Page last updated at 22:11 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Jamaica votes for death penalty

A drug dealer in Jamaica
Jamaica has one of the worst murder rates in the world

Jamaica's parliament has voted to keep the death penalty, as the Caribbean nation struggles to contain one of the world's highest murder rates.

MPs were allowed a free vote, rather than having to vote along party lines.

Jamaica has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 1988 but the governing Jamaica Labour Party, elected last year, has pushed for its return.

Jamaica currently has nine men on death row. There have been 1,200 murders on the island so far this year.

The vote followed weeks of passionate debate. Thirty-four members of parliament voted in favour of capital punishment, 15 voted against. There were 10 abstentions.

Those opposed wanted improvements to Jamaica's heavily criticised police and justice system, while those in favour pointed to the ever-upward rise in violent crime.

The Jamaica Labour Party was elected with a call to resume hanging immediately.

Concerns had been raised about the risk of sanctions - primarily from the EU - but Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that if due legal process was observed, then the law should take its course.

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