At UN, Humanists urge Barbados to outlaw death penalty and corporal punishment, and improve situation for LGBTI+ persons and women

  • post Type / Advocacy News
  • Date / 10 October 2023

In a statement made at the UN Human Rights Council, Humanists Barbados and Humanists International have jointly called on Barbados to improve on its human rights record in a number of areas, including making improvements on the rights of women and LGBTI+ persons, eradicating corporal punishment and the abolition of the death penalty.

The statement was delivered by Maachelle Farley, President of Humanists Barbados, in a video intervention at the 54th session of the Human Rights Council during the adoption of Barbados’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report.*

The organizations welcomed the recent elimination of the mandatory death penalty in Barbados, but deeply regretted that it remains a sentencing option there. The statement also urged Barbados to accept the recommendations on ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the move toward legal abolition of the death penalty. This recommendation reflects public opinion which has seen, in recent years, a reduction in those who believe those convicted of murder should receive the death penalty. In 2018, the Caribbean Court of Justice found that the mandatory imposition of the death penalty in Barbados was unconstitutional.

The statement also highlighted the issue of corporal punishment, which is still prevalent across Barbados. The organizations urged the Government to work to “consciously erode cultural norms which support corporal punishment for children.” This, the statement pointed out, can be done through educating the public on the negative effects of such practices, and by expanding a pilot program on the education of school staff in alternative forms of punishment and restorative justice.

Whilst progress on the inclusion of LGBTI+ persons in Barbados was commended by Humanists Barbados and Humanists International, – buggery laws were struck down by the Barbados High Court in December 2022 – they called on the Government to take measures to help destigmatize LGBTI+minorities, and to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, especially in employment.

Maachelle Farley, President of Humanists Barbados, addressing the Human Rights Council

The organizations also called on Barbados to promote gender equality and combat violence against women. 68% of women have reported interpersonal violence in Barbados, and over 60 in 100,000 women report sexual violence annually – a number which is both above average and likely below reality. Women currently earn over 10% less than men in Barbados.

The statement followed a written submission made by Humanists Barbados in 2022 as part of the UPR. Together, the submission and the statement were the culmination of Humanist Barbados’ participation in Humanists International’s UPR training in January 2022.

*The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a UN process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States, by each other. It is a unique human rights mechanism in so far as it addresses all countries and all human rights. The Working Group on the UPR, which is composed of the Human Rights Council’s 47 Member States and chaired by the Human Rights Council President, conducts country reviews.

Featured photo by Richard Blaikie on Pexels.

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