IDB Concerned With Bahamas Justice System
by Ianthia Smith
The Bahama Journal
Officials at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have expressed major concerns with the administration of justice in The Bahamas, particularly as it relates to the low conviction rate and the fact that more than 300 accused murderers are out on bail.
In fact, the IDB is so concerned with the dismal statistics that the organisation has pledged to pump $250,000 into improving the justice system in The Bahamas.
In a recent report, the IDB said during the 2005 to 2009 period only 5.1 per cent of murder cases resulted in convictions, adding that within the last five years, 305 accused murderers have been released on bail.
“This situation can partly explain why The Bahamas, although superior to the regional average, has recently shown a marked decline in its values for the world governance indicator related to the rule of law,” the document added.
That figure dropped from more than 85 per cent in 2007 to just over 65 per cent in 2011.
The report went on to point out that in The Bahamas there is consensus about the limited institutional capacity of the justice system to respond to the public’s demands and added that this situation is contributing to the recent dramatic increase in incidents of violence and crimes that remain unresolved amid an increasing judicial backlog and a diminishing number of convictions.
“Today, few people doubt that sustainable development depends on the credibility of the legal system, the quality of the legal framework, the effective protection of property rights and the honesty, effectiveness and efficiency of the agencies in charge of applying the law to specific cases,” the document added.
“To properly perform its role, a justice system should also be expeditious, which means that the system effectively completes cases in a reasonable time.”
It is for that reason that the IDB has approved technical cooperation for a pilot project to support the government’s Swift Justice Programme and has committed to giving The Bahamas $250,000 and an additional $24,000 local counterpart funding, to assist with this fight.
To improve court reporting and transcript generation, which the IDB notes still consists of a transcriber, while the modern digital court reporting includes broadcast quality microphones and digital recorders, the IDB has committed $110,00 while another $77,000 will be to support the implementation of an integration justice information system with an efficient business model that will seek to strengthen cooperation, coordination and communication among the Attorney General’s Office, the police and the judiciary and $66,000 will go towards the reduction of the Supreme Court’s backlog.
But with this technical cooperation comes risks, the IDB noted that the government and judiciary may not be sufficiently coordinated, there may be difficult interaction between the different government agencies as well as delays in execution due to a lack of knowledge and experience with IDB-financed operations.
November 20, 2013