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“Unspeakably Dangerous”

The Clifton Review

The Clifton Review is a bi-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires, the links to unsavory characters, the use of the courts for personal agendas, the involvement of a political party, and the attacks on the Government of The Bahamas.

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. This series of articles asks the needed questions and presents the arguments in full.


By P.J. Malone

The state of affairs in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas at this time is “unspeakably dangerous.” You have a new Government that appears to be heading down a road to tyranny that is raising alarm bells across our nation.

Nobody can deny that former Prime Minister Hubert Alexander Ingraham is a ‘bull dog’ when it comes to politics. Yet, even he advises his own party leader that this is the wrong course that this new Administration is heading on.

Also, a well-respected senior attorney expressed views reminding us of the history of our elder statesmen and their ability to comport themselves with dignity in the change over of Government; the failure to do so does not bode well for our democracy. We’ve gained access to his comments in full and report them below:

“I fear that the deployment of the criminal law to punish alleged corruption in the unprecedented manner, and on the unprecedented scale, that we are now witnessing, is going to change the political culture of The Bahamas irrevocably; and that henceforth each change of government will find the incoming Government subjecting members of the outgoing Government to similar treatment, i.e getting them locked up and thrown in jail.

The really scary thing about that is that there won’t even have to be any factual basis for the criminal prosecutions! “Evidence ” will be the easiest thing in the world for an over-zealous policeman to find. Tit- for-tat does not depend on logic, nor on what is rational, nor on what is truthful. It’s just about getting even; getting recompense – in kind – for the dreadful injuries of the past; and getting it done by hook or by crook, even if you have to get someone to lie on someone else.

And so, whether it’s 5 years from now or 10 years from now (and the historical odds, based on the last quarter century of electoral results, suggest that 5 is more probable than 10), you are going to have members of the present  Cabinet who will be made to endure what the Deon Smiths and Ken Dorsetts and Frank Smiths have been made to endure – irrespective of whether they deserve it or not, and irrespective of whether they actually did something that was criminally corrupt or not.

Such a Pandora’s Box has now been opened and in the result, what goes around will come around. It’s too late to change that now.

We forget history. In some cases we never knew it to begin with. But we do well to remind ourselves that there was great wisdom in the forbearance shown by Pindling in 1967 towards Stafford & Co and by Ingraham in 1992 towards Pindling & Co.

I think they both realized that when you escalate political recriminations to the level of trying to put your opponents in jail – literally – denying them their physical liberty while at the same time freezing their assets and subjecting them to the public torture of reputational devastation and abject humiliation, you are thereby doing something that your political opponents – and their loved ones – will never ever forget and will instead live to get even with you one day, however long it takes.

And so, both Pindling and Ingraham studiously resisted any temptation they might have felt – or that others might have urged upon them – to use the criminal law to punish corruption.  Christie was no different either.

Does this mean one should not use the criminal law to deal with corruption? Of course not. What it does mean though is that if you do use it, it requires the most careful and thorough investigation; investigation that is transparently independent of political direction or contamination; and investigation that justifies the bringing of charges for which there is a reasonable prospect of conviction based on the evidence that has been amassed. Further, it needs to be done in a way that avoids any suggestion of a witch-hunt; any suggestion of an orchestrated campaign to inflict maximum damage on your political opponents under the guise of seeking justice. And above all, it needs to be done in a way that is respectful of the presumption of innocence and of the dignity of the individual.

The handling of the three cases to date demonstrates that those ground-rules have been honoured not in the observance but in the breach.

And that is very sad. And unspeakably dangerous.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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