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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 15:36 GMT
Sark could repeal hanging law
Sark has come into line with human rights laws
Sark is expected to be the last Channel Island to abolish the death penalty.

The topic will be discussed during a meeting of the island's governing body, the Chief Pleas, on 21 January.

The move follows pressure from British and Guernsey authorities to bring the island, whose 580 residents live under a feudal political system, in line with European human rights legislation.

Sark Deputy Paul Armorgie says the statute undoubtedly needs to go.

It is the thin end of the wedge with regards to people from outside the island making laws for the island
Sark Deputy Paul Armorgie

He said: "It is an anachronsm. None of the deputies can find a record anyone being hanged on Sark.

"And the Sark court does not have the power to impose a death sentence anyway.

"The biggest penalty it can impose is a 5,000 fine and then it has to refer to Guernsey which does not have the death penalty."

Neverthless, Mr Armogie resents the outside interference in Sark's affairs.

Ill feeling

Mr Armogie said: "On the one hand it is commonsense that Sark comes into line with the rest of the Bailiwick (of Guernsey), but on the other, it is the thin end of the wedge with regards to people from outside the island making laws for the island.

"There's a bit of ill feeling towards it, but I suspect that it will go through on the nod."

Human rights legislation and pressure from the Privy Council in the UK has already led to a number of changes to Sark.

The island, which does not have any income tax, is introducing a property tax this year.

The number of landowners who inherit their place on the Chief Pleas is being whittled down from 40 to 16, the same number of elected members.

And the law which prevented divorced couples living on the island has been repealed.

The island's women have also now advanced in the political arena as the first two female Sark Douzaineers, or parish representatives, were elected last year.

Mr Armogie said: "Rightly, or wrongly, we agreed to sign up to European human rights legislation and there has been a raft of laws coming to Sark.

"But it is also a sovereignty issue, we resent being pushed into legislation.

"We are an independent people and we must be allowed to decide our own destiny."

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