Balance required on ‘more intrusive policing’

THE response to the recent spike in murders has seen a particular trend – with a greater emphasis on police action balanced against the question of human rights.

In his national address on the issue of crime in January, Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis filled the television screens of the nation to talk about an issue he now says should not be on the front pages of newspapers.

In doing so, he warned that “more intrusive” policing was coming in response to the murder spike.

He said: “We will not violate anyone’s civil liberties, but you are likely to be impacted by more roadblocks and unannounced police action.”

He said such policing “may make you late for your appointments, or delay plans you have, but this is a small price to pay for the collective benefit of having our streets made safer, and our lives less blighted by murder and other violent crimes”.

The question of roadblocks has been challenged in the past – long-time human rights champion Fred Smith, KC, argued repeatedly that roadblocks were unconstitutional, being both indiscriminate and interrupting people’s freedom of movement.

Subsequently, National Security Minister declared that the temporary detention of people wrongly identified by facial recognition CCTV was an inconvenience that was the price of having a “free, democratic, and orderly society”.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander has expressed frustration at people being out on bail after only a few months of detention in prison as they await trial for crimes for which they remain innocent until proven guilty.

There is a literal price to be paid when powers are exceeded, as seen in today’s front-page story about a Cuban man who was held unlawfully at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for eight months.

During that time, he was never charged. He was never taken to the magistrate – as is required by the Immigration Act.

At one point, he was released – and landed properly in court for a charge of shop-breaking and stealing. He served time for that then was handed over to immigration authorities again – but once more not charged with a criminal offence.

The criminal charges he did serve time for will not earn him any sympathy, but the detention during which he was not charged has earned him a lot – a payout that has now been increased to $396,000.

The man had sued for assault, battery, arbitrary and unlawful detention, false imprisonment and breaches of constitutional rights – and his victory has taken up court time and cost the public purse a substantial sum.

So when there is talk of more intrusive policing, and detention, it should be clear that here is the other side of the equation. If things are not done properly, and if rights are violated, there will be a literal financial cost to the country. To you, to every taxpayer.

We should be very careful indeed not to exceed the authority granted to officers as they go about their duties, and to respect the constitutional rights of every citizen.

It is a balance – and the rhetoric around detentions has seemed of late to be tilting that balance.

We all want the right outcome, for crimes to come down, for the murders to stop. But constitutional rights are there for a reason, and must not be broken.

Or else there will be more cases such as the one on the front page today – and more bills to pay.

Ballet opportunity

Tonight, a ballet company performs in the beautiful setting of Lyford Cay Club.

When The Tribune was approached by the company to be a media partner for the event, we said of course – broadening the range of culture on offer to our people can only be a good thing.

Yesterday was the dress rehearsal, and tonight is the first of two nights (the second on Friday) when international, top-notch performers will show their talents to the Bahamian public, all while a talented chef serves up a three-course meal.

A few tickets remain – and we wholeheartedly urge people to take the opportunity to see this rare experience. To book tickets, email events@coventgardendance.com or visit www.coventgardendance.com. But hurry, and don’t miss out.


Porcupine 2 months, 1 week ago

Truly approaching a dictatorship. Thank God we have an educational system and government policy keeping our people too ignorant to do a damn thing about it.


birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

The sacrifice is worth it if even one life is saved then there will be less head lines of murder on the front Pages of the news papers


Porcupine 2 months, 1 week ago

My God, Birdie. No thought whatsoever, hey?


birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

If road blocks can save some lives I say it is good a little inconvience is a small sacrifice


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