Bahamas opposition supports resumption of capital punishment

Former Bahamas Prime Minister and current Leader of the Opposition, Perry Christie

“One of the most complex of all situations is the question of capital punishment,” said Christie.

“There are some of us who agree and some of us who disagree, but I’m here tonight to say that the PLP has always complied with and carried out the law as it relates to hanging and nothing will change with respect to that,” he said.

However, no hangings were carried out under the previous PLP administration led by Christie.

In fact, the last time capital punishment was carried out in The Bahamas was on January 6, 2000.

Five of the 50 men hanged in The Bahamas since the 1920s were hanged under the FNM between 1997 and 2002; 13 were hanged during the 25-year rule of the late Sir Lynden Pindling and the remaining 32 were executed between 1929 and 1967.

Speaking at the funeral of slain prison officer Dion Bowles in 2006, Christie, who at the time was prime minister, said he was in favour of capital punishment and would seek to ensure that it was carried out. At the time, many people were calling for hangings to resume in response to Bowles’ death.

However, the Christie administration said the question of the death penalty could not be addressed until the Privy Council made a decision on an appeal filed by two condemned men challenging the mandatory death sentence.

In March 2006, the Privy Council ruled that the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional 

Around the same time, Christie said he would be willing to fight those who oppose the death penalty.

On Saturday night, he pledged to take bold action in general to fight crime if he is re-elected.

“No effort will be spared to restore the safety of our streets and homes,” Christie said.

“An urgent priority for the next government is the battle against crime. There is fear on our streets.

“Nearly 80 murders this year already and it’s still July. This is a tragedy and it is a crisis and the current government is paralyzed.

“They are in over their heads, unable to take action, unable to meet their first priority to Bahamians.”

The murder count for 2011 hit 79 when a man who was shot on Sunday died in hospital. Last year this same time 53 murders had been reported.

Christie said the government needs a more serious approach to the issue of crime.

“It takes a government that shares your priority,” he said.

“Everything follows from that — prevention, prosecution punishment and rehabilitation.

“We need urban renewal. We need police presence in our schools. We need to remove political interference in policing. We need to give police the resources to do their job, including the smartest new technology.

“We need to focus our attention on the most serious criminals and repeat offenders. We need to ensure coordination between police and prosecutors and all involved with the prosecution of justice,” he said.

He added that amendments to the Bail Act must be made so that those accused of murder “cannot receive bail to commit another murder.”

The government has promised to amend the Bail Act to make it more difficult for people accused of serious crimes to get bail.

In addition, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced in the House of Assembly last month that the government intends to bring a bill to Parliament to deal with “the question of the imposition of the death penalty in The Bahamas”.

The bill would outline specific categories of murder for which the death penalty will be imposed.

Although the prime minister promised to bring the bill prior to the summer recess, the House adjourned without it being introduced. The House meets again October 5.

Ingraham also promised months ago to make a national address on crime, but has yet to do so.

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