By Steve Thomas Observer Nevis Editor
(Charlestown, Nevis) ” The international human rights organization Amnesty International has strongly condemned the government of St. Kitts and Nevis for the Dec. 19 hanging of Charles LaPlace. In a public statement issued on Dec. 22, AI said the execution was “a shameless human rights development for the country after 10 years of moratorium. Amnesty International understands concerns about the upsurge of crime and murders in the country. However, the organization strongly believes that the use of the death penalty, as well as constituting cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, is not an effective method for preventing crime.” Mr. LaPlace was convicted for the 2004 murder of his wife. He was sentenced to death in 2006. Speaking in the National Assembly last week, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas defended the government’s decision to proceed with the execution. “Another life taken. It is a human life, but we have to be certain that there is a deterrent among our people in taking another man’s life. We have a resolve to deal with the issue of crime and violence in this country,” he said. In its statement, AI argues against the deterrent value of executions. “Given the unlikelihood of ever being brought before the courts, it is quite implausible that before committing a crime a criminal would consider the risk of being hung and would refrain from wrong-doing. The death penalty also runs the risk of irrevocable error,” according to Amnesty International. “Protection of citizens does not come from executing criminals but from preventing them from committing crimes. Amnesty International therefore believes that the true solution to the deteriorating crime situation lies with the strengthening of police capacities. The proper functioning of the justice system is also crucial to ensure compensation to victims but such compensation cannot come from claiming the life of the wrong-doer.” The government has been looking for ways to bring surging crime under control. In 2008, the Federation has recorded 23 murders. Last weekend, three people were wounded in three separate shooting incidents. The human rights group made a direct appeal to the government to stop executions. “Amnesty International appeals to the St Kitts and Nevis authorities to send a strong message to the world and to the other Caribbean countries by stopping the executions and commuting the sentences of all other prisoners waiting on death row,” its statement said.