The Bahamas faced a continuing rise in violent crime in 2011, with a record 127 killings reported during the year, a 35 per cent increase compared with 2010. In November, Parliament approved new laws with the stated purpose of improving the criminal justice system. An official study showed that only 5 per cent of killings committed between 2005 and 2009 resulted in a conviction for either murder or manslaughter.
In June, the authorities publicly supported the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation.Top of page
At least one person was killed during the year by the police in disputed circumstances.
There were reports of ill-treatment and excessive use of force by the police during arrests and detentions.
- On 12 October, Samuel Darling was beaten by several police officers in front of his house and arbitrarily detained. When his wife, who witnessed the beating and arrest, went with her eight-year-old son to report the abuse at the nearest police station, she was arrested and charged with disorder. The family filed a formal complaint and were awaiting the conclusions of a police investigation at the end of the year.
At least five people remained under sentence of death. Four had spent more than five years on death row. Their sentences were eligible for commutation under a 1993 ruling by the UK-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest court of appeal, which deemed that execution after five years on death row would constitute inhuman and degrading punishment.
In the context of an ongoing debate on public security, the authorities presented the retention of the death penalty as a measure to deter crime. In November, a law was passed that provided for mandatory death sentences and “imprisonment for the whole of the remaining years of a convicted person’s life” for certain categories of murder.Top of page
A bill introduced into Parliament in 2009 to criminalize rape within marriage had still not been voted on by the end of 2011. In October, the Minister of State for Social Development publicly stated that the government “has no intention of reintroducing” the bill before general elections which were due by May 2012.
According to police statistics, 13 women were murdered between January and August. The highest figure recorded previously was in 2009 when 10 women were murdered during the year.Top of page
The Bahamas failed to implement calls from two UN agencies to stop all involuntary returns of Haitian nationals on humanitarian grounds following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Statistics from the Department of Immigration reported that 2,392 Haitians were repatriated during 2011, representing 72 per cent of all the repatriations carried out in the Bahamas during the year. There were reports of the use of violence during arrests of irregular migrants.Top of page