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Bahamas PM wants to know which Islanders are Buying Guns in US, calls for Regional push

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By Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#TrinidadandTobago, April 21, 2023 – The Honourable Philip Davis, KC, MP, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and Chairman of CARICOM, at the Crime Symposium, which lasted from April 17th to 18th, 2023, in his opening remarks said crime is an “epidemic,” which we should treat like any public health crisis by defining, monitoring the problems, and identifying the risks to develop mitigation strategies.

Davis said, “An epidemic of violence grips our region, one that claims lives and generates fear and anger.”

To emphasize this, he pointed to statistics revealing that in 2022; Jamaica had à homicide rate of 52.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, Trinidad, 39.4, The Bahamas, St.Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia with a rate above 30 percent, which surpasses the global average five times.

He further gave attention to the issue of guns, the leading weapon of choice for violent crime in the region. Davis revealed that the guns used in roughly 70 percent of violent crimes were smuggled into the region.

“In The Bahamas, 98.6 percent of all recovered illegal firearms can be traced directly to the United States. In Haiti, 87.7 percent of all recovered firearms can be traced likewise. In Jamaica, it amounts to 67 percent of all recovered forearms and here in Trinidad and Tobago it amounts to 52 percent.”

Considering this, he added that the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, St.Vincent and the Grenadines, T&T, and Mexico and the Latin American Caribbean Network for Human Security, collaboratively filed a brief to the US Court of Appeal for a $10 Billion lawsuit, holding US gun Manufacturers liable for the detrimental effects their guns have made in the countries.

In addition, he said CARICOM has asked the US Government and US-based gun manufacturers to work with the member states to identify weapons bought in the US; this is in order to hold the dealers and traffickers, accountable.

Davis, who sat as Chairman of the last convening of CARICOM in The Bahamas in February urged the region to “leverage” the Caribbean and US partnership under the Crime and Gun Intelligence Unit to deal with the issue of guns.

Davis pointed to a deficiency; citing the dire need for the development of data-based violence reduction models, pointing to another gut-wrenching statistic:  13 young adults ages 16 to 30 lose their lives from violent crime in the region on a typical day.

During the panel discussion, Davis, who is an attorney by profession, referred to the Bahamian context where successive administrations have given more attention to the detection, prosecution and punishment of crime and not enough to prevention and rehabilitation, and if the cycle of violence is to stop, that format must be disrupted.

The Bahamas’ prime minister added that violent crimes are informed by a cycle of behaviour, in this case bad behaviour, and to break it, early robust intervention to facilitate prevention  is needed, going back on his earlier point to treat crime and violence like a ‘public health crisis.’

Bahamas News

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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Bahamas News

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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