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Dismal Conviction Rates in Dysfunctional Bahamian Courts

In a special front page report, The Nassau Guardian has revealed that only four people were convicted of murder in The Bahamas last year, while 16 were acquitted.

The paper notes that there were 96 murders and only 66 people were charged with murder.

One magistrate alone discharged five murder cases last year after deciding that there was insufficient evidence for prosecution.

The same magistrate sent six murder cases to the Supreme Court to be tried by a judge and jury.

In two cases, prosecutors withdrew the charges.

The paper quotes Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham who recently said, “We are fairly satisfied that the police are locating the criminals. We are not totally satisfied with the investigative work prior to the charge.”

The Guardian article says that Director of Public Prosecutions, Vinette Graham-Allen, recently told investigators that they needed to improve the quality of their investigations. She has requested that senior lawyers at the Office of the Attorney General review case files before murder cases are sent to court.

In addition to weak evidence, the Guardian reports that, “police sources allege that some cases collapse because witnesses recant statements because of intimidation.”

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