Categorized | National News


The weakness of the criminal justice system   has been cited as the greatest challenge to the government tackling drug trafficking here in The Bahamas.

The conclusion of the US State Department’s 2019 International Narcotics Control strategy report found  that while the average time between initial arraignment and trial in 2017 was within 90 days for minor offenses, for more serious matters, like those involving trafficking, smuggling, firearms, or gang violence, along with  regular adjournments and  prolonged cases,   in some instances, these lasted  for several years.

US officials determined that as a result, many accused choose to go to trial, confident the courts will take years to move their case through the system and the government will eventually drop the charges.

The report acknowledged   that despite the challenges, the judiciary has begun making important improvements. 

Last year, the Magistrate Courts, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeal introduced U.S.-provided digital audio recording equipment to record procedures.

The improvement is expected to increase both the transparency and efficiency of the  criminal justice  sector.

The report also noted that the country’s population is around some 350,000 people and with  the vast territory to cover, pooling U.S. and local resources and knowledge are essential to efficient deterrence and interdiction.

The statement  said, “Beginning in January, four major law enforcement operations targeting trafficking networks were executed within The Bahamas in 2018. 

“All four operations resulted in multiple arrests, as well as weapons and drug interdictions.” 

“For three of the four operations, the Royal Bahamas Police Force  and  the  Royal Bahamas Defense Force  worked in partnership – a first in many years and a sign of increasing cooperation between the two agencies.”

The report also noted that during the first 10 months on 2018,  coordinated efforts led to 203 arrests and the seizure of approximately 176 kilograms  of cocaine, 5.66 metric tons of marijuana, and $1,693,809 in currency and $43,400 in assets.

There was also a 2,520 eradication of cannabis plant similar to that of 2017. 

It also noted that as it relates to corruption, the government does not, as a matter of government policy, encourage or facilitate illicit drug production or distribution, nor is it involved in laundering the proceeds of the sale of illicit drugs. 

It was pointed out that while The Bahamas is not a significant drug producing country, it remains a significant transshipment point for illicit drugs bound for the United States and other international markets due to its location.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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