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Up to 25 years jail for gang members in proposed law

By JADE RUSSELL

Tribune Staff Reporter

jrussell@tribunemedia.net

LONG-AWAITED anti-gang legislation was tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday - with gang members facing up to 25 years in prison.

The legislation detailed how gang membership could be proven - with evidence, including people’s clothing, tattoos, body markings, signs or codes in their possession. Other evidence included confessions or evidence of criminal activity.

Under the Anti-Gang Bill 2024, a police officer could also arrest a person without a warrant if there is “reasonable cause” to believe the person is a gang member, gang leader, or involved in gang activity.

The bill comes as the country continues to grapple with a murder rate that has seen 37 homicides so far this year. Many of the killings have been linked to gang retaliation. Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis in January promised his administration would introduce the “toughest anti-gang legislation ever”.

Within the bill, a “gang” is defined as a combination of three or more people formally or informally

organised and act alone or with each other in gang- related activity.

The Minister of National Security under the bill can make an application to the Supreme Court to declare that a group of people is a gang if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe the group is involved in gang activity. Any person aggrieved by the decision can appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal within 21 days.

In January, National Security Minister Wayne Munroe said the government was grappling with how to prove someone is a gang member.

Mr Munroe added there are times when it may be assumed a large group of people are in a gang, but there must be sufficient proof. He said redrafting the anti-gang legislation shouldn’t be rushed because it must first be fully effective.

The new bill has outlined evidence that could prove membership in a gang. The bill also states gang involvement could lead to imprisonment for several offences.

Under the bill, a person who is a gang leader or gang member can be jailed for up to 25 years. Additionally, a person who commits an offence as a gang leader, or gang member, or intimidates another person into joining a gang could be jailed for up to seven years.

Gang activity was described as various acts of crime, including recruit- ing others to join gangs, retaliatory violence, kidnapping a person, threatening someone, or benefiting from a gang.

A person engaged in gang-related activity could be liable to a fine of $100,000 or be jailed for up to 25 years. Any gang member involved in an act that leads to a death could face life in jail.

Anyone harbouring a gang member could also be jailed - with a possible sentence of up to 20 years. If the gang member or gang leader is a child, then the parent will be convicted for harbouring them.

Meanwhile, young men being recruited to join gangs has been another ongoing challenge.

Some youths have joined gangs willingly while others have been intimidated to join. Police reported a 13-year-old boy in Grand Bahama was allegedly stabbed by a group of juveniles a few months ago after he refused to join a gang.

Within the bill, a person who recruits another person to join a gang could be jailed for up to 20 years. A person who recruits a child could face a 25-year sentence.

Anyone committing obstruction of justice by intimidating, threatening, or offering bribes to members of the justice system could also be jailed for up to 25 years.

The bill also makes provisions for forfeiture of the property of a gang or property intended for gang-related activities. This also extends to anyone who knowingly benefits from gang-related activity.

Comments

Sickened 3 months, 1 week ago

Munroe's biggest task now is to ensure any gang bill has sufficient loopholes for his future clientele to take advantage of. I imagine it will fall heavily on the police to perfectly document their actions - which we know is an hilarious expectation.

sheeprunner12 3 months, 1 week ago

Munroe is in charge of the biggest gang in The Bahamas ........ and they brag about that

bahamianson 3 months, 1 week ago

What constitutes a gang member ? The prosecution has to first prove that detail . It is like , what is the worst of the worst in order to hang someone. The courts have not defined the worst of the worst , for a reason.

AnObserver 3 months, 1 week ago

What constitutes a gang member ?

Going to "work" in a pink and white building downtown.

bahamianson 3 months, 1 week ago

Lolol i see what you did here, comical. I agree.

John 3 months, 1 week ago

This is a dangerous piece of legislation that can ensnare and even trap the most innocent persons and have them accused and even convicted as so called’ gang activity.’ And this bill, if passed gives more power to the police than judges have. Police can arrest anyone on ‘suspicion of gang activity’ without a warrant. If a police presents himself to a judge to request a warrant, he must convince the judge that his suspicion is reasonable and if he has evidence, it must have substance. With some NINETY cases before the coroner’s court involving police shootings, is this really the time to grant police more unrestricted powers? It appears this bill is a cut and paste piece of crap that will bring more hardship to those who may be victims of gang activity but caught up in the fray. The stupidity of trying to prosecute a parent of a child who may be involved in gang activity without the parents knowing is crazy, crazy. Now if the parent is aware of their child’s activity or even upholding it or promoting it, then yes, yes the full brunt of the law fall on them.

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