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Leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday he supports capital punishment.
Minnis said he has made that position known on many occasions. He repeated it while a guest on the Guardian Radio talk show Darold Miller Live.
"In the FNM we believe in prevention, dealing with issues that are there," Minnis said.
"I do believe in hanging, but at the same time one has to go through the legal process which makes it very, very difficult."
The death penalty has not been carried out in The Bahamas since David Mitchell was executed in 2000.
Last June, the Privy Council quashed the death sentence of murder convict Maxo Tido, who was sentenced more than five years ago for the 2002 murder of 16-year-old Donnell Conover. Her skull was crushed and her body burnt, according to the evidence presented in the case.
But the Privy Council, while recognizing that it was a dreadful and appalling murder, said it did not fall into the category of worst of the worst, and therefore the death penalty ought not apply.
Tido was the first person sentenced to death in The Bahamas since the Privy Council ruled in 2006 that the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional.
Amendments made to the Criminal Procedure Code late last year as a part of a package of anti-crime bills, set out circumstances under which the death penalty would be mandatory.
The death penalty would be mandatory for anyone convicted of killing a member of the following organizations: The Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Department of Customs, the Department of Immigration, the judiciary and the prison services system.
The death penalty would also be mandatory if a person is convicted of murdering someone in the commission of a robbery, rape, kidnapping or act of terrorism.
However, murder convicts still have the right to appeal to the Privy Council.
The package of bills was passed after the murder count skyrocketed last year, eventually reaching a record 127.
Minnis said while he supports hanging he believes in prevention.
"I am a strong proponent of communication and discussion with the churches and other organizations so that we can work together, strengthen families etc.," Minnis said.
"We know that conflict resolution is a problem so we need to deal with that."
The Bahamas hanged 50 men since 1929, according to records kept at Her Majesty's Prison. Five of them were hanged under the Ingraham administrations prior to 2002; 13 were hanged under the 25-year rule of the Pindling government; and the remainder were executed between 1929 and 1967.
Prime Minister Perry Christie in his last term renewed his commitment to the death penalty, although it was never carried out during his administration.
Then attorney general Alfred Sears had said that the pending Forrester and Bowe case, which led to the landmark 2006 ruling, had prevented the Christie administration from carrying out capital punishment.
That ruling meant that all the men who were under the sentence of death at the time had to be re-sentenced.
As of September 3, police officers will once again be placed in public junior and senior high schools throughout the country on a full-time basis, police and education officials announced yesterday.
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said the government is going to take a "zero tolerance" approach to school violence.
"We in the Ministries of Education and National Security adhere to the old adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure," he said during a press conference at police headquarters attended by numerous stakeholders.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said at the same press conference that police are drawing a line in the sand as officers have been given a mandate to root out possible criminal activity.
"If an officer has reasonable grounds...to suspect that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed, the law gives police that right to take action," said Greenslade.
"We're not only concerned about what's going to happen on school property but what happens to and from school.
"And we send the clarion call to all [that] if you feel that you will be able to interfere with school students to and from school, you are going to be making a mistake."
Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson, who also attended the press conference, said she is pleased that police will be permanently reinstated in schools.
"The police [are] not only going to be there for crimes," she said. "They are going to be there to help with conflict resolution. They will be able to identify some of the problems prior to the problems happening. You will have intelligence on the ground in the schools because when you talk about a cutlass-wielding child, when you talk about the child that was in the altercation over the weekend and gets to school early on Monday and stashes a gun, a knife, a cutlass, that's not the teacher's job.
"[That's what] we're seeing. That isn't anything new. We've been seeing it. So...if the police are there and they are able to complement the security officers, then that should help to cut down the incidents that we've been seeing."
Minister Fitzgerald said the school-based police officers will also be responsible for developing positive relationships with school stakeholders and establish protocols for the prevention and investigation of all school related occurrences of violence and criminal activities.
The original school policing program launched by the previous Christie administration was abandoned by the Ingraham adminstration shortly after it came into office in 2007.
Instead of maintaining their presence on school grounds, officers were stationed outside of schools during peak hours.
But Fitzgerald said the presence of officers will restore calm in public schools and eliminate some of the fear that exists today.
Police were unable to give statistics on incidents of school violence yesterday.
A special two-day training seminar will be held next week at police headquarters for officers and key school officials involved in the program.
Scores of children watched as an Augusta Street man was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital around 1:30 p.m. yesterday, seemingly unfazed by the violence they had just witnessed.
The man, who was wanted by police in connection with several serious crimes, was shot by an officer during a stand-off, police reported.
Director of the Crime Prevention Office Superintendent Stephen Dean told reporters at the scene that the man, known by area residents as “Bear”, pulled a gun on an officer who was attempting to question him.
Dean said police were on patrol in the area when they received information from concerned citizens about two wanted men.
As a result the police stoppe ...
Members of Parliament are expected to begin debate today on a package of anti-crime bills that seek to impose heavier sentences on people convicted of serious crimes.
Proposed amendments to the Firearms Act would increase the range of sentencing for people found in possession of illegal firearms.
The bill also creates the new offense of possession of a prohibited high powered firearm that carries a 25 years to life sentence upon conviction.
"This is a very serious offense to be tried only before the Supreme Court carrying a stiff penalty similar to the range for manslaughter under the penal code of 25 years to life imprisonment," the bill reads.
"These weapons are extremely dangerous."
The bill describes a high powered firearm as "any rifle designed or chambered to discharge any rifle cartridge of .22 caliber or greater with a muzzle energy of 900 foot/pounds higher".
The bill seeks to amend the Firearms Act to include as offenses the illicit manufacture, trafficking and export of firearms pursuant to the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime.
According to police, 347 illegal firearms and 5,914 rounds of ammunition were seized for the year.
Further amendments to the Firearms Act would allow all of the occupants of a private vehicle where an illegal firearm is found to "be statutorily liable to be in possession of a firearm, not simply the person in control of the vehicle, i.e. the driver".
The remaining five bills would amend the Prevention of Bribery Act; the Justice Protection Act; the Evidence Act; the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Penal Code.
The bills were tabled in the House of Assembly last month.
The last package of anti-crime bills was brought by the Ingraham administration in 2011.
The bills increased the sentencing for people convicted of gun crimes, sex crimes and drug crimes.
The attorney general of The Bahamas, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, said recently that there are over 400 accused murderers on bail. This figure represents more than half of the murders committed in The Bahamas over the last 10 years and could be one of the major reasons for the escalation in serious criminal offenses that occur in our country.
Looking at the factual information above, the average citizen can easily deduce that something is wrong with our current system for prosecuting alleged murderers. We have an endemic problem and this type of incompetence seems to be supported by corruption at the highest levels.
The word on the street is that murder raps are easier to beat than armed robbery. Young men today are more fearful of getting caught for committing an armed robbery than they are of committing murder. For every 875 Bahamians, one accused murderer walks freely amongst us. This does not even take into account the murderers amongst us who have not been charged as yet.
The adverse spinoff effect of having accused murderers out on bail is beyond measure. Can you imagine the negative effect this has on our young men who see these thugs commit murder and then within one to two years these thugs are back on the streets? The abysmal failure of our criminal justice system continues to strengthen the resolve of criminally-minded persons who will as long as possible terrorize our communities. These criminals are revered for their illicit acts and young men know that if they perform an act equally as heinous they can also earn a reputation and be "rated" on the streets.
Gibson mentioned that the case files for accused murderers have been poorly kept and she said that this is one of the reasons why so much of these men are out on bail. I have been unable to fathom how a case file for an alleged murderer out on bail can be poorly managed given the fact that we are well on our way to a fifth murder record in six years in The Bahamas.
I hope Gibson sees the wisdom to further investigate this matter, as it seems criminal to me that an accused murderer is allowed to go out on bail because records were poorly kept given the present capabilities that computer programs provide. The protocol standards have not been exercised and as such those responsible need to be held accountable. The investigation of this intentional administrative failure needs to commence as soon as possible and the criminal case should be fast-tracked to the Supreme Court. This needs to be done in the public's best interest.
Gibson also reiterated that the re-introduction of the swift justice program will resolve this apparent "administrative malfunction" and will net positive results going forward.
I say to the attorney general that good and right-thinking Bahamians are supporting her in the government's efforts to bring this mammoth crime problem under control. Many of us want The Bahamas to be a safe haven again for all citizens and if Project Safe Bahamas, Urban Renewal 2.0 or the swift justice program can keep criminals where they belong and then perhaps act as a crime prevention tools, then we are behind you 110 percent.
Successive governments are to be blamed for our current state of affairs and the ball is now in Perry Christie and Gibson's court to deliver. One accused murderer out on bail is too much, but we now have over 400. These accused murderers pose a great risk to the general public because of their willingness to harm others and to themselves because of vigilantes who are constantly seeking street justice.
I say to you Mrs. Gibson, to let's see how fast we can bring these cases to trial and let the chips fall where they may. We will wait and see the results of swift justice and judge its effectiveness accordingly.
- Dehavilland Moss
The investigation into the case of a missing 11-year-old boy expanded yesterday as officers at the Central Detective Unit questioned a person of interest and reviewed surveillance footage from cameras mounted on buildings in the area where Marco Archer vanished last week.
Head of the National Crime Prevention Office Superintendent Stephen Dean said police were following "significant leads" in the case, but would not get into specifics other than to say that a man in police custody was assisting with the investigation.
The Nassau Guardian confirmed that police were combing through surveillance footage yesterday.
The boy was last seen in the area of Brougham Street and Blue Hill Road between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, after leaving his home to purchase candy, according to his sister, Tanzia Humes.
Though his family fears he was kidnapped, Dean said police were still considering him a missing person and would not speculate on what could have happened to the child.
Last night, Humes said her family was still distraught over his disappearance and was holding out hope that no harm had come to her little brother.
Not content to wait on the police, Humes said her family has been canvassing the area where Marco disappeared, but has only received phantom reports of his whereabouts.
"People have been calling saying that they've seen him in his school uniform with his backpack, but he had already come home and changed by the time he disappeared," she said.
Marco was last seen wearing a gray Bob Marley T-shirt and long khaki pants, according to a flyer the family released over the weekend.
Humes also said that her family got a report that the child she described as "quiet" was at a farm in south-western New Providence, but the lead turned out to be a dead end when Marco's relatives went to check it out.
She also said that she spoke to the owners of the Texaco service station where Marco told them he was going to buy candy, as well as other area business owners and residents.
"They all say they know him and know what he looks like, but no one could say for sure if he was around at that time on Friday," she said.
"But I know some of them (area business owners) gave surveillance footage to the police. But none of his friends have heard from him, none of his teachers have either. We've been looking everywhere for him."
Humes said Marco's homeroom teacher was taking the news of his disappearance particularly hard.
On Monday, Humes told The Nassau Guardian that her family fears a child molester might have kidnapped Marco.
She said the family is working closely with police to try and figure out where he could be.
Police are asking anyone with information on the boy's whereabouts to contact them.
By DANA SMITH
THREE men are in police custody less than 24 hours after police held a news conference urging the public to assist in their capture.
On Wednesday during a press briefing at the National Crime Prevention Office at Police Headquarters, police had re-issued Wanted Bulletins for six men in connection with five separate murder investigations.
Elandro Emmerson Missick, Desmond Wilson, and Deangelo Wilson, were all named in Wednesday's briefing as wanted by police. As of yesterday afternoon police confirmed that all three were in custody in connection with two separate murders.
Police identified the three as "Most Wanted Murder Suspects."
Caribbean Police Commissioners will tackle head-on the vexing problems of crime, weapons and human trafficking, cyber crime and other areas of concern during a five-day conference at Atlantis, Paradise Island.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said yesterday that the five-day conference of Caribbean commissioners is not only timely but needed, as one of the key issues that will be discussed is crime, a hot issue throughout the region.
Greenslade, along with the members of the government and commissioners of police from across the Caribbean, was on hand at the official opening of the 27th annual meeting of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police at Atlantis' Coral Towers yesterday.
He pointed out that the package of anti-crime bills passed in Parliament late last year had its genesis in the discussions on crime at last year's conference.
"The genesis of a lot of those changes were as a result of discussions between Caribbean commissioners, more specifically the commissioner from Cayman, Bermuda and indeed Jamaica who spoke to the business of anonymity legislation; the business of increasing the penalty for gun crimes and for targeting prolific offenders, and the need to ensure that the legislation has teeth so that we can get some traction," Greenslade said during a press conference after the official opening of the event.
Among the bills passed were the Evidence Amendment Bill, the Penal Code Amendment Bill, the Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Bill, the Court of Appeal Amendment Bill, the Pawnbrokers and Second-hand Dealers Bill, the Customs Management Bill, the Criminal Evidence Witness Anonymity Amendment Bill, the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill and the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Bill.
"One of the issues that will be given primacy will be the illicit trafficking of weapons and certainly the concomitant problems that result," said Greenslade.
"We will also be looking at problems around the investigation of cyber crime and as we extend that particular topic, high tech crime. Given the technological advances that we now see, that is a very complex, complicated arena to work in and certainly demands comparative advantage and tremendous skills. We will also be looking at the business of trafficking persons."
The conference was also held in The Bahamas last year and attracted police commissioners from over 20 Caribbean countries.
National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage pointed out during the press conference that Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Force officers will be working much more closely together in the war against crime than they have before.
"It's going to be based on intelligence policing," he said. "Obviously the police force has the primary role in the prevention of criminal activity and the defence force will have a supportive role. But how closely? As closely as necessary for us to achieve our objective."
The five-day conference ends on Friday.
A United Nations (UN) independent expert on human trafficking will carry out a three-day trafficking in persons study in The Bahamas, according to a statement from the United Nations (UN).
Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, a UN special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, will come to the country during a time when local officials acknowledge that human trafficking is one of the fastest growing challenges in The Bahamas. National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage said recently that issues associated with human trafficking are "silently festering within our community".
Ezeilo will make her first official visit to The Bahamas December 9 to 11. She was invited by the government to conduct the study, according to the UN.
"Her visit will be the first ever to the Caribbean country by an independent expert of the UN Human Rights Council," said the statement.
"I will study the situation of the trafficking of women, men and children in The Bahamas, and assess the state's responses to counter trafficking in persons and protecting the human rights of its victims," said Ezeilo in the statement.
Dr. Nottage has pledged that the government will place renewed attention on the issue.
During a conference in September, Nottage said the government is taking a victim-centric approach to combating human trafficking, which will include its prevention, the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators.
The government has partnered with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to conduct a 36-month project in a bid to strengthen its capacity to tackle the crime.
According to the statement, the UN special rapporteur is "mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to prevent and fight trafficking in persons in all its forms, and to encourage measures to uphold and protect the human rights of victims."
"During her three-day visit, the human rights expert will meet with representatives of various government agencies, as well as members of international and civil society organizations working on the fight against trafficking in persons," the statement said.
Ezeilo said she is "looking forward to my discussions with the government and all relevant authorities and to engage with them in a collective effort to fight all forms of human trafficking in The Bahamas".
Ezeilo is expected to hold a press conference on December 11 at the British Colonial Hilton.
She is also expected present her final observations and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014, notes the UN statement.
Minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said yesterday that the country is open to assistance from the United Nations.
"We are very much committed to defeating trafficking in persons in the country. We have the legislative machinery in place and we are working with a number of international bodies," he said.
SAFETY TIPS FOR SWIMMERS, BOATERS AND DRIVERS
The National Heroes Holiday is usually a day
for family activities which include picnics at the beach, parties,
sailing or cruising around the island and visiting family and
friends.Police would like to encourage residents that are planning
activities at the beach or at other public areas to be extremely
vigilant. Pay close attention to your surroundings and be alert to
suspicious people, activities and vehicles...