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SAINT Lucia is among five English-speaking Caribbean countries that have commuted their remaining death sentences in in the past five years, according to Amnesty International. The global human rights watchdog, in a public statement, named the other countries as Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica.

Amnesty disclosed that their death sentences were commuted between 2013 and 2017.

The organisation observed too that as of the end of last year, over 96% of all those on death row in the English-speaking Caribbean were held in three countries alone, Barbados (13%), Guyana (32%) and Trinidad and Tobago (52%).

Amnesty listed the three as countries that retain the mandatory death penalty in their legislation.

The human rights group noted that international law prohibits the mandatory imposition of the death penalty.

“It removes from judges the possibility of considering any mitigating factors at sentencing in relation to the circumstances of the offence and of the offender,” the Amnesty International public statement said.

The organisation however noted that figures on the use of the death penalty in the English-speaking Caribbean indicate that there has been a significant reduction in the application of this punishment in recent years.

It observed that the overall decrease in the death sentences in the region fully reflects global trends on the death penalty.

According to Amnesty, in the past decade 13 countries have repealed the death penalty completely from their national legislation and a further two have become abolitionist for ordinary crimes, such as murder, retaining it only for crimes committed in exceptional circumstances, for example at time of war.

Additionally, it noted that six US states – Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico and Washington – have all abolished the death penalty since 2008.

“During the same period, 16 more countries undertook an irreversible commitment under international law to abolish the death penalty,” Amnesty explained.

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