December 18, 1998

Jamaican court abolishes flogging

                  KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) -- A Jamaican court on Friday abolished
                  flogging as part of the country's penal system, a measure hailed by
                  opponents who had called whipping a barbaric reminder of slavery.

                  The Jamaica Court of Appeal issued its ruling in the case of Noel Samuda, a
                  laborer who was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for rape and burglary,
                  plus twelve strokes with the tamarind switch.

                  The court ruled four to one that the law that would have allowed Samuda's
                  whipping had lapsed after the Second World War and that Jamaica's
                  constitution did not allow flogging, a practice used in the Caribbean island
                  since the days of slavery.

                  Attorney Dennis Daily, who was part of Samuda's defense team, said he
                  welcomed the ruling as a victory for human rights in Jamaica. "The retention
                  of whipping and flogging has been like a sore on our backs all these years.
                  It's like a yoke has been lifted from the psychology of the Jamaican people."

                  Corporal punishment was revived in Jamaica four years ago when Justice
                  Carl Patterson sentenced 23-year-old laborer Errol Pryce to four years'
                  imprisonment at hard labor and six strokes of the tamarind switch for
                  stabbing his mother-in-law in the neck with an ice pick.

                   Copyright 1998 Reuters.