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Bill Passed To Scrap Mandatory Minimums

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

A BILL to abolish the controversial mandatory minimum sentences implemented by the former Ingraham administration was one of a compendium of bills debated in the House of Assembly yesterday as part of the government’s effort to modernise the judicial system and curb crime in the country.

To combat crime, the former FNM government imposed mandatory minimum sentences almost three years ago. However, judicial officials have criticised the practice.

During her address at the opening of the Court of Appeal in January, Court president Anita Allen said: “Significantly, Magisterial Criminal Appeals accounted for over 50 per cent of the number of matters disposed of, and well over 90 per cent of these were appeals against the imposition of the mandatory minimum sentences for drugs, firearms and ammunition possession. The sheer number of these appeals, however, places immense pressure on this court.”

In addition, Supreme Court Senior Justice Jon Isaacs recently declared that four-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug possession with intent to supply is unconstitutional.

Legal Affairs Minister Damian Gomez said the government has heard the criticism of judicial officials and has taken action. “The judges have spoken,” he said. “They have to work with these pieces of legislation that we pass in this honourable House. We wish them to know that my government has listened.”

In addition, parliamentarians debated a Bill that will allow oral applications to be made for use of video links as a mode of evidence and for related matters. The Bill will amend the Evidence Act to allow testimony to be given by live television link “where the witness is not on the island where the trial is taking place; where the court of trial on its own motion consider it appropriate that the evidence be given by television link and where the quality of the testimony of the witness is likely to be affected by reason of the witness being in fear or distress.”

Parliamentarians also debated a Bill to amend the Coroners Act, principally to allow a Coroner’s Court to make a finding of homicide. The Act would allow the Court to make a committal of a person against whom a finding of homicide is made and grant power to the coroner to take bail in cases of homicides other than murder.

The House of Assembly passed all four Bills debated yesterday - the amended Bail Act, the amended Evidence Act, the amended Coroners Act and the Bill covering the scrapping of mandatory minimum sentences.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 4 years, 12 months ago

PLP do keep their promises to their based though. Criminals got what they wanted....

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Sickened 4 years, 12 months ago

All of this just so young John Bostwick doesn't have to serve jail/prison time for the bullets they found in his possession (is it 1 year for each bullet, thats 10 years?). Why didn't they just throw the case out like they do for other criminal government officials? The FNM really owe the PLP now.

Perhaps I should join a political party, that way my family and I will always and forever be unpunishable.

It certainly is 'Better in The Bahamas'!

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proudloudandfnm 4 years, 12 months ago

Damn! That's a serious conspiracy theory you got there. Bout for Bostwick. PLP gets their money from real criminals not some guy that had 10 bullets planted on him.... lol

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Sickened 4 years, 12 months ago

Planted on him? Possibly. I just wonder if they searched his home after they found the bullets. To me it would seem logical that the police would have every right to immediately search his home for a .22 gun after finding .22 bullets. No gun, then most likely the bullets were planted. No looky looky for gun then chances are they were his bullets and he owns an illegal .22 firearm.

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