by Sharefil Gaillard
St. Lucia (Loop) – Amidst a spate of deadly gun violence, Justice and National Security Minister, Senator Hermangild Francis has said that the death penalty should be used in Saint Lucia, considering it remains on the law books.
“It is in our books, and I am saying if it is on our books, we must utilize it,” said Francis.
The death penalty has been abolished in over 100 countries globally, yet remains legal in others, including in Saint Lucia.
However, the last execution in Saint Lucia took place on October 17, 1995, with the hanging of convicted murderer Joseph Solomon.
Solomon was convicted of murder and rape in 1979 and sentenced to death, which was mandatory for murder under Saint Lucian law. However, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the government.
In 1993, after serving fourteen years in prison, Solomon was pardoned and released from prison. The next year, Solomon was arrested for murder once again. At his 1994 trial, he was again convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
Solomon was executed with another prisoner acting as hangman. It was the first execution in Saint Lucia since 1986.
Now, some members of society have called for the death penalty to be used again on the island, arguing that it serves as a deterrent for serious crimes.
While there is no concrete evidence to support that theory, Francis said the law is the law.
“That is what our law provides, and if we are law-abiding citizens, that is what we should do,” Francis said, declaring that the Criminal Code of Saint Lucia makes special provisions for the death penalty.
“If you kill a police officer in the line of duty, you kill a judge; they make that exception so that it automatically becomes a capital trial which attracts the death penalty,” he added.
Currently, there are no prisoners on death row at the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF).
Nineteen inmates who were on death row had their sentences commuted to serve life in prison.