The DNA's Response to Christie's Crime Plan
DNA Criticizes Progressive Liberal Party’s Solution To Crime
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) holds firm in its position that neither the Free National Movement nor the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has any practical solution to our crime problem, and the proposed plan presented by the leader of the PLP by way of a national address is a testament to the DNA’s position, as it is unimaginative, uninformed and a regurgitation of some of the same, old PLP sing-song.
DNA candidate for Mt. Moriah, Wayne Munroe, sees much of the proposed PLP plan as simple political window dressing aimed at “bamboozling” the public into believing that the PLP has a crime solution, when in fact it does not. Mr. Munroe says that the PLP plan is flawed in 10 particular areas and he notes, firstly, that the former Prime Minister’s proposal to have new Strike Force teams taking over the streets of Nassau is an idea that was not well thought out.
“We already have had any number of new police teams and operations called by many names,” says Mr. Munroe. “And we now have highly armed police officers driving around all day and night in addition to the SWAT teams of the RBPF. This solution is an insult to the COP and the RBPF. The simple fact of the matter is that the police cannot be everywhere at once and the criminals know that. The former PM’s proposal is simple window dressing and will be no more effective than it presently is.”
Secondly, Mr. Munroe says, the idea of having the RBDF patrol the borders to prevent gun trafficking into our ports is another unimaginative, uninformed sham.
“Most firearms are not smuggled in vessels in a manner that they can be interdicted by the RBDF,” Mr. Munroe points out. “All foreign vessels are permitted to have licensed firearms on board so long as they are declared and not bought on shore. Increased RBDF activity will not affect inflow of illegal firearms. The PLP’s plans for increased interdiction in our ports are vague and the details of how it is to be accomplished are not clearly set out.”
He notes that the PLPs border control idea is lacking when compared to the detailed border surveillance plan proposed by DNA leader and Member of Parliament for Bamboo Town, Branville McCartney, at the Party’s Town Hall Meeting on Immigration on August 3.
Mr. Munroe also takes exception to the former Prime Minister’s proposed legislation to permit cases involving high-powered weapons to be tried in the Supreme Court, calling the idea, once again, uninformed political fluff.
He says, “either the PLP is completely unaware of section 30(2) of the Firearms Act which presently permits trials in the Supreme Court for prohibited weapons where the maximum sentence is 20 years, or if they do know about this section, is attempting to fluff the public into believing that they are coming up with some new initiative or strategy. Either way you look at it, it is shameful. If they did not know, shame. If they did and tried to deceive the public, shame.”
Mr. Munroe also takes aim at the PLP’s plan to reintroduce the “Swift Justice” and “witness protection programs, saying that the swift justice initiative is nothing more than plain regurgitation of a program/system that had no track record of success.” He goes on to question the vagueness in the PLP’s proposed plan to implement a “witness protection” program since, it was under their administration that a witness, Angelo “Nasty” Brennan was hung out to dry and eventually shot. Mr. Munroe feels that, at this stage, the former Prime Minister should be able to articulate a more detailed plan of how his program will work to ensure the protection of witnesses such as the one in Mr. Brennan’s case.
As it relates to the proposed “Death Penalty Unit to track appeals,” Mr. Munroe says that having this unit in place abdicates the responsibility of the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions for all prosecutions. He notes additionally that, in any event, the time taken for appeals will not be the impediment in carrying out execution and that the PLP’s plan completely ignores the two other litigation barriers to execution, Prerogative Board of Mercy process and the process that take place in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
As for passing of the Death Penalty Act, Munroe says Mr. Christie was the then prime minister when Trono Davis and Forrester Bowe changed the law, and as the then president of the Bar, Munroe said it was he who called for such legislation and the PLP failed or refused to pass a Death Penalty Act then in 2006. He said it is questionable or highly unlikely that they will, if given another chance in office.
“The proposed legislation refers to sentencing guidelines in cases, in which the death penalty is not appropriate. It is not constitutionally permissible for the legislature to set sentencing guidelines for the Judiciary. The appellate courts do this during review of sentences.
“The legislation proposed does not deal with the issue of upgrading life sentences, particularly where in either case punitive times are set by the judge and the introduction of life sentences with preventive detention as an element,” Munroe says.
Christie’s address, as it progressed, continued to showcase vague concepts—one’s that appeared to be foreign. For instance, he notes, the dimension of deadly street violence in The Bahamas will result in violators, more often than not, being used as human shields or even collateral damage.
As it relates to the PLP’s plan to invest in education, the unimaginative solutions Christie presented brought nothing new to the topic. It is vague and is coming from a man who is one of two prime ministers who presided over the educational system in the Bahamas in the past 15 years. And because questions still remain as to the successfulness of the institution under both administrations, Mr. Munroe says Mr. Christie’s unspecified promises will not do.
“It is not what you say, but what you do that makes a difference,” Mr. Munroe says. “And the Bahamian people are now past the stage where they are willing to do the same thing over, and over, and over again, hoping that they will get different results with the same old PLP administration.”
The mentorship programs that Christie presented, according to Munroe, also lacked analytical foundation in relation to the defect or remedy.
“The phenomenon of children having children has legislative causes and wider social causes. It is also now a matter of generational concern,” Munroe says.
If nothing else, the PLP proves that it is as uncreative and ill equipped as the present administration, whose leader is on vacation, leaving no adequate, sound leadership in his absence to combat crime and other national issues. While most leaders would return in the wake of such turmoil, Bahamians are left to fend for themselves against murderers out on bail and others who have managed to dodge the law.
The DNA must remind the government and others vying for the position that The Bahamas needs and deserves more innovative methods to secure its people, much like that proposed on numerous occasions by the DNA.