Privy Council holds that execution of intellectually disabled is unconstitutional in Trinidad

 

Today, the Privy Council has delivered judgment in the appeals of Lester Pitman and Neil Hernandez. The two appellants are intellectually disabled men who had both been convicted of murder and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in Trinidad. The court’s judgment is an important clarification of the law as it was held that the execution of a person with a severe mental disability was a cruel and unusual punishment and is therefore unconstitutional in Trinidad. However, the Privy Council found that the death penalty could still be imposed on offenders such as Pitman and Hernandez if the defence of diminished responsibility is not met or raised at the trial. In those circumstances, it is at the President’s discretion to grant mercy and commute their death sentences.

 

Read the Death Penalty Project's press release here.

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