Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest.
112 total votes.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
ACTING Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest yesterday defended Attorney General Carl Bethel against criticism he has received for his presentation at the United Nations last week, insisting all the aspects presented overseas "were discussed here" initially.
Responding to questions on whether he felt the criticism levelled at Mr Bethel in recent days was justified, Mr Turnquest insisted the country was generally aware of all the announcements made by the attorney general.
However, he acknowledged detractors were fair in their claims that local discourse could have been more extensive.
In Geneva, Switzerland, Mr Bethel committed the country to major legislative benchmarks on the issue of marital rape and migrant rights as he defended the country's performance on human rights obligations before the UN.
He said a bill had been drafted that would effectively criminalise marital rape as "aggravated spousal sexual abuse," adding regulations have also been drafted for the welfare of detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre (CRDC).
He also spoke of amendments to the Bahamas Nationality Act, and foreshadowed amendments to the Immigration Act, which appear to legislate the government's new policy targeting persons who harbour or employ undocumented workers, revealing that changes will limit detention times for persons pending deportation and station a courtroom at the CRDC.
While many of these matters were foreshadowed previously, Mr Bethel's report to the UN provided far greater detail and strongly affirmed the government's position.
Addressing the controversy yesterday, Mr Turnquest stated: "You would know that just in the last couple of weeks we've had a big debate going on here about these issues and there has been some indications of the kinds of thought-processes that we are trying to put in these decisions and including people in the discussion."
He continued: "So I think it will be unfair to say that this was an announcement made overseas. You can make the argument that we had not had the formal public town meeting kind of consultation on it, but we have had discussions in the media by questions and we have had private conversations with various stakeholders about the issues.
"And so, I am comfortable that we are moving in the right direction in terms of involving the public and as we get around to taking positions, I am sure that there will be full consultation with the public."
Mr Bethel last week challenged accusations that he did not inform the Bahamian people before unveiling government policy to the international caucus in Geneva.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Mr Bethel said in a press statement on Friday.
He continued: "It is therefore deeply distressing to see my words apparently deliberately distorted, contorted and twisted out of all recognition.
"I therefore urge all Bahamians to actually read the words in the report that I gave to the UN, rather than to be driven by the excesses and errors depicted in social media and, most of all, to avoid knee-jerk commentary."