Ms. Ramjattan Beats the Gallows in Trinidad
Amnesty International and other human rights groups report that over half of all countries in the world have abrogated the death penalty in either law or practice. Particularly, Amnesty International reports that 64 countries and territories have abolished capital punishment for all crimes, while 91 other countries among them, many of which are part of the English Speaking Caribbean (ESC) which retain and employ the death penalty. The countries comprising the ESC are: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Dominica, Bahamas and Suriname. In the latter part of 1990, Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups observed with concern what they believe is a trend towards the growing popularity for hangings throughout the Caribbean, a vestige from British colonial rule. England had only one form to execute murderers and that of hanging by the neck until death. Although England had abolished executions for murder in the year 1991 However, the ESC maintains the tradition of hanging murders. Visit:- Human rights groups decried the fact that many of governments within the ESC had undertaken controversial steps to alter their justice systems and constitutions and sever relations with international appeals authorities in order to make it easier for them to execute executions. Of course, a lot of people in The United States are not aware of the death penalty controversy that was raging between human rights groups as well as the governments of many countries in the ESC nations in the Caribbean and the Caribbean; nor are they aware that executions in the ESC are still being carried out with hanging. This article focuses on one ESC woman on death row who fought the gallows. It is my belief that gender-bias was a factor in preventing her from being hanged. But, we need to spend a moment to look at the underlying causes of the debate. In order to do this, it is necessary to examine what is well-known to both those who support the use of the death penalty as well as those in support of its abrogation, such as Pratt as well as Morgan. PRATT and MORGAN Pratt and Morgan two cases consolidated of Jamaica, ( Pratt v. Attorney General of Jamaica, 2 App. Cas. 1.) which resulted in a landmark decision in 1993 by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, that is the British tribunal of last resort to many Caribbean nations. The judgment established the principle that both Pratt and Morgan, who had been held on Jamaica's death rows for a period exceeding five years, would be seen as victims of inhumane and cruel punishments if they were taken to the gallows. They ought to have their sentences commuted to life prison. It was also recommended that the Privy Council also recommended that other prisoners who have been on death row in the region for five or more years must also have their sentences reduced. The Privy Council then reviewed the tortured chronology of the appellants' appeal process , which included unsuccessful appeals, rulings that denied their appeals with no written explanation, and failure of Jamaica to accept those recommendations issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights following their examination of the matter. It was the decision of the Privy Council that in any instance where execution is scheduled to occur at least five years after sentence , there must be solid grounds to conclude that the delay is such as to constitute inhumane treatment or punishment as proscribed under the Constitution. As a result of Pratt as well as Morgan prisoner deaths, all inmates of the Caribbean who had been in death row for more than five years saw their sentences reduced to life imprisonment. Many prisoners are continuing to be taken off death row as a result. According to reports, for those that remain in the death row, the Pratt and Morgan decision has caused a scramble to extend their appeals process beyond the limit of five years. Prior to Pratt and Morgan there were 450 inmates who were on death row across the ESC. While just a few hangings have been reported during the time since Pratt and Morgan, the death row number is much less than half of what it was back in 1993 - a direct consequence of the conversion of sentences. In the mid 1990's Trinidad and Tobago was the only ESC nation with women who were on death row. Amnesty International reported, as March 1999, there had been seventy six men and five women on death row in Trinidad. TRINIDAD I visited Trinidad at the end of June in 1999 to learn more about the country as well as the women in death row. The ESC islands of Trinidad and Tobago form a one-state state that has a parliamentary democracy, modeled after the United Kingdom. The country is headed by a president elected by the legislature. The judiciary is independent however constitutional issues can have to be appealed before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The two islands host the population of 1.3 million people and comprise a land mass about 1.5 times larger than the state of Rhode Island. The southernmost tip of Trinidad is located only 3 miles away from Coast of Venezuela. The majority of the population are of East Indian descent (40.3%), followed closely by those with African descent (39.5%), 18% of the people are mixed nationals and those of European origin comprise 0.6% of the populace. The country is endowed with abundant oil reserves and natural gas . The country also had a GDP of $5.4 billion in 1996. Women are on Death Row While in Trinidad I am able to know about three of the five women currently on death row. There is Giselle Stafford. She was sentenced to death in 1996, for the murder of man. Angela Ramdeen was sentenced in 1997 to be hanged. Ms. Ramdeen was convicted for the murder of her two step-children. There is also Indravani Pamela Ramjattan , who was sentenced to death row for the 1995 slaying of her husband who was common law, Alexander Jordan. There haven't been any executions of women in Trinidad since the country gained Independence from Great Britain in 1962. A majority of the women who are on death row have been there because of a form that is domestic in nature. A number of women's groups and Amnesty International, believe that violence against women at home is an everyday occurrence in Trinidad. There is a report that 27 women were murdered in domestic violence incidents in 1998. In all, there were reported 2,282 instances of domestic violence same year. There were six women's shelters across the whole country in the latter part of 1990 and no legal aid for battered women. The phenomenon we are familiar with as"battered wives syndrome" that we see is a common occurrence in United States Courts as a defense to assault or homicide of a spouse isn't available in Trinidad. The evidence presented in Trinidadian tribunals could be used to demonstrate "diminished responsibility." The Ramjattan Case The women being held to death of Trinidad the case of Ms. Ramjattan' s case was the most well-known because of interest by women's groups and activist for human rights. Despite Trinidad's Attorney General's resolve to carry out the death penalty to all on death row in five years of the Pratt and Morgan five-year limitation, there was widespread speculation in the local community that the then the Prime Minister of the time, Basdeo Panday was not going to execute women. Indravani Pamela Ramjattan, Haniff Hillaire, and Denny Baptiste were all convicted in the year 1995, in an in-joint trial for The murder case of Ramjattan' s common law husband Alexander Jordan at Cumuto, Trinidad. The evidence in the case show that Ms. Ramjattan was a graduate of an eighth grade education. At the age of 16 her parents accepted money from Alexander Jordan, a man in his thirties, who had his wife Ms. Ms. Ramjattan in as his commonlaw wife. There were six of them together for a period of 10 years. The same time Ms. Ramjattan was subjected to abuse at the hands of Jordan and in 1991 left him. She left her two children with her into the city of Sangre Grande and began living with childhood sweetheart, Denny Baptiste. In the next few days, Jordan tracked her down and forcibly broke down Baptiste's door, and then took the woman. Ramjattan home to Cumuto. On arrival in Cumuto she was beaten unconscious by Jordan.  

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