At a time when the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is recording one of its highest murder rates, Junior Minister of Tourism Archibald Christian is lamenting the abolition of the death penalty in the territory.
He noted that human rights groups have been raising concern about capital punishment, but he asked if murder victims’ right to life is also being considered.
In 1991, the United Kingdom abolished the BVI’s death penalty for murder.
Christian, during a sitting of the House of Assembly a few days ago, suggested that there is a link between the death penalty and the territory’s murder rate. He did not fully develop his point.
However, the BVI is this year recording one of its highest murder rates in modern times, with five people murdered before the first half of the year. This year’s rate is rivaling the nine murders reported in 2008.
Christian told the House of Assembly: “Back in the early 1990s, we had the death penalty. And irrespective of what anyone wants to say, prior to the death penalty [being abolished], we can look at the murder rate in the Virgin Islands and see exactly what it stood at.”
“I know the human rights people will always have their arguments about cruel and unusual punishment and people’s right to survive and so on. What about people’s right to not be killed?” added Christian.
“We were told that there is nothing that we could do about it (abolition of the death penalty). It was imperial legislation that was sent down to us [saying] comply or else,” Christian further told the House while he complained that the BVI has been bowing to international pressures for too long without resistance.
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