Human Rights

We believe in the inherent dignity of each and every person. We therefore oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. Our Executive Director Melinda Janki has been an outspoken advocate in favour of replacing the death penalty with human sanctions and rehabilitation of offenders. She is opposed to LWOP – life sentences without the possibility of parole. Melinda is a former chair of the Greater Caribbean for Life, a regional organisation that is opposed to the death penalty. 

In February 2019 Melinda was invited to join the UN High Level Biennial Panel at the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The topic was the death penalty.

The panel was chaired by His Excellency Ambassador Coly Seck of Senegal, President of the UN Human Rights Council. Other members of the Panel were Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, His Excellency Mr Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of Belgium, His Excellency Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal and Yuval Shany, Chair of the UN Human Rights Committee, and Fatimata M’baye of Mauritania.

Melinda’s response to questions from States:

“MELINDA JANKI, Director of Justice Institute Guyana, said that the bias against women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and poor people in the justice system, first needed to be identified and then quantified.  In order to counter that bias, it was necessary to foster international cooperation, and train judges, lawyers and police officers so that they knew what was happening in the criminal justice system.  As for the argument on sovereignty, Ms. Janki found it difficult to follow.  A State was made up of citizens and it had the duty to protect all of them.  The sovereignty argument was meant to say that judges and lawyers decided who should live or die.  The death penalty was an act of revenge rather than justice.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons had the right to decide whom they loved; the world needed more love.”

In September 2018 Melinda Joined Sir Dennis Byron, past president of the Caribbean Court of Justice, as a keynote speaker at the London conference  on Challenging the Death Penalty in the Commonwealth Caribbean. The conference was held jointly by the Justice Institute Guyana and Queen Mary University of London and hosted at Doughty Street Chambers. Melinda explored the link between the death penalty and slavery.

In 2015 Melinda participated in a Caribbean regional conference against the death penalty consisting of keynote speeches and a number of panel discussion on aspects of abolition of the death penalty. The conference was organised by the European Union, in cooperation with the British High Commission and the International Commission against the Death Penalty, organized a Participants in the conference include Lord Navnit Dholakia, UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Abolition of the Death Penalty; Ms Ruth Wijdenbosch, former Deputy Chair of the National Assembly of Suriname; Ms Asunta Vivó Cavaller, Secretary-General, International Commission against the Death Penalty; as well as representatives from organisations such as Greater Caribbean for Life, Guyana Human Rights Association, Justice Institute Guyana, Human Rights Commission Belize, Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains.

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