Hanging? No, Minister!

THE Opposition yes­ter­day poured cold water on National Security Minister Robert Montague’s announce­ment that he is con­tem­plat­ing the resump­tion of hang­ing in Jamaica, argu­ing that the death penal­ty does not act as a deter­rent to mur­der and is not the solu­tion the country’s nag­ging prob­lem of vio­lent crime.

According to Opposition spokesman on jus­tice and gov­er­nance, Senator Mark Golding, coun­tries in the world that have abol­ished the death penal­ty gen­er­al­ly remain the safest, with the least num­ber of mur­ders. “Those states in the United States which retain and apply the death penal­ty (for exam­ple Texas) are not the states which enjoy the low­est mur­der rates in the US. The active use of the death penal­ty in Jamaica did not pre­vent the car­nage of mur­ders in 1980,” Golding said. Noting that it is not nec­es­sary for the resump­tion of hang­ing at this time, he said that mur­ders have declined by 40 per cent since the extra­di­tion of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in 2010, dur­ing an era where the death penal­ty was not a fac­tor.

He said that the Opposition is of the view that the death penal­ty can­not be the solu­tion to Jamaica’s prob­lem of vio­lent crime. “Violent crime in Jamaica has sev­er­al root caus­es, and curb­ing it requires solu­tions that address those caus­es,” he said. Golding sug­gest­ed that Jamaica needs, among oth­er things, growth with equi­ty that cre­ates good-qual­i­ty employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for our peo­ple, so that they aren’t drawn towards crim­i­nal organ­i­sa­tions and vio­lent crime. He added that the mod­erni­sa­tion and strength­en­ing of the jus­tice sys­tem need to be con­tin­ued, and the imple­men­ta­tion of the Justice Reform Programme should not be allowed to lose momen­tum. “I do not regard min­is­ter Montague’s announce­ment, that the Government is seek­ing “to deter­mine if there are any legal imped­i­ments for the resump­tion of hang­ing in Jamaica”, as a seri­ous pol­i­cy ini­tia­tive that will be imple­ment­ed. The Government can’t hang more peo­ple; nor, as a prac­ti­cal mat­ter, can Parliament. Only the courts can make that hap­pen, and the courts are gov­erned by the rule of law and, in par­tic­u­lar, the human rights guar­an­tees in our Constitution,” Golding said.

In addi­tion, he said that the reac­ti­va­tion of the death penal­ty after 28 years would bring con­dem­na­tion and adverse crit­i­cism on Jamaica from inter­na­tion­al devel­op­ment part­ners that are not in sup­port of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. Last week, Montague said Government remains com­mit­ted to mobil­is­ing all the resources at its dis­pos­al to wage a “relent­less war” against crim­i­nal ele­ments “intent on destroy­ing our nation”. To this end, he said the Administration is cur­rent­ly explor­ing the pos­si­ble resump­tion of hang­ing. Noting that it forms part of the crime-pre­ven­tion strate­gies aimed at cre­at­ing safer com­mu­ni­ties by tack­ling “law­less ele­ments”, Montague said his state min­is­ter, Pearnel Charles Jr, has been asked to con­sult with sev­er­al stake­hold­ers, includ­ing the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Office, to deter­mine if there are any “legal imped­i­ments” to be addressed. He said the ministry’s over­all approach to cre­at­ing safer com­mu­ni­ties is based on five key pil­lars of crime pre­ven­tion: social devel­op­ment, sit­u­a­tion­al pre­ven­tion, effec­tive polic­ing, swift and sure jus­tice process­es, and reduc­ing re-offend­ing.

MEANWHILE.…
Missing American mis­sion­ary found dead.

ST MARY, Jamaica – OBSERVER ONLINE has learnt that the body of an American mis­sion­ary who was ear­li­er report­ed miss­ing, has been found. 

The search for Harold Nichols con­clud­ed a short while ago when a team of police and res­i­dents found his body in St Mary. His head was report­ed­ly bashed in.
A search was launched for Nichols after his col­league, Randy Hentzel, who is also an American, was found dead on Saturday after­noon.
.….….…..

PORT MARIA, St Mary — Sunday after­noons are tra­di­tion­al­ly spent at home with fam­i­ly mem­bers in Jamaica; how­ev­er, for the res­i­dents of Boscobel in St Mary, Sunday, May 1 was spent search­ing for a man they loved, even as they griev­ed for anoth­er.

Their hope was to find Harold Nichols alive; how­ev­er, they were left dis­ap­point­ed and over­come with grief as Nichols’ body was dis­cov­ered after 4:00 pm yes­ter­day. The body of 48-year-old Randy Hentzel had been found a day ear­li­er on Saturday after­noon, after 12:00 pm. However, there were no signs of his col­league, mis­sion­ary Nichols, after the two went on a trail in the Albion Mountain area on Saturday. Reports from the St Mary police are that the two men rent­ed motor­cy­cles in Ocho Rios and went on the trail. Residents stum­bled on Hentzel’s body after 12:00 pm and the police were sum­moned. Deputy Superintendent of Police Dwight Powell said Hentzel’s body was found face down with his hands bound with a piece of cloth believed to be torn from his shirt. One of the motor­cy­cles was seen beside his body. The sec­ond motor­cy­cle was found approx­i­mate­ly three chains away. However, there was no sign of the sec­ond mis­sion­ary.

While res­i­dents hoped for the best on Sunday, they were left dis­ap­point­ed after the body of the sec­ond mis­sion­ary was found. His head was report­ed­ly bashed in.

The police, along with approx­i­mate­ly 70 res­i­dents, searched for Nichols from approx­i­mate­ly 7:00 am Sunday morn­ing until after 2:00 pm. They lat­er returned to search with the help of canines when the body was found. The two men, who have been vis­it­ing Jamaica for the past 14 years, have done much work in the Boscobel area. “They have Bible study at their homes; every day the chil­dren go there,” Councillor for the Boscobel Division Fitzroy Wilson said. “I have been work­ing with him for the past six to sev­en years,” Wilson said of Nichols. Such was the evi­dence of their work, that res­i­dents turned out in their num­bers to aid in Sunday’s search. “When the chil­dren go to Bible study, he pro­vid­ed refresh­ments for them. He helped some of the kids with mon­ey for school, with their back-to-school,” Wilson said. He said Nichols and his team also built homes in the Boscobel area for indi­gent peo­ple.

We have three hous­es now that we are work­ing on, and just [last] Tuesday we had a meet­ing,” he said. He said at the meet­ing it was revealed that a mis­sion team would vis­it the island next week and work would have con­tin­ued to assist the res­i­dents. “It’s just sad. It is very, very sad,” Wilson said. An elder­ly woman who was among the res­i­dents said she was out with those who searched on Sunday because she, too, has ben­e­fit­ed from the assis­tance of Nichols and his team. “That man build a house and give me,” Goffeth Miller said. Sharon Scott of the Red Cross in Boscobel said Nichols assist­ed the team to build a house for a home­less man last August. “Those two men are two well-loved men in the com­mu­ni­ty,” she said. Scott said res­i­dents wept open­ly on Sunday after the grue­some dis­cov­ery was made in the Albion Mountain area. Community grieves after 2 American mis­sion­ar­ies found dead