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St Kitts: Former SKN PM Harris Never SAT ON MERCY COMMITTEE AND HAD NO ROLE IN RELEASE OF BERTIL FOX AND OTHERS

According to the Death Penalty Project, a UK human rights organisation fighting the death penalty worldwide, Bertil Fox and other convicted murderers were released, thanks to many years of hard work and advocacy by a team of lawyers and human rights advocates.

St. Kitts-based Attorney Angelina Gracy Sookoo-Bobb, who at the time was an Associate in the Law offices of Sylvester Anthony, was the St. Kitts representative on the legal team which filed voluminous paperwork with the St. Kitts Committee of Mercy.

Part of that paperwork included a very powerful letter of recommendation submitted by attorney Marsha T. Henderson, who sought to vouch to the Committee that Kemba Swanston was of exceptional character and was a fit and proper person to be released from prison.

It was in large part because of recommendations such as the one from Hon. Marsha T. Henderson, recently elected parliamentarian for Constituency Two, that Kemba Swanston in particular was given a full pardon.

Under the Constitution, the Prime Minister is not assigned to the Mercy Committee and neither does the Cabinet play any role, however, a Cabinet Minister is assigned by the Governor General to be the Chairman.

The individuals assigned to the Committee are the ones who hear the applications for pardon and make the recommendations. Those recommendations are then forwarded to the Governor General. No other person plays a role.

The representatives of the prisoners specifically stressed the fact that the Committee must act independently of the Prime Minister and requested that there be no involvement or interference in the matter by Dr. Harris. Angelina Sookoo-Bob, best known for her years of legal representation of the SKN Labour Party and its candidates, was the lone member of the legal team based in St. Kitts and worked diligently on the ground.

As such, the matters were never raised either to Dr. Harris or brought to the wider cabinet, in keeping with the clear separation of those roles in the Constitution and bearing in mind the active requests made on behalf of the prisoners to keep Dr. Harris out of the matters.

The members of the Mercy Committee were Chairman former Minister Eugene Hamilton, Venetta Hobson-Moving, Robelto “Tango” Glasgow, and Susannah Lee.

What is the “Prerogative of mercy”?

In Chapter V of the Constitution; The Executive, section 66 Prerogative of mercy, The Governor-General may (a) grant a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions, to any person convicted of any criminal offence under the law.

The powers of the Governor-General under section 66 subsection two are exercised by him or her under the advice of an appointed Minister designated by the Governor-General. Before the change in government, the Minister assigned by the Governor General was the former Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Eugene Hamilton.

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