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School of Law

Challenging the Death Penalty in the Commonwealth Caribbean

28 September 2018

Time: 10:00am - 3:00pm
Venue: Doughty Street Chambers 54 Doughty Street WC1N 2LS London United Kingdom

The Centre for Small States is pleased to invite you to attend a seminar featuring distinguished jurists, practitioners and activists who confront the realities of state-ordered execution from constitutional, legal, procedural and humanitarian perspectives. This event will be hosted at Doughty Street Chambers. 

About the Seminar

The global consensus considers the death penalty a breach of human rights, discriminatory, subject to political abuse, unreliable and an ineffective deterrent to crime.  Yet it persists.  This seminar focuses on one of the last outposts of the death penalty in the democratic world: the Commonwealth Caribbean. Speakers will address the legal and practical concerns involved in challenging the death penalty and its alternatives, particularly in an environment where it is often supported by politicians, the legal profession and the general public. This seminar is part of a series of events which will include a substantial conference on the death penalty organised by the Justice Institute of Guyana in 2019.

A specific programme with timings will be confirmed shortly. 

About the Speakers

Sir Dennis Byron
Immediate past President, Caribbean Court of Justice

Sir Dennis is a graduate of Cambridge (LLB, MA) and was admitted to the Bar of England and Wales by the Hon Soc of the Inner Temple. He returned to his native St Kitts and Nevis to practise law, from where he was appointed to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in 1982, becoming Chief Justice in 1999. He retired from the ECSC to take up an appointment as the President of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2007. Following the completion of his second term as President of the UNICTR, Sir Dennis returned to the Caribbean to serve as the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, a position he held from 2011-2018. In addition to his distinguished judicial career, Sir Dennis was the inaugural Yogis and Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law at Dalhousie University. He is a member of the Privy Council and an Honorary Bencher of the Hon Soc of the Inner Temple.

Melinda Janki
Director, Justice Institute Guyana

Melinda Janki was admitted to practice as a solicitor in England and as an attorney-at-law in Guyana. Melinda opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and has persistently argued for it to be replaced by a humane system of criminal justice. She has organised a citizens' petition calling for the government to set up a select committee to replace the death penalty with a more humane system and to provide assistance for the families of victims and perpetrators. The petition, which was signed by representatives of the various faiths as well as citizens from all walks of life, will be delivered when Parliament restarts. Melinda is a graduate of University College, London (LL.B, LL.M) and Hertford College, Oxford (BCL).

Saul Lehrfreund
Co-founder and Co-executive Director, Death Penalty project

Saul has dedicated his career to representing prisoners facing the death penalty in criminal and constitutional proceedings and also before international tribunals and courts. He is a leading authority on capital punishment and international human rights law and has published and lectured extensively on these topics. In 2000, he was awarded an MBE for services to international human rights. In 2016, he was appointed as a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Reading, where he has been awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.

Bianca Jagger (tbc)
Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador on the Abolition of the Death Penalty and Founder, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation

Bianca Jagger is a campaigner for social and economic justice for all people, who is determined to inspire a new generation of human rights advocates and to help governments implement change for the better. Her work has been recognised through several awards, including the Amnesty International USA Media Spotlight Award for Leadership (1997) and the American Civil Liberties Union Award (1998), and the Right Livelihood Award (2004) (also known as the ÔÇťalternative Nobel prize"). In 2004 she was also presented with The World Achievement Award by Mikhail Gorbachev. In 2006 she received the Office of the Americas Peace and Justice Award and the World Citizenship Award from The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

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