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Is This Why We Send Representatives To Parliament?

The Clifton Review

The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

While the 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story, his incredible business success over these past fifty years and an inside look at how he did it, The Clifton Review will also continue to address current affairs as they relate to the good of The Bahamas.


Is  This Why We Send Representatives To Parliament?

By P.J. Malone

If members of the Government of The Bahamas abdicate their responsibilities, then who is left to properly govern our country?

If it was an easy job, then anybody could do it. However, it is not an easy job. Yet, anybody who accepts the role to govern the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is expected to do whatever is required to ensure that our country continues to develop and grow, and to ensure that all of its citizens’ best interests are considered when making decisions.

So to hear a Member of Parliament acknowledge that what is being proposed may not be constitutional, to see bills passed that are not in everyone’s best interest, and to hear solutions proposed that are not logical, it all means that our representatives don’t care about the best interests of all Bahamians, don’t know how to govern our country, or are too lazy or lack the smarts to come up with solutions that work for everyone.

It is most disconcerting to hear of the statements that were made in The Bahamas Parliament when the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Amendment Bill 2018 was being proposed.

In a Nassau Guardian article it explained that when Minister of Works Desmond Bannister spoke to lead the debate on the bill, he admitted that the courts might strike it down because a change to the Act may be viewed as unconstitutional.

The constitutional reference is apparently to Article 20 (e): “Every person who is charged with a criminal offense shall be afforded facilities to examine in person or by his legal representative the witnesses called by the prosecution before the court.”

So why in the world would the Parliament of The Bahamas waste time debating a bill that they know to be unconstitutional?

Here’s what the Nassau Guardian article, “Lawyer prepared to challenge witness anonymity law”, presents:

Bannister continued, “So a very legitimate question that we may ask is whether the making of such an order would constitute a constitutional infringement.

“Some may argue that the courts will strike this amendment down as unconstitutional as it relates to Supreme Court trials, since, as the triers of fact, jurors are entitled to see the demeanor of a witness, and to judge their reactions as they answer questions.

“The government takes the position that we have a duty to do our best to protect witnesses who are brave enough to come forward to give evidence against murderers, drug dealers, human traffickers and other despicable criminals who would otherwise get away.

“At the end of the day we take the position that we will do our duty in this place, and then listen as the courts make their determination.”

Well, that’s not good enough. That is not why representatives are sent to Parliament.

We didn’t send representatives to Parliament to pass laws with weak foundations. We didn’t send representatives to Parliament to abdicate their responsibilities and have the courts govern us in their stead.

We elected a government to represent an entire nation and solve the difficult problems not to ask the courts to do it.

If these Members of Parliament find it too difficult to do their jobs then they should say so and allow the people of The Bahamas to elect a Government that won’t find it so difficult.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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