By Krystel Rolle
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Bahamian MP Leslie Miller made an impassioned plea to members of Parliament on Wednesday night for the abandonment of the Privy Council and for the death penalty to be carried out.
Miller is a long-time advocate of capital punishment.
"I ask myself, what are we in here for?” he said during debate on amendments to the Child Protection Act and Sexual Offenses Act in the House of Assembly.
“...In the year 2013 and going on to 2014, we still don't have the guts and the wherewithal as a people to not allow foreign elements to tell us how to run our country; that in this year of our Lord 2013.
“We still have people in Britain, a country that we moved away from in 1973, to gain independence and to be real men and women. Today, they decide the fate of our people.
"We call ourselves independent, and we call ourselves grown men and women. We call ourselves leaders to lead people, and we need them to lead us. How is that possible? How?
"And I have heard every excuse. I'm not interested in these international forums or what international obligations we have. When this surge of violence is upon us, we must act as a people together. It has nothing to do with anyone else."
The last time capital punishment was carried out in The Bahamas was on January 6, 2000, when David Mitchell was hanged.
In March 2006, the Privy Council ruled that the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional.
Many condemned men escaped the death penalty because the Privy Council ruled in 1993 in the Jamaican case of Earl Pratt and Ivan Morgan that it would be cruel and inhumane for prisoners to wait more than five years on death row.
The lengthy appeals process has also meant that the possibility of the resumption of capital punishment in The Bahamas is very slim.
Convicts who lose their cases before the Court of Appeal could still appeal to the Privy Council and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
But Miller begged Parliamentarians to find the courage to make the necessary changes so that hangings can be carried out.
"Could we please find it among ourselves to do the right thing," he pleaded. "Let’s make up our minds as parliamentarians that if it's on the book, we have an obligation to carry it out.
"... When will enough be enough? When the country is totally destroyed?
"It's up to us, you know. We can do what it is that we were sent here to do, or we can play dead like it doesn't exist."
Earlier this week, Minister of Agriculture Alfred Gray said he wants public hangings.
He said he supports capital punishment for convicted murderers as a way to stop crime and said the government should abandon the Privy Council as the highest court of appeal to ensure that violent criminals are punished with death.
“I also believe that our country may have to go to the extreme of hanging these murderers, and I want to do it on Bay Street,” Gray said.
He repeated those comments in the House of Assembly on Wednesday night.
Concerns about the country’s crime problem were underscored after three armed bandits stormed into the home of Acting Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and robbed him and his wife on Monday.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian