The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) in London remains as the final court of appeal for St Lucia. St Lucia retains the death penalty for murder and treason. In 2001, in the landmark judgment of Spence & Hughes (see below), the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal ruled that the mandatory imposition of the death penalty was unconstitutional in St Lucia. This decision applied to all OECS countries and was endorsed by the JCPC in 2002, in the cases of R v Hughes (see also below), R v Reyes and Fox v The Queen.
St Lucia became a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2011, but has not yet ratified it. It has neither signed nor ratified the First Optional Protocol allowing for the right of individual petition nor the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. Whilst a party to the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, it has not signed or ratified the American Convention on Human Rights nor accepted the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. St Lucia has not signed the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty.
There are currently 4 inmates on death row.
Notable cases that we have worked on include:
This was the first successful challenge to the inhumanity of the mandatory death penalty in the Commonwealth Caribbean. The Court accepted the appellants’ arguments that a mandatory death penalty without consideration of the character and record of the individual offender or the circumstances of the particular offence is inconsistent with the fundamental respect for human dignity and the contravenes the Constitutions of St Vincent & the Grenadines and St Lucia which prohibit the imposition of inhuman punishment and treatment.
This case endorsed the judgment of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal in the case of Spence & Hughes (see above).
The JCPC allowed appeals brought on behalf of these two appellants who were convicted of murder and sentenced to death in St Lucia. The Court held that their appeals should be allowed on the strength of fresh psychiatric evidence presented to the Court, and that the trial judge failed to provide appropriate and correct guidance to the jury and directions on the law of insanity. The matter was remitted back to the Court of Appeal and they were invited to quash the conviction and sentence.