7 News Belize

A Debate For the Ages
posted (May 18, 2017)
The last time someone was taken to the gallows in Belize was in 1985 at Her Majesty's Prison. Fast-forward to the 21st century…capital punishment has pretty much been written off as archaic and has been abolished in many countries all over the world. But the Museum of Belize pulled out all the moldy and cobwebbed books on those death sentences in Belize and brought them to life in a panel discussion. It was done to celebrate International Museum Day. The panelists featured Dianne Finnegan from the Apprenticeship Program, she spoke on the social implications of the death sentence while the legal mind of Senior Counsel Simeon Sampson weighed in on the prospect of reinstating capital punishment. We start off with The Director of the Museum Alexis Salazar on today's activities.

Alexis Salazar, Director, Museum of Belize, House of Culture
"Today is International Museum Day and we are celebrating it today with a panel discussion based on the theme that ICOM gave to us, ICOM is the International Council of Museums and they every year…we are a member of ICOM, they send out the themes and to be in line with that theme which this year is "Saying the Unspeakable in Museums and then bringing contested History to the Forefront. We deiced to do a panel discussion on Capital Punishment, the contested history is that building served as a prison and people were executed here there is clamoring in Belizean society to bring back the capital punishment so we wanted to do that contested history and spark that debate in society."

Dianne Finnegan, Mediator
"Because of the nature of my work and working with young people, at risk youths and now the gangs, I felt that it was an opportunity for me to get my message across on how far we have come in building these individuals in understanding their own purpose actually realizing their own self-worth and most of all the importance of life."

"Even if I wasn't in this line of work, I think just as a human being thinking about what is the effect and the purpose of doing that, or for killing another human being uhm it is as if though we are killing someone who killed someone to let them understand that killing another human being is wrong."

Courtney Weatherburne, 7News
"So In your view it's all about healing its, there is no way it's about capital punishment or hanging anybody, it's all about healing and the interventions you have been doing?"

Dianne Finnegan, Mediator
"It's alternative, it's about alternative and we have got to put in place all different kinds of alternatives to fit what these individuals are experiencing."

Courtney Weatherbunre
"Are we actually able at this point to actually reinstate capital punishment where are we in terms of the legal aspect?"

Simeon Sampson, SC - Human Rights Activist
"By the force of international opinion reinstating the death penalty is dead against us , the global opinion is now going fast forward to abolish the death penalty or to reduce its application so rein station is definitely off the books."

So as you heard, it was simply a thought provoking discussion, there are not any plans to reinstate capital punishment. Tomorrow the Museum will hold other fun activities for kids to celebrate International Museum Day.

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