With the country’s murder rate at 110 for the year so far advocacy group Citizens for Justice (CFJ) said it is the perfect opportunity for the country to reignite the death penalty debate.
In a press release sent Monday, CFJ Chairman Bishop Walter Hanchell said the death penalty should and must be re-implemented in The Bahamas in order to reduce our extremely high level of murders.
“Unless this is done, murders will continue unabated throughout The Bahamas,” he said.
“Members of CFJ are also requesting that restitution be made in some way to the family of murder victims. Convicted murderers who have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment should work hard labour to raise money for the children of their victims.
“The government and the church need to do more to assist relatives mourning the loss of their loved ones. Because so many people are hurting, we are recommending that the government render financial assistance to agencies that assist in grief counseling and ministry to the bereaved families.”
The 2012 murder count so far is 17 less that the total murder count for 2011.
The CFJ said they are calling on stakeholders in the war against crime to come together and make recommendations that will reduce the high level of murders and violence being inflicted on the Bahamian public.
“Attempted murder has increased considerably and armed robbery has increased by a shocking 125 per cent despite the valiant efforts of our overworked officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, who put their lives on the line daily against blood-thirsty criminals who have no value for human life,” the report added. “Murderers believe that they can take innocent lives and beat the system through legal wrangling.
“They are able to secure bail easier than persons charged with lesser charges. Too many accused murderers are walking the streets and even though they are being monitored with ankle bracelets, some convicted murderers are still able to evade police and commit additional crimes, including murder.”
The group is calling on parliamentarians to pass tougher laws that will have immediate and long-lasting effect and “stop slapping criminals on the wrist with light sentences.”
“Political leaders must not remain soft on crime in order to secure votes at the next general election,” they added. “We need leaders who will make the tough decisions and have the courage and will to take the necessary steps that will bring an end to the reign of terror by criminals over this nation.
“Additionally, the judiciary must deal with murder cases in a timely manner to eliminate the perception that the system is being manipulated for the benefit of persons charged with murder. CFJ is again demanding that bail not be granted to persons charged with murder and that bail be revoked for accused murderers out on bail. The organization also recommends that corporal punishment be administered to repeat violent offenders.”
Bishop Hanchell said brutal murders are symptoms of deep-rooted social problems and a breakdown of family life adding that teenagers have had their lives snuffed out and pregnant mothers have died at the hands of “callous hit-men.”
“The crime situation and in particular violent crime such as murder, attempted murder and assault, must be reduced by at least 50 per cent in order to make any serious dent in crime,” he added. “Our once peaceful Bahamas has evolved into a nation where serious crime has become so prevalent that people appear to have been desensitised to the horrific affects of murder. According to recent statistics, a murder is committed every three days. This is unacceptable and must be dealt with expeditiously in order to maintain the peace and safety of both citizens and residents.
“Revenge killings and the murder of key witnesses in a number of cases have left law-abiding citizens reeling in fear for their own safety. Domestic violence has also escalated to levels never yet seen and the situation seems to be worsening daily. Anger, greed, immoral behavior and the inability to resolve conflict, have dealt a blow on our national security. Complicity throughout the nation must end. The Bahamas has produced too many murderers over the past five years and in spite of the slight decline compared to last year, murder is a serious problem that must be addressed immediately. The time has come to bring this criminal dilemma to an end.”