Works Minister Austin “Jack” Warner said the campaign would be called “A Fisherman’s Cry”, in memory of the three fishermen from his constituency in Felicity, in central Trinidad, who were murdered two weeks ago.
Warner said the programme would involve scores of volunteers and that paid staff would set up offices, and engage in a house-to-house campaign to get the signatures of the public to support the hanging bill.
Warner said that the signatures would be presented to legislators as a petition as part of stringent measures to deal with the murder rate.
The main opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) has already indicated that it would not be bullied into supporting plans by the Kamla Persad Bissessar led coalition for new legislation to ensure the execution of convicted criminals.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said her administration had prepared a package of crime legislation to address the “tsunami of crime” in the oil rich twin island republic.
She said some of the legislation had already been introduced in the Parliament adding “my government is committed to the implementation of the death penalty which remains part of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago. You will recall last year we brought the necessary legislation, the Constitutional Amendment Capital Offences Bill 2011.
“The first bill required a special majority vote to be passed in the Parliament, regrettably in spite of our efforts there were those within the parliament who saw it fit not to give their support to that bill, despite the cries coming out from our citizens.”
But Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley said that the PNM had always maintained that the death penalty is the law of the country and that two recommendations had been made to the government in order to have the law effectively carried out.
He said the recommendations included a maximum 18 months to ensure any appeal of a murder conviction and overhauling the justice system to ensure that cases are heard quickly.
But he said that the government dismissed the recommendations and as a result, the PNM will not help ensure the success of the government’s new “hanging bill”.
Figures show that 37 people have already been murdered here in 2012. On Sunday, three people were killed within a 12-hour period.