PUERTO RICO LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN AGAINST DEATH PENALTY
January 23, 2008: Puerto Rico's justice secretary said that his department will do "everything in his power" so that the US federal government will not institute the death penalty on the island, or impose it on Puerto Ricans in the mainland United States.
Accompanied by representatives of the Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Roberto Sanchez Ramos announced the implementation of a series of measured recommended by that organisation to dissuade the federal justice system from using the death penalty in this US commonwealth. Puerto Rico prohibits the use of the death penalty in its 1952 constitution as a Free Associated State, but the island's courts are subordinate, in the final analysis, to the federal courts. Sanchez Ramos said that the most important of the measures announced will be the one referring to cases of carjacking as a crime that could be punishable by death. In these cases, the federal prosecutors request that the state not try the accused because they want the case to be tried in federal court, where the death penalty can be sought.
To prevent that, the state Justice Department ordered all its prosecutors not to halt their prosecutions of the cases in local tribunals unless the federal justice system guarantees that it is not going to request the death penalty. In a like manner, it will try to prevent the extradition of Puerto Ricans to other US states where the death penalty could be requested.
Sanchez Ramos said that the death penalty as a punishment was "unnecessary and, in the final analysis, immoral." (Sources: EFE News Service, 24/01/2008)