Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Jamaica's parliament has voted to keep the death penalty, as the Caribbean nation struggles to contain one of the world's highest murder rates
MPs were allowed a free vote, rather than having to vote along party lines. Jamaica has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 1988 but the governing Jamaica Labor Party, elected in 2007, has pushed for its return. Jamaica currently has nine men on death row. There have been 1,200 murders on the island so far in 2008. The vote followed weeks of passionate debate. Thirty-four members of parliament voted in favor of capital punishment, 15 voted against. There were 10 abstentions. Those opposed wanted improvements to Jamaica's heavily criticized police and justice system, while those in favor pointed to the ever-upward rise in violent crime. The Jamaica Labor Party was elected with a call to resume hanging immediately. Concerns had been raised about the risk of sanctions - primarily from the EU - but Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that if due legal process was observed, then the law should take its course.