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McWeeney: ‘Keep Death Penalty In Place’

The Constitutional Commission recommends that The Bahamas keep the death penalty on its books and also keep the Privy Council as its final court of appeal.

However, the commission recommends that the law be amended to increase the likelihood that the death penalty would be carried out.

The commission recommends that the government amend the law to “tie the hands” of the Privy Council. At a special ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton hotel yesterday, the commissioners made public their 250-page report detailing a wide range of recommendations. It came nine months after they were appointed by Prime Minister Perry Christie.

Commission Chairman Sean McWeeney noted that the Privy Council has ruled that the death penalty can only be carried out in cases that are considered the “worst of the worst” or the rarest of the rare.

In the report, the commission said to ensure that the executive is able to carry out the death penalty in a case which the courts have determined would warrant it, the government may have to consider amending the law to prevent challenges to the death penalty.

Explaining further, McWeeney said the government can define in law what would be considered the worst of the worst. He added that law can also be amended to remove the current time constraint as it relates to carrying out the death penalty.

The Privy Council has ruled that it is inhumane for prisoners to wait more than five years on death row.

As for the calls for the abandonment of the Privy Council, the commission said that is not necessary at this time.

“There was a widespread call for delinking from the Privy Council, although this issue was unfortunately conflated with the question of the death penalty, with many persons seeing the Privy Council as the main obstacle to its implementation,” the report said.

“The commission does not recommend the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council at this time, although this should be seen as an inevitable step in the continuum of constitutional development — one contemplated by the provision of the constitution itself.”

McWeeney said the country should begin to prepare itself for that eventuality.

Some of the issues raised by the Constitutional Commission are expected to be put to referendum by November.

By: Krystel Rolle
Guardian Staff Reporter

Posted in Headlines

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