Barbados to scrap mandatory death sentence for murder

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The government of Barbados has announced plans to abolish its mandatory death sentence for murder.

Attorney-General Adriel Brathwaite said he expected strong opposition to the plan, as many on the Caribbean island believe the death penalty is an appropriate punishment.

Barbados has not executed anyone since 1984, despite the legislation.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups say the provision is too harsh and breaches international law.

Mr Brathwaite has said the government will engage the population in a big public debate before the proposal is tabled in parliament.

"Barbadians generally feel that once you commit murder you should forfeit your lives, but that is until one of their family members is involved," said Mr Brathwaite.

"I know it will be a battle but .... I believe that it is a better path for the country," he added.

Most English-speaking countries in the Caribbean allow capital punishment, but legal executions are rare in the region.

The last execution was carried out in Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2008. The previous case was in the Bahamas in 2000.

French, Dutch and British dependencies in the Caribbean have banned capital punishment.

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