government: constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government
state of civil and political rights: Free
constitution: 1 November 1981
legal system: based on English common law
legislative system: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives
judicial system: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based in St. Lucia)
religion: Christian 92,2%, other 2%, none or unspecified 5.8%
death row: 0
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
Murder is a capital crime. The Governor General has the power to commute capital sentences.
Antigua and Barbuda is a British Independent territory for which the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) remains the final court of appeal.
Since the 1993 Pratt and Morgan ruling by the Privy Council, the death penalty can not be carried out if the prisoner concerned has been under sentence of death for more than five years. In such cases the sentence is automatically commuted to life imprisonment.
On March 11, 2002, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) confirmed the April 2001 decision by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal (ECCA) that the mandatory death penalty was unconstitutional, and unanimously struck down the mandatory death penalty for murder in Antigua and Barbuda and six other countries. The JCPC made one modification to the ECCA's ruling, saying that sentences should be set by a judge and not a jury. All death row cases in these countries had to be reviewed.
Antigua has not had a hanging since February 2, 1991.
In 2001, Antigua and Barbuda was one of eleven states that signed an agreement to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court of appeal. However, the country will have to hold a special referendum to be able to change over to the CCJ.
Caribbean countries view the CCJ as the means to throw off the last vestiges of colonialism, but human rights groups have warned that the Court may be a hanging court.
The Caribbean Court of Justice was inaugurated in Trinidad on April 16, 2005.
At the end 2015, seven people remained on death row, according to Amnesty International. However, it is unlikely that these convicts will be executed after the decision of the national parliament in September 2013 to abolish the mandatory death penalty. In 2016, Antigua and Barbuda commuted the death sentences of the last remaining people on death row, after the High Court decided on 23 November 2016 on Michael Lorriston Cornwall and Michael Mason detained since 1994 the first and since 1996 the second. The revision of the case was based on the Privy Council decision in 2002 on the unconstitutionality of the mandatory death penalty. Both of them, were sentenced for murder.
The United Nations
On 9 May 2016, Antigua and Barbuda was reviewed under the UPR of the UN Human Rights Council. The Government rejected recommendations to establish a formal moratorium on the death penalty and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with a view to abolishing capital punishment both in practice and in law.
On December 19, 2016, as in 2008, in 2010 and in 2014, Antigua and Barbuda voted against the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly. On December 20, 2012, Antigua and Barbuda was absent during the vote.