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Amid calls for the resumption of the death penalty, former Attorney General Alfred Sears said yesterday that it would be a mistake for The Bahamas to "hark back to the colonial practice of killing people".
"The death penalty...in my view it confirms the culture of killing," Sears said.
But Bishop Simeon Hall, former chairman of a government-appointed Crime Commission, said "Some people don't belong in civilized society and should be subject to capital punishment."
Sears and Hall commented on the issue after Chairman of the Constitutional Commission Sean McWeeney said there has been a "very strong push" for the next constitutional referendum to deal with the death penalty.
While the government has not yet revealed what issues it intends to address following the referendum on gender equality, McWeeney said he would not be surprised if the death penalty referendum is accelerated based on the interest surrounding it.
However, Hall said there is no need for a referendum on that issue.
"I think a referendum on the death penalty would be a waste of time and foolish," he said.
"I do not think that in the light of the current crime nightmare that we face that we can be philosophical. I believe that we must simply enforce the law regardless of whatever conventions we belong to on the international level.
"...Let's not waste time on a referendum."
Calls for the resumption of capital punishment often follow a spate of violent crime.
Recently, the country recorded several murders.
Sears said while some people believe that capital punishment may be a deterrent, he does not believe it is the answer to the country's crime problem.
"Whenever there is an escalation, we say, 'oh [let's enforce] the death penalty', but we don't really deal with it and address it in a very rationale way in terms of as a community, as a country and what we hope to become and not harking back to the colonial practice of killing people," he said.
"...I think it's very unfortunate given the very serious spate of crime, that we have put into the public domain that the solution to the escalation of violent crime is the death penalty.
"I think when we look at the statistics...the death penalty certainly can not be the basis of Bahamian jurisprudence. In my view, it confirms the culture of killing."
In July last year, the Constitutional Commission recommended that the government further amend the law to "tie the hands" of the Privy Council on the death penalty issue.
The commission said to ensure that the executive is able to carry out the death penalty in a case, which the courts have determined would warrant it, the government may have to consider amending the law to prevent challenges to the death penalty.
McWeeney said the government can define in law what would be considered the worst of the worst. He added that the law can also be amended to remove the current five-year time constraint as it relates to carrying out the death penalty.
Hall said the government must send a strong message to criminals.
"If we engage and waste time on the matter of the death penalty then we are also sending a message that we aren't willing to fight this thing head on," he said.
"This is ludicrous. Why should we have debate on the death penalty when the law of the land says it?"
Sears, who spoke during a separate interview, said the government has to be careful on the issue. He said the government ought to concentrate on reform.
"Rather than looking for a quick fix, we need to be giving more resources to the judiciary," he said.
"We have our Supreme Court judges scattered in six or seven different buildings.
"We also need to ensure that a trial is speedily conducted and concluded. There has to be the certainty of punishment.
"We also need to enforce the laws not only with serious cases involving guns, but we have to develop a culture within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas where small and traffic laws are enforced effectively so that we develop a culture of compliance with the law.
"...I would recommend that we take a more thoughtful stance, rather than the reactionary call for the death penalty."
The last time capital punishment was carried out in The Bahamas was on January 6, 2000 when David Mitchell was hanged for the murders of a wealthy German couple on Abaco.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Opponents of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's (BEC) $105 million Wilson City power plant had "genuine complaints" about the way the project's permits were granted, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, finding that in the race to complete timely construction "many procedures were ignored or bypassed".
Justice Hartman Longley, although dismissing the Judicial Review action by Responsible Development for Abaco (RDA) that sought to block construction of the power plant, agreed with its attorney, Fred Smith QC, that if the project had been private sector-driven it would "have been stopped sooner" by the Government's ...
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- Yet another relevant and exciting speaker was brought in by the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce to present at its monthly luncheons, Dionisio D'Aguilar, spoke to the over 70 attendees at the packed event held late last week.
Mr. D'Aguilar, a well respected businessman and former President of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce was invited to give his views on the topic: The Freeport Model ... Obsolete Relic or Untapped Opportunity.
While this often outspoken member of the community is from Nassau, he does business in Freeport, being the Chairman of the Board of AML Foods, owners of Solomon's and Cost Right. In declaring his familiarity with Freeport, he said he was very involved in the expansion of Solomon's to the Lucaya Shopping Centre, commented that the Grand Bahama Port Authority was very welcoming and accommodating in helping that store get up and running in record time. He said that Freeport is very important to AML Foods as this island provides for 40 percent of its total sales.
At the onset of his presentation, Mr. D'Aguilar shared the history of Freeport Model, namely the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which was created in 1955. He stated that in essence, Freeport became a company town, with the company charged with developing the city and handling every aspect of its administration.
D'Aguilar then asserted, "Yet somewhere along the way, things went wrong! Over the past 50 years, Freeport has not experienced the kind of growth seen in Nassau or even Abaco for that matter!"
A growing community in Abaco has created at least 35 new jobs through the establishment of new businesses ahead of the peak boating season.
Schooner Bay, which includes a large protected harbor, recently opened its gas dock and will open a general store in the coming days. Meanwhile, a $2 million bed and breakfast is slated to break ground this summer.
"That is a significant building," said James Malcolm, head of marketing and sales for Schooner Bay. "It is a couple million dollars to build and includes seven rooms. It is a four-star property on the harborfront."
Guardian Business understands that the primary investor behind the bed and breakfast is a Bahamian homeowner at Schooner.
The eventual opening of the hotel will serve as yet another amenity for the community.
Blackfly Lodge, a multimillion-dollar attraction, recently opened up at the mouth of the harbor and reports strong occupancy throughout the summer.
A restaurant, Cabana Beach Club, organic farm, conch shack, housekeeping services and the Schooner Bay Institute are other buildings and services now online at Schooner, all of which have created in excess of 35 jobs.
Combined with the growing commerce, of course, is residential construction.
By the end of the year, Schooner expects to have dozens of completed homes. The development has launched a formal rental service for existing houses.
"Between now and the middle of August, I have 200 cottage nights on the books. The vacation side has come to life. People are here and spending money," Malcolm said.
Schooner is also working on landscaping through the development and will plant 100 coconut trees this week through the village.
In the coming months, the community hopes to cash in on boat traffic coming through Abaco now that it has an active gas dock and general store. A fishing tournament is scheduled for next week and the harbor receives a steady flow of vessels.
Malcolm noted how jobs at Schooner are increasingly moving beyond construction and becoming "diversified". The 35 employment opportunities at Schooner could easily double by this time next year as more business come online and people discover the community.
"We are seeing economic activity. Having this general flow of boat traffic is great. Boaters can buy fuel and do a little shopping. Every Saturday we have a harbor hour, where people can take photos with their fish and have a few drinks and eat conch salad. It has really developed a sense of place."
The suspense is over. The North Abaco by-election will be held on October 15 and nomination day is set for September 26.
Hubert Ingraham held the Abaco seat for 35 years. He retired on August 31. Ingraham was a young member of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) when he won the seat for the first time in 1977. He rose to being chairman of the PLP and a Cabinet minister before being kicked out of that party and joining the Free National Movement (FNM).
He took a party used to losing to three governments. A loss on May 7 began the end of the Ingraham era. It also began the end of an unusually long election cycle.
The 2012 election was an extension of the 2007 vote. Then Ingraham beat Perry Christie, sending the prime minister into opposition. Christie endured the humiliation of being back to opposing. He also endured many taunts from Ingraham and the new governing side.
His perseverance paid off. Christie is again prime minister. He now has the resources of the government to help him fight this last chapter of the fight between his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Ingraham-affiliated FNM.
In one statement, responding to reporters yesterday, Christie let the people of North Abaco know what the stakes are when they vote in a few weeks.
"We're going to do our very best to ensure that the people of the constituency know that they have an opportunity to enable their man, Renardo Curry, to be elected and be in a position to cause things to happen for them in the next five years in a more meaningful way than if they were to elect the opposition [candidate]," he said.
He added: "The fact of the matter is we are the government of The Bahamas, we will continue to be the government and we will continue, notwithstanding any decision of the people of Abaco, to ensure that Abaco is taken care of properly."
The first paragraph is what is the reality. You are with us, or not. This is the pressure governing parties put on constituencies when by-elections arise. This declaration becomes even more acute when Family Island constituencies are involved.
When the central government in New Providence turns its back on you, islands suffer desperately for even the most basic attention. Roads go unpaved. The power supply is inadequate. Potable water comes and goes.
Curry, the PLP's candidate, is up against Greg Gomez of the FNM. Abaconians will be hearing quite a bit about the meaning of this vote in the weeks to come. PLPs want to wipe the memory of Ingraham away from the consciousness of Bahamians. There would be no better war trophy for the PLP than his seat.
Abaconians should not give in to intimidation, however. This is a democracy and people should feel comfortable to vote for the person and party they think best represent their interests.
An unconcerned candidate affiliated with the governing side will not lobby for Abaco. Simply being with the party in charge is not a guarantee of quality representation.
When the vote is all over, this long election cycle will be over. We will then begin to finally look beyond the Ingraham-Christie era. Who will be our next set of leaders? Few in the current Parliament seem up to accomplishing what these two men have. But, who knows, in the years to come some might surprise us.
The North Abaco by-election will be held on October 15 with nomination day set for September 26, the Ministry of National Security announced yesterday evening.
Hours before the official announcement was made, Prime Minister Perry Christie told The Nassau Guardian that he would head to Abaco as early as today where campaigning is in full gear.
Christie said the PLP's candidate Renardo Curry is the best choice because he can do more for North Abaco as a member of the governing party than his opponents.
"I have not been back [to Abaco] I think since the general election, so I would be going in to make an assessment as to where we are," Christie said.
"This is now the time and Abaco would be the place. We're going to do our very best to ensure that the people of the constituency know that they have an opportunity to enable their man, Renardo Curry, to be elected and be in a position to cause things to happen for them in the next five years in a more meaningful way than if they were to elect the opposition [candidate]."
However, he said, "The fact of the matter is we are the government of The Bahamas, we will continue to be the government and we will continue, notwithstanding any decision of the people of Abaco, to ensure that Abaco is taken care of properly."
Curry, who has been campaigning in the area for months, lost his bid to represent the area when former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham defeated him in the May general election.
Ingraham resigned as the representative for North Abaco effective August 31.
He was elected to represent the area eight consecutive times.
Ingraham delayed his resignation until the end of August partly to give Free National Movement (FNM) candidate Greg Gomez a chance to meet residency requirements for candidates.
Gomez lived in the United States up until August 2011.
The constitution mandates that in order to be eligible for election to the House of Assembly a person must have been an ordinary resident of the country for not less than one year immediately before nomination.
Some 900 delegates representing nine islands of The Bahamas made the pilgrimage to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to attend the first annual Gathering of Global United Fellowship (GUF) under the leadership of the presiding prelate, Reverend Bishop Neil C. Ellis.
Fourteen nations and six continents attended the first interdenominational conference. To date more than 400 fellowships, businesses and churches comprise its membership.
The Bahamian delegates represented New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Bimini, Cat Island, Exuma, San Salvador, Harbour Island and Great Harbour Cay.
More than 5,400 delegates attended the nightly sessions held at the Benton Convention Center.
The fellowship's mandate is to unite Protestants, Charismatics, Pentecostals and independents; enhance the marriages of clergymen; equip ministry leaders; resurrect the dying discipline of prayer and build authentic relationships in the Body of Christ. It is not a denomination.
Several Bahamians were featured as facilitators of the more the 40 classes offered in various aspects of ministry, including parish leader for the central Bahamas, Dr. Deanza Cunningham and Bishop Walter Hanchell.
GUF has been in existence for less than a year.
"Less than a year ago, we embarked on a mission to unite, enhance, equip, resurrect and build the Body of Christ. We are so very pleased to have witnessed the coming together of believers from across the nations who did not have to disassociate themselves from their denominational roots to become a part of the global experience," said Ellis, who is also senior pastor of Mt. Tabor Church.
The second annual gathering will be held July 6-10, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit www.globalunitedfellowship.org for more information.
Established in 2013 under the leadership of Bishop Neil C. Ellis, Global United Fellowship (GUF) is a cross-denominational fellowship of spiritual leaders and churches united to expand the kingdom of God to all the nations of the world and strategically plan, implement and execute transformative and generational impact.
The fellowship's five-prong mandate is to unite churches, equip leaders, enhance marriages, resurrect the discipline of prayer and build covenant relationships within the Body of Christ.
GUF is comprised of more than 300 churches from countries and provinces including The Bahamas, England, Jamaica, Pakistan, South Africa, the Turks and Caicos Islands and The United States.
ABACO - The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is on a mission to educate the youth on conservation and the environment throughout The Bahamas and internationally with the help of BNT's Director of Parks David Knowles.
Knowles has been working with the BNT for more than six years and is proud to be a part of an organization that strives daily to conserve and protect the natural resources of The Bahamas, through stewardship and education for present and future generations.
Just recently, he gave a presentation to students who are currently enrolled in summer courses at the environment group Friends of the Environment's Abaco Research Center (ARC). Friends of the Environment has been in operation for almost thirty years, but the ARC has just recently been established in Marsh Harbour, Abaco. The center is used for hosting high school and university programs, conducting field courses and presents opportunities to partner with scientists on long-term research projects. The summer courses will help students take a more in-depth look at diverse ecosystems and marine life.
In his presentation, Knowles covered an array of topics such as habitat conservation, environmental careers and opportunities, as well as Abaco's protected areas and the BNT's role in managing and establishing protected areas. When asked about the experience, he commented, "It was great to present at this workshop for Friends of the Environment, particularly where Bahamian students are involved. These students are the future leaders of our country and their knowledge is critical to the decision-making process that they will be involved in the future."
Data gathered in the courses will also be used to assist ongoing research and support other conservation programs.
Knowles then traveled to the Cape Eleuthera Institute to present at the school's research symposium. This event was the culmination of a semester-long research class, where students became involved in all aspects of research. His presentation covered national parks with a specific focus on marine parks, BNT's conservation goals and the research needed to help with national park management.
Other topics were on sea turtle ecology, shark behavior, lionfish invasion, sustainable fisheries and queen conch and mangrove ecology. The symposium was also a chance for the kids to showcase the data they collected, along with real world implications of the work.
And lastly, Knowles presented to a group of graduate students from Colorado State University (CSU), as part of their Marine Ecotourism Trip--Bahamas 2014 Syllabus Course. The presentation took place on board the Shearwater Charter Boat. The course is a 3-credit study abroad course, with the intent to expose students to the social, cultural, environmental and economic aspects of tourism development in The Bahamas.
Knowles' presentation highlighted the conservation efforts of the BNT and spoke on other ways to protect marine areas in The Bahamas. "It was great to get feedback from these graduate students," he said, "especially since they are currently pursuing degrees in similar fields."
Over the years CSU has provided continued assisted in the Abaco National Park, with trail maintenance and helpful recommendations on improving visitor experience. Knowles added, "BNT will continue to collaborate with international institutions and organizations like Colorado State University and others, to advance the efforts in protected area management."
In a country dominated by the financial, legal and hospitality professions, Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts is a welcome refuge for young Bahamians pursuing their ambitions of contributing to the visual arts community.
The independent studio and gallery, led by founder and Director John Cox, has been instrumental in the studies and careers of young artists through its annual junior residency program. Now in its fifth year, the Popop Junior Residency Prize is awarded to art students who show potential through their work, but who could also benefit from the program's exposure, according to Heino Schmid, Popopstudios' creative director. Funded by the D'Aguilar Art Foundation and Antonius Roberts, the junior residency is offered free of charge to prize winners; its objective is to help young artists develop sustainable practices.
The focus is no different for the 2014 prize winners. At varying levels in their studies, Ivanna Gaitor, Samantha Treco and Jodie Minnis are all under 25 - a requirement to be considered for the program - and look to the residency for guidance in developing their skills and artistic progression.
Originally from Abaco, Gaitor found out about the program through her studies at The College of The Bahamas (COB) - a popular portal for many of Popop's past junior residents. Gaitor specializes in geometric shapes and lines and takes inspiration from American artist Sol LeWitt; she has plans to study advertising at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Keen on exploring different art forms, Gaitor hopes the residency will give her the chance to do so.
"It's the perfect opportunity for me to delve into the things that we're going to be exposed to on the Schooner Bay trip and also to what we'll be exposed to on the New York trip, with visiting different galleries and, too, just being in an environment surrounded by different artists that would be able to give me advice and critiques during the process," she said.
The excursions she refers to are not your average summer vacations, and, like the junior residency itself, the trips are free for the prize winners. Described as a 'spiritual experience', the annual trip to Schooner Bay is by invitation of Antonius Roberts, the Schooner Bay artist-in-resident. While this year's junior residents aren't sure what to expect, past participants have been encouraged to develop their vision and skill set through collaborative work. Traditionally, while there, the artists collectively produce an artwork outside on the natural landscape.
"It's more cool, calm, collected," said Gaitor of the trip. "We'll be spending two full days there and what we do during our stay is we find materials and we have to come up with an art project at the end of our stay..."
The trek to the Big Apple is a bit more straightforward, particularly for Treco, a junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Manhattan. An abstract artist, Treco's focus has shifted significantly from her roots in painting portraits, a move she says was inspired by FIT Professor Cynthia Gallagher.
"I went into abstract painting and it was a way of letting go and letting things happen, like control and non-control. And I've kind of incorporated that into portraits as well. Things happen in your life that you have control over and that you don't have control over, so what I'm doing is trying to relate the two things."
Hoping to find work as a curator in New York after her studies, Treco has long-term plans to return to The Bahamas as an art teacher. She found out about Popop's Junior Residency Prize through Schmid, her former professor at COB. She credits the junior residency with helping her find her feet in her studies.
"Since I went on the New York trip before with past residents, that's how I ended up going to school in New York now," she said. "I wasn't even a resident going with that group and I was in my second year at COB in the fall semester and I was like, 'I need to get out of here. I should go to New York because there's so many things to see', so that's how I ended up there now."
The trip up north has traditionally focused on museum visits and lasts anywhere from one week to 10 days.
"You're going from nature to the heart of concrete - concrete city," said Minnis of the junior residency trips. "...This will be my first time actually going to New York for a long period of time, so I just expect to be inspired. I expect to learn more about myself and my practice by looking at other people's work and their practices."
A second-year art student at COB, Minnis' focus is primarily on charcoal figure drawing, stating that she enjoys "the relationship between three-dimensional stuff on a two-dimensional plane". With a long-term goal of becoming a curator, Minnis currently works as Antonius Roberts' assistant at The Central Bank of The Bahamas. The artist looks forward to curating an October exhibition at The College of The Bahamas, which will feature her works among those of other students.
Minnis credits artist Alan Wallace with giving her the inspiration she needed to pursue her dreams.
"I asked him if he only was an artist, like if he had a side job or anything, and he was like, 'No. I just paint'. And I couldn't believe that because I was told, 'Well you can't make money in art', you know? So, he was my greatest inspiration. He pushed me into the water to say 'Go after it. If that's your passion, then go after it."
The three artists look forward to showing their works at upcoming Popopstudios shows. Popopstudios Junior Residencies generally last three months from the beginning of June to the end of August. Those interested in finding out more about Popop or its junior residency award are encouraged to visit Popopstudios.com.
There seems to be a whole lot of concern about the leadership style of Dr. Hubert A. Minnis. Admittedly, charismatic leaders, and leaders who are aggressive, create a lot more sensationalism. They also sell a lot more newspapers. And it's all good. I love that kind of leadership style myself.
Leaders with humility, however, recognize that they are no better or worse than other members of the team. A humble leader is not self-effacing, but rather tries to elevate everyone. Leaders with humility also understand that their status does not make them a god. Mahatma Gandhi was a role model for Indian leaders, and he pursued a "follower-centric" leadership role.
Good leaders are able to suspend judgment while listening to others' ideas, as well as accepting new ways of doing things that someone else may have thought of. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas that can further its vision.
Reference has been made over and over again to why Dr. Minnis did not "deal" with Dion Foulkes when he made some public statements about Dr. Minnis' views on victimization without consulting him first. Ironically, many of them are the same people who insist that Hubert Ingraham was too much of a dictator and the people around him were afraid to open their mouths.
I would be the first to agree that it was wrong of Foulkes to do what he did. It is not the way a team player goes about doing things but as far as I know, this is a free country. He is entitled to his opinion, and while giving it he also showed Dr. Minnis what kind of loyalty Dr. Minnis can expect from him: None.
Comments have been made about other press releases made by other FNM's, most of which I believe were approved by Dr. Minnis, who clearly has no problem elevating other members of the team.
Dr. Minnis is showing a side of leadership that we need more of in this country. I am happy to see that we have a leader who is willing to let those around him shine and not throw a tantrum every time someone objects to his position or opposes him.
While many so-called supporters are beating down Dr. Minnis' style of leadership, do you know what Dr. Minnis is doing? He is doing what leaders do. He is working to keep this party strong. He is beating the street, sweating with Greg Gomez, knocking on doors and working to keep North Abaco FNM. He did it in Killarney, (where he kept his seat in spite of the devastating loss that the FNM suffered on May 7) and I am certain that he will not give up without doing everything he can to win North Abaco. FNM supporters need to decide, are you going to stand with him, or are you going to stand against him? What have you done recently to keep the party strong?
To Dr. Minnis, I say stay stand firm, stay focused and keep your eye on the prize. One day your enemies will become your footstools and the day that happens, I want you to remember to do good to those who tried to hurt you. "Vengeance is mine," says the Lord.
- A loyal FNM and Minnis supporter