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
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!