicker and reharsh .

  • It is bordering on disgust to hear and read so much about hanging having an effect on crime. It is even more disgusting to read the same nonsense regurgitated from captain to cook as if this paranoia is in fact a virus being spread and just about anyone may ‘catch” it Citizens, I urge you to think for yourselves. Hanging and swift justice may have an effect on murder but no other serious crimes. A sicko may rape 100 infants under the age of three, leave them crippled for life and cannot be hanged. Children are sexually abused, and incest is common-placed in our society. People generally do not think of being killed, but robbed, hog-tied, kidnapped, buggered, raped and seriously wounded.Being planassed is an experience in hell, but unfortunately these crimes do not carry the death penalty.

    Dr. Nantambu can and ought to tell us that in countries like Singapore, capital punishment is very effective against crime because there are many crimes other than murder which are punishable by death.”Simple” possession of narcotics can cost the offender his life. Also, there is not any slack enshrined in the law to make a mockery of everyone via judicial reviews.

    Please people think. More than 60% of murders are drug related and revenge killings. Should we expend our energies of compassion to a victim who is alleged to have been a hitman, anymore than a 7 year old child who is experiencing incestuous hell? This child can be a future deviant and prostitute as statistics may show.

    Want an example of effective corporal punishment? Put a convict in a cell 6 inches shorter than he is with 2 hrs. out of his cell per day. The length of time is determined by the severity crime.Can anyone take 10 years of that? No life lost, no blood shed.

  • Consider the ones who impart capital crimes are really not the same as the peace loving people. These murderers of human beings are not what life is about. Thus we need to filter them out if proven guilty. If you take away someone’s life, then found guilty, then what is the point of spending lifetime in prison for that deed? Is this what the person weighed up that: they cant esxecute him but its ok, I could spend the rest of my life in prison. Or did he weigh up the ideas: that if they dont catch me, I will do it agaian till they catch me, but that is ok as I can live in a prison till I dead? or did he think, nah boy< not me and murder eh, if they catch me they will snuff me out. I think the latter scenario holds at least 33% probability of all 3 and its a deterrent. QED

  • And should we include doctors with fake qualifications who murder women of childbearing age, and their infant children, in this group?

  • Des, do not argue with fools, they would bring you down to their level then beat you with experience. Notice the follow up question.
    My question to her is, is water wet or is fire hot?

  • i live in the uk my mother is a trini. I have been trinidad a few times back as a child and love it. But i will not be travelling thier for a long time as the crime rate especially murder is out of control. I wonder how the police are trained as i know many officers who have seemed to get a job in the force easy. Perhaps there needs to be more harsh system Better policing is needed before this country gets ruined.

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