Categorized | National News

Judges Given Greater Protection

Judicial and law enforcement officers and witnesses in trials will have greater protection against threats of harm through provisions the government has laid out in a number of crime bills.

Leading debate in the House of Assembly yesterday, State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez outlined a number of amendments to the compendium of crime bills passed by the former administration in 2011.

Included in those changes are amendments to the Justice Protection Act, which call for stricter penalties for people who attempt to harass judicial and police officers and witnesses.

“This clause of the bill goes further by providing in addition to insult, the use of physical force, threat or intimidation to interfere with the exercise of the duties of a judge or law enforcement official, which will now carry a penalty of five to 10 years imprisonment,” Mr. Gomez said. “The new charge is both summary and indictable and the highest sanction connotes the serious nature of the offense.”

“It enables us to buttress our institutional safeguards against crime. Both the police and judicial officers will now receive the added protection which the criminalisation of threats to them while in the performance of their duties will now exist.”

Amendments to the Firearms Act address offenses relating to the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms.
According to Minister Gomez, there are parts, components and ammunition to provide for an offense relating to the export of firearms and possession of high-powered weapons.

“We intend to ensure that the police and the courts have the response necessary to enable our community to breathe a sigh of safety and to know that those who indulge in this sort of activity will be hunted down, will be brought before the courts and will be adequately punished – that is our mandate,” he said

Mr. Gomez also laid out amendments to the Penal Code which targets conspiracies in the form of gang activities and organised crime.

These changes he said will allow The Bahamas to meet its international obligations and join regional neighbours who have passed similar legislation.

“This bill seeks to bring the code in line with The Bahamas’ international obligations to suppress organised crime under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime and nationally,” he said. “It is intended to discourage membership in criminal gangs.

“The harsh penalties contained in the bill ought to be an effective deterrent to the plague that gang membership and organised criminal activities have to public order and public safety. The bill is intended to reclaim our streets and communities from criminal gang activity.”

Mr. Gomez said these bills should remove any doubt that the government is resolve in stomping out criminal activities and enables the government to make the streets safer.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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