Bahamas Minister stands by criticism of judges

The Progressive Liberal Party and the Democratic National Alliance have also criticized the minister over the remarks.

But Turnquest said on Monday, “I don’t feel that I’m under fire. I feel like what I’m doing is right.

“I was elected by the Bahamian people to serve and I intend to serve. The one thing I don’t like is the ‘namby-pamby, wishy-washy’ politicians. You either stand for something or you don’t.”

He did not direct his comment to any particular politician.

As part of its response to crime, the government intends to introduce three bills to Parliament on October 5 — a bill for a new Bail Act and bills to update the Criminal Procedure Code and the Penal Code.

The new Bail Act would restrict the circumstances under which persons accused of committing serious crimes get bail.

Turnquest said so far preparations are going well. He said parliamentarians will be given at least a week to review the proposed legislation before the debate gets underway.

“One of the things that they’re designed to do is make it easier to keep criminals in prison as opposed to out on bail or getting off on technicalities,” Turnquest said.

On Friday, Sir Michael warned that judges will ignore any law that offends the constitution.

“I am aware that the government intends to table legislation in the upcoming weeks to deal with the criminal justice system — that’s what the minister of national security said — but at the end of the day it must always be remembered that Parliament is not sovereign,” Sir Michael told The Nassau Guardian.

Referring to Turnquest, he said, “I am always concerned when people attack the judiciary because persons have to be careful in what they say, so as not to undermine the public confidence in those of us who serve in judicial office.”

Asked on Monday if he wanted to respond to Sir Michael’s comments, Turnquest said, “I’ve said what I had to say.

“I don’t wish to say anything else on that score. I accept my responsibility as minister of national security. The government accepts responsibility as government of The Bahamas with responsibility for the 353,000 citizens. We’re going to do our job.

“We are accountable to those people. We are going to do what is necessary. We are going to be relentless in the fight against crime to make our country safer.”

Turnquest said the government has invested millions of dollars in resourcing the law enforcement agencies. Additionally, he said the government has placed a lot of emphasis on prison reform and particularly on rehabilitative efforts.

“In addition to investing millions we want to make ensure that we have the legislative framework in place and criminals do not get an easy ride in our country.

“I have a document where we have all of the murder victims in 2011 on one side of the page and the other side we have in some cases who those suspects are.

“It would astound you to see the number of criminals known to the police as both victims and suspects.”

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