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Bethel Insists Death Penalty To Stay Despite Un Calls

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Attorney General Carl Bethel.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel yesterday informed the United Nations that The Bahamas has no immediate intention of abolishing the death penalty despite calls from scores of member states to formally end the practice.

Mr Bethel addressed the international recommendations that the country has not accepted during his national report to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group session in Geneva, Switzerland.

“It is one of the popular mind,” Mr Bethel told the international body during a response period, “there is no appetite on the streets if you will in The Bahamas for any ability for compromise on that issue (capital punishment). It is an emotive matter and so what we try and do is to show through raising our conviction rates, through our prosecutors, to give a sense of comfort to the populace that there is a remedy, there is a punishment that fits the crime.”

While there is no formal moratorium, Mr Bethel noted there has not been a mandated execution in 17 years.

“The Bahamas maintains its position on the retention of the death penalty. In fact, one of the recommendations submitted by the Constitutional Commission, after consultation, was the retention of the death penalty. The Bahamas continues to recognise the lawfulness of the death penalty as a punishment for the crimes of murder and treason, on a discretionary basis and subject to the conditions laid down in the case law.

“That said,” he continued, “The Bahamas is not considering any immediate action to establish a formal moratorium on the death penalty. The last mandated execution took place 17 years ago, even in the absence of a formal moratorium.”

He also reflected on calls for the removal of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, referencing the country as a Christian nation as described in the preamble to the Constitution.

Mr Bethel revealed that persons who are in the process of gender reassignment are currently provided with psychological assistance from the Ministry of Health with other forms of assistance being possibly considered.

“Consideration might be given to other forms of assistance,” Mr Bethel said, “however, as this issue remains highly controversial in popular discourse, a cautious and modulated approach has been adopted.

“Persons who are in same sex relationships are able to avail themselves of the regular protection and remedies available under the law in respect of violence or assault or property rights. And, it should be noted that consensual relations in private between adults of the same sex has been lawful in The Bahamas since 1991.”

On the matter of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, Mr Bethel acknowledged these elements have not been identified as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Constitution or legislation.

However, he maintained the government’s position that there has been no instances recorded of any legal discrimination of this nature, nor any formal reports made to law enforcement or government agencies.

Mr Bethel stressed that the country, as a “Christian nation”, believed that the family is the foundation of a strong nation and marriage by law defined as the union of a man and a woman.

He also said that the local LGBTQI community had access to local and international platforms with representation on a number of national and regional organisations, and noted a 2016 press conference held by the transgender community to address concerns on the equality referendum that was conducted without interference.

In response to recommendations from member states during yesterday’s session, Mr Bethel underscored the importance of partnering with civil and religious leaders to “advance the cause of a more moderate public approach to issues.”

“We live in a constitutional democracy,” he said, “we have had uninterrupted democracy, we have (had) two (constitutional) referenda. There has always been the political woe of the political class to advance all of the issues in controversy, except for the one of capital punishment, but the issue of gender equality, identity, transitioning, the difficulty in a democracy is that it is a question of developing a social consensus. And this is why we have adopted a modulated approach, cautiously, seeking to advance rights in areas that are very strongly held negative points of view in the populous.”

Comments

Bonefishpete 4 months, 1 week ago

You are a death penalty country "Only" if you actually execute people, No?

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bogart 4 months, 1 week ago

Quite ironic saying in the last para 'we live in a constitutional democracy' he (attorney general) said, 'We have had uninterrupted democracy, we have (had) two (constitutional) referends. There has always been the political woe of the political class to advamce all of the issues in contrabersy.' Stop. Flashback. Didnt the majority Bahamians vote no to legalizing the illegal web shops in one of the referanda and the political class went against the majority?? And in the other the political class then agreed with the majority?

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killemwitdakno 4 months, 1 week ago

Like we've seen anyone die yet or be sentenced.

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Sickened 4 months, 1 week ago

Let us prove that we have a death penalty and hang some of these son's of bitches that have been convicted of murder!

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bogart 4 months, 1 week ago

Despite some of the brilliant Bahamian sons and daughters of the soil, legal minds (taking silk, as good as or better than foreign peers)leaders of this SOVEREIGN BAHAMALAND there is still the apparent need or subserviance to run back to our former COLONIAL MASTERS to decide on cases on Bahamian law on Hanging.

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Greentea 4 months, 1 week ago

Black man please stop the political posturing. If Bahamians only took a moment to see what’s going on they would see a Broke legal system unable to persecute murderers and molesters and most important completely unwilling to hang anyone.

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bogart 4 months, 1 week ago

...prosecute ...murderers and molestors and most important completely unwilling to hang anyone.

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jackbnimble 4 months ago

It stays but it’s not entrenched through constitutional reform so that it can be enforced without challenge. #jokeyguvnent

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jackbnimble 4 months ago

This Government allows itself to be dictated to by outside sources. That’s clear.

Marital rape was nowhere on the agenda. One fool shows up from the UN and everyone’s pantries are in a bunch. After issuing a press release to say it’s not on the agenda now suddenly the AG announces it’s on the front burner to be made law. Another idiot shows up talking about legalizing marijuana. That’s suddenly being considered. If you see the AG saying capital punishment will remain on the books I think the opposite is about to happen. This is the growing trend this this Government.

Just like the last administration the people’s agrnda is bring hijacked by outside interests. I just said wish we had a Government that would grow a pair because I’m beginning to think we only feign being sovereign!

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Aegeaon 4 months ago

No. Why go against the world? The "Bahamian" way of life in society and government is destroying us. These new laws aren't hijacking the people's agenda, but rather giving us ideas about how we need to change. I don't know how you oppose this, as it may help us in the future.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

Sooooooo, what is Carl gonna do to carry out the Death Penalty any time soon?????

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