President Anthony Carmona yesterday expressed deep concern at the 62 murders that occurred last month, describing it as untenable and unsatisfactory.
Carmona made the statement as he handed letters of appointment to members of the Sentencing Commission Board chaired by attorney Gregory Delzin at the Office of the President, St Ann’s.
The other members are anthropologist Dr Gabrielle Hosein, psychiatric social worker Lionel Remy, attorney Daniel Khan and business consultant Joanne Murray-Charles.
Two other members will be appointed shortly.
“It grieves my heart every time I pick up my newspapers and I read of the slaughter that is taking place on our streets,” Carmona said, in his brief address to the commission.
On his way back from addressing the International Criminal Court recently, Carmona said he passed through London which has a population of 10 million but recorded between five to six murders.
Upon his returned home, Carmona said he was informed that the murder rate had been spiralling “to the extent where some 62 killings took place in the space of one month,” referring to January, which was recorded as the country’s bloodiest month in T&T’s history.
“This is untenable and highly unsatisfactory.”
Carmona said the Bail Boys Project which he initiated was geared to arrest the country’s social dysfunctions.
Carmona said When prisoners came before him when he served as a judge, he realised that many of them were suffering from mental diseases and needed psychiatric care and treatment, but were going out in society.
He said the commission will consider international benchmark standards of sentencing and conduct educational programmes to inform the public about sentencing and its practices and procedures.l
As an advocate of restorative justice, Carmona said, “we must all play our role in arresting the debilitating negatives in society, one of which was crime.”
Carmona said there was a view that restorative justice was easy on criminals.
“And it is not. It has to do with public education.”
He said many times a judge did the proper thing by engaging a sentencing regime that involved restorative justice, leniency and deterrence.
However, when the public saw what was done, there would have been a big hue and cry.
“Because they simply do not understand what sentencing is all about.”
He said the public needed to be informed that sentencing do not only involve incarceration as there are other facilitating measures that can engage a process that would result in proper justice.
In his brief interview with the media, Delzin said the commission will engage all stakeholders in the administration of justice to ensure that there is some degree of parity and fairness in sentencing.
He said T&T needed to modernise its approach to sentencing.
“Sentencing is matching the punishment with the crime and not matching emotions with punishment,” Delzin said.
He said when people understand a sentencing process, they would also comprehend the link between crime and punishment.
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Shaliza Hassanali)