On Friday, June 18, 2010, at 02:52 AM (EST), on my Blackberry phone, I received this text message from CNN: “CNN Breaking news – Death row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed at 12:20 a.m. (MST) by a firing squad at Utah State Prison.”

Mr. Gardner, after being trialed for a crime he was accused of, was found guilty. And the only way for him to pay for that crime, according to the law in Utah, was for him to be executed by a firing squad. To that, everybody said justice has been served.

See, that’s in the United States, and most of us Haitians would accept it, and rightly so, as a matter of justice. Yet, if I were to propose media-covered death by fire or “Pe Lebren” in public for anyone found guilty of committing gruesome acts such as -the killing, kidnapping and raping of another citizen; committing treason against the republic of Haiti and/or stealing the people’s money -most of you here reading this would raise hell as though one way to die is inferior/superior or more/less civilized to another, without taking into account that death is death regardless the means by which it is inflicted.

We need to be burning alive these criminals for two main reasons:

  1. Budget wise, it does make sense. We don’t have the budgetary luxury to house these criminals and keep them alive. It costs us money to keep a criminal in jail. We cannot even find the money needed to spend in social projects to better the lives of our people, yet the little that we have, we want to spend it on caring for criminals having no business to be living.
  2. Psychologically speaking, it does make a lot of sense. Burning these people alive will discourage others, who may have been contemplating ways to carry out these shameful acts, from actually implementing them. That will get them to think twice about the consequences of their actions before they act.

Whether you call it death by fire or “Pe Lebren,” the end result, which is death, remains the same. So the issue, in my humble opinion, does not lie in the name used to identify the practice but, rather, what may come out of it.

We need to take the practice off the streets and place it in the hands of the judges in the courthouses to administer. In other words, we need to institutionalize it and work on the applicability and practicability of our system of justice.

The administration of justice should and must be made the sole responsibility of those officials recognized by the Constitution of the land to carry out. No one citizen should have the right to self-procure justice. Otherwise, unless acting upon self-defense, the individual must be addressed within the realm of our legal recommendations. Having said that, the only way we can prevent self-procurement of justice is by making sure that the citizens have faith and believe in our justice system. Otherwise, we can forget about it.

We cannot and must not let these criminals have their way and thereby turn our beloved Haiti into a crime state. We have to do whatever is in our human power to prevent that from happening.

To any drastic situation, we must always adopt drastic interventions. And death by fire is one of these drastic measures that must be implemented to turn things around in the country. On a long run, such measure will have a positive effect on maintaining a sense of order and security, which is paramount for the safeguard of our citizens, our sovereignty and our national security.

It is a national security issue when economically speaking we are vulnerable. And the only way we can counter that economic vulnerability is by maintaining political stability, protecting private investments, and instituting a culture of order and respect of the law, which will attract investments and keep them within our borders.

After all, death by fire or “Pe Lebren” could be a good thing to remove Haiti from the abyss she finds herself today. Crimes and political instability are two types of cancers that are destroying our nation. Therefore, we must do whatever we can to prevent them from getting to a point of no return or irreversibility. Our aim is not to have a crime-free Haiti, which, by any standard, is not a realistic goal; we only hope, rather, to see the country doing better, which will be beneficial to all of us Haitians.