PM: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 'WILL PROBABLY NOT BE REALITY'
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Nassau, The Bahamas
DESPITE calls for murderers to be executed, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said capital punishment will probably not be a reality in the near future.
Instead, the government is considering the possibility of a "life" sentence being changed to actually mean "for life."
The Prime Minister said he knows people are frustrated with the high level of crime in the Bahamas. He says this is a frustration shared by most of the Caribbean. However, Mr Ingraham said swift executions is something that probably will not be a reality anytime soon.
"This is a country about the rule of law, and we have to abide by decisions made by our courts, even if we don't agree with them. Sometimes to the extent where we have to swallow it and accept it as reality," he said.
"The government cannot execute someone without the court certifying that all things were done properly, otherwise the government itself is committing murder and unlawful killing. Even if we change the law, it will take some time for that law to be able to be applied to persons who are convicted, and so there are several other things the society ought to consider in the interim rather than to expect something that is not likely to happen."
One of the suggestions made by the Prime Minister is to change the current life sentence from 25 years to actual life imprisonment.
"We may have to determine that life imprisonment means life in prison, your natural life in prison, you won't come out anymore," he said.
"We will have to categorise murders to determine that some cases should warrant the death penalty, while others may warrant imprisonment for life, their natural life and others for a lesser period of time. So that's what we are seeking to do."
The government was scheduled to debate the death penalty bill before they adjourned for the summer. However, when the House adjourned the bill was still not ready for presentation.
The proposed legislation will outline specific categories of murder. It is still unclear if the government will bring the bill when Parliament resumes on October 5.
Opposition leader Perry Christie said in his national address if the Progressive Liberal Party is elected to government his party will carry out the law as it relates to hanging.
Mr Ingraham declined to comment on Mr Christie's statement but did say he was pleased Mr Christie was able to address the nation on national television.
"When I was in opposition it was not possible for me to do so. With one radio station I couldn't buy time to be able to address the nation. He has a right to do so and I applaud him for doing so. I also want to point out that while he was prime minister I found no record of a national address by him in his five years in office."
No hangings were carried out under the PLP administration. The last time a convicted murderer was hanged was on January 6, 2000.
August 30, 2011