THE PLP is on course to surpass the rate of deadly violence seen under the former government, Opposition Leader Hubert Minnis claimed.
He said during the last General Election campaign the PLP made crime a political issue, putting up large billboards touting the 490 murders since 2007.
“Today, less than two short years into the present administration with more than 231 murders from 2012 to now, we as a nation are well on the way to exceeding that gruesome total touted by the present government,” he said.
Dr Minnis said the PLP signalled to the electorate there could be a political solution to violent crime and that a vote against the FNM would achieve that goal.
“Our position then and now is that there is no political solution to crime. There is a community solution with stronger churches and social intervention; and stronger parenting particularly by fathers as a linchpin of stronger upbringing of our youth. “There is also a law enforcement solution which must be strengthened by political will and policy guidance.”
Delivering his New Year’s Address last night, Dr Minnis said: “Fellow Bahamians, the continuing upsurge in violent crime particularly in the number of murders is not only a cause for alarm, but it is also a call for immediate, sustained and effective action! For far too long Bahamians have lived in the shadow of terror that any moment could be the last for them or their loved ones. For far too long the culture of gangsterism, drug abuse and trafficking has led to a pall of fear throughout our society where even the home, our sacred place of retreat and family, is no longer immune to invasion and armed incursion.”
Minnis said the government’s approach to crime has been totally ineffective and has done nothing to comfort the Bahamians who have a strong sense of fear and despair.
“No comfort was provided to a fearful nation by the limp and vision-less response of the government to the recent horrific drive-by shooting of innocent by-standers in Fox Hill. Clearly, more must be done to effectively address both the causes of crime and the criminal element who threaten by their contempt of law and common humanity, to reduce our beloved Bahamas to the level of a failed state in the arena of crime and crime prevention.”
The FNM plans to table an amendment to the Bahamas constitution to address several weaknesses of procedures, he said.
“The Bill will mandate that an appeal against a sentence of death can only be made to the Bahamas Court of Appeal and nowhere else. This is a reflection of our considered view that in so serious a question as the sentence for a convicted murderer, a determination that a crime is ‘the worst of the worst’ or a similar legal formulation should only be made by judges who reside in The Bahamas.
“And if a delay between conviction of the murderer and the proposed date of hanging is caused by the appeals made by the convict then the five year limit imposed by the Privy Council will not apply. The Governor General acting on the advice of the Minister of National Security will prescribe time limits for the lodging and conclusion of all appeals against conviction, or constitutional appeals.”
Dr Minnis said the FNM would like a ‘know your neighbour’ programme, causes of crime education and an anti-drug education curriculum to be implemented immediately.