11th World Day against the Death Penalty: Greater Caribbean
On 10 October 2013, the 11th World Day Against the Death Penalty is dedicated to the Greater Caribbean where few executions take place, but where a core of countries remain strongly opposed to abolition.
As the World Day approaches, see what is happening in your country, contact us to add your event to the global list and share the Facebook invitation!
Sign the two petitions calling on the authorities of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guatemala to take action against the death penalty.
Watch and share the videos below in which five Caribbean activists talk about their daily fight against capital punishment:
The Greater Caribbean, also known as the Caribbean Basin, is composed of 25 countries:
- 10 countries are abolitionist in law: Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador (for ordinary crimes only), Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic and Venezuela
- 2 countries are considered abolitionist in practice: Grenada and Suriname
- 13 countries are retentionist: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The paradox of retentionist Caribbean: few executions but a core of countries strongly opposed to abolition
Many countries in the Caribbean region continue to retain the death penalty as part of their criminal justice system. The use of capital punishment, however, has dramatically declined in these retentionist countries, highlighting the apparent disparities between policy and practice.
The last execution in the Caribbean took place in 2008 in St. Kitts and Nevis and only three states issued death sentences in 2012 (Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago).
However, at the international level, Caribbean votes against the UN General Assembly resolutions on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty represent more than 1/4 of the total votes opposed to the global moratorium. Most of the Caribbean retentionist states have consistently voted against the resolution and have signed the Note Verbale, dissociating them from the moratorium.
Different answers to high homicide rates
Latin America and the Caribbean account for 8.5 per cent of the world’s population, yet 27 per cent of all global homicides took place in the region according to a 2012 report by the UN Development Programme.
Significantly, no scientific study to date has proved that violent crime rates are linked to the application of the death penalty. Costa Rica, abolitionist for over a century, has a low homicide rate similar to that of Antigua and Barbuda, a retentionist country, while Honduras, an abolitionist state since 1956, has a higher homicide rate than retentionist Jamaica.
The death penalty is often seen as a desperate response to a rise in violent crime, but does not address the underlying causes of criminal behaviour. In fact, some governments are increasingly realising that they must focus on prevention rather than punishment. This includes increasing investment in education, youth development, creating jobs, solving crime, and reducing poverty and socio-economic disparity.
Restriction of the use of the death penalty: the role of international human rights bodies
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the UN Human Rights Committee, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (traditional Court of Appeal for Commonwealth countries) have all taken positive steps to restrict and reduce the application of the death penalty in practice across the Caribbean. Together, these bodies have successfully limited the amount of time a person could spend on death row, and have abolished the mandatory death penalty.
Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are the only two countries continuing to apply the mandatory death penalty for murder. Guyana abolished the mandatory death penalty for murder in 2010. The death penalty, however, remains applicable for certain categories of murder.
For World Day, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty is asking:
- Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago to abolish the mandatory death penalty for all crimes;
- Guyana to abolish the death penalty for all crimes;
- Guatemala to fully abolish the death penalty in law.
To know more about the death penalty...
... all over the world: read the Facts & Figures
... in the Caribbean: read the leaflet and the detailed factsheet
Take action to stop crime, not lives:
1. Organize a public debate and a movie screening with exonerees, murder victim’s families, experts, to raise awareness on the reality of the death penalty
2. Organize an art exhibition (photo, drawings, posters) or a theatre performance from Dead Man Walking to Victor Hugo
3. Organize a demonstration, a sit-in, a ‘die-in,’ a flash mob
4. Join the events prepared for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide
5. Sign the petitions and encourage others to sign
6. Write to a prisoner on death row
7. Donate to the World Coalition against the Death Penalty or another group working to end the death penalty.
8. Join an abolitionist organization
9. Mobilize the media to raise awareness on the issue of the death penalty
10. Participate in “Cities Against the Death Penalty/Cities for Life” on November 30, 2013
Call for initiatives
> On 10 October 2013, take action against the death penalty!
Join hundreds of initiatives organised worldwide
> Wherever you are
In Africa, America, Asia, Oceania or Europe
> Whoever you are
NGOS, teachers, lawyers, local representatives, parliamentarians, artists, reporters, religious leaders, citizens
> Whatever your plans are
Debates, concerts, press conferences, demonstrations, petitions, educational and cultural activities...
Get in touch with the World Coalition to tell us about events scheduled on October 10.
Dozens of events scheduled on five continents for the 10th World Day Against the Death Penalty combined actions by activists and diplomats, cultural and educational events and media presence.
Article by Thomas Hubert published on October 11th, 2012
For the first time in nine years, the United Nations has participated in festivities marking the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
Article by Aurélie Plaçais published on October 17th, 2011
Conferences, round tables, talks, tours, meetings with politicians,
debates, press conferences, sit-ins, cultural evenings, marches and
speeches are among the many events that will take place in Africa for
this 9th World Day Against the Death Penalty.
Article by Emile Carreau published on October 06th, 2011
On 10 October 2010, the 8th World Day Against the Death Penalty is dedicated to the USA which executed 52 people and handed down 106 death sentences in 2009.
Article by Aurélie Plaçais published on May 10th, 2010
On 10 October 2009, World Day Against the Death Penalty, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty wishes to teach abolition to all citizens around the world, especially to teenagers aged 14 to 18.
Article by Aurélie Plaçais published on July 27th, 2009
On 10 October 2008, World Day Against the Death Penalty, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty calls on all citizens around the world to take action to end executions in Asia.
Article by Aurélie Plaçais published on August 04th, 2008
On October 10th, 2007, the World Day against the Death Penalty focussed on the proposed UN General Assembly resolution for a universal moratorium on executions. The proposal would save lives and give the population of retentionist states an opportunity to see for themselves that a pause in death sentences does not lead to higher crime rates.
Article by Thomas Hubert published on June 29th, 2007
Posters of the World Days Against the Death Penalty since its beginning in 2003.
Gallery published on August 24th, 2012
On 10 October 2011, the 9th World Day Against the Death Penalty
raised awareness on the inhumanity of the death penalty throughout
the entire process, from sentence to execution.
Gallery published on October 22nd, 2011
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights warns that litigation is insufficient to combat the death penalty.
Article by Tiziana Trotta published on March 15th, 2013
Human Rights Day
An appeal signed by local organizations and a new report by Amnesty International denounce multiple human rights violations in the use of capital punishment in the region and ask governments to “remove the death penalty once and for all from the law books”.
Article by Thomas Hubert published on December 10th, 2012
The Community of Sant’Egidio organised a two-day conference on the
death penalty in the Greater Caribbean in Madrid between 17-19
Article by Emile Carreau published on October 26th, 2011
On 10 October 2013, the World Day Against the Death Penalty is focusing on the death penalty in the Greater Caribbean. Browse the schedule and the map to prepare and promote the events planned around the world on the big day.
Article by WCADP published on September 10th, 2013
The World Coalition held its 2014 AGM in abolitionist Puerto Rico and highlighted key regional developments in the fight against the death penalty, which remains on the books of many countries in the Greater Caribbean.
Article by Thomas Hubert (in San Juan, Puerto Rico) published on June 27th, 2014