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UNCHR Calls On Barbados Not To Execute Prisoner

UN Human Rights Envoy Calls On Barbados Not To Violate Laws By Executing Prisoner

A United Nations human rights expert has called on Barbados not to execute a convicted prisoner whose execution is scheduled to taker place today, saying it would violate the Caribbean island’s international legal obligations.

"For the past 20 years Barbados has not executed any condemned prisoner. There are several reasons why this is not the right context in which to usher in a policy sea change," the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights dealing with extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Professor Philip Alston, said over the weekend.

"The first is that the case has yet to be heard by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Government of Barbados has affirmed in the past its commitment to respect the right of those sentenced to death to petition that body. It is thus essential to await the outcome of that process."

Secondly, although the British Privy Council agreed last year that the death penalty for Frederick Atkins was consistent with the constitution of Barbados, it took pains to highlight the fact that a mandatory death penalty clearly violated international law by ignoring extenuating circumstances, he said.

The Privy Council in London is the court of last resort for many Commonwealth members, including Barbados.

Executing Mr. Atkins on the basis of a mandatory death sentence provision would be an extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, the law professor said.

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