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I Fear I'M Seeing Elements Of A Police State Out There

EDITOR, The Tribune

We are sitting back as citizens in this country and allowing our country to become a police state!

This pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus has resulted in many governments around the world declaring states of emergency to address the said virus outbreak. This is understandable in a democracy in the name of public safety. Under the Emergency Powers Act, regulations were issued that involved a national curfew and lately it has morphed into a national lockdown.

What is disappointing to me, is that the “competent authority” has made the breach of the said curfew and lockdown an arrestable offence. This means that police officers are able to arrest a citizen and have them prosecuted before the court to address the allegation of the breach.

The better approach to my mind would be to make the breach operate as a “fixed penalty” offence. The penalty can be made to be a $1000 fine. An individual can be given twenty-four hours to pay the fine or forty-eighty hours to challenge the allegation of the breach before the magistrates court. By approaching it this way, it limits law enforcement’s exposure with individuals and allows the court to still dispense “justice” in a democratic society.

This approach will also reduce the risk of a potential outbreak among police officers, arrestees and inmates at the prison. The risk of community spread exist highest among these constituents at this time. A number of persons charged have been remanded to the Bahamas Department of Corrections. Needless to say, these persons haven’t been tested for covid-19. And certainly can’t observe the social distancing order. Luckily so far, there has been no confirmed cases stemming from that facility.

Law enforcement is more likely to come into contact with more individuals than the public health officials at this time, due to the nature and mandate of their work. Why can’t that opportunity be used to administer a covid-19 test? The Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force possess medical services units with trained medical professionals staffing these units.

Do we have in our arsenal any of the point of contact tests?

Arresting persons and taking them into custody at this time defies all logic to my mind! These citizens aren’t being tested and haven’t been tested. It actually increases the risk of community spread. I am no medical doctor. But I like to believe that I have commonsense and critically think.

The Police and Defense Forces at this time must be seen to be a partner of the Medical Community and not people bullying citizens into submission while risking their very own health. The videos circulating on social media is my authority for stating this.

The forces should be used to disseminate critical information directed by the medical community and public health officials, while obviously still carrying out its duties. But arresting and taking away citizens’ liberty because of curfew breaches cannot be seen to be the focus at this time.

The focus of everyone needs to be on keeping safe and combating the covid-19 virus. The ultimate responsibility, however, is a personal one. Citizens are to obey the orders and follow the protocols as given by the public health officials. But arresting citizens and detaining them in custody is not sensible at this time.

For what it is worth!

A LOYAL

BAHAMIAN CITIZEN

Nassau

April. 6, 2020

Comments

joeblow 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You are witnessing what happens when power is not balanced with wisdom and discretion! Those who aspire to lead usually desire power but lack the other two, so their decisions cannot make sense to a rational mind!

It also helps to have a educated population that can understand and carry out simple instructions. I cannot disagree with arrests for breaking curfews in this specific situation!

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moncurcool 1 month, 3 weeks ago

That is what happens when you make stuff up as you go. So true, wisdom is needed in this, not power trips.

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hrysippus 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Emergency Powers must be used with great discretion and for a limited time. Having power is intoxicating and addictive. Almost Every measure that the cabinet have imposed so far appears to be well justified but we are all treading new ground into an unknown future. It is easier to enact laws than to get rid of them. This is why it is still illegal to ride a bicycle on our roads if it has not first been licensed and inspected by the Road Traffic Department. That law has not been rescinded yet, has it? Let us all look forward to the time when we will be able to once again travel freely about our country. And as an aside; this virus is not just going to ever disappear, it is here to stay. At some point our population will need to gain immunity either through exposure or through vaccination unless we plan never to leave our homes again.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Under our Constitutional democracy the declaration of a state of emergency only allows for the temporary curtailment of certain of our individual civil liberties and rights consistent with what's in the best interest of protecting society as a whole. No Bahamas government or PM has the right to indefinitely deprive the Bahamian people and others in our society of their Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties and rights no matter what may have triggered the state of emergency in the first place.

The ancestors of many Bahamians endured a horrific and most demeaning existence as slaves for ruthfully brutal slave masters for many many decades. Under no circumstance will the Bahamian people allow Minnis to re-instate slavery with himself as the self-annointed slave master. That's just not going to happen because most Bahamians would rather die than return to the darkest days of slavery ever again. As the saying goes, we are determined to live free or die, and Minnis had best keep that simple fact in mind.

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truetruebahamian 1 month, 3 weeks ago

If you look around the world, most responsible countries are instituting these same measures. A couple irresponsible countries in North America and South America are disregarding the necessity of personal distancing and hygiene measures. However, many are not being thoughtful and mindful through their application. The Bahamas ' efforts are not perfect - as is universal, but they are better than most.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The people of a country are subject to physical death at some point in their lives. That's just a given. But their country itself is also vulnerable to fiscal death from sudden economic shocks at anytime. And the people never fare well when their country has died. That's just another given.

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