Among those participating in Saturday's march were Democratic National Alliance Leader Branville McCartney (left), businessman Rupert Roberts (center) and community activist Rodney Moncur. AHVIA J. CAMPBELL
By Krystel Rolle
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Proponents of the death penalty in The Bahamas say they have been left hanging for too long.
More than 200 of them marched on Saturday in an attempt to get the message across to the government that hangings must resume.
The march attracted politicians, pastors, businessmen, families of murdered victims and other concerned Bahamians.
Community activist Rodney Moncur said the message that supporters are sending to the government is simple: Restrict bail for those accused of murders and hang those convicted of murder.
He said the government must remove the impediments to the resumption of capital punishment.
“All they have to do is hold a little referendum, get rid of the Privy Council and affirm constitutionally that capital punishment by hanging is the lawful means of punishment for persons [convicted of] murder,” Moncur said.
Support for the resumption of the death penalty comes amid a heightened fear of crime and increased violent crime.
Businessman Rupert Roberts, who participated in the march, said he fears crime will soon cripple the country.
“Nobody is safe in this country,” declared Roberts.
“[Crime] is going to kill our economy. It’s going to kill our livelihood. We're going to have to get strict, triple up the punishment for firearms, and in severe cases, murder, we have to hang them.”
All along the route Bahamians joined in the march.
One woman said when she saw the signs that read, “hang murderers”, she wanted to be a part of the campaign.
The woman, who only identified herself as Mrs Carey, said she is tired of crime.
Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Chairman Dr Duane Sands also joined the march.
Sands said every Bahamian should be concerned about crime.
“I look at this from the point of view...of a surgeon,” he said.
“The truth of the degree of violence in this country needs to be known by the Bahamian public. And so when you see the suffering, when you see the brutality, when you see the stabbings, the shootings, the beatings, the rapes, it is unacceptably high.
“We can no longer afford to sacrifice the rights of society for the supposed rights of the individuals.”
Over the years several Privy Council rulings have proved to be stumbling blocks for the resumption of the death penalty.
In 1993, the Privy Council ruled 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.
And in March 2006, the Privy Council ruled that the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional. Following that ruling, several men who were sentenced to death were resentenced to life in prison.
Only three men are on death row.
Those who participated in the march, which was organized by Dr Margo Seymour and the Families of all Murdered victims (FOAM), said they want to ensure that no one else escapes the gallows.
Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney, whose brother was murdered last year, is also a long time proponent of capital punishment.
“We are not safe,” he said at the event. “The fear of crime is... out of control in this country. We need to put the fear of the law in the hearts and minds of the criminal element.
“And we need the political will to ensure that happens. Doing the same thing over and over again is not going to work. So we’re asking the government to have the political will… to ensure that if you commit a murder against anybody... and are found guilty of that crime you must see your maker. You must hang. I’m here to stand for that.”
McCartney said more needs to be done to restrict bail for those accused of murder.
Last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed that 462 people were on bail for serious crimes.
Christie has previously said that more restrictions have to be put in place to prevent those charged with serious crimes from getting bail.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian