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National Address on Hurricane Irma

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#Bahamas, September 6, 2017 – Nassau

Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis
Prime Minister
Commonwealth of The Bahamas

7:00 p.m., Tuesday, 5 September, 2017

Office of the Prime Minister
Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Center

Nassau, The Bahamas

Fellow Citizens and Residents:  Good evening.
I report to you this evening that we are facing one of the potentially severest natural disasters in the modern history of The Bahamas.  Hurricane Irma may be one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded!  On its current path, Hurricane Irma, which is currently a dangerous Category Five storm, with sustained winds of approximately 185 mph, poses a dire threat to Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.

The wind speed, rain and expected storm surge make this a potentially catastrophic hurricane.  Accordingly, we must act quickly to protect lives, with a particular emphasis on the residents of the southern Bahamas, who are at the greatest risk.  I note that Irma may also bring severe weather to the Central Bahamas.  Leave has been suspended for members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

Because of the potentially catastrophic effect and the potential loss of life resulting from Hurricane Irma, and after consultation with Cabinet colleagues, the National Emergency Management Agency and the Met Office — the Government has taken the decision to institute an emergency evacuation to New Providence for the residents of MICAL and Ragged Island.

The emergency evacuation will be begin early tomorrow morning and will be conducted by aircraft.  To underscore the threat posed by Hurricane Irma, I note that this is the largest such evacuation in the history of the country.  We are advising in the strongest possible terms that the residents of MICAL and Ragged Island comply with the evacuation from their respective islands.

Let me be very clear: Those who refuse to evacuate, place themselves in potentially great danger from this monster hurricane, including from dangerously strong and high storm surges, which is one of the greatest threats from a hurricane.  Emergency personnel and assistance will be unavailable during the immediate impact of the hurricane for those in MICAL and Ragged Island who do not evacuate.  Furthermore, rescue and recovery may take an extended period of time for those who did not evacuate.

Let me again make the strongest plea possible to the residents of MICAL and Ragged Island to evacuate their respective areas.    Do not put your life and those of your loved ones at unnecessary risk.  Do not be foolish and try to brave out this monster storm. The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life or serious physical harm.  With Hurricane Katrina in the United States and Hurricane Matthew last year, there were those who refused to evacuate.    As a result some people lost their lives in the U.S. Here at home, many lived through terror as their homes flooded and they feared for their lives and that of their loved ones, because they refused to evacuate.

As I stated at the NEMA press conference yesterday:  “Life is precious.  We must make every effort to preserve and protect life, including the elderly, the indigent and other vulnerable individuals.”

The evacuation from the Southern Bahamas will be completed by tomorrow evening.  Those who agree to evacuate should secure and bring identification with them, including passports, NIB cards and voters cards, as well as medication, clothing and toiletries adequate for several days.
We are asking those who agree to evacuate, to contact family members, friends and church fellowships to accommodate them during their stay in New Providence.  For those who do not have such accommodations, the Kendal Isaacs National Gymnasium will be used as a major shelter for those evacuated from MICAL and Ragged Island.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese has also generously agreed to the use of Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road as a major shelter.  These centers will be adequately staffed by various personnel, and will be secured by the Royal Bahamas Police Force.   Elective and non-emergency surgeries at the Princess Margaret Hospital will be cancelled to ensure that there is the necessary medical personnel to help staff various shelters.   The impending evacuation is part of the Government’s disaster preparedness and management plan.    We are working to ensure that the evacuations are completed as efficiently and as orderly as possible given the circumstances at hand and the possibility of the hurricane taking a different path than currently forecast.

We are receiving constant updates on the location and the potential impact of Hurricane Irma.  We are also closely monitoring Tropical Storm Jose, which may develop into a hurricane by Friday.   As I stated yesterday:

“Bahamians and residents throughout the country need to monitor the location and proximity of Irma to the island or cay on which they live …  “Maritime traffic, fishermen and boaters should take all necessary precautions as Hurricane Irma approaches The Bahamas.”

Given the dynamic nature of a hurricane, all Bahamians, throughout our archipelago, should closely monitor the track of Hurricane Irma.
Fellow Bahamians and Residents:  This is a time for national unity.    In this spirit, I have briefed the Leader of the Opposition on Hurricane Irma.
I have also invited the Leader of the Opposition to join me at the Office of the Prime Minister during the preparation for Hurricane Irma, and to offer his advice as the country faces the threat posed by this monster hurricane, including during the rescue and recovery stages after the storm passes.

Before I close, let me extend the prayers, best wishes and solidarity of the Bahamian people to our neighbours and Caricom partners in the Northern Caribbean who will shortly feel the impact of Hurricane Irma.   In the days ahead, I will call on the goodwill and generosity of Bahamians, at home and abroad, and residents, to offer whatever they can in terms of volunteerism, monetary and other resources to help those affected by Hurricane Irma.   I make a special plea to the media to offer full and informed coverage to keep Bahamians and residents abreast of the impact of the hurricane.

I note once again that “Bahamians and residents should avoid relying on sources of information which may be questionable or unreliable, especially potentially fake information circulated through social media.”

Please do not resend social media posts, which appear false or questionable.    Let us avoid as much gossip and panic as possible.  I again thank the many departments, agencies, public officials, churches, NGOs and civil society partners involved in preparing for Hurricane Irma.  Let us continue to move forward with resolve and courage.   May God continue to guide and strengthen us with the spirit of resilience and community in the hours, days and months ahead, as we work together in the spirit of love and unity.

Thank you and good evening.

Press Release: Hon. Hubert Minnis

 

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124 HAITIAN NATIONALS REPATRIATED TO CAP-HAITIEN, HAITI

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#TheBahamas, May 21, 2024 – On Wednesday, May 15, the Department effectively executed the repatriation of a group of illegal migrants from the Lynden Pindling International Airport, New Providence to Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

At approximately 9:11 a.m., a Bahamasair chartered flight departed New Providence en route to Haiti with one hundred twenty-four (124) Haitian nationals onboard; a hundred and eight (108) adult males, thirteen (13) adult females and three (3) minors. The Department’s Deportation and Enforcement Units led the escort.

All security and health protocols were observed as the safety and welfare of our officers, law enforcement counterparts and migrants remain the highest priority.

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Introducing The Bahamas Cannabis Authority; Marijuana Bill tabled by Darville

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 20, 2024 – A medical marijuana industry is set for establishment in The Bahamas, following the tabling of the Cannabis Bill, 2024, in the House of Assembly, by Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Dr Michael Darville, May 15.

The Minister said objective of legislation is to set up a framework to establish The Bahamas Cannabis Authority, and to regulate the of importation, exportation, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, producing, sale, possession, distribution, and use of cannabis.

He told the Assembly that the law represents a thoughtful and balanced approach and was driven by a duty to act as he referenced the number of Bahamians who are battling cancer and in need of alternative treatments for pain management and other related issues.

“The legislative package, the Cannabis Bill, 2024 is designed to introduce a controlled system of cannabis use in medical treatments. The bill establishes the Bahamas Cannabis Authority.  A regulatory body overseeing all aspects of cannabis management and cultivation and distribution.  The authority’s mandate is to ensure that cannabis production and use are safe, controlled and effectively integrated into our health care system,” Minister Darville said.

Adding that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that he also tabled, reclassifies cannabis by removing it from the dangerous drug list, now recognises its potential for medical use, he said the change aligns “our nations laws” with evolving global perspectives on cannabis.

The new law makes provisions for the licensing of cannabis handlers across various aspects of The Bahamas, and Dr. Darville said the licensing is structured to prioritise Bahamian ownership, with provisions ensuring that significant control remains in the hands of Bahamian nationals, fostering local entrepreneurship and economic benefits “for Bahamians across the country.

“We are here to make a difference, to enact change, remove years of stigma and transform lives by offering alternative treatments by way of medical cannabis.  The legislation before us offers a careful, considerate approach ensuring that we prioritize the wellbeing and safety of our citizens. Let us move with compassion,” he said.

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Pinder announces Trial by Judge Alone, New Courts, Harsher Penalties in Judicial Reform legislative Package

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 20, 2024 – The Bahamian Government has moved to open new courts, increase penalties for serious and violent crimes, as part of its reform of the judiciary to create efficiency in the system, and gang reduction efforts.

Outlining the administration’s legislative agenda on crime reduction, and judicial reform, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator, the Hon. Ryan Pinder said in the coming months there will be the opening of the juvenile and family courts allowing “us to bring on new judges for criminal and civil matters.

“We also anticipate establishing this year a commercial court that will be focused on hearing commercial disputes to ensure that the pace of business is not impaired by delays in trials,” the Minister said while addressing the Senate on May 15.

He was presenting the second reading of the Trial by Judge Alone (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2024 and The Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill, 2024, which allows for the Supreme Court (Criminal Case Management) (Amendment) Rules, 2024.

Senator Pinder said the bills are in line with the commitment of this Government to ensure that the necessary laws are in place to facilitate the “timely and effective” administration of justice.

Stressing that the administration have been working hard this legislative session to put in place the improvements in law to address the judicial system as well as the treatment of bail for an accused, and ensuring stiff penalties for major criminal violations, he said  the Government have passed a series of legislation to facilitate trials and prosecution of criminals.

“I would suggest that we have done more on the legislative front than any former administration to address crime, and we are not done.”

“The Magistrates (Amendment) Bill increased the financial thresholds of the jurisdiction of a Magistrate to hear certain matters and adjusted the maximum penalties. The broadening of the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court is intended to rebalance cases between the Supreme Court and the Magistrates Court in order to relieve the volume of minor disputes from the calendar of the Supreme Court,” he said.

For the magistrate’s court, he said, it is many instances the primary court for many civil and criminal cases, and especially in civil matters operating more of a small claims court, and the jurisdictional limits increased had not been adjusted in many years, and the operation of society has outpaced their limits.

The Court Services Bill empowers the judiciary to operate autonomously from an administrative point of view, by taking away oversight by central Government, thereby removing the bottleneck caused by the current system and providing further judicial independence.

For the Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill, it increases the maximum number of Supreme Court judges from 20 to 25, increasing the capacity to conduct trials in the Supreme Court by 25%.

“It is the Government’s intention that this not only contribute significantly to concluding the backlog of cases but will also give the Chief Justice the flexibility he requires to better allocated judges through the courts,” the Minister said.

The Trial by Judge Alone (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2024, to grant a right of election to persons charged with indictable offences in the Supreme Court to be tried by a Judge alone.

“We believe this is a positive legislative reform to provide yet more support for timely trials in criminal matters,” the Minister said.

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