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Russians question European ban on death penalty

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The politics of political correctness will probably prevail, as family members of the victims of the 2004 terrorist attack on a Russian school which resulted in the deaths of 340, mostly children, insist that, if found guilty, the only surviving terrorist receive the death penalty. Russia is a member of the Council of Europe, and the only member which had not formally abolished the death penalty, although it has maintained a morotorium on executions for ten years. Read the story from Moscownews.com here

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Meanwhile in the Western Hemisphere, there is renewed support for capital punishment in the Carribbean islands. As Associate Justice Breyer has repeatedly noted, the Privy Council held in a Jamaican case that delay in execution constituted a type of cruel and unusual punishment. Now, Barbados is seeking to overturn that decision in a local court that was created to offsent the anti-death penalty bias of the British Privy Council. Once again, this calls into question the reliance on any so-called international consensus about capital punishment. The AP Article follows.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) - The Caribbean Court of Justice will consider an appeal by Barbados to overturn a long-standing legal precedent that has blocked executions across the region during a period of rising crime and renewed calls for the death penalty.

On Tuesday, Barbados will ask the CCJ, a regional appeals court that heard its first case last year, to allow it to hang two men convicted of beating another man to death in 1999 - overturning a ruling that executions must occur within five years of conviction.

"This could affect death penalty cases across the Caribbean," said Ramesh Deosaran, director of the Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.
The region's last hanging - the method of executions in the Caribbean - was in the Bahamas in 2000.
In 1999, Trinidad hanged 10 men in one year; Jamaica's last hanging was in 1988.

Jamaica's membership in the CCJ has been blocked by a constitutional challenge.
The Caribbean court was started to counter the power of Britain's Privy Council, which used to be the final appeals court for the English-speaking Caribbean and was viewed as anti-death penalty by leaders in the region. The council also was seen as a remaining vestige of colonial power.

Many Caribbean countries have experienced surging crime rates, hampering their abilities to tout their islands as idyllic paradises to tourists. The death penalty has strong support in several of the countries as a way to clamp down on violence.
In Pratt and Morgan, the 1993 case that Barbados wants to overturn, the Privy Council ruled that keeping a prisoner on death row for more than five years was cruel and inhumane.

Lawyers for Barbados have argued that the time limit is an arbitrary restriction preventing them from upholding justice.
If the new court strikes down the Privy Council's ruling, it won't mean an automatic return to executions across the Caribbean since only two of the fifteen countries that voted to start the court - Barbados and Guyana - have passed legislation to accept its jurisdiction.

But it could prompt other nations to join the court and eventually lead to the resumption of executions, Deosaran said.
Though the court's judges are aware of the political pressures to hang convicted killers, it's unlikely that they will throw out such established case law.

"This is their first death penalty case," said Gregory Delzin, an anti-death penalty advocate in the Caribbean. "They're not going to come out of the barn with their guns blazing."

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