Saturday, June 29, 2013

The National Child Protection Council and the Committee on Families and Children have warned the media to protect the identity of children who are involved in incest

Nat’l Child Protection Council Warns Media

By Kendea Smith
Jones Bahamas

Members of the media got a stern warning yesterday after officials from the National Child Protection Council in conjunction with Committee on Families and Children sought to warn the media to protect the identity of children who are involved in incest.

Just recently, the media reported on the identity of a man who has been charged with incest.

Some media houses showed the man’s face and others decided not to report on his identity.

During a special forum meeting with the media, Chairman of Committee on Families and Children Cleopatra Christie said the identity of the child victim should always be protected.

And this means not identifying the perpetrator or victim, their addresses or anything that could remotely identify the victim.

“How do children cope? Do they ever cope from this when they’re exposed? Victims-children need to trust who they turn to for help – teachers, churches, the police, the courts and the social workers. Children rely on them to protect their identity.

Otherwise we run the danger of these same or other victims not coming forward with creditable complaints. A child’s fear is always who will find out. They fear the thought of their teachers, friends, neighbours and classmates. Do they want the details to be known? Can you imagine those details about their bodies being exposed? Therefore the disclosure of the victims, names, addresses, schools, the daycare centre the name of the parents or the offending family member for example a mother or father should never be disclosed,” Ms. Christie said.

To support her claim, Ms. Christie referred to the Child Protection Act 2009.

She also spoke about the punishments for media houses if too much information about the perpetrator or victim is released.

“It shall be offense for anyone to publish any material that is intended or is likely to identify any child that has been involved in any proceedings before the court. Anyone who commits the offense is liable to a summary conviction not exceeding $5,000 or an imprisonment of 12 months or both. So that’s how serious the law takes it,” Ms. Christie said.

Deputy Chairman National Child Protection Council Dr. Novia Carter asked reporters to put themselves in the shoes of the victim and the perpetrator.

“We need to find a way to get the story out without raping the child all over again,” she said.

“In our country, everyone knows everyone. So as soon as you put a name out there and even though some media houses may not say the name and you may say dependents in our small country it is only a matter of time before everyone knows. Always consider that if it were my child – how does my child go to church? How does my child go to the mall knowing people are looking and pointing and saying – what did you do to cause this abuse to happen? Be mindful of one guiding factor- Suppose it was my child?”

June 28, 2013

The Bahama Journal

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

No single Bahamian or political party has the answer to reduce or eradicate crime in The Bahamas

Community Co-Operation Is The Only Answer To Crime


Tribune242 Editorial:


ALTHOUGH our crime problem has taken years in the making, Prime Minister Christie campaigned in the 2012 general elections on the promise that if given the government his party would produce a crime free country.

Obviously, the majority of Bahamians did not understand the problem. If they had, they would have known that crime was so entrenched in our islands that no single man or party had the answer that could either reduce or eradicate it. Nor could a government do it alone unless it had the full support of every segment of society. In this fight there is no room for party politics.

Before being voted out of office, the FNM introduced a bundle of crime bills to stiffen the law, and increase penalties in an effort to reduce the number of criminals on the streets. An amended Bail Act, for example, took the discretion from magistrates to grant bail in serious cases, particularly where guns were involved. Rape offences, for example, carried a sentence from 15 years to life — and this time life meant the whole of a man’s natural life, not just 25 years.

The then Opposition — now the Christie government— did not agree with the bills. Too harsh, it was said.

Even before the first parliament had convened, only a few short days after the 2012 general election, the newly appointed Minister of National Security — Dr Bernard Nottage – announced that his government would review the stiff crime bills passed by the FNM the previous year.

“Everything is under review,” Dr Nottage announced. “A lot of the persons who have been – I can’t call them victims – who have been convicted have made certain approaches to us about the severity of some of the sentences.”

Obviously, the new laws had the intended bite that was worrying the criminal. The desired results were being achieved, but here we had a new security minister, whose party had campaigned on stiffer sentences for criminals, now consulting with criminals who were complaining about the severity of their sentences. It was obvious that the new government was out of its depth, had no plan and was flying pilotless on a “wing and a prayer”.

On May 16, the FNM said: ”The PLP campaigned asking for stiffer sentences for criminals. After a week which recorded a record nine murders, the Government having consulted with convicts has now determined sentences enacted by the FNM are too tough.”

The PLP was sticking with its belief that Urban Renewal 2.0 was the magic wand that would save this country from itself. As crime grew to frightening proportions, Prime Minister Christie recently had to admit that solutions to the problem had to be found. This inferred that the PLP never had the answer.

In the past 13 months, 49 persons charged with murder have been out on bail. Dr Nottage told members of the House this week that, in the past five years, 305 murder accused were released on bail by the courts. The courts – unable to handle more cases efficiently for various reasons — have been a big part of the problem.

Damien Gomez, State Minister of Legal Affairs, has acknowledged that judges have to work more efficiently. He said that with five criminal courts operating in the past 12 months, it was alarming that only 89 cases have been completed. He would have expected around 200 to 250 cases to be removed from the court calendar in a year. The courts have major problems. They need a lot of attention. From reports that we have heard, jury tampering has reached such epidemic proportions that juries should be eliminated in murder cases. These cases should be heard by a panel of three judges.

To alleviate the problem, Mr Christie has announced that government will appoint 20 more judges, who are obviously expected to quickly reduce the judicial case load. Of course, defence lawyers who are out to play the system are another unhealthy virus in the halls of justice.

It has been discovered in most of today’s murder cases that the dead body when found is wearing an ankle bracelet and the murderer, if not also with an ankle bracelet, is “well known to the police”. In police jargon, that means that he too has a criminal record — and usually a violent one. These are the persons who are giving this country a reputation of a crime polluted archipelago.

At present, the only persons efficiently reducing the court calendar are the criminals who are eliminating each other in the cross-fire of the streets.

It is obvious that when a man on bail is sent back to the streets he cannot get a job to support himself. So, in fact, on his release he has been condemned to continue his life of crime just to survive. The only way that crime can be reduced is to keep such criminals off the streets. However, the prison is already too full to accommodate them. This is another major problem with which the legislators have to wrestle.

Suddenly, more than a year later, Dr Nottage has awakened to reality. He is now talking tough. If he had done this in the beginning this country would not be in such a confused state. He now wants to close the Cash for Gold shops — the outlet for most of the stolen jewellery— and have an amnesty to get the guns off the streets.

At long last, Prime Minister Christie has accepted that the PLP alone do not have the answers. He told the House this week that Opposition leader Dr Hubert Minnis has written him a letter promising his party’s support in the fight to remove criminal elements from our communities.

“The safety of our homes and streets,” said Mr Christie, “is everybody’s business. We call upon all Bahamians, all persons within our borders and Her Majesty’s loyal opposition to join us in these efforts to restore safety and rebuild respect for our laws and legal system.”

It is hoped that, if only for its own sake, this island will come together and seriously fight crime. That means full cooperation with the police.

June 20, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The marital rape question in The Bahamas

AG remained ‘consistent’ on marital rape issue

Guardian Senior Reporter

Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said she has always been consistent on the issue of marital rape.

Maynard-Gibson added that the Christie administration is committed to consultation with the community before making any decisions on whether to make it a crime.

Her comments came when asked to respond to criticism from former Minister of State for Social Development Loretta Butler-Turner.

Last week, Butler-Turner suggested that the government is being hypocritical on the issue because it failed to support the Ingraham administration’s effort to make marital rape a crime four years ago.

In 2009, Butler-Turner tabled a bill that would have criminalized marital rape with a possible life sentence.

“It never moved beyond the position of tabling because we went into the summer recess at that time where we had many town meetings and discourse,” Butler-Turner said.

“At that time, we did not get the support of the current government, the PLP, the sitting minister or the minister that is now reporting to the Human Rights commission in Geneva.”

But Maynard-Gibson said on Thursday, “I have been consistent on this matter from day one.

“If you look at what I said then and what I am saying now there is no difference.

“Laws are effective when people buy into them and see them as just. The family is a very important unit in our society and when we are doing things that affect the family it just makes sense that we consult and then we bring our people along with us.”

Two weeks ago, she told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that the government is considering criminalizing marital rape.

“People have to be sensitized to the issues and if laws are to be effective, if they are brought forward, then they have to be laws that people buy into,” she told The Nassau Guardian. “What I said was we are prepared to continue the consultative process with all of our people.”

Whether the government brings a marital rape bill to Parliament in this term depends on the government’s consultative process, Maynard-Gibson said.

She said government officials are meeting with religious leaders and other stakeholders to give information and statistics on domestic violence while gleaning if there is widespread support for the issue.

Last week, Bahamas Christian Council President Dr. Ranford Patterson said his organization would support criminalizing marital rape.

Patterson said while there needs to be an exact legal definition, the council would support any legislation that protects the “stability of the family unit”.

That position on marital rape is in contrast to the council’s previous position after the contentious Marital Rape Bill was tabled in the House of Assembly four years ago.

June 22, 2013


Friday, June 21, 2013

Loretta Butler-Turner Slaps Andre Rollins in the House of Assembly

Young Man's View: The 'Pimp' Slap Heard Around The Archipelago


...the people’s House of Assembly is becoming a national disgrace. For some reason or the other, a line in Michael Jackson’s song “They don’t care about us” keeps coming to mind, it says “all I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us.” The Bahamian public is losing faith in our so-called leaders and we are tired of the personal politics, tired of the idle vapourings and woeful outpourings of mind-numbing drivel, tired of speeches that lack content and quality, tired of some elected representatives seeking points of order and points of privilege on bizarre grounds and tired of debates degenerating into allegations and aimless blathering. I am tired of certain ineffectual timeservers wasting our time whilst our ship of state flounders!
Are we electing village idiots to Parliament these days?
Indeed, I was appalled to hear about the fracas in the House of Assembly on Wednesday. Whilst in the precincts of the Parliament—on the House’s adjournment for lunch—Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner slapped Fort Charlotte MP Andre Rollins after he made “nasty”, disparaging remarks towards her and she had requested him to remove his arms from around her. She admitted to it. On Wednesday, the House of Assembly must have been like a R-rated version of Girls Gone Wild—Rawson Square style!
To be quite honest, the comical side of my mind ran away with me after I initially heard about “slapgate”, as I started to wonder how far she “hauled” back before delivering the slap; was it an open palm slip or backhanded; was the shock overwhelming and was the “taste” also lost in the receiver’s mouth? My mind then recalled a mass Blackberry message that I had received on the way to Long Island’s regatta last week, which spoke about a gang initiation. And, slipping into another spell of rib-tickling thoughts, I wondered whether the slap was a sort of political initiation! Butler-Turner certainly appears to have a lot of cojones.
Whilst not funny when put in its true perspective, the “pimp” slap—heard around the archipelago – made me think about the behaviour shown on reality TV series on the Oxygen Network, except that it occurred in our Parliament. Perhaps, Oxygen could still send their cameras and do follow-up interviews with eyewitnesses!
Seriously though, Andre Rollins is an agent provocateur (I know first-hand) and there are many who would posit that the brother has a chip on his shoulder, that he got his “t’ings” and that his comeuppance was long overdue. However, the violent display between two of our country’s supposed leaders is unacceptable. Indeed, Mr Rollins had no right to put his hand on Edward Turner’s wife and, even worse, proceed to whisper in her ear. His actions were totally disrespectful, inappropriate and at least we know that if she had hit him harder— and he had lost a tooth—as an orthodontist, he has the ability to rectify the situation!
Mrs Butler-Turner’s apology in the House of Assembly on Thursday appears to have been genuine when contrasted to Rollins who told Parliament that he felt “compelled” to apologise to his constituents for any “perceived embarrassment” for his part in the matter. I am your constituent, sir, and nothing is perceived about how disgraceful and embarrassing I found your behaviour—my perception is quite real.
As usual, Rollins appears to be disingenuous, searching his mind for the most fitting word/s that only obfuscates and insults the intellectual capacity of the Bahamian people. I accept Mrs Butler-Turner’s explanation when she stated that she is human and fallible, and that the position she was placed in on Wednesday was not a “good one”. The fact that she said that she does not want that to be the kind of representation she wants to present to the people makes her apology unpretentious and acceptable. I hope that she learns from her mistake and that future slaps would be off the table!
In total fairness, Loretta Butler-Turner is a Member whose behaviour has frequently come under the microscope, particularly as Speaker Kendal Major has rightly warned her—on repeated occasions—about her conduct in Parliament. I have been told—by fellow parliamentarians—that Mrs Butler-Turner makes some of the most ridiculous utterances that they have ever heard, mostly while seated.
However, had this incident occurred in the United States it is likely that Dr. Rollins could’ve been accused and charged with sexual harassment and/or forced to resign. And, relative to Mrs Butler Turner, she perhaps would have had to prove that she acted in self-defence in order to avoid being charged with assault. Having had my own experience with being provoked by Dr Rollins, I truly believe that Mrs Butler-Turner was defending her honour.
If the lady repeatedly asked Dr Rollins to remove his hand from her person, there is absolutely no reason why he should not have done so. Immediately! Multiple sources have stated that Mrs Butler-Turner was heard asking Mr Rollins to take his hands off her. By any stretch of the imagination, one would posit that he cannot possibly believe that unwanted physical contact is acceptable—and that fact that she is a woman makes it worse. The fact that Rollins chose not to press charges lends credence to the notion that he boorishly crossed the line. I’ve been reliably informed, by sources close to Butler-Turner, that the inane statements uttered was hardly “sanitised.”
If Parliamentarians cannot resolve their issues in an amicable manner, is there any wonder why our society is degenerating and becoming so violent? If these “educated” elected leaders and supposed pacesetters cannot resolve conflicts without behaving boorishly, what is the point of the Urban Renewal project and other so-called “anti-violence” initiatives?
Maybe urban renewal should begin in Parliament!
When will an Integrity in Public Life Act ever be enacted in the Bahamas? Will the Bahamas ever follow Trinidad and Tobago’s lead and pass such legislation in my lifetime, or will our leaders continue to operate in an environment that is quickly becoming disreputable? In Trinidad and Tobago, such an Act identifies regulations and guidelines for the conduct of persons exercising public functions. The Trinidadian Act further establishes an Integrity Commission, which has an oversight role relative to the ethics and integrity of two classes of public officials—i.e. persons in public life and persons exercising public functions. The Act attempts to promote openness, transparency (anti-corruption) and accountability with the commission serving as its enforcer and watchdog.
Politically, Andre Rollins must be wearing ankle weights. He is merely a once overhyped, underachieving politician who has gone bust. At this rate, Andre Rollins is on the treadmill to political oblivion.
Frankly, Andre Rollins had a lot of potential but in recent times he has demonstrated that he has no convictions and vacillates in the wind according to expediency. Seemingly, he switches his fundamental beliefs if it suits him. Dr Rollins emerged as an anti-establishment figure—the then chair of the National Development Party—and got people to buy into his so-called “passionate” belief in the Bahamian people and his “hunger” to serve his country. Not long after, he quickly became a nondescript political journeyman who jumped ship, abandoned his political shipmates in his overeager pursuit of power and self-aggrandisement and is today defined by seemingly myopic thinking and belligerent behaviour in the House of Assembly. Frankly, the first-time MP has a political record that seems steeped in self-interested pursuits. It seems that the NDP was used as a vehicle to propel the now-MP to greener political pastures and then the fledgling political outfit was dropped like a hot potato!
Honestly, I am disappointed in Dr Rollins and have noticed that he doesn’t seem to have any principles that he’s prepared to defend. How can one respect any politician who doesn’t seem to be prepared to stand—even if it means falling on their swords—but standing because they truly believe in something (and I don’t mean believe until the next best thing comes along)? He is recklessly hotheaded, insufferably pompous and impetuous. Andre Rollins has fallen so far from grace, it’s pathetic! Wasn’t he supposed to be one of the new generation of leaders?
Indeed, the once hallowed halls of the House of Assembly—our elected body—is being used by a handful of petulant and thin-skinned politicians to engage in “girlie” fights and dishonourable petty skirmishes rather than a thorough examination of the issues and truly representing their constituents. The Parliament—that is, both the House of Assembly and the Senate—is supposed to be at the vanguard in its display of best practices (debating, civility, etc) and the standards of behaviour expected of these public office holders should be one above and beyond reproach.
Why didn’t the FNM’s Parliamentary caucus rally around Butler-Turner in a show of solidarity, decrying what happened—not necessarily in an accusatory manner—but in attempting to demonstrate that such a fiasco is unbecoming of Parliamentarians whilst taking an opportunity to address the concerns of the majority of the electorate—women?
The unparliamentary behaviour seen on Wednesday has long been in the making. A few years ago, then St Thomas More MP Frank Smith (now senator)—on the floor of the House—brushed past and seemingly grabbed at former Pineridge MP Kwasi Thompson. That was totally out of order.
In 2009, Mangrove Cay and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes’ exclamation at the PLP convention led to the mistrial in the high-profile Travolta case. Mr Forbes’ premature assertion that former MP Pleasant Bridgewater had been acquitted in the John Travolta attempted extortion trial led to joyous singing and gyrating by PLPs and ignited a spark that has set the justice system, or at least the five-week long Travolta attempted extortion trial, ablaze.
Then Senior Justice (now Court of Appeal President) Anita Allen rightly decided to declare a mistrial, telling the jury:
“We are very concerned, in the interest of justice, that it does not appear that there has been a communication from the jury room. Justice must not only be done, but seen to be done.”
“I am very very reluctant to discharge you but in the interest of justice, having heard the views of counsel, we are concerned. It leaves the impression that there may have been a communication from the jury room,” she said.
On the convention floor, Mr Forbes exclaimed:
“Pleasant is a free woman PLPs! Pleasant is a free woman PLPs! God is good PLPs! Pleasant is a free woman! God still reigns PLPs!”
When the Mangrove Cay and South Andros MP made his proclamation, there was a wild outburst as the crowd chanted “PLP all the way.” This episode made international headlines. Mr Forbes’ remark was a terrible miscalculation and can only be summed up as the crudest form of political gamesmanship (something Dr Rollins should be very familiar with).
In 2006, (then PLP MP for Kennedy) Kenyatta Gibson and former Mount Moriah MP Keod Smith were combatants in the infamous Cabinet Room brawl. After the melee, it was claimed that two windows were smashed and the glass table top of the large mahogany table in the cabinet room was shattered. The difference between Andre Rollins and Kenyatta Gibson is that Kenyatta “unreservedly” apologised and sought forgiveness for conduct that even he referred to as regrettable and unacceptable. I have heard no such thing from Rollins.
Back then, PM Christie then told the Bahamian public that the fight was “more apparent than real”. We’re certain that Wednesday’s squabble was very real. At that time, Mr Christie claimed that he and the skirmishing MP’s had met and “laughed together” at the media’s coverage of the incident. Jokingly, PM Christie said he hadn’t seen “any bruises or bite marks” on either man. I hope that he didn’t meet and “laugh together” with Andre Rollins this time! Moreover, dissimilar to the 2006 incident when he didn’t see “any bruises or bite marks”, one would posit that if he inspects Rollins, he would perhaps find “five fingers”— likely imprinted upon his cheek—and not courtesy of Bahama Hand Prints either!
All jokes aside, I believe that the Speaker can and should ensure an even stricter enforcement of civil decorum in the House. Frankly, we should follow the example set by Australia and seek to impose fines on MPs who display disruptive and unparliamentary behaviour. Moreover, the Speaker should move to suspend those MPs who engage in threatening or reprehensible verbal diatribes, formally condemn and reprimand a Member by addressing that Member by name as opposed to constituency (naming), by ordering the withdrawal of a Member from the House of Assembly for that sitting day, by sanctioning an MP so that they are unable to speak for the duration of a period and/or by allowing the House itself to take disciplinary action against a Member.
Gone are the days of brilliant parliamentarians like Paul Adderley and Sir Orville Turnquest who understood how to use colourful language to make a point, who understood the brilliance in coolly and effectively using the English language!
Rather than wasting time, MPs need to do the work of the Bahamian people and, as the 18 month mark of the current Parliamentary session approaches, seek to disclose their finances and investments as is annually required by law. Parliament is not the setting for anyone to behave like a flu-ridden orangutan in a china shop. Mr Speaker—as long as you’re fair—continue to use your extensive parliamentary powers to enforce the rules of debate and best parliamentary practices, so that there can be an orderly conduct of the people’s business!
It is my belief that most intelligent Bahamians are supporters of democracy and open debate, but are anti-idiocy—particularly, the idiocy that masquerades as common sense.
Christie has to give Andre Rollins a swift kick in his political hide! Quite frankly, the PM should ask for Andre Rollins’ immediate resignation from the Gaming Board and the House of Assembly. Dr Rollins has behaved like a loose cannon since he entered the hallowed halls of Parliament, uttering his “100% heterosexual line”, overtly criticising his leader and party policy (gambling referendum) and now engaging in brouhaha with Loretta Butler-Turner!
I was glad to see that, at least this time Mr Christie didn’t say he was “unaware” or “didn’t know.”
PM Christie has in the past promised accountability, transparency and a strict adherence to his much-hyped Code of Ethics. I believe that he means well and, moreover, he now has an opportunity to “put his money where his mouth is” and fulfil all those proclamations made eons ago.
June 20, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

...fundamental human rights and freedoms in The Bahamas

Arriving at a culture of human rights: The case of The Bahamas

By Gaynel Curry

A culture of human rights speaks to how we engage as a people, respecting self, others and property; how we solve our problems, using non-violent responses; how easily and speedily we access justice and services, whether functioning as individuals or on behalf of the state; how we ensure that socio-economic development is inclusive of all members of society; how we strengthen the capacity of government institutions to respond to contemporary social ills, including rising crime and increasing socio-economic challenges; and the freedom with which we assemble and speak our cultural truth.

What are human rights?

“Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status,” as defined by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  In essence, they are rights that one has simply by virtue of being human and cannot be taken away.  The exception is where rights are taken away according to due process such as in the case of a prisoner whose right to liberty is taken away when found guilty of a crime by a court of law.

The shift in thinking about human rights

Human rights are not a new concept.  Countries were allowed individually to define what human rights meant to them and as a result, some countries interpreted individual’s rights either narrowly (as in Switzerland which only allowed women to vote in 1971) or broadly (as in New Zealand where women were given the right to vote as far back as 1893).  It was the atrocities committed during the Second World War – primarily the holocaust of the Jews – that led the victors of the war to determine limits for countries on how they could treat people within their borders.  Essentially, they established common standards for countries to respect the human rights and dignity of persons.

The Charter of the United Nations can be considered the beginning of these efforts.  In 1945, at the  end of the war, the 51 founding members of the United Nations (UN) agreed that human rights would be a central feature of the organization – “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”.  Today, 193 member countries, including The Bahamas, have signed the United Nations Charter, each one reiterating this commitment to “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction”.

What was the result of the shift in thinking about human rights?

While the charter established guiding principles to give meaning, purpose and language to the interactions between countries and individuals in terms of rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) became the framework to put meat on the bones by naming specific rights.  It identified two groups of rights: civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights.  The declaration was intended to lead one treaty of both groups of rights, but there was no consensus on this approach.  Ultimately, two treaties were agreed to, each one covering one of the two groups of rights – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).  Both were adopted in 1966 and entered into force 10 years later.  Many of the rights spelled out in these two covenants have been included in the constitutions of countries as constitutional rights, or in national laws such as labor laws, protecting the rights of workers.

ICCPR guarantees, for example, the rights of legal redress; equality; life; liberty; freedom of movement; a fair, public and speedy trial for criminal charges; privacy; freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion; peaceful assembly; and freedom of association.  The covenant also forbids arbitrary arrests; torture; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and slavery.

Having ratified ICESCR, states agree to apply these rights over a period of time (progressive realization): the right to earn a living by work; to safe and healthy working conditions; to join a trade union; to receive social security; to adequate housing; to be free from hunger; to receive health care; to obtain free public education; and to participate in cultural life.  Rights are interrelated and sometimes impossible to detach one from the other, as was highlighted at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights.  For example, the deprivation of the civil right of association impedes a worker’s social and economic right to join a trade union.

Other international human rights treaties

The two covenants were just the beginning of what has evolved into an elaborate UN international human rights system.  This system includes a number of other treaties such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which entered into force prior to the covenants in 1969 as consensus was more easily reached among countries on anti-discrimination issues; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1981); Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) (1987); Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1990); Convention on the Protection of Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (2003); Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (2006); and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2006).

Many of these conventions have what may be called spinoff conventions (optional protocols) that allow individuals to submit complaints of violations of their rights or that address specific thematic human rights issues.  For example, CRC has two optional protocols: one on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the other on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

All countries have ratified at least one of the 19 UN human rights treaties and optional protocols and according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 80 percent of countries in the world have ratified four or more of these core treaties.  Commonwealth Caribbean countries have, on average, ratified five of these core treaties; St. Vincent and the Grenadines have ratified the most among Caribbean states (eight) and St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia the least (three).  All Caribbean countries have ratified CRC and CEDAW.  CRC is the most ratified international human rights treaty – the Unites States of America, Somalia and South Sudan are the only three countries in the world that have not yet ratified.

Where does The Bahamas stand with the international human rights treaties?

Soon after independence in 1973, The Bahamas joined the UN and began engaging with the international human rights system.  To date the country has ratified five UN human rights treaties which is about average for Caribbean countries.  Mindful of the country’s history of slavery and the fight for enfranchisement of persons of African descent, the CERD (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) was the first International Human Rights Treaty that the country ratified in 1975.  Subsequently, The Bahamas ratified CRC in 1991; CEDAW in 1993; and ICCPR and ICESCR in 2008.  The country has signed and indicated a willingness to ratify CAT.  The government also indicated that it was “acutely aware of the need to protect the rights of persons with physical or mental disabilities”, and reported to the Human Rights Council in January 2013 that it expects to soon sign and ratify CRPD.  To date, The Bahamas has submitted at least one report to each of the committees mandated to monitor and assist countries to implement CERD, CEDAW and CRC.

Do treaties offer the full picture on international human rights?

The UN international human rights system is not just about the treaties, that’s only half of the story.  It is also about the Human Rights Council (formerly the commission) which has an equally important role in the promotion and protection of human rights.  The council includes 47 of the 193 countries of the UN and has developed processes (mechanisms) such as working groups and special rapporteurs to assist it in monitoring country specific situations and thematic human rights issues.  For example, the situation of political and socio-economic rights in Haiti is monitored by a special rapporteur on human rights in Haiti.  Human trafficking is a global thematic issue which is monitored by a special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

What is unique about the Human Rights Council is that it is the only body that has responsibility for the review of human rights in all 193 UN member states under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  The UPR is a peer review (by countries of a country) which results in recommendations to countries on how to improve their human rights record.  The UPR was introduced in 2006 and to date all countries, with the exception of Israel, have accepted the review.  The Bahamas completed its second UPR cycle in January 2013; the first was in September 2008.

Where does The Bahamas stand with the UPR?

Forty-five member states participated in The Bahamas’ UPR process and recommended strengthening legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities; establishing a National Human Rights Institution or Ombudsman; criminalizing marital rape; amending the legislation to ensure that Bahamian women can pass their nationality to their children in the same way that men can; placing a moratorium on executions with the view to abolishing the death penalty; ending by law all forms of corporal punishment; introducing legal measures to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation; improving the conditions at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre; strengthening measures to protect women against violence, including domestic violence and rape; increasing the age of criminal responsibility; strengthening measures to combat trafficking; and establishing an independent oversight body to receive and investigate excessive use of force by security forces.

Most of the recommendations are not new or unique to The Bahamas.  Many have been raised by the committees in the human rights treaty reporting process and have also been addressed to other countries, including Commonwealth and Caribbean states with similar historic, legal, socio-economic and cultural realities. The Bahamas recognizes the need to address some of these recommendations immediately and has been proactive in responding.  The Constitutional Reform Commission is expected soon to release its report, which, according to its mandate, should include discrimination and gender equality issues; citizenship and nationality rights; capital punishment and the distribution of state power vis-à-vis individual rights – many of the same issues raised at the UPR.

Embracing human rights and the way forward

As a human rights advocate, I see the recommendations from the UN international human rights system as opportunities rather than challenges for states.  They present an opportunity for governments to set priorities in terms of specific human rights issues and, more broadly, implement a human rights agenda, including with the appropriate allocation of resources.  They also give civil society and donors an opportunity to reflect on priorities and outreach in terms of vulnerable groups and they open a space for discussion and awareness-raising within society on important human rights issues.  Finally, they are fodder for academia to target their research with the view to presenting viable options for the consideration of institutions of governance.

Implementing human rights is not exclusively a function of government.  It should involve several elements of society as we all have a role to play in building a culture of human rights and translating this vision into a shared reality.  The Bahamas is well on its way, 40 years after independence, to building a strong nation.  Each human right should be seen as a building block for developing that strong nation and cultivating an environment in which all people can enjoy their fundamental human rights and freedoms.


• Gaynel D. Curry is the gender and women’s rights advisor in the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York.  She has worked with the UN for 15 years in various other human rights advisory capacities in Geneva (Switzerland), East Timor, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. She holds a master’s degree in international human rights law from the University of Oxford; a master’s degree in international affairs (public international law) from the American University in Washington, DC; a degree in law (LLB) from the University of London; a bachelor of arts degree in history and social sciences from the University of the West Indies; and an advanced diploma in public policy and administration from The College of The Bahamas.

June 14, 2013


Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) says: Contradiction in The Christie Cabinet on Shantytown Crackdown

It was good to hear the Minister of Housing and Environment speak in the House of Assembly on the 13th June 2013 with such passion about the crackdown on shantytowns. The good Minister stated that there would be consequences for those persons who live in such areas if they are not operating within the law. He went on to outline the approach that this government intends to take regarding the notices that will be issued. Minister Dorsett said, “A copy of all of the notices we have served and will serve to the owners and occupiers of shantytowns by the Department of Environmental Health Services will be copied to the Ministry of Works and Urban Development, the Ministry of National Security and the Departments of Immigration and Social Services”.

This statement is certainly in contradiction to the Minister of Immigration’s position when he stated a few months ago that the issue of shantytowns is more complex than it seems because these communities have their “protectors through the elite class of the country”. The Minister of Immigration by his statement and indeed actions or lack thereof left the Bahamian people feeling that there was nothing that can be done by this administration about the shantytowns because of the so called “protectors” and “elites”. The fact of the matter is that nothing has been done about these shantytowns throughout the years and persons living there have been allowed to do whatever they wish! Simply put, administration after administration lacked the political will to rid our country of this vexing problem. And based on the Minister of Immigration’s statement, if these administrations have allowed shantytowns to develop without consequence because of these so called “protectors” and “elites” history would reflect that they have forever done this Commonwealth a tremendous disservice and will not be kind to them.

The statement by the Minister of Housing and Environment expressly states that some notices have already been served. The Democratic National Alliance wishes to know whether notices were served to date on these “protectors” and “elites” as described by the Minister of Immigration. Indeed, the Minister of Housing and Environment seems to indicate that they are aware of who are the owners of the land the shantytowns are on. If this is the case, then is the government willing to divulge who are these “protectors” and “elites” and what sanctions will the government levy against them? The DNA is of the view that many of these shantytowns are owned by prominent PLPs and FNMs, hence their unrestricted development over the years. The shantytowns were indeed “protected”. We await the Minister’s report on who these “protectors” and “elites” are. If we fail to hear from the government it can only be assumed that our assumption as to ownership is correct.

Alternatively, since there seems to be some contradiction in the Christie cabinet on shantytowns is this just pure talk by the Minister of Housing and Environment? Indeed, the country is aware that the PLP government is all talk but very little action. They demonstrated this in their last administration (2002 to 2007) and they are true to form thus far since coming to office in May 2012. Needless to say we have seen that they are the masters of promises. Are these comments by the Minister of Housing and Environment just another set of promises? Remember, that a promise is a comfort to a fool. This administration had “fooled us” in the recent general elections and based on their works thus far they continue to “fool us”. Fool me once...shame on you. Fool me twice…shame on me!

Branville McCartney
DNA Leader

June 16, 2013

Democratic National Alliance (DNA) on Facebook

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Supreme Court Orders Peter Nygard and Keod Smith to Halt Works at Clifton Bay and Simms Point / Nygard Cay...

Court Halts Peter Nygard Work In Clifton Bay Area

Tribune Staff Reporter

THE Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay has won a court ruling halting construction works in the Clifton Bay area by Peter Nygard.

They were also successful in their Supreme Court application to require any dealings between the government, Mr Nygard and Keod Smith regarding Clifton Bay to be made public.
The court documents halt works in the Bay area by Mr Nygard and Mr Smith “acting directly or through (their) employees or agents.”
Filed before Justice Rhonda Bain, documents say Prime Minister Perry Christie, Deputy Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, and Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin must provide the coalition with ‘full and frank disclosure’ of several items.
These include copies of any applications or grants of permits, approvals, or leases made by Mr Nygard and Mr Smith in the Clifton Bay area.
The Queen and Mr Christie are named as the first respondents, Mr Davis as the second, Ms Hanna-Martin as the third, the Town Planning Committee is listed as the fourth, Mr Nygard as the fifth, and Mr Smith as the sixth. The coalition is the applicant.
The fourth paragraph of the court documents say: “The first to fourth respondents must forthwith provide the applicant with full and frank disclosure of the following to the extent that they are within their possession and control:
“Copies of all applications (if any) made by the fifth and sixth respondents for permits, approvals, or leases in respect of the works and properties referred to in paragraphs two and three herein;
“And copies of all permits, approvals or leases (if any) that have been granted to the fifth and sixth respondent together with, in each case, copies of all the documents that were before the relevant respondent when it reached the decision to grant such permits, approvals, or leases and the reasons for such decisions and the conditions (if any) upon which is may have been made.”
The works and properties referred to in paragraphs two and three, involve various construction works in the Clifton Bay area.
The second paragraph says: “Until judgement in the judicial review proceedings or until further order of the court, the fifth respondent, (acting directly or through his employees and agents) be and is hereby enjoined from proceeding with or continuing to undertake” the construction of a groyne on the seabed of Simms Point/Nygard Cay or north of Clifton Bay, as well as the dredging of the sea bed in that same area.
The third paragraph says: “Until judgement in the judicial review proceedings or until further order of the court, the sixth respondent (acting directly or through his employees or agents) be and is hereby enjoined from proceeding with or continuing to undertake the demolition of the old dock, the construction of a new dock on the sea bed and beach and the placement of large boulders on the western edge of the concrete ramp all at Jaws Beach, south east of Clifton Bay.”
Court documents also note a penal notice to the first, second, third, and fourth respondents if they neglect to obey the court’s order for full disclosure.
“If you, the within named first, second, third, or fourth respondents, neglect to obey paragraph four of this order, you may be held to be in contempt of court and liable to imprisonment at Her Majesty’s Prison, or a fine or the sequestration of your assets,” court documents say.
A penal notice is also listed for Mr Nygard if he neglects to obey the court’s order regarding constructions, north of Clifton Bay.
“If you, the within named fifth Respondent, neglect to obey paragraph two of this order, you may be held to be in contempt of Court and liable to imprisonment at Her Majesty’s Prison, or a fine or the sequestration of your assets.”
A similar penal notice is listed for Mr Smith.
“If you, the within named sixth respondent, neglect to obey paragraph three of this order, you may be held to be in contempt of Court and liable to imprisonment at Her Majesty’s Prison, or a fine or the sequestration of your assets.”
June 14, 2013

The proliferation of shanty towns in The Bahamas is a vexatious problem

Crackdown On Shanty Towns

by Kendea Smith
Jones Bahamas

Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett said the government is going to crackdown on shantytowns in The Bahamas as it poses a threat to the country’s number one industry.

“The proliferation of shanty towns is a vexatious problem. They operate outside the requirements for proper sanitation, without regard to the building code and in violation of safety requirements for electricity,” he said during his budget contribution in the House of Assembly.

“The Department of Environmental Health Services is taking steps to proactively address all of these infractions and other environmental issues surrounding the proliferation of shanty towns throughout the country. A special project unit (SPU) was created within the ministry of the environmental and housing to address the environmental health issues associated with shanty towns.”

The minister said a special project unit headed by an assistant director in the DEHS benefited from a report on shanty towns throughout the islands of The Bahamas prepared by BNGIS.

He added that existing reports on identified shanty towns in Nassau, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera are being updated and new reports are being prepared in respect of shanty towns for which the Department of Environmental Health Services has not conducted an investigation.

“As we get more empirical data, we are astounded by the amount of Shanty towns popping up. But what I do want to tell the people of The Bahamas is this – they will be hearing from me in more weeks to come on this very same issue. What is important to know is that the protocol of operations to be followed in dealing with the shanty towns has been established. A copy of all notices served and will be serving on the owners and occupiers of shanty towns by DEHS will be copied to the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of National Security, and the Departments of Immigration and Social Services,” Minister Dorsett said.

Minister Dorsett said the Ministry of Works will serve notices it may deem appropriate and shanty town occupiers and/owners will be required to provide an occupancy certificate, approved building plan/permit from the M.O.W, approved BEC connection and approved by Water & Sewerage connection. If these cannot be produced the Ministry of Works will also be able to take necessary action.

“When I began this discussion earlier this year, it is clear to me that the vast majority of our shanty towns are actually on private land. But what was interesting to me is that the owners of those private parcels of land have sought me out. Two families in particular have told me that they have approached administrations with a view to assisting them. Some have indicated that they own the land, they have titled documents but they have not been able to get these people off their land,” he said.

“And so this administration is going to take a proactive approach because from a public health standpoint the bottom line is we cannot continue business as usual. One outbreak of Cholera and our number one industry [will be] gone. So this is not something that we can play with.”

June 14, 2013

The Bahama Journal

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Parliamentary Leadership in The Bahamas has gone to the Dogs

By Dennis Dames:

So, the Member of Parliament for Long Island – Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner, has literally slapped the hurt out of Mr. Andre Rollins, the Member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte - outside of the House of Assembly today.
The dramatic incident has the town on fire with the question: who’s right and who’s wrong?  One thing is certain, and it’s the reality that parliamentary leadership in The Bahamas has gone to the dogs.
I cannot recall a like situation among parliamentarians in my lifetime in The Bahamas, although many have come near to blows in the past.
The violent situation between the two MPs today, is a poignant reflection of the intolerable political frustrations and deep rooted hatred which exist among Bahamians toward Bahamians - in a so called modern Bahamas.
We will be celebrating our 40th birthday as an autonomous nation on July 10, 2013 - as black political leadership in The Bahamas turns out to be very disappointing and brutal after four decades of black rule.  The situation between the Members of Parliament; Mrs. Butler-Turner and Mr. Andre Rollins - has proven it, and it’s nothing to celebrate.
We have a violent culture which runs from the top to the bottom of the Bahamian society. We now know that this is a fact which cannot be denied and ignored anymore by right-thinking Bahamians.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Criminals in The Bahamas are Feasting on Our Disunity, Selfishnes​s and Indifferen​ce

By Dennis Dames

The negative and agonizing impact of crime in our country can be felt throughout the archipelago, and - it is the number one subject among residents.  The solution to it is found among us.  We must connect as one people to resolve this national menace.  This means that neighbors must get to know each other and their respective communities.  If we are not familiar with our next door neighbor, and if we don’t communicate and look out for one another – then we are part of the crime problem - my people.
The criminals are feasting on our disunity, selfishness and indifference.  We must resolve to unite and fight the unconscionable criminal elements in our mist, or dog will continue to eat our lunch.
We know now, that there is no political organization and their partisans in The Bahamas who are capable of solving our crime challenges alone.  If a political party tells us that they have the exclusive answer to solving the nation’s crime situation, we know that that’s a stale lie.  If any political leader in these islands is not talking about a unified front to tackle crime, then – do not vote for them and their party, my brothers and sisters.  If they are not preaching harmony in correcting so many of our social ills, do not vote for them.
The Progressive Liberal Party alone does not have the answer; nor does the Free National Movement (FNM) or the wannabe Democratic National Alliance (DNA) – for that matter.
Political tribalism and cannibalism are deeply imbedded in our culture; and the criminals love us for it.  We better flush them out of our system quick, and come together for the prosperous future of our great nation, and unborn citizens.
Wake up my Bahamian people and consider yourselves Bahamians first; not PLP first, or FNM first, or DNA first.  The problem is half solved when we put our Bahamas and its rich tomorrow first – in my view.  Then, we must hold those whom we elect to parliament fully accountable.  If they tell us that they have the solutions to crime during election time, then – they better do; or have their bags packed when the next election season comes around – because, we are voting their lying azzes out.  It’s as simple as that my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Bahamas' War Against Crime

Losing The War On Crime

Tribune News Editor

THE Bahamas will never win this war against crime – never.
Forget all the talk about the “downward trend”, of things heading in the right direction. Ignore the claims of those who have something to gain, political or otherwise, by encouraging public confidence.
The fact is that in the face of renewed efforts by the police and increased investment in law enforcement, violent crime – let’s face it, the only kind people really care about – is up again this year.
Up one per cent, over the most violent year in our history.
And that’s without factoring in the category of “causing harm” which police revealed doesn’t count as violent crime, even though it may include dozens if not scores of stabbings, shootings, assaults.
But please have patience, they will say.
New programmes take time to put down roots, new strategies can’t bear fruit overnight.
Don’t believe them.
The truth is that no amount of effort or level of commitment to this war can produce a peaceful society, because it was always the wrong war to begin with.
And all along, we’ve been fighting the wrong enemy – an imaginary opponent, an enemy of our own invention.
This adversary is known in law enforcement language as the “bad apple”, an individual who resides in one of several clearly defined “hot-spots” – a collection of isolated sores on an otherwise healthy body.
Cut out the sores, the argument goes, and the body will thrive.
It’s said these individuals commit crimes because they are confident of escaping severe punishment; that they would respond to stiffer prison sentences, the enthusiastic application of the death penalty, maybe the occasional whipping.
Apparently, they are hardened criminals, irredeemable, rotten to the core, but somehow at the same time easy to transform into stand-up citizens. You just have to scare them a little.
Meanwhile, as we struggle against this improbable enemy, the real menace continues to grow all around us.
None of this is the fault of the police. They are doing their job, investigating crimes and bringing suspects before the judge.
But their success proves the point: the court schedule is already packed, the prison full to bursting.
If it were simply a case of identifying and removing the rotten fruit, violent criminals would be an endangered species by now.
Instead, they thrive. And honest officers admit that in addition to the usual suspects, they find themselves in pursuit of an ever growing roll call of new criminals. Often young, fresh faced criminals.
“Do you understand as a public that there are scores of healthy bodied men that are not fully employed who have taken to a life of crime?” the Commissioner of Police said last week.
“Their crime is to steal cars and return a profit or to sell parts of those cars; their crime is to sell drugs and to return a profit and to commit armed robbery so they could purchase whatever they want for themselves and for their family and friends.
“That is what is happening. Why can’t we open our eyes to it?”
He is right. But it’s more than just hard economic times.
There is a reason why even as the Bahamas grapples with the problem of violent criminals, it is also struggling to explain why more and more young people are harming or killing themselves.
And psychologists will tell you that in many cases – even most cases – we are talking about the same people.
The reality is that a widespread sense of hopelessness and futility exists among Bahamians – particularly among young men – which unemployment merely inflames, causes to boil to the surface.
The pressure must find a release, and it often does so in the form of blind rage, directed either at the self or at someone else.
Or, if an explosion can be avoided for long enough, it leads to a hardening of the heart, to a view of the world in which everyone else is either an obstacle or a target.
And this real enemy is a criminal who no threat of punishment will deter, because he places no value on life, not even his own. Who only became “a criminal” by taking one final step off a cliff where even as you read this, literally thousands more are already standing.
And behind those thousands are yet more, many times their number. Only children today, but already on the same path to senseless destruction.
And on and on, unendingly. Each wave more numerous than the one before.
The real enemy isn’t a group of people, it isn’t a neighbourhood. It’s an outlook, a way of thinking.
An adopted identity that is contagious and spreading.
The origins of this disease are complex, but an important contributor is the deterioration of the Bahamian home, which has for complicated reasons degraded over the years to unthinkable levels of violence, abuse and neglect.
Somehow, the place where children are supposed to be nurtured and fortified has become the scene of their rejection and abandonment. The place where they are battered, exploited, raped.
True, these secret obscenities – hidden away behind walls, doors and in the silence of mutual guilt – are most pronounced in the inner city household, the engine room of our crime problem and ultimately the most important battlefield in this war.
The most important, but not the only one: because the enemy is often your co-worker, your customer, your boss. The guy you pass in the street.
And, ultimately, the enemy is also every one of us who harbours deep within their heart, that oh-so-Bahamian tendency toward dishonesty, entitlement and self-gratification.
Because this attitude is the other side of the crime coin.
Our attachment to unearned privileges is the thing to which emotionally damaged young people turn in search of escape, relief, fulfilment.
The example of this society is: “Get what you can for yourself, to make yourself big, by whatever means necessary.”
Let me be clear, this is not about making excuses for violent behaviour or attacking the idea of individual responsibility.
But we should not be surprised when brushes dipped into the same bucket of paint continue to emerge the same colour.
It’s easy to see why we’ve avoided acknowledging this war in favour of a far simpler, more reassuring version.
For one thing, how do you repair critically dysfunctional households, made so by complicated interactions between the people who live in them – each with complex, hidden, inaccessible problems of their own?
Is there even a household to speak of anymore, considering the staggering numbers of single parents, absent fathers, illegitimate children?
Who, for that matter, is entitled to intervene? Should the relations between father and son, husband and wife, be regulated by the government?
And what role does the public education system – the one entity that touches the lives of virtually all these young people – have to play, and to what extent has the failure of this system to adapt contributed to the problem?
There are no easy answers in this war, no convenient, us-versus-them battle-lines.
But we had better find a way to engage with it – or at the very least acknowledge that simply locking ‘em up is no real solution – before this society is too far gone to save.
What do you think?
Email questions or comments to, or join the conversation at:
June 03, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013

July 10, 1973 to Now: ...The Bahamas Independence Generation... ...and the story of Majority Rule and Independence... ...The 40th Anniversary

Independence Generation Should Tell Of The Struggle

By Llonella Gilbert - BIS:

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said as a proud member of the generation that ushered in The Bahamas’ Independence on July 10, 1973, he feels that while Bahamians cross the bridge to the future, they must see the bridge as a connection to those of the Independence Generation.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the Official 40-Day Countdown Launch Ceremony in Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Independence of The Bahamas in Rawson Square, June 4, 2013.

“Truly, the significance of celebrating the 40th Anniversary is that this is the last time that both generations will be able to work side by side in marking this pivotal event in our country’s history,” he said.

“This is the last time that we will be able to hear the voices of the Independence Generation and I implore you to listen.”

Prime Minister Christie said the Independence Generation must tell their stories to those who have come afterward.

“We must have them tell us their stories. It may simply be a retelling of a grandmother’s Independence morning experience; it may be the airing of the complete Portraits series; it may be an interview with a member of the Women’s Suffragette Movement, however we do it, it must be done.”

The Prime Minister added that he believes that part of what is right for the country, on this Independence journey, is to record, preserve and honour The Bahamas’ history and culture.

“We have been, in many respects, negligent of our heroes and our history.

“It is vital that every Bahamian, of every background know their history. “Every Bahamian student should be able to tell the story of Majority Rule and Independence.

He said proper attention must be given to these things.

“Our Bahamian heroes must have permanence in the Bahamian Story. We must write it well, so that even after death they live.”

Prime Minister Christie also explained that during his last term as prime minister, he appointed the National Cultural Development Commission with the mission to organise and formulate a wide range of policies and positions on cultural matters.

He said the framework for a National Honours system was passed and this year, deserving Bahamians will receive the country’s own award.

“This public honouring will not only draw the necessary attention to these individuals, it will be the best way that a grateful nation can say thank you.”

The Prime Minister said the National Independence Committee is also working with The College of The Bahamas on hosting the 40th Anniversary Independence Conference.

The conference, which will be held June 12 – 14, 2013 and is open to the public, will do much to help further educate and examine what the future of The Bahamas can be.

“The aim of the conference is to examine the context and construction of the Bahamian nation; investigate the challenges emerging in the post-independence period; discuss contemporary social, cultural, economic and political issues that have emerged since 1973; and explore future prospects for nation building and development.”

Prime Minister Christie said in planning the celebrations for the Anniversary, the committee felt it was critical to host events that will showcase Bahamian arts and culture.

“I have said before that it is important to the development of our national identity and to the deepening of our Bahamian culture that our artists have a high level of support.

“We often enjoy and celebrate what other nations in the world have offered us and we forget that we have produced many cultural icons who have influenced them.”

June 05, 2013


Wednesday, June 5, 2013 of our borders against illegal immigration, poachers, gun and drug running, human smuggling... and Trafficking in Persons

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) says, We need 21st Century Protection of our Borders

The Prime Minister’s 2012/2013 budget communication has allocated a tremendous amount of money for the purchase of vessels for the defense force. No doubt the rationale for this is for the protection of our borders against illegal immigration, illegal poachers, gun and drug running and human smuggling and trafficking.

Illegal immigration has been one of the critical issues our country has been facing for many years and if it is not arrested, we will lose our country. Illegal immigration has strained our country’s resources in health care, education, social services and national security. Illegal Immigration has infiltrated our country so much so that we now have many different subcultures.

Illegal poaching has now become a common occurrence. Other nationalities are raping our waters every day. They do it because they realize that our leaders do not have the answers to this concern. They have our leaders figured out because they know that our leaders will come up with the same type of plan they have used in the past in anticipation that it will work this time.

Many of the crimes committed today are because of illegal drugs and the availability of guns on our streets. These guns and drugs infiltrate our beloved country from other countries and have wreck havoc on our once peaceful society.

Human smuggling and trafficking is very much alive resulting in persons penetrating our borders.

The PLP administration has decided that more vessels will help with addressing these vexing problems. But this is very much unrealistic. No matter how many vessels are purchased, the problems above will still exist. You ought to remember that vessels have been purchased in the past and we still have the same problems today. It did not work! Illegal immigration, gun and drug running, illegal poaching and human smuggling and trafficking are still on the rise. So what does this administration do…the same thing that was done before…purchase vessels!

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is made up of 700 islands and Cays covering 150,000 square miles of sea. This tells me, and I would think the average person, that no matter how many vessels are purchased, it would be virtually impossible to man our waters. However, with the use of technology we would be able to monitor our borders and determine what is on and under the sea. This is what the PLP administration should be investing in. By the touch of a button you are able to determine who is trying to enter our country. You would not have to rely on defense force vessels being at the right place and at the right time in order to detect those entering our borders for illegal purposes… all of this can be monitored by way of technology.

I would encourage this administration to go to the Democratic National Alliance’s website at and watch our town meeting on immigration. There we discussed the technology that can be used in order to facilitate 21st century protection of our borders.

In order for us to move this country forward, we cannot afford to do the unsuccessful things we have done in the past and anticipate that it would be successful in the future. Let’s start thinking outside the box!

Branville McCartney
DNA Leader

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

From Murder to Murders in The Bahamas

By Dennis Dames:

Murder in The Bahamas is becoming a daily occurrence, and is showing signs of graduating to murders every day.  We appear to be lost in dealing effectively with the killing crisis on our hands.  Are we truly handicapped in solving our murder crisis, or are we collectively - a central and familiar part of the problem?

The streets of New Providence Island are chatty with talks about what’s up with the frequent spree of homicides.  I would like now to throw out an equation which I feel might offer some insights in to what’s happening in The Bahamas with regards to our budding murderous culture.
Here it goes: The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is said to have hired brutal gangs – while in opposition, to commit seriously violent crimes in the society – just to make the ruling Free National Movement (FNM) look bad in the eyes of the electorate.  The PLP won the 2012 General election in a landslide victory; and the viciously rising crime rate was a prime factor in the FNM’s defeat.
The other part of the equation goes like this: The PLP erected signs throughout New Providence – during the 2012 election campaign, which highlighted the murder count under the FNM’s five years rule – from 2007 to 2012.  Is there any connection to this and the gossip that the PLP hired cruel gangs to commit serious crimes like murders under the FNM, for the purpose of winning the government?
Next, we have the buzz that there is a hit-list out there – which was facilitated by a high ranking Cabinet Minister – to kill a number of gangsters in The Bahamian society.  We know that the vast majority of murdered victims to date in our country are gangbangers and persons known to the police.
Next, there are talks on the streets that some members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) are intricately involved in the systematic and ruthless murders of which we are experiencing today.
Next, we have a known PLP kingpin gangster/campaigner who was coincidently locked-up shortly after the PLP’s victory in the May 2012 general election; and he appears to be in Fox Hill prison for the foreseeable future.  It is being rumored that the PLP head gangster campaigner in question, was the chief dirty works coordinator of sadistic crimes under the FNM government of 2007-2012.
Next, we have a very angry man in Nassau Village – who has warned us on Facebook recently, that we should enjoy the calm - as the storm is coming.  This person appears to be absolutely displeased about something to do with a member of the Christie Cabinet.  It is also whispered that this person in fully aware of the aforementioned hit-list; and that he might possess an initial copy of the same.
Next, we have, perhaps - for the first time in our history - two Cabinet Ministers who have confirmed that they have been given permits to carry handguns.  Why, what’s up?  Only two Ministers, why not all members of the Christie Cabinet?
Something is awfully wrong in The Bahamas just now.  It’s like according to the saying: sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.