Attorney General Carl Bethel.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
BAHAMIANS will have to decide whether they want a group of judges in London to determine their future or if they want to have control over it themselves, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday as public debate on capital punishment has reignited.
Mr Bethel said yesterday the government believes there must be some intervention when it comes to hanging, whether it be by statute law or by constitutional amendment, despite the Privy Council’s “worst of the worst” standard.
A constitutional amendment would mean a referendum would have to take place before any changes are made.
This is not the only possible change up for consideration.
Presently, drafting personnel are also looking at fixed election dates, Mr Bethel told reporters.
He said: “We have been looking at several drafts on terms like the fixed election date, which was a promise and a lot of thought has been going into this question of capital punishment. You know a standard has been set by the Privy Council of the ‘worst of the worst’.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is always something worse than the worst so it’s a standard that could might never be met.
“We feel that there has to be some intervention whether by statute law or by constitutional amendment to settle this issue and so that is what we are going to look at. And so, if it’s a constitutional matter, it’ll go to the people. If it’s merely a statutory matter it’ll go to Parliament.”
Asked to say how realistic it was for this to be done within this term, Mr Bethel said: “It depends on who the Bahamian people want to determine their future on an issue like this. Do they want some judges in London to do it or do they want to have a say on it?
“I think at the end of the day that’s going to be the question.
“We as a people will have to decide where we want to go on this issue that would be in my view the preferable way to go - let the Bahamian people decide rather than a few unelected judges in the United Kingdom.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he has no issue “hanging” any person convicted of murder and “moving on”.
The comment came as he insisted his long-held views on capital punishment have not wavered since being elected to office in May 2017.
Addressing reporters as he left Calvary Deliverance Church following a service, Dr Minnis made it clear if it was up to him, people convicted of murder would be hanged without any remorse on his part.
He was responding to questions over the potential for amendments to the Juries Act as referred to by Press Secretary Anthony Newbold last week.
According to Mr Newbold, the House of Assembly is expected to soon debate amendments to the Juries Act, clearing up some provisions to the death penalty for murder.
In response Sunday, Dr Minnis said: “Let’s get it clear, I am a strong advocate of hanging. That has not changed. That will not change. However, I am bounded by the laws. But I am a strong advocate for hanging.”
When asked if there were plans being considered by his administration to take the capital punishment debate to referendum this term, Dr Minnis said the issue remains a matter that has to be discussed by his Cabinet before any further moves.
Nonetheless he said: “What everybody knows, the world knows, the Bahamas knows that I believe in hanging. I have no reservations about hanging you and moving on.”
Although the law allows for capital punishment, the death penalty has not been carried out since January 2000. That year, David Mitchell was executed for stabbing two German tourists to death.