This report was elaborated by Francisco J. Rivera Juaristi.
(Nota: A la fecha del presente reportaje, las resoluciones sólo se encontraban disponibles en inglés).
On November 21, 2011, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a joint order supervising Barbados’s compliance with the judgments issued in the following two separate cases: 1) the November 20, 2007 judgment on preliminary objections, merits, reparations, and costs in the Boyce et al. v. Barbados case, and 2) the September 24, 2009 judgment on preliminary objections, merits, reparations, and costs in the DaCosta Cadogan v. Barbados case.
Both cases involve the implementation of mandatory death sentences in Barbados. In both cases, the Court ordered the adoption of legislative or other measures necessary to bring the Barbadian Constitution and domestic laws on the death penalty into compliance with the American Convention. Given these common orders against the same State, as well as the fact that the same parties represent the victims in both cases, the Court found it appropriate to issue a single order analyzing the State's compliance with both of the Judgments mentioned. (Considering para. 8)
A. ORDERS COMMON TO THE BOYCE AND DACOSTA CADOGAN CASES
A.1) The obligation to adopt legislative or other measures necessary to ensure that the imposition of the death penalty does not contravene the American Convention, and in particular, that is not imposed through mandatory sentencing; and to ensure that the laws of Barbados, particularly Section 2 of the Offences Against the Person Act, are brought into compliance with the Convention
The Court recognized that Barbados had taken steps to adopt legislative measures necessary to repeal the mandatory death penalty, and that this process was still pending. Accordingly, the Court requested that the State submit an updated report on the status of the draft bills. (Considering paras. 9-13)
A.2) The obligation to adopt legislative or other measures necessary to ensure that the Constitution and laws of Barbados are brought into compliance with the American Convention, and, specifically, remove the immunizing effect of section 26 of the Constitution in respect of “existing laws”
The Court valued the decision of the State to repeal section 26 of the Constitution. However, as it had not yet received evidence of this repeal, the Court requested that the State submit an updated report on the status of the process initiated for the purpose of repealing section 26 of the Constitution. (Considering paras. 14-17)
B. ORDERS PECULIAR TO THE BOYCE JUDGMENT
B.1) Obligation to formally commute the death sentence of Michael McDonald Huggins within six months of the date notice of the Boyce Judgment was served
The State reported that by virtue of the “Warrant of Commutation” of June 13, 2008, issued by the Governor General of Barbados, the death sentence of Mr. Michael McDonald Huggins was commuted to life imprisonment on June 17, 2008. Mr. Huggins was granted a pardon for the offence for which he was convicted “on the condition that [he] be imprisoned for the remainder of his natural life […].” The representatives indicated that “if Michael Huggins'[s] sentence of life imprisonment means that he is to remain in prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole, such a sentence, mandatorily imposed, is subject to almost all the vices held to be inherent [to] the mandatory death sentence itself.” Thus, the representatives asked that the State “confirm whether the condition attached to the pardon is to be read literally, or whether the warrant should be interpreted as intending to do no more than substitute a sentence of life imprisonment subject to a system of periodic review.” In spite of the representatives’ concerns, the Court found that the State had commuted Mr. Michael McDonald Huggins's death sentence and, therefore, had complied with the present order. (Considering paras. 18-21)
B.2) The obligation to adopt and implement measures necessary to ensure that the conditions of detention of the victims in the Boyce case comply with the requirements of the American Convention
The Court noted that the victims in the Boyce case had been transferred to a new, purpose-built prison where they will have a measure of personal privacy, proper lavatory facilities, access to natural light, a daily exercise regime, and visitation with family and friends at regular intervals, and that none are currently being held on “death row.” In that regard, the Court noted that the State had complied with a fundamental part of this measure of reparation. However, given that the State provided conflicting information with respect to some points, the Court requested complementary information on such matters as the amount of time provided to prisoners for exercise on a daily basis and for visitation with family and friends. (Considering paras. 22-25)
B.3) Obligation to pay the amounts established in the Boyce Judgment for reimbursement of costs and expenses (Operative Paragraph eleven of the Boyce Judgment)
The Court found that this order had been complied with. (Considering paras. 26-29)
C. ORDERS PECULIAR TO THE Dacosta CADOGAN JUDGMENT
C.1) Obligation to inform all persons accused of a crime subject to mandatory capital punishment of the right to obtain a psychiatric evaluation by a State-employed psychiatrist.
The State averred that a committee charged with considering this issue decided that “the best procedural moment for the provision of such information would be at the initiation of the criminal proceeding - at the arraignment hearing (the moment when the individual is formally charged with the capital offence in a court of law).” The Court found this decision to be a positive step. However, it requested further information from the parties on whether the measure decided upon had already been applied and on how it is functioning, if applicable. (Considering paras. 30-33)
C.2) Obligation to set aside the death penalty imposed on Tyrone DaCosta Cadogan and to provide him a hearing for the judicial determination of the appropriate sentence in his case under the new legislative framework applicable in Barbados as a result of the legislative measures ordered by the Inter-American Court; and the Obligation to refrain from imposing a sentence of death on Mr. DaCosta Cadogan under the new legislative measures ordered in the Judgment.
The Court noted that the State's compliance with the obligation to set aside the death penalty imposed on Mr. DaCosta Cadogan and to provide him a hearing for the judicial determination of the appropriate sentence in his case, which may not result in the imposition of the death penalty, necessarily depends on its enactment of the legislative measures ordered in the DaCosta Cadogan Judgment. Therefore, the Court requested that the State submit information specifying when Mr. Cadogan’s resentencing hearing is likely to occur. (Considering paras. 34-37)
C.3) Payment of costs and expenses to Mr. DaCosta Cadogan's representatives.
The Court found that this order had been complied with. (Considering paras. 38-41)
The State’s next periodic report in each of these two cases is due on February 27, 2012.
Fuente de la fotografía http://hrbrief.org/2010/
01/iacthr-condemns-use-of- mandatory-death-penalty-in- barbados-2/