Reuters, December 18, 1999

Bermuda Lawmakers Vote to End Hanging, Flogging
By Matthew Taylor

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) - Under pressure from Britain to end capital and corporal punishment, the Bermudan House of Assembly voted on Saturday to abolish hanging and flogging in the British territory after debating the controversial proposal well into the night.

The House voted 19-13 to abolish the death penalty, last used in 1977 when two men, Buck Burrows and Larry Tacklyn, were hanged for murdering the territorial governor. The executions sparked days of rioting in the British territory.

``If we value all life, then when any life is taken it's a tragedy. ... All life is sacrificed,'' Bermuda Premier Jennifer Smith said in support of an end to the death penalty.

Smith's ruling Progressive Labor Party government pushed through the controversial proposal, required by Britain under its White Paper on relations with its overseas territories, despite an opposition party poll indicating two-thirds of Bermudans support the death penalty.

Opposition United Bermuda Party leader and former Premier Pamela Gordon attacked the government for rushing to abolish the death penalty and corporal punishment without coming up with alternative deterrents to crime.

``What's wrong with the government stepping back for a year or so, so they are able to put in place proper sentencing, a proper rehabilitation program and half-way houses?,'' Gordon asked.

The proposal generated emotional debate on the House floor before a vote was taken at about 3:45 a.m. Bermuda time (0245 EDT), ending eight hours of debate.

``The concept of an eye for an eye is barbaric, and if we really enforced that, everyone would be walking around blind,'' Health Minister Nelson Bascome said in support of the move to abolish capital and corporal punishment.

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