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Davis: I'D Establish Commission Of Inquiry To Examine Court Cases

PLP leader Philip “Brave” Davis speaks on Monday night. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

PLP leader Philip “Brave” Davis speaks on Monday night. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party leader Philip "Brave" Davis says he will establish a commission of inquiry as soon as he gets into office to examine matters relating to the investigations into PLP politicians acquitted this year of bribery.

"The state is a powerful entity," he said yesterday, "and a commission would be about purifying the administration of criminal justice in the country.

"As soon as I'm in power, I would establish a commission of inquiry to stamp out unjust practices and hold accountable anyone who was found responsible," he said. "The recommendations from the body will be used to determine the way forward to avoid these things happening in the future to anyone, not just Shane Gibson, but your sister, brother and the man on the street."

The Free National Movement promised to root out corruption during the 2017 general election campaign, with its party supporters popularising the rally chant, "they goin' to jail."

The subsequent arrest and trials of Frank Smith and Mr Gibson have therefore been analysed through an unusually political lens, drawing into the fray law enforcement officials not usually caught up in political debate.

Sergeant Sonny Miller, head of the Police Staff Association, said yesterday he has been uncomfortable with the way law enforcement officers have been caught in the middle of the political warfare.

"It's not something we would like to see happening," he said. "We try to stay out of the political arena in terms of party politics because we know the ones who may criticise us today will be the ones who we have to report to tomorrow. I tell my members let's do our job, let's not listen to the party politics because it's our job to work for the people of the Bahamas.

"We don't want members of the public to lose trust and confidence in us because we're out there to serve them. We want them to continue trusting and having faith in us that we will do the right thing."

Among those now targeted by the PLP is Assistant Superintendent of Police Debra Thompson who testified during Mr Gibson's trial that not only was she wrong to meet with witnesses to synchronise their statements, but that such coordination happens frequently. She testified that Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson and Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin were aware that it happened.

Yesterday, Maurice Glinton, QC, said this was a "serious breach that should not have happened."

"I hope it doesn't repeat itself but what if the kind of people you have in those positions are prone to making those mistakes?" he said. "There needs to be more of an effort made to insulate the administration of justice from political influence."

Sgt Miller declined to comment on ASP Thompson's actions, saying the association is there to advocate for police officers, nor to make pronouncements on investigative practices.

In a recent interview, Alfred Sears, QC, said the government should pass the Integrity Commission Bill as a way to help distance the potential prosecution of public officials from political contexts.

The bill would establish an Integrity Commission that would be akin to a law enforcement agency, one empowered to investigate allegations of corruption.

"It is unfortunate that this vital measure of public integrity has not been put in place as was promised," Mr Sears said. "We have to focus on system. We focus on people, and parties and personalities and preferences and that's where we have gone wrong. It's imperative that the government conclude its consultation and enact a robust Integrity Commission Act where these investigations and prosecutions of alleged public misconduct would be conducted in a manner to ensure fairness and public confidence. Such an entity properly resourced with the expertise and funding would have a deterrent effect as well and may be able to pursue justice in a manner that secures the trust of the Bahamian public and the international community."

Comments

TalRussell 1 week ago

Yeah, no. Could it be the colony's comrade leader for the Queen's Official Opposition is out early Christmas shopping for even more troubles brungs to he and his three House MP's?

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ThisIsOurs 1 week ago

I agree with Davis, the AG should have in fact immediately called for a review of every case that inspector handled.

Paul Thompson though well respected is emphatically wrong. You cannot have the crown calling in witnesses to coordinate their stories to convict a defendant. What the crown is allowed to do is interview witnesses separately and then dig up corroborating evidence to determine which story matches independently retrieved evidence

Even more serious what about the cases Thompson handled? In the US all the defendants would have probably had the right to call for an immediate retrial

The sad part is some of them would have been correctly found guilty.

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John 1 week ago

Brave Davis knows the culture of Marvin Dames and Anthony Ferguson and he also knows how the judicial system in this country operates. A commission of enquiry will expose nothing new to him, how many years he practised as an attorney? Many young men (and even young women) are sitting in jail because the legal process failed them. Many feel safer in jail because they are constantly harassed by police, have false charges put on them and find them constantly before the courts having to defend themselves. may make good prime time television but what happens beyond the entertainment?

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TalRussell 1 week ago

Yeah, no. Could it turn out be the case of Bran exiting the green party's leadership too quickly. being that both colony's two main political party's comrade leaders are sinfully guilty of continued costly political misjudgments.

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proudloudandfnm 1 week ago

No need for a commission. But there is need for an investigation into police procedures....

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moncurcool 1 week ago

These are the ideas from someone who wants to lead this country? Pure politics. This turd really needs to go retire somewhere. He is worst than Christie.

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TigerB 6 days, 19 hours ago

Don't believ him, he said that of the sale of BTC, then he was deputy prime minister and no commission of inquiry

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