The difference between manslaughter and murder
Stabroek News
December 20, 2001

Dear Editor,

The charging of a policeman recently with manslaughter instead of murder, generated much discussion and debate in the media. Many persons were of the opinion that the policeman should have been charged with murder. Similar views were expressed when Jeremy Williams was shot some years ago in Albouystown.

It is evident that many of us are unable to recognise the circumstances which distinguish the two offences .

The police in my opinion did the right thing by avoiding the debate, but it would have been interesting if those who are legally trained had explained to the wider society what separates murder from manslaughter.

From a layman's point of view the difference in the definition between murder and manslaughter is marginal but the consequences of being convicted of either offence are so huge that they make a difference between life and death.

For much too long, citizens have been complaining about the apparent uneven application of the law between civilians and members of the police force.

Unless members of the public are properly guided and informed they will continue to withdraw their confidence in the force and be suspicious of everything it says and does.

I am compelled to make these comments in view of the fact that last week six persons from the Corentyne were charged with murder for allegedly beating a suspected thief who subsequently died in police custody.

Why were they not charged with manslaughter? What will be the charge against those was found responsible for the death of Shafeek who died in the Brickdam Lock- ups? Let us not be too complacent and forgetful; let us not be too silent for too long on these matters.

Yours faithfully,

Francis Carryl

Editor's note

Manslaughter is killing without intent.