Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday that unless the government is willing to enforce the death penalty, “criminals will continue to ravage our country and keep citizens in fear.”
Dr Minnis said our country is losing the battle to the criminal element and “more serious measures” need to be taken.
Dr Minnis’ comments came hours after the country marked its 32nd homicide for the year and its 18th murder this month.
This also means that 601 people have been killed since the Progressive Liberal Party took office in May 2012, according to The Tribune’s records.
Ahead of the 2012 general election, the PLP posted billboards throughout New Providence - in areas heavily trafficked by tourists and locals - which said there had been more than 490 killings under the last five-year Ingraham administration.
The PLP, then in opposition, campaigned that it had the answer to violent crime while the Ingraham administration did not. It promised that if elected it would get crime under control.
Speaking about the crime figures, Dr Minnis said in a statement released yesterday: “Thirty two - that is an outrageous number of young Bahamians that have been killed on our streets in the first two months of 2017. It is shocking that under this inept PLP government we have seen 600 Bahamians lose their lives.
“This government fails our young Bahamians every time one of them loses their lives. The PLP has spent a year touting statistics trying to convince Bahamians that crime is down and now we are in an even worse place.”
He added: “Bahamians need real leadership on this issue, not just empty rhetoric and broken promises. The FNM has brought forth our ‘Change Team’ that includes former police officers who will bring real world experience to the government. A FNM government will fight crime at its roots and rid our country of the growing crime epidemic. We will return our streets to the people because it is the people’s time.”
In a separate statement posted to Facebook, Dr Minnis said the FNM is willing to do “everything necessary,” including enforcing the death penalty, in order to get a handle on crime.
“Our country is losing the battle to the criminal element, and more serious measures must be taken. A responsible government will be proactive in doing everything in its power to remove any impediment that prevents it from executing the laws of the land,” his statement said.
“Unless we are able to show the criminal element that we are willing to impose the death penalty and bring law and order back to the Bahamas, these criminals will continue to ravage our country and keep its citizens in fear. The FNM is prepared to do everything necessary to ensure that law and order is restored in this country. This scourge of violent crime cannot continue to go unabated and everyone must work together in this time of social crisis. Enough is enough.”
Capital punishment in the form of hanging remains a sentence for convicted murderers, however the death penalty has not been carried out since January 2000.
No convicted murderers were executed during the last Ingraham administration when Dr Minnis was minister of health. However, the previous government did amend the Penal Code in 2011 to specify which crimes would be deemed the “worst of the worst” to better align with the Privy Council’s standard on the death penalty.
In 2006, the Privy Council ruled that the Bahamas’ mandatory death sentence for convicted murderers was unconstitutional.
Last year, Dr Minnis told reporters that the necks of “murderous scumbags” in the country must be “popped” in order to keep Bahamians safe.
Earlier this month, the FNM outlined its goals to fight crime should the party win the next general election, noting in its recently released party platform plans to establish a national neighbourhood watch programme in every community, re-institute term limits for the commissioner of police, establish a sexual offenders register and enforce Marco’s Law.
The FNM also plans to create a Guns and Gangs Unit in Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and undertake a “comprehensive audit” of the RBPF to review the pay of police officers and determine whether the crime fighting agency has the “requisite manpower to effectively execute its mandate”.
The party said during its next term in office it will enforce a zero tolerance for crime; develop a modern, efficient crime fighting machine; establish, build and equip an independent forensic lab; work with community based partners; eliminate habitats where criminality flourishes; enact legislation to establish the National Intelligence Agency; enforce Marco’s Law and establish the sexual offences register; use state of the art technology; establish a national neighbourhood watch consultative council; establish a public sector anti-corruption agency; conduct a comprehensive review of police officers compensation and re-institute term limits for the commissioner of police, commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the commissioner of corrections.
The plans are outlined in Manifesto 2017, posted on the FNM’s website, ourfnm.org.