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Bahamian Politics Last Updated: May 7, 2015 - 7:57:38 AM

DNA Calls on the Government to Protect its Citizens
By Branville McCartney, DNA Leader
Mar 7, 2013 - 12:19:49 PM

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Nassau, Bahamas - The fundamental principle of governance is the protection of its citizens and upholding the Rule of Law. If a Government cannot apply this principle effectively it ought to be removed.

There is no doubt that the Bahamas, New Providence in particular, is one of the top ranking countries in the world for crime. This island 21 by 7 has one of the highest per capita rape, arm robberies, and murder statistics in the world. Put simply, this country is not safe. We have callous mean spirited persons wreaking havoc on this country of ours. As a result, law-abiding citizens are forced to live in fear. These criminally minded persons are responsible not only for the crime they commit, but for all of the costs involved by persons trying to protect themselves and their property. In most cases we rarely hear about the impact that crime against the person has on the victim and the victim’s family. For the homeowners, persons are forced to enclose their yards, install burglar bars, cameras and alarm systems. In many instances dogs are not considered pets anymore but are in yards for protection. I consider myself a pet lover. I have seven dogs. Five of them are for protection purposes and they were trained for that reason. Many businesses have the added expense of security, which is now a necessary expense. In many cases this expense is transferred to the customers.

Yes Bahamas…we live in paradise but we are paralyzed by fear!

Recently the United States Embassy issued a warning to its citizens about crime in the Bahamas. Indeed, if I were an American or any other foreigner thinking about visiting the Bahamas and saw this warning, I would think twice about visiting such a country…wouldn’t you? It is probably near to impossible to determine how many persons were deterred from coming to the Bahamas as a result of such warning but I am sure it had tremendous negative impact. Tourism is still our number one industry and these criminally minded persons are messing with our bread and butter. That should make any reasonably minded law abiding citizen of this country angry…very angry!

Crime was the number one issue in the 2007 and the 2012 general elections. Both parties, PLP and FNM, blamed each other for the increase in crime in the Bahamas. The fact of the matter is that crime is not political. It becomes political when political parties and their leaders fail to have the political will to carry out its fundamental principle of governance and that is the protection of its citizens and upholding the Rule of Law. No matter what your political persuasion, DNA, PLP or FNM I am confident that you would agree that as of today we as citizens of this Commonwealth are not protected against the criminal element in this country. It seems that the criminals have all the rights and liberties afforded to them and that the law-abiding citizens are finding it most difficult for justice to be done. As a result criminally minded persons do not fear the law and continue to wreak havoc on our beloved country. This cannot be right. This must stop.

The PLP during their 2012 general election campaign persuaded the Bahamian people that they would deal with crime. As a matter of fact their first campaign commercial was on crime. The PLP, during the election season, had New Providence in particular littered with posters and billboards, virtually criticizing the state of crime in this country. They as much claimed that they had the answers to our crime problem in the Bahamas and that the Bahamian people ought to give them a chance to rectify this problem. This, coupled with the promise of 10,000 jobs was instrumental in bringing the PLP once again to power. Need I say, a promise is a comfort to a fool.

In the forward of the Charter of Governance, the PLP Leader stated, “This Charter of Governance will allow the Progressive Liberal Party to chart a course of change for the Bahamas beginning on the first day of our new government. We will build a safer Bahamas, reducing crime and violence…Today the Bahamas is facing unprecedented levels of crime and violence, reduced standard of living and increasing social disorder and decay…The country’s need to change course is widespread: we cannot simply afford to continue with business as usual”.

I am not sure if the PLP is aware but we are now 10 months since the general election. “Day one” has long gone and crime and violence, social disorder and decay are still at unprecedented levels.

The Democratic National Alliance is asking the government of the Bahamas to carry out its fundamental duty of governance and protect its citizens from the criminals of this country. The DNA is asking the government to get tough on crime! We are asking for a disciplined society where law and order is the norm and not the exception.

The DNA believes that there is a need for radical action to reform our criminal justice system. This process begins when the police force is free from Ministerial control (the Commissioner of Police having security of tenure) and is more accountable to the public whom it serves. There must be enforcement of the law without political interference. The government must support the advancement and the strengthening of the Bahamian Criminal Justice System to ensure that it works effectively and efficiently. The DNA calls on the government to establish a National Intelligence Consortium and Agency to develop policies and procedures related to the functions, responsibilities and oversight arrangements for the intelligence systems that will inform government decisions making on strategic policy issues. We ask that the PLP government mandate that the Office of the Attorney General organize and deploy teams of prosecutors to qualitatively assess the viability of all existing charges before the court and new matters coming into the system. Appoint more judges. Build public trust and confidence in the Justice System by addressing the issues of adequacy of resources and participants necessary to ensure that there is adherence to the Rule of Law. Treat the Judicial Branch of Governance, in all respects, as an independent entity. It is necessary that the PLP create a victims’ ombudsman, separate and independent of the police and the prosecution departments, who will offer victims independent advice and representation if needed. The PLP should develop a comprehensive system to rehabilitate offenders, inclusive of academic programs and work readiness and skills building programs. We, in the DNA think it is incumbent on the PLP to assemble the best minds in the Bahamas to create and establish programs to detour young people, particularly young men, from deviant behavior, programs that will encourage them to actively pursue productive lifestyle building activities…Urban Renewal 2.0 is not sufficient. Indeed, the issue of capital punishment must be address. The PLP must ensure that capital punishment is enforced against ALL murderers and those accused of murder are not granted bail!!

To repeat the words of the then Leader of the Opposition and now Prime Minister…“beginning on our first day of our new government…we will build a safer Bahamas…reducing crime and violence…we cannot simply afford to continue with business as usual”. Well sir…10 months later it is business as usual and our county is paralyzed by fear. We, the DNA, ask the PLP to carry out its fundamental principle of governance and protect its citizens and uphold the Rule of Law. We ask them to live up to what was said in their Charter of Governance!


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