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PROSECUTORS KEY TO DEATH PENALTY: Dame Anita Allen speaks on bail and executions

FORMER Court of Appeal president Dame Anita Allen. (File photo)

FORMER Court of Appeal president Dame Anita Allen. (File photo)

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune News Editor

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Court of Appeal president Dame Anita Allen said prosecutors should be more aggressive in seeking the death penalty in appropriate murder cases.

She also weighed in on the topical bail issue, saying judges must strike the right balance between upholding the liberty of accused people and protecting the public.

She said it is difficult to justify giving bail to people suspected of committing multiple offences while on bail, adding that bail applications in such cases should be denied and the person’s bail revoked.

Although the death penalty is legal in The Bahamas, many believe that the Privy Council ruling makes it unlikely that the penalty would ever be upheld.

 Dame Anita, however, called for “a more aggressive approach by the prosecution to apply in appropriate cases for the imposition of the death penalty on conviction of murder”.

 She said: “Significantly, the death penalty is still a punishment for murder prescribed by the law of The Bahamas, albeit, since the Privy Council’s ruling in Bowe and Davis v R (2006), its imposition is discretionary, and since Maxo Tido v R (2011) (following Trimmingham v R (2009), it’s imposition is only lawful if imposed in cases in which the facts are extreme and exceptional or “the worst of the worst” or the” rarest of the rare”.

 “That, notwithstanding, it is conceivable that a differently constituted Privy Council may well find that a case from this jurisdiction falls in the above category, or alternatively may distinguish or depart from the stated authorities on the lawfulness of its imposition in other category of cases. It follows, therefore, that while the death penalty remains part of our law, it ought to be imposed in cases appropriate for its imposition in accordance with the authorities by which we are bound.

 “While we will never know whether the death penalty is a deterrent to others who would commit murder, yet one thing we do know, and that is, that execution will deter that convict from committing murder again!”

 The bail comments of Dame Anita, a former acting Chief Justice and the current head of the Law Reform Commission, come days after the Davis administration revealed legislation that would revoke bail of people who commit crimes or break their bail conditions while on bail.

 Defence lawyers said the amendment won’t change much because such people can still apply to the Supreme Court, where judges can use their discretion.

 Dame Anita said: “A delicate balance must be struck between the personal liberty of an accused to be on bail, and the public’s interest to be protected from the commission of violence against them or against witnesses, repeat offending, absconding, tampering with evidence, or otherwise obstructing the course of justice.

 “Moreover, the jailhouse grapevine will advise an accused not to plead guilty ever and will persuade him to apply for bail on the basis that he is not likely to be tried within a reasonable time. It will encourage him to use every device he can think up to frustrate the ends of justice, including demanding a new lawyer, feigning illness and what not, to delay the trial, and to buy years of time on bail, hoping that witnesses will forget their evidence, or die.

 “In these circumstances, the court’s duty is to achieve fairness and balance, to ensure that a fair trial is not frustrated by the conduct of the accused. The judge is tasked to consider whether the right to a fair trial should take precedence over his personal liberty, and the answer lies in whether his conduct amounts to grounds which justify the limitation of his fundamental right to liberty.”

Comments

Sickened 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I wonder if judges and MP's would fight to give bail to a man who walked into the HoA and shot up the place killing dozens. Even if he laid down his weapon and surrendered would these esteemed people still consider him innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and thus eligible for bail?

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John 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Have you ever known for this type of crime to happen in The Bahamas? But it does happen in America and what are the consequences? For younger assailants, courts are now charging the parents with felony crimes especially if they aided or assist the killers in obtaining weapons or were the registered owners of the weapons used. The mother of the second grade son who shot his teacher and just recently a teen who did multiple shootings, both parents were charged. But in light of this several states, including Florida, no longer requires a permit to purchase and carry certain firearms. What is the message here?

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bahamianson 3 months, 3 weeks ago

They say execution doesn't work. Ok, What we are doing now doesn't work also. It ia working for the gangs , though. They are giving the death penalty. Kudos to them

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jackbnimble 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Very true. We can't legally execute them, but they can illegally kill or attempt to kill whoever they want.

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John 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Again CRIME IS A SYMPTOM of something else or some other things) gone wrong in a society. Focusing just on crime is like spraying water on the smoke when trying to put out a fire. And the route causes of crime here in this country are socio-economic. Conflict resolution nand the lack of job and career opportunities for the young men especially in these areas. A minimum wage job cannot be expected to sustain a young man who may have a family. And when a person cannot catch the bus to and from work for fear of being robbed or even killed on the bud, this will manifest itself in different ways in the community. If gangs offer protection it will be attractive to someone in desperation. And even the need to buy an illegal weapon. Not condoning it but if someone believes it is a life or death situation, they will make a choice accordingly.

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John 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The real criminals are the persons responsible for flooding these depressed areas with an abundance of web shops and liquor stores and flooding the streets with weaponized marijuana and other drugs. All the mom and pops stores have disappeared but residents can step around the corner any hour of the day and night and gamble and buy alcohol and illicit drugs. This is not happen chance.

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jackbnimble 3 months, 3 weeks ago

They are also flooding the depressed areas with guns. We cannot get a handle on the illegal weapons, so how can we ever expect to control murder and armed robbery? First they flood the poor black areas with drugs. Now that the drug area is virtually gone, they now flood them with guns. We had better wake up. They are out to extinguish the black man.

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John 3 months, 3 weeks ago

This had been going since slavery. The drugs and the guns and the Slcohol and economic depression were tactics the US used against its own Black American citizens during the 1969’s 70’s and 80’s. Residents would wake up and find frogs ( cocaine) and weapons and ammunition stashed in railroad carts in their neighborhoods, it started the crack epidemic of the 2980’s. Despite loud and repeated denials that the CIA was involved, more and more evidence is being revealed that the CIA was actively involved in breeding the cocaine epidemic in the US and the Caribbean in the 1980’s and the corresponding breakdown of law and the crime and the )gun) violence that followed. Is it coincidental that when another of Americas agencies ( or two working together) ATF in ‘operation Fast anf Furious’ lost track of many hundreds of high powered assault weapons, these weapons started showing up and being used on the streets of New Providence and other Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados by criminals and so called ‘gang?’ Is this the reason why legislation to decrimilize marijuana and legalize medical marijuana in The Bahamas is being so constantly delayed? To keep US ‘drug agents’ operating in The Bahamas and causing the results the country now see. How many agents are operating in this country? What powers do they have that exceed that of Bahamian authorities? Who are they accountable and answerable to? They operate on a multi/billion dollar budget? And is their track records ones ( including that of racism ) ones that can lead one to conclude that they have the best interest of The Bahamas and the Caribbean st heart? Remember what the then head of the CIA attempted to do to Dr Martin Luther King when he was about to receive the peace award. Least we forget !

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TalRussell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrade "Sister" Dame Anita, must restrain that hangin' tongue of hers. --- Yes?

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empathy 3 months, 3 weeks ago

“Moreover, the jailhouse grapevine will advise an accused not to plead guilty ever and will persuade him to apply for bail on the basis that he is not likely to be tried within a reasonable time. It will encourage him to use every device he can think up to frustrate the ends of justice, including demanding a new lawyer, feigning illness and what not, to delay the trial, and to buy years of time on bail, hoping that witnesses will forget their evidence, or die…” (Fmr. Justice Anita Allen).

There in lies our dilemma, it takes so so long for the wheels of justice to ‘roll’ in The Bahamas that criminals can plead not guilty, apply for bail and just ‘wait it out’ no matter the evidence against them! If you can’t put them on trial in a reasonable time, in many cases, for decades, then it really doesn’t matter what the punishment is, ‘Life with or without Parole’ or the ‘Death Penalty’. We keep talking about the punishment and we can’t even get to the ‘trial’🙄 What’s the matter with us?!🤨

Essentially if the current status continues, we’re doomed😳…🙄

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hrysippus 3 months, 3 weeks ago

My sincere hope is that if ever State Executions of convicted citizens is resumed , that one of these self righteous right wing Christian Pastors, who favour the death penalty, will be courageous enough to step forward from their comfortable and lucrative vocation (so called) to actually volunteer to kill the convict by placing the noose around his, or her, neck and pulling the lever. With this contemptuous bunch though it will never happen.

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John 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe they should start with the white woman who killed her husband since you mentioned females. O but O, she has been freed from Fox Hell and is living it up all around the world,

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Another talking head 🙄

Allen was COA boss & now in charge of Law Review Commission.

She is part of the malaise in the Judiciary. Feeding off the Treasury and producing NOTHING.

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