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Minnis Releases Draft Bill On Death Sentences

OPPOSITION leader Dr Hubert Minnis has released a draft Bill which seeks to amend the constitution to cut the London-based Privy Council out of the appeal process in cases where a death sentence has been imposed.

After declaring in his New Years message on Tuesday that immediate steps must be taken to restore the integrity and effectiveness of the country’s laws, including capital punishment, Dr Minnis unveiled a Bill for the Constitutional (Amendment) (Capital Offences) Act, 2014.

In the case of murder convictions, the Bill asserts, if the trial judge feels the nature and circumstances “are of such depravity, inhumanity, gravity or severity as to merit the imposition of a sentence of death”, and the Court of Appeal agrees, the sentence cannot be appealed “to any other court anywhere else in the world”.

The Bill adds that any delay in executing a death sentence caused by the convict’s appeal will no longer be grounds for challenging the validity of that sentence.

This aims to overturn the five year limit imposed by the Privy Council.

It adds: “The holding of any person who is in a correctional facility or otherwise lawfully detained, prior to, during or after trial, and pending execution of a sentence of death imposed on that person, in conditions which immediately before the coming into operation of this Act were prescribed in the Correctional Facilities Act or the Prisons Act, as then in force; or were otherwise practiced in the Bahamas, shall not be a ground of appeal or of vitiation of such sentence of death.”

During his New Years speech, Dr Minnis admitted the bulk of modern research asserts there is no evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to the would-be murderer.

“That may be so, but what is also clear in our Bahamas is that today there is a hardened criminal element who have nothing but contempt for law, order, or human suffering, and for whom there is no respect for human life even the lives of innocent by-standers, and children,” he said.

“At the very least, there should be the certainty of sure punishment, and punishment which is appropriate to the crimes committed. Our policy is not based upon any concept of deterrence; it is based on the right of national self-defence.

“The wave of gang and drug-related murders is a matter which threatens not only the wellbeing of every citizen and every community, it also threatens the fundamental integrity of the state. It threatens the way of life of every law abiding Bahamian. It threatens national security. Violent gun crimes and rampant murders must be tackled on that basis,” the FNM leader said.

Dr Minnis said his Bill was designed to address several procedural weaknesses which have caused the Privy Council to overturn capital sentences for convicted murderers in the past; and to strengthen and to enhance the integrity and effectiveness of the trial process in serious gun-related and murder cases.

He said the stipulation that a death sentence appeal can only be made to the Bahamas Court of Appeal, and nowhere else, is a reflection of the FNM’s 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 any similar legal formulation) should only be made by judges who reside in the Bahamas, and who consequentially have to live every day in the society which they help to shape by their rulings.

“All other appeals such as an appeal against conviction, or an appeal on constitutional grounds will still be able to be made to the Privy Council,” Dr Minnis said.

Under the Bill, 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.

“If the same are not concluded within such time limits, the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy will be able to advise that the law should be brought into execution,” he said.

The Bill would also remove the Constitutional right to trial by jury either at the request of the prosecution or at the request of the accused where there is a charge of having committed murder, manslaughter, or crimes involving the use of firearms to inflict harm or death, and particularly in instances where there is a likelihood of jury or witness tampering or intimidation.

“In such instances the case will be heard by a panel of two Supreme Court Judges along with a qualified non-judicial Attorney called an Assessor,” Dr Minnis said.

He added: “As this Bill necessarily seeks to affect fundamental rights and freedoms which are presently enshrined and protected in the constitution, it will require the holding of a National Constitutional Referendum.

“My fellow Bahamians, it will be up to each and every one of you to decide whether these proposals become law by way of an amendment of our constitution.”

Comments

B_I_D___ 6 years, 6 months ago

YES!! Cut the ties with the Privy Council...100%...and also in agreement on EXCLUDING the time a case in in appeals from the time of sentence served, with respect to the 5 years incarceration rule...lawyers are HIGHLY skilled in playing the delay game, a simple case can go on for YEARS between this delay, court rescheduling, etc, before you even consider any sort of appeals...and the delays and such, then further appeals and more delays, ain't no one going to be clear of all that in 5 years. Exclude that time from the calculations when it comes time to give you leniency with a death sentence. Heck...I'd say 10 years...not include court time and delays.

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CFerguson 6 years, 6 months ago

An amendment of our constitution has been necessary for many years. Hopefully our people see the need and truly understand what this can do for the survival of this country!

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Honestman 6 years, 6 months ago

Unfortunately, this issue which engages Bahamians on an emotional rather than rational level, could side track politicians from really dealing with the root causes of armed crime. The world is moving away from Capital punishment because governments across the globe realize that it doesn't actually work as a deterrent. The calls for hanging flow from the public's sense of hopelessness over the situation. Similarly,with Bran McCartney calling for criminals to be publically whipped in Rawson Square - come on Bahamas, let's look at real solutions! Overriding the Privy Council (or leaving it altogether as some have suggested) just to facilitate a few hangings each year (and they would be few) would be a backward step for this country, I fear. Rather than waste all this time and energy on yet another referendum, let's instead get down to the serious business of declaring all out war on these armed hoodlums.

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leeza 6 years, 6 months ago

So Honestman pray tell me how do we declare all out war on these armed hoodlums, waiting with baited breath

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 6 months ago

GOOD IDEAS DOC

However, how will an FNM sponsored Bill/Amendment be accepted in a PLP dominated House of Assembly in the present political climate?????????????/

Can you imagine the PLP hotshot legal minds eating humble pie and agreeing to an FNM sponsored Bill?????????????

Go figger...................................

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bismark 6 years, 6 months ago

lets hang those suckers,might not be a detterent but that individual will not harm another person again,we must punish these criminals regardless if other countries are abolishing the death penalty good for them,but in this country we NEED PUNISHMENT FOR THESE CRIMINALS!!so that is my opinion on that matter,tell me something you think if the death warrant is read two days after sentencing,to at least four to five people on death row,you will need about four two five trucks to pump the shit out of that prison that is how afraid they are of that rope,lets hang em high!

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Domin1 6 years, 6 months ago

That fear you speak of governs your decisions and is how you feel about dying and you're projecting it onto others to try to influence a socio-political decision when governments and scholars around the world have surmised that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder- not based on the fear of dying but on the study of human behaviour; i.e. people who kill never in the moments leading up to taking another person's life figure that they will be caught and put to death, not even the executioner can guarantee that. I wager that the average ego would suppose that if 99 out of 100 are caught and put to death they would be the lone escape artist.

Besides, you assume some commonalities in your reasoning and those of the 'foot soldiers' in the [trade] wars we have on the streets, but they are the walking dead and its further possible that all the sweetness you've come to know that makes life worth living exists for them only in the books they never read.

No, the death penalty is a vain and useless control over another man, it might even lead to more murders (collateral damage) as criminals facing death might choose to try to eliminate anyone who aims to deliver them to the hangman.

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Domin1 6 years, 5 months ago

Legalise handguns don't legalise handguns whatever Loki, but if you do this place will surely turn into a live action videogame. 50 pts. to the church mum who panics and shoots the packing boy for running after her...with her change; Open season for the shady folks who've popularised a new clandestine tourism product...huntin'' niggers...we 'civilians' would make the trade warriors envy. And the paperwork for all those 'unapproved' graves...well now you're talking unhappy civil servants...with guns. It would be MADness (mutually assured destruction) We don't have the [[collective] fortitude for such measures...not yet anyway.

Punishment, however harsh, is a countermeasure,not an antidote, you want to lower crime you insulate yourself against crime, then you formulate appropriate deterrents, then you devise punishments, but it is also imperative that the best possible avenues to reform be made available.

Where there is the death penalty, there are no bunny rabbits on death row.

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Domin1 6 years, 5 months ago

so you're saying don't get on a boat with a Chinese person?

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Domin1 6 years, 5 months ago

I hate to admit now, I was being facetious and a little bit pedantic with my response but I see now it was neither the time nor the conversation for such a cavalier response, begging your pardon...

I do maintain that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent; Crime is as indigenous to a population as culture is It responds to the opportunities, the location and the stimuli that abound. So if you are really interested in a reduction in crime you need to be honest about the nature of Bahamian crime, identify those responsible and employ preventative measures not countermeasures. If you expect to see an increase in punishments then that is what you will see but if you really want a reduction in crime then the focus needs to be on prevention.

Busted...yes you got me, I'm not into human rights violations...not that I was trying to hide it...I think it better to find a common frequency to discuss matters of great importance and to stick closely to the topic, it helps to keep the focus.

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Domin1 6 years, 5 months ago

I would have to admit if I were a crackhead I might not have such a high or divine regard for life. Privy council or no Privy council this hell hole is by [our] design whether you're a screw-up or a do-nothing or an illegal immigrant or an illegal business, they're n entirely separate issue to the genesis of crime.

On the subject of guns, as I said before, legalise 'em don't legalise 'em; self-defense is as personal a choice as it gets...I personally prefer to live in a Bahamas when you didn't have to lock your doors than in a Bahamas full of 'itchy trigger fingers' and fashion forward gun holsters. I know we can't go back...right?

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Domin1 6 years, 5 months ago

♪♪ Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone...♪♪

They paved paradise

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SP 6 years, 6 months ago

Not wasting my time reading whatever Minnis has to say.....................................................

Minus Minnis.......Had no balls as a senior FNM Cabinet Minister.....Now he wants us to think he has a brain capable of independent thought??

SHUT UP MINUS MINNIS.....The FNM are effectively OFF THE TABLE....FOREVER!

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MarkTa 6 years, 5 months ago

Not that I disagree but are you going to vote to relect the PLP? We have no good choices to vote for,

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VDSheep 6 years, 5 months ago

Capital punishment does work - contrary to so called world liberal studies. At least, capital punishment works for the “one” that it is binding on! Further, we ought to get rid of the privy council altogether; it represents a colonial handicap to our so called independence! Replace the governor general with a head of state president. Get rid of the parliamentary form of government; have all politicians elected - senate, local government, each island ought to have a governor, with mayors, local government etc. with more autonomy from this tired centralized form of government we have! Term limits for every elected official! Let’s get on with real independence. Do a complete study of all land ownership; legislate - no more than 15 - 20 % of the country will be owned by foreigners, ever; lease land to investors - do not give it away! Tax all private land - used and unused. Decentralize investment out of New Providence. Create an economy that puts people to work. The failure to do so is causal for much of the crime in the nation. No elected official can be in office over the retirement age. Dr. Minnis is on the right track on this one - it might give his party traction for the future... , more to come.

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SP 6 years, 5 months ago

With the FNM OFFICIALLY OFF - THE - TABLE, the PLP ongoing suicidal one step forward three step backwards modus operandi and the DNA under Branville not an option, a 3rd and 4th option will make themselves known closer to 2017.

The only way to save our country for future generations of REAL BAHAMIANS is to break the PLP & FNM monopoly. Obviously they have a secret hidden agenda between them that is not in the best interest of REAL BAHAMIANS.

Bermuda had the same problems with 40 years of a political stupidity and corruption of a two party system and decided to kick them both to the curb in 2012 with the creation of a new party "One Bermuda Alliance" .

See.........ONE BERMUDA ALLIANCE CONSTITUTION

http://www.oba.bm/images/stories/pdf/...">http://www.oba.bm/images/stories/pdf/...

They did it.....and so WILL WE!

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TalRussell 6 years, 5 months ago

Comrade VDsheep one argument you left out is the most important argument against hangings, that when you send the innocent to meet the hangman's noose its pretty damn "binding on the wrongly convicted man or woman you just hanged." We call that a; "lynching by the state."

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Domin1 6 years, 5 months ago

and since we (the people) do everything so well, why would we ever get that wrong?

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VDSheep 6 years, 5 months ago

See Domin 1 quote: "and since we (the people) do everything so well, why would we ever get that wrong?"

Judged in a court of law by your peers - that is justice, with the right to appeal to a Bahamian court before heads roll! When found to be guilty of murder; EXECUTE! - end of story! Next!

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Domin1 6 years, 5 months ago

and some people might be paid for a guilty verdict to allow a guilty person to go free, or any number of other perversions or miscarriages of justice; an innocent man incarcerated by his peers deserves everyday of the rest of his life the opportunity to free himself from the injustice exacted by his 'peers'. The reason you should re-read TalRussell's post is the numbered cases of innocents on death row that comprise that 'most important argument'.

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TalRussell 6 years, 5 months ago

Comrade VDsheep many would shake their heads and dismiss your arguments to hang Bahamalande's but because you're not alone in not hearing the Super Wash radio spots, I'll hold out some hope at reshaping such ill-informed thinking. Maybe a quick visit on any day to our courts to get a close-up encounter with some of these same "fellow peers of yours," might change your mind, if you would really want to roll the justice dice to put your neck in their hanging hands. God no, don't do it. Some of them couldn't navigate themselves and their laundry on and off the jitneys on their way to jury duty, much less through complicated and often muddied-up evidence against the accused killer. You think they take the dirty laundry into the jury room?

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 5 months ago

TalRussell, rory and all da others who engage in cheap political oneupmanship

Get a Life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Crime and capital punishment are SERIOUS issues in our society today.

We are at this stage because of the same stupid quibbling like the above statements

  1. Get on with true governance or get out of the boat (Parliament)
  2. Clean up a lousy court system
  3. Stop relying on foreigners to determine our national destiny
  4. Stop institutional corruption ....................... sigh
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sheeprunner12 6 years, 5 months ago

RORY

You should be exiled to SOUTH SUDAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your comments are not worthy to be posted on such a prestigious media site

TO ALL RIGHT THINKING CONTRIBUTORS

The above comment by "rory" should be condemned and expunged from the record

Mr. Webmaster ??????????????????????

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