Jamaica to Abolish Whipping Sentence; Activists Hail End of Slavery- Era Law

Article excerpt

KINGSTON, JAMAICA Jamaica is preparing to abolish a slavery-era law allowing flogging and whipping as means of punishing prisoners, the Caribbean country's justice ministry said Thursday.

The ministry said the punishment hasn't been ordered by a court since 2004, but the statutes remain in the island's penal code. It was administered with strokes from a tamarind-tree switch or a cat o'nine tails, a whip made of nine, knotted cords.

Justice Minister Mark Golding says the "degrading" punishment is an anachronism that violates Jamaica's international obligations and is preventing the Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's government from ratifying the U.N. convention against torture.

"The time has come to regularize this situation by getting these colonial-era laws off our books once and for all," Golding said in a Thursday statement.

The announcement was welcomed by human rights activists who view the flogging law as a barbaric throwback in a nation populated mostly by the descendants of slaves. …


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