Bahamas parliament adjourns without death penalty bill

Last week, the House of Assembly adjourned to October 5.

Ingraham advised in the House recently that the bill will deal with “the question of the imposition of the death penalty in The Bahamas.”

The proposed legislation will outline specific categories of murder.

It is unclear at this point when the government will bring the bill, the details of which many people are waiting to see.

The prime minister’s announcement in the House in June came less than a week after the Privy Council quashed the death sentence of murder convict Maxo Tido.

Tido was sentenced more than five years ago for the 2002 murder of 16-year-old Donnell Conover, whose skull was crushed and body burnt.

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.

Currently in The Bahamas, a judge using his or her discretion could sentence a murder convict to death.

But there is no law that outlines specific categories of murder, and which could get the death penalty.

In recent rulings, the Privy Council has defined the kinds of murders for which the death sentence could be imposed.

In its ruling in the Tido matter, the Privy Council found that Conover’s murder did not qualify.

The Law Lords said the worst cases of murder that may call for the imposition of capital punishment would be those in which the murder is carefully planned and carried out in furtherance of another crime, such as robbery, rape, drug smuggling, human smuggling, drug wars, gang enforcement policies, kidnapping, preventing witnesses from testifying, serial killers, as well as the killing of innocents “for the gratification of base desires”.

Justices have been using their discretion in sentencing murder convicts ever since the Privy Council ruled in 2006 that the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional.

Several years ago, then president of the Court of Appeal Dame Joan Sawyer pointed to the need for guidelines for sentencing, but so far, none have been put in place.

Even with murders being categorized, murder convicts still have the right to appeal to the Privy Council.

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