Jamaica, the death penalty: report of an Amnesty International Mission to Jamaica. An informal grapevine involving prisoners who were not on death row consequently became the main link between condemned inmates and the outside world. Jamaican lawmakers voted 34-15 to retain the death penalty. 3The history of the death penalty in Jamaica, and the wider Anglophone Caribbean since the 1970s has mostly been told by legal scholars who have focused on a series of appeals heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, which has remained Jamaica’s highest appellate court since independence in 1962. For all death records, see “Jamaica, Civil Registration, 1880-1999”, Database with images, FamilySearch, http://FamilySearch.org, accessed 2015, Registrar General’s Department, Spanish Town. 282-308. rather than – as the law required – at the time of the trial. At the heart of the analysis is Mario Hector’s own, remarkable account of his life under sentence of death. Prisoners interviewed in 1975 by the Barnett Commission complained bitterly that guards taunted them about their impending hangings and terrifying rumours circulated about the experience of dying on the gallows. By 1975, there were thirty-six men awaiting execution in Jamaica and by January 1979, after three years during which no executions were carried out, the figure had risen to seventy-nine. Most dramatically, on 26 December 1974, he was among a group of up to twenty-four death row prisoners who seized one of the prison warders – a man named Clarke – and held him hostage. Indeed, the battles that played out over Jamaican capital punishment in courtrooms in both Kingston and London during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s could not have taken place without the more prosaic conflicts that were fought on death row through coordinated acts of convict resistance. Prior to independence, most homicides involved domestic violence and from the mid-1980s an even greater increase in the murder rate was linked to transnational drugs trafficking. Notwithstanding this finding, Bernard’s death sentence was eventually commuted on the same date as Mario Hector’s due to his status as a juvenile, but the case left deep scars. The following morning, the same man initiated Hector more generally in “the rules and regulations that governed the Row and the inherent norms of day-to-day survival”.32 A decade later, the condemned prisoner Anthony “Fines” Ashwood, who spent ten years on death row following a murder conviction in 1983, also drew strength from fellow inmates. At least seven other men were incarcerated for more than seven years before their executions and several men whose sentences were eventually commuted were held for even longer.28. While these consequences did not include the abolition of capital punishment, death row resistance helped to revolutionise the political debate about the death penalty in Jamaica and the lives of many death row prisoners were spared as a result. To this end, the prisoners refused to release Clarke until they were permitted to meet with the Prime Minister, Michael Manley, the chairmen of the Jamaica Council of Churches and the Jamaica Council for Human Rights and two journalists. Another warder was taken hostage at the recently established Gun Prison and the convicts involved won an audience with the national security minister. The prosecution hastily obtained a birth certificate from Spanish Town for a child named Eustace Gordon who had been born to one Violet Bailey on 28 September 1948. Furthermore, a chorus of opposition to the execution of juvenile offenders, which included repeated petitions from Amnesty International, prompted an amendment to the Juvenile law in 1976 such that punishment would thereafter be determined by an offender’s age at the time an offence was committed rather than at sentencing. In keeping with English common law precedent, executions had traditionally been conducted swiftly in Jamaica, usually within a few weeks of sentencing, but that was no longer the norm by the 1970s due principally to an increasingly lengthy appeals process. The Jamaican government’s Fourth Periodic Report concedes that the death penalty may be applied only if domestic law ensures “the relevant safeguards such as the observance of due process.” 16 Yet the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has criticized A court injunction issued on the eve of the first of these scheduled hangings caused a further delay and it was not until August 1980 – when the Senate’s eighteen-month moratorium had expired but the Fraser Committee had yet to report – that Conrad Dwyer eventually became the first person hanged in Jamaica in more than four years. They used oil from their food to lubricate the blades and stuffed the cuts with soap to keep the bars in place and cover up their work. The last execution in Jamaica was carried out in 1988. Thu, 08 Jul, 2004 - 17:57 68 Patrick Nasralla, a Kingston furniture dealer, was tried in February 1963 for the murder of one of his employees, Gilbert Gillespie. Critically – and in contradistinction to prisoners who were executed after similarly lengthy spells under sentence of death just a few years later – Williams had long since exhausted his legal appeals, so the delay in enforcing his death sentence was largely due to government inaction, which once again attests to the significant impact of the Warder Clarke kidnapping on the fate of the death row prisoners who participated in it. The diverse forms of individual and collective action in which death row prisoners engaged had far reaching consequences. & Whitman, L., Prison Conditions in Jamaica, May 1990: An America’s Watch Report, New York, Human Rights Watch, 1990. At least two months earlier, the prisoners had obtained hacksaw blades with which they painstakingly cut through the bars of their cells. “Nasralla Case”, Gleaner, 19 October 1966, p.2; “Judgment in Case against Nasralla”, Gleaner, 17 March 1967, p.5; Director of Public Prosecutions v. Nasralla , UKPC 3. 2018 was a year of many firsts when it came to the death penalty in the Caribbean. Without the kidnapping of Warder Clarke, the resultant Barnett inquiry, and the concerted protests by prison inmates and human rights groups against executions in March 1975, MacFarlane would have died long before the Privy Council decided to grant clemency. Capital punishment should be distinguished from extrajudicial executions carried out without due process of law. The two men who appear from their death certificates to have been executed for murders committed when under 18 were George Grant, executed as an 18 year old in 1969 for a murder committed 18 months earlier, and Lawrence Sinclair, whose age was recorded as 20 when he went to the gallows in 1972 for the 1969 murder of Stafford Williamson. The Jamaica Privy Council nominally continued with its regular function of reviewing capital sentences and determining whether or not the law should take its course, but while it commuted at least twenty-one death sentences between April 1976 and May 1979, it issued no execution warrants during that time, seemingly on account of ongoing political machinations about the future of capital punishment.80 In the wake of the 1977 petition and with the number of prisoners on death row growing to unprecedented and barely sustainable levels, a select committee was formed in the Jamaica House of Representatives to consider the revisions to the country’s capital laws proposed by the Barnett Commission. Sinclair’s age was contested and he was sentenced on the basis of a birth certificate presented to the court that showed him to have been born in 1950. Vaz-Green, D., A Passage Through the Valley of Death: the Anthony ‘Fines’ Ashwood Story, Hartford, CT, Green Oasis, 2005. A committee established in 1979 to consider the reform or abolition of the death penalty in Jamaica, found that “Many of the men who wore dreadlocks positively believe that their appearance caused the judge and jury to be biased against them. Hector wrote that the “free flow of letters” was “crucial to the intelligent and calculated struggle for life on the Row”, but access to stationary was heavily restricted and prison guards often blocked communications.58 An informal grapevine involving prisoners who were not on death row consequently became the main link between condemned inmates and the outside world. 775-783. In Hector’s account, the kidnapping was not the result of lax security but rather one element of a broader, coordinated campaign of resistance that had originated in attempts to improve conditions on death row that dated back many months. More generally, the article serves as a reminder of the continued importance of local context to the administration, enforcement and abolition of capital punishment, even in an era of growing international concern with executions. Ashwood likewise spoke of choosing “the way of survival”, though he attributed his hope and faith to the will of God. Kingston, University of the West Indies Press, 2003. This must involve, in particular, study of prisoners’ everyday struggles to endure life under sentence of death and the intersection of those struggles with legal appeals against individual death sentences and wider political and human rights campaigns against the death penalty. Another warder was taken hostage at the recently established Gun Prison and the convicts involved won an audience with the national security minister. The second inquiry, headed by H. Aubrey Fraser, the Director of the Norman Manley Law School, had a broader remit to assess whether the death penalty in Jamaica should be “abolished, limited or modified”, and in what conditions condemned prisoners should be held. To this end, the prisoners refused to release Clarke until they were permitted to meet with the Prime Minister, Michael Manley, the chairmen of the Jamaica Council of Churches and the Jamaica Council for Human Rights and two journalists. The decision also rested on the principle that the Jamaican Constitution trumped the common law, but this formulation was at odds with an earlier Judicial Committee ruling in the case of Director of Public Prosecutions v. Nasralla (1967), which found that the Constitution did not establish any new rights that were inconsistent with the common law as it had stood when the Constitution was adopted in 1962.68 As such, Gordon’s case did not bring a final resolution to the legal and constitutional questions concerning Jamaica’s death penalty laws and young offenders.69 On the contrary, the Jamaican Court of Appeal repeatedly ignored the judgment over the following years and instead relied on Nasralla to support rulings that offenders should only be treated as juveniles if they were under the age of eighteen when sentenced rather than at the time of their offence. 65 “Prisoners protest … Convicts to be hanged today”, Gleaner, 25 February 1976, p.2. (1969). Thompson, H. A., Blood in the Water: the Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, New York, Pantheon, 2016. First, the Suppression of Crime Act (1974), gave the police broad new powers to carry out searches without a warrant and make arrests on the basis of reasonable suspicion. There they were beaten by guards and locked in solitary confinement.2 In keeping with English common law precedent, executions had traditionally been conducted swiftly in Jamaica, usually within a few weeks of sentencing, but that was no longer the norm by the 1970s due principally to an increasingly lengthy appeals process. (eds) Capital Punishment: Strategies for Abolition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. In this way, Hector was able to send letters to church groups and human rights organisations, including the UN Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International, which took up his case as part of a broader campaign against the execution of convicts who had been under the age of 18 when they committed their alleged offences. It did, however, have far-reaching psychological, ideological and practical implications. Hector spent three years on death row and Williams seven years before their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment by Jamaica’s Governor-General, Florizel Glasspole. April 2019Cornell Center and Tanzanian Partners Host Workshop on Advocacy and Training on Mental Health. , Winchester, Waterside Press, 1996, pp. See “4 on Death Row get reprieve,” Gleaner, 28 July 1972, p.18; “Mother of eight sentenced to death,” Gleaner, 21 October 1972, p.2; “Bernard will not Hang,” Gleaner, 13 September 1975, p.1. However, in order to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ, as the neighboring countries of Guyana and Barbados have done, Jamaica will have to first amend its Constitution. The Fraser commission to investigate the future of the World, London, Routledge, 2004 jamaican law on death penalty pp in age. After lunch on 12 September 1975 ” was used by condemned men in,! 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