Death Penalty Database

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Barbados

Information current as of: March 7, 2013

General

Official Country Name

Barbados. [1]

Geographical Region

Latin America (Caribbean). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging.
Although we did not find a statutory resource indicating that the death penalty is executed by hanging, in Barbados’ reservations to the American Convention on Human Rights, Barbados states that murder and treason are punished by death by hanging. [4]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Barbados, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/barbados/191083.htm, Nov. 2, 2011.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Feb. 11, 2013..
[3] Amnesty Intl., Barbados: Imminent Execution, AMR 15/001/2005, Feb. 11, 2005. Amnesty Intl., St. Kitts and Nevis—Death Penalty: Legal Concern, AMR/59/001/2009, Feb. 12, 2009. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, ACT 50/011/2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2011/en, Mar. 27, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Barbados: Death Penalty and Discrimination Against LGBT People Still Need to be Addressed, Submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, AMR 15/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR15/001/2012/en, July 1, 2012.
[4] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.

Country Details

Language(s)

English. [1]

Population

281,698. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

10.

There were 10 people known to be under sentence of death at the end of 2018. [3]

(This question was last updated on May 29, 2019.)

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2020 to date (last updated on October 14, 2020)

0. [4]

Executions in 2019

0. [5]

Executions in 2018

0. [6]

Executions in 2017

0. [7]

Executions in 2016

0. [8]

Executions in 2015

0. [9]

Executions in 2014

0. [10]

Executions in 2013

0. [11]

Executions in 2012

0. [12]

Executions in 2011

0. [13]

Executions in 2010

0. [14]

Executions in 2009

0. [15]

Executions in 2008

0. [16]

Executions in 2007

0. [17]

Year of Last Known Execution

1984. [18]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Barbados, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/barbados/191083.htm, Nov. 2, 2011.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Barbados, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/barbados/191083.htm, Nov. 2, 2011.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2018, p. 13, ACT 50/9870/2019, Apr. 10, 2019.
[4] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[5] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions 2018, p. 13, 50/9870/2019, Apr. 10, 2019.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions 2017, p. 12, ACT 50/7955/2018, Apr. 12, 2018.
[8] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[9] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010 in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 20, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008
[18] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, para. 35, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Murder.
Murder is defined as the killing of another person with malice aforethought. If a person kills another person while conducting another offence or in furtherance of another offence, the perpetrator must also possess the mens rea requisite for the offence of murder to be convicted of murder. [1]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Terrorism resulting in death is punishable by death only if the act would have qualified as murder or high treason prior to May 30, 2002. [2]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Terrorism not resulting in death is punishable by death only if the act would have qualified as high treason prior to May 30, 2002. [3]

Treason.
Individuals who commit high treason—murdering the Queen or the elected or acting Governor General, committing or preparing for acts of war against Barbados, assisting an enemy at war with Barbados or engaged in hostilities with Barbados forces who are operating for the Commonwealth—are punishable by death. [4] A person subject to military law who intentionally assists or attempts to assist the enemy through action or dereliction is punishable by death. [5]

Espionage.
A person subject to military law who intentionally assists or attempts to assist the enemy by providing or attempting to provide intelligence to the enemy is punishable by death. [6]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Participating in a mutiny is punishable by death. [7]

Comments.
Much of Barbados law descends from English common law as a result of the country’s colonial history. Barbados statutes that provide for the death penalty followed English statutes which codified 19th century criminal rules. When laws calling for capital punishment were repealed in the United Kingdom, Barbados retained its own statutes influenced by English law even after its independence in 1966. [8]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Unsure. In 2018, the Barbadian Parliament passed an amendment to the Offences Against the Person Act abolishing the mandatory death sentence for murder and issued a list of circumstances in which a person may be sentenced to death. [9] It is unclear what implications this has for the legality of the mandatory death penalty in other legislation.

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Legislation provides that the mandatory death sentence is imposed for terrorism that can be characterized as murder or high treason. After Severin v. The Queen and Nervais v. The Queen, it is not clear what effect the decision will have on other legislation, but as of September 2019, we have not found any updates to anti-terrorism legislation removing the mandatory death penalty.

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Legislation provides that the mandatory death sentence is imposed for terrorism that can be characterized as high treason. [10] After Severin v. The Queen and Nervais v. The Queen, it is not clear what effect the decision will have on other legislation, [11] but as of September 2019, we have not found any updates to anti-terrorism legislation removing the mandatory death penalty.

Treason.
Legislation provides that the mandatory death sentence is imposed for terrorism that can be characterized as high treason. [12] After Severin v. The Queen and Nervais v. The Queen, it is not clear what effect the decision will have on other legislation, [13] but as of September 2019, and we have not found any updates to anti-terrorism legislation removing the mandatory death penalty

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

No one has been executed since 1984. [14]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime. [15]

Pregnant Women.
Pregnant women cannot be sentenced to death. [16]

Intellectually Disabled.
An individual who commits a crime while suffering from “abnormality of mind” due to “arrested or retarded development…or any inherent cause or induced by disease or injury [so as to] substantially impair his mental responsibility” cannot be convicted of murder but may instead be convicted of manslaughter. Note that this exception is only explicitly stated for the offense of murder. [17]

Mentally Ill.
An individual who commits a crime while suffering from “abnormality of mind” due to “arrested or retarded development…or any inherent cause or induced by disease or injury [so as to] substantially impair his mental responsibility” cannot be convicted of murder, but may instead be convicted of manslaughter. Note that this exception is only explicitly stated for the offense of murder. [18]

References

[1] Barbados Offenses Against the Person Act, arts. 2, 3, No. 18 of 1994.
[2] Barbados Anti-Terrorism Act, art. 3(1)(c), No. 6 of 2002. Barbados Offenses Against the Person Act, art. 2, No. 18 of 1994. Barbados Treason Act, arts. 2, 7, No. 1 of 1980.
[3] Barbados Anti-Terrorism Act, art. 3(1)(c), No. 6 of 2002. Barbados Treason Act, arts. 2, 7, No. 1 of 1980.
[4] Barbados Treason Act, arts. 2, 7, No. 1 of 1980.
[5] Barbados Defence Act, arts. 35-36, No. 25 of 1979.
[6] Barbados Defence Act, arts. 35-36, No. 25 of 1979.
[7] Barbados Defence Act, arts. 42-43, No. 25 of 1979.
[8] Boyce v. Queen Respondent, paras. 8, 9, Privy Council Appeal No. 99 of 2002, The Court of Appeal of Barbados, July 7, 2004.
[9] Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Act, 2018, sec. 2, Aug. 8, 2018.
[10] Barbados Anti-Terrorism Act, art. 3(1)(c), No. 6 of 2002. Barbados Treason Act, arts. 2, 7, No. 1 of 1980.
[11] Jabari Sensimania Nervais v. The Queen and Dwayne Omar Severin v. The Queen, CCJ 19 (AJ) Caribbean Ct. of Justice Appellate Jurisdiction, Jun. 27, 2018.
[12] Barbados Anti-Terrorism Act, art. 3(1)(c), No. 6 of 2002. Barbados Treason Act, arts. 2, 7, No. 1 of 1980.
[13] Jabari Sensimania Nervais v. The Queen and Dwayne Omar Severin v. The Queen, CCJ 19 (AJ) Caribbean Ct. of Justice Appellate Jurisdiction, Jun. 27, 2018.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Barbados: Imminent Execution, AMR 15/001/2005, Feb. 11, 2005. Amnesty Intl., St. Kitts and Nevis—Death Penalty: Legal Concern, AMR 59/001/2009, Feb. 12, 2009. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[15] Barbados Juvenile Offenders Act as amended by Act No. 26 of 1989, art. 14, No. 8 of 1932.
[16] Sentence of Death (Expectant Mothers) Act, art. 2, No. 6 of 1934.
[17] Barbados Offenses Against the Person Act, art. 4, No. 18 of 1994.
[18] Barbados Offenses Against the Person Act, art. 4, No. 18 of 1994.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

January 5, 1973. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [4]

Date of Accession

January 5, 1973. [5]

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [7]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [8]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Yes. [9]

Date of Accession

November 5, 1981. [10]

Signed?

Yes. [11]

Date of Signature

June 20, 1978. [12]

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

No. [13]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [14]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2018 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [15]

Vote

Against. [16]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [17]

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [18]

Vote

Against. [19]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [20]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [21]

Vote

Against. [22]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [23]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [24]

Vote

Against. [25]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [26]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [27]

Vote

Against. [28]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [29]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [30]

Vote

Against. [31]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [32]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [33]

Vote

Against. [34]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [35]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[9] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[10] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[11] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[12] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[13] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, A-53: Prot. to the Amer. Conv. on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, Jun. 8, 1990, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic8.death%20penalty%20ratif.htm, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[14] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, A-53: Prot. to the Amer. Conv. on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, Jun. 8, 1990, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic8.death%20penalty%20ratif.htm, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[15] U.N.G.A. 73rd session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, para. 135, U.N. Doc. A/73/589/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2018.
[16] U.N.G.A. 73rd session, 55th plenary meeting, p. 31, U.N. Doc. A/73/PV.55, Dec. 17, 2018.
[17] U.N.G.A., Note Verbale dated 13 September 2019, U.N. Doc. A/73/1004, Sep. 16, 2019.
[18] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[19] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[20] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[21] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[22] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[23] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[24] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[25] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[26] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[27] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, includng alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[28] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[29] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[30] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[31] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[32] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[33] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, pp. 3-4, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[34] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[35] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Article 12.1 states: “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offense under the law of Barbados of which he has been convicted.” [1] This implies the death penalty may be constitutional. Additionally, in 2002 Article 15 of the Constitution was amended to provide that “imposition of a mandatory sentence of death or execution of such a sentence” would not be held to contravene protections against cruel and inhuman treatment under the Constitution. [2] It is unclear whether this amendment continues to offer constitutional support for the death penalty after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Boyce v. Barbados (2007) ordered Barbados to amend its Constitution and laws to limit the death penalty consistently with the American Convention on Human Rights, which is prohibits the mandatory death penalty. [3]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Barbados’ constitution does not explicitly reference international human rights law; however, it does provide for a multinational court—currently the Caribbean Court of Justice—with the power to adjudicate appeals related to fundamental human rights. [4]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

In 2018, Barbados did not co-sponsor the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution [5] and voted against it. [6] This mirrors Barbados’ voting behavior in 2016, as Barbados did not co-sponsor the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution, voted against it, [7] and signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation. [8] No executions have been reported as being carried out since 1984. [9]

In 2018, the Caribbean Court of Justice (Appellate Division) ruled that the mandatory death penalty for murder is unconstitutional in Nervais v. The Queen and Severin v. The Queen. [10] The appellants in the case appealed their sentences after both were sentenced to death for murder. [11] The court held that sec. 2 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1994, was unconstitutional and decided that the appellants should be re-sentenced. [12] Other affected persons whose sentences were imposed under s. 2 or those whose death penalties had been commuted to life imprisonment were to be resentenced. [13] In the 2007 Inter-American Court of Human Rights case of Boyce et al. v. Barbados, the applicants had been convicted of murder and had received the mandatory death penalty. [14] The Court found that the legislation, sec. 2 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1994, did not limit the death penalty to the most serious crimes as required by the American Convention on Human Rights [15] and ordered Barbados to issue a formal commutation of one of the applicants’ death sentence. It also ordered Barbados to adopt legislative or other measures to remove the mandatory death penalty and ensure the death penalty does not contravene rights guaranteed in the American Convention. [16] The Court’s 2009 Cadogan v. Barbados judgment reaffirmed the incompatibility of the mandatory death penalty with the American Convention on Human Rights. [17]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. There is no official moratorium; however, in its 2018 Universal Periodic Review, Barbados highlighted its de facto moratorium on the application of the death penalty since it had not carried out executions since 1984. [18]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

No cases significantly altering application of the death penalty have recently been determined in national courts. Ultimately, death penalty issues in Barbados are judicially resolved by the Caribbean Court of Justice, a multi-national court, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a regional court that applies the American Convention on Human Rights.

One of the most significant recent cases concerns challenges to the death sentences awarded to Boyce and others—challenges which have affected multiple areas of law. The IACHR in 2007 determined that Barbados cannot apply the mandatory death penalty consistently with its obligations under the Convention, and held that Barbados cannot rely on domestic constitutional provisions to avoid its obligations under the Convention. [19] The CCJ in 2006, while acknowledging that lengthy stays on death row constitute inhuman treatment, nonetheless indicated that a 2003 constitutional amendment precludes such a challenge to execution of a death sentence awarded after 2003. [20] This opinion conflicts with the IACHR’s later ruling indicating that Barbados cannot simply amend its constitution to avoid its obligation under the Convention to refrain from inhuman treatment, and it is unclear how Barbados will ultimately resolve this issue. [21]

In Cadogan v. Barbados, the IACHR confirmed Boyce and emphasized that psychiatrists, not trial judges, are competent to inform the jury as to a defendant’s mental state at the time of the offense. The IACHR held that Barbados must inform a defendant of the right to psychiatric evaluation and permit expert testimony as to the accused person’s mental state at the time of the offense. [22]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

Barbados’ Supreme Court maintains a website through which a researcher may access both reported and unreported opinions of courts in Barbados: http://www.lawcourts.gov.bb/Lawlibrary/Judgments.asp.

Additionally, because the Caribbean Court of Justice is, although a multi-national court, the court of last resort for domestic appeal in Barbados, a researcher will want to review that court’s decisions, available at: http://www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org/judgments-proceedings/appellate-jurisdiction-judgments.

Prior to 2003, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was the court of final instance for Barbados, and its decisions can be accessed at: http://www.jcpc.gov.uk/decided-cases/index.html and http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/judicial-committee/judgments/.

Decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights can be accessed at: http://www.corteidh.or.cr/casos.cfm.

What is the clemency process?

According to the Barbados constitution, the Governor General, who presides over the Barbados Privy Council, has the power to grant clemency based on the Privy Council’s recommendations. [23]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Yes. [24]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Defendants may appeal sentences of the High Court as of right on questions of law. Defendants may also appeal sentences of the High Court as of right when the trial judge certifies that there are questions of fact or mixed fact and law sufficient to justify appellate review. All other appeals are by leave of the Court of Appeal. A defendant may appeal against conviction, and after the decision in Boyce v. Barbados (striking down the mandatory death penalty), a defendant should be able to appeal against the sentence of death as a non-fixed sentence. [25]

After a decision by the Court of Appeal, a defendant may appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice in its appellate jurisdiction. Appeal lies as of right for questions of law, questions involving the Constitution or final decisions of the High Court on a criminal manner, and otherwise is by leave of the CCJ. [26]

Finally, after domestic remedies have been exhausted, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has jurisdiction to hear appeals by capital defendants who allege their rights under the American Convention on Human Rights have been violated. [27]

References

[1] Barbados Constitution, art. 12(1), Nov. 30, 1966.
[2] Barbados Constitution (Amendment) Act, arts. 2, 5, No. 14 of 2002.
[3] Boyce v. Barbados, paras. 62, 127, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007.
[4] Barbados Constitution, art. 24, 27, 79, 80, 84, 87, 88, Ch. VII, Schedule 1, Nov. 30, 1966; Barbados Constitution (Amendment) Act, generally, No. 34 of 2003.
[5] U.N.G.A. 73rd session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, para. 135, U.N. Doc. A/73/589/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2018.
[6] U.N.G.A. 73rd session, 55th plenary meeting, p. 31, U.N. Doc. A/73/PV.55, Dec. 17, 2018.
[7] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54–71, U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[8] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[9] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, para. 35, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018..
[10] Jabari Sensimania Nervais v. The Queen and Dwayne Omar Severin v. The Queen, CCJ 19 (AJ) Caribbean Ct. of Justice Appellate Jurisdiction, Jun. 27, 2018.
[11] Jabari Sensimania Nervais v. The Queen and Dwayne Omar Severin v. The Queen, paras. 1–2, CCJ 19 (AJ) Caribbean Ct. of Justice Appellate Jurisdiction, Jun. 27, 2018.
[12] Jabari Sensimania Nervais v. The Queen and Dwayne Omar Severin v. The Queen, paras. 116–117, CCJ 19 (AJ) Caribbean Ct. of Justice Appellate Jurisdiction, Jun. 27, 2018.
[13] Jabari Sensimania Nervais v. The Queen and Dwayne Omar Severin v. The Queen, para. 115, CCJ 19 (AJ) Caribbean Ct. of Justice Appellate Jurisdiction, Jun. 27, 2018.
[14] Boyce et al. v. Barbados, para. 2, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Ct. of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007.
[15] Boyce et al. v. Barbados, paras. 55, 62–63, 80, p. 37, para. 1, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Ct. of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007.
[16] Boyce et al. v. Barbados, paras. 6–12, 127, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Ct. of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007.
[17] Cadogan v. Barbados, paras. 48, 52, 57–59, 69–75, Ser. C No. 204, Inter-American Ct. of Human Rights, Sep. 24, 2009.
[18] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, para. 35, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018.
[19] Boyce v. Barbados, paras. 62-64, 74, 80, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007.
[20] Attorney General v. Boyce, paras. 15, 47, 117, 126, 131, 138-139, Appeal No. CV 2 of 2005, Caribbean Court of Justice, Jun. 21, 2006.
[21] Boyce v. Barbados, paras. 62-64, 74, 80, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007.
[22] Cadogan v. Barbados, paras. 86-90, Ser. C No. 204, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Sep. 24, 2009.
[23] Barbados Constitution, arts. 76-78, Nov. 30, 1966.
[24] Barbados Criminal Procedure Act as amended by Act No. 17 of 1992, art. 7, No. 18 of 1891. U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Barbados, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/wha/186489.htm, May 24, 2012.
[25] Barbados Criminal Procedure Act as amended by Act No. 17 of 1992, art. 4-5, No. 18 of 1891. Boyce v. Barbados, paras. 62-64, 74, 80, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007.
[26] Barbados Criminal Procedure Act as amended by Act No. 17 of 1992, art. 37, No. 18 of 1891. Barbados Constitution (Amendment) Act, generally, No. 34 of 2003.
[27] Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, arts. 44, 46, 1114 U.N.T.S. 123, O.A.S.T.S. No. 36, Nov. 22, 1969. Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

All prisoners in Barbados are housed in the Dodds prison facility. [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

Prison conditions prior to completion of the Dodds prison facility were overcrowded, harsh and degrading (with death-sentenced prisoners sometimes kept in cages), although this was in part due to a disaster and the destruction of facilities rather than to an intent to expose prisoners to inhuman treatment. [2] Barbados finished construction on the Dodds prison facility in 2007. According to the U.S. Department of State, that facility is up to international standards and is not overcrowded. In November 2011, the prison held 1,032 inmates. The prison’s maximum capacity sits at 1,250. There are complaints about the prison food, and prisoners with families willing to pay may obtain better food and toiletries than do other prisoners. Female prisoners are housed in a separate wing. In November 2011, there were 36 female inmates in the facility. Juvenile boys and girls are also detained in separate areas. [3]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

No. [4]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

There are no foreign nationals currently known to be on death row. [5]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

No. [6]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

Juvenile offenders cannot be executed, [7] and by the end of our research we had not found any reports of individuals sentenced to death for crimes committed while under the age of 18.

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

By the end of our research we had not found any reports regarding the racial/ethnic composition of death row.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Yes. [8]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Yes. [9]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

In Cadogan v. Barbados, decided in 2009, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held that the public defender was not grossly incompetent in failing to pursue diminished responsibility as a possible defense for his client. [10] While the IACHR’s attention to the matter is some indication that the attention of domestic and treaty-based courts may assure some minimum standard of competence in representation, the public defender’s failure to comprehend the importance of arguing diminished responsibility when his client faced the mandatory death penalty if convicted could be considered a serious deficiency in the quality of representation rendered. One area for attention is whether criminal defense attorneys who have not been accustomed to the possibility of discretion during sentencing for capital crimes will be prepared to protect their clients’ rights under Boyce v. Barbados. [11]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

U.S. Department of State reports indicate that Barbados’ criminal justice system functions smoothly and without delay in pre-trial stages, with occasional police errors and no pattern of institutionalized abuse. [12]

References

[1] International Centre for Prison Studies, World Prison Brief: Barbados, http://www.prisonstudies.org/info/worldbrief/wpb_country.php?country=60, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[2] Boyce v. Barbados, paras. 90-102, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007.
[3] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Barbados, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136100.htm, Mar. 11, 2010. U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Barbados, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/wha/186489.htm, May 24, 2012.
[4] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[5] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, accessed Feb. 23, 2010.last accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
[6] Ministry of Prisons, Interview, Mar. 12, 2010.
[7] Barbados Juvenile Offenders Act as amended by Act No. 26 of 1989, art. 14, No. 8 of 1932.
[8] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Barbados, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/wha/186489.htm, May 24, 2012. Barbados Community Legal Services Act, arts. 18-22, schedule 1, No. 33 of 1981.
[9] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Barbados, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/wha/186489.htm, May 24, 2012. Barbados Community Legal Services Act, arts. 18-22, schedule 1, No. 33 of 1981.
[10] Cadogan v. Barbados, paras. 91-93, Ser. C No. 204, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Sep. 24, 2009.
[11] Boyce v. Barbados, paras. 62-64, 74, 80, Ser. C No. 169, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Nov. 20, 2007 (eliminating the mandatory death penalty).
[12] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Barbados, Respect for the Integrity of the Person, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136100.htm, Mar. 11, 2010. U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Barbados, Respect for the Integrity of the Person, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/wha/186489.htm, May 24, 2012.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

Barbados is overdue for a review from the Human Rights Committee, as the last review took place in 2007. In that review, the Human Rights Committee noted that Barbados retained the mandatory death sentence for some crimes, despite not having applied the death penalty in many years and recalled its earlier recommendation to abolish the death penalty and to accede to the Second Optional Protocol. The Committee expressed concern about the amount of time granted to death-sentenced prisoners to appeal to or to consult external bodies, such as the Committee. [1]

(This question was last updated on September 27, 2019.)

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

In April 2018, the UN Human Rights Council noted that a national consensus or bipartisan support for the abolition of capital punishment had not been reached, though Barbados pointed out that it had not executed anyone since 1984 and there was a de facto moratorium on the death penalty. [2] The Human Rights Council noted that Barbados was reviewing legislation (the Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Bill, 2014) to abolish the mandatory death penalty for murder. [3] Barbados received recommendations that it abolish the death penalty, abolish the mandatory death penalty, that it commute the sentences of persons on death row to life imprisonment, that it ratify the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that it establish a de jure moratorium on the death penalty with the goal of abolition. [4] Brazil praised the de facto moratorium on the death penalty that had been in place since 1984 and Barbados’ efforts to abolish the mandatory death penalty in murder cases. [5] New Zealand also praised Barbados for taking steps to abolish the death penalty for murder. [6] Australia acknowledged Barbadian courts’ efforts to refrain from imposing the death sentence. [7]

References

[1] U.N. Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, paras. 7, 9, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/BRB/CO3, May 11, 2007.
[2] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, para. 35, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018.
[3] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, para. 36, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018.
[4] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, paras. 42, 53, 66, 73, 77, 87, 96.1–96.8, 96.16, 96.19, 96.21, 96.27, 96.28, 96.41, 96.55–96.66, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018.
[5] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, para. 77, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018.
[6] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, para. 53, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018.
[7] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Concluding Observations: Barbados, para. 73, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/38/12, Apr. 6, 2018.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Human Rights Today may have a presence in Barbados: http://humanrights.einnews.com/news/death-penalty/barbados.

The Barbados Association of Non-Government Organizations, http://www.bango.org.bb/, may be an initial contact point for discovering organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy in Barbados.

Helpful Reports and Publications

Amnesty Intl., Barbados: Death Penalty and Discrimination Against LGBT Still To Be Addressed, Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, AMR 15/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR15/001/2012/en/675b9473-9b2c-42ac-9e32-9fc8e0dc803a/amr150012012en.html, Jul. 1, 2012.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.