• Campaigns

The Bahamas: Death penalty: Trevor Nathaniel Pennerman Fisher and Richard Woods

, Index number: AMR 14/007/1998

Trevor Fisher and Richard Woods are scheduled to be executed on 15 October 1998, despite the fact that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), who is currently considering petitions submitted by the two men, had requested the government preserve their lives until a decision had been reached.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 14/07/98
EXTRA 76/98 Death Penalty 13 October 1998
THE BAHAMASTrevor Nathaniel Pennerman Fisher (see EXTRA 72/98, AMR 14/06/98,
6 Oct 98)
Richard Woods
Trevor Fisher and Richard Woods are scheduled to be hanged in the Bahamas on
Thursday 15 October 1998.
Their executions have been scheduled despite the fact that the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), who is currently considering petitions
submitted by the two men, had requested the government preserve their lives
until a decision had been reached. In their petitions, the men allege that
their internationally protected human rights, under the American Declaration
on the Rights and Duties of Man (American Declaration), have been violated.
It is the role of the IACHR to determine if this is the case.
The petition to the IACHR on behalf of Trevor Fisher was filed on 7 June 1996.
It alleges violations of his rights under the American Declaration including
a delay of over three years from the time of his arrest to the commencement
of his trial, appalling conditions of detention endured throughout that period,
and the fact that the death penalty is mandatory for all persons convicted
of murder.
The petition to the IACHR on behalf of Richard Woods was filed on 28 August
1996. He claims that his right to a fair trial was violated and also that
a mandatory death penalty is contrary to the American Declaration.
Amnesty International is concerned that the scheduling of these executions
is counter to the government of Bahamas’ obligation as a member state of the
OAS to cooperate with OAS bodies, including the IACHR -- whose functions include
safeguarding the human rights of individuals, as enshrined in the American
Declaration. This also contributes to undermining the hemispheric regional
mechanism for international protection of human rights which has been developed
over the last 50 years.
Trevor Fisher
Trevor Fisher was convicted and sentenced to death in March 1994 for the murder,
in 1990, of Durventon Daniels. His appeal against the conviction was dismissed
by the Court of Appeal on 10 October 1994 and by the Judicial Committee of
the Privy Council (JCPC - the Bahamas highest appeal court, located in London),
in May 1996.
On 5 May 1998, the IACHR declared Trevor Fisher’s petition admissible and put
his case forward for consideration at the next session of the IACHR, scheduled
for 28 September to 16 October 1998.
This is the third time Trevor Fisher’s execution has been scheduled. The first
execution warrant was issued on 5 September 1996 and the second on 26 March
1998. Although motions issued to challenge the constitutionality of both
warrants whilst the IACHR petition was still pending were dismissed by the
JCPC, in its decision of December 1997 the court noted that the government
had agreed to respect it’s obligations to follow IACHR procedures.
Richard Woods
2
Richard Woods was arrested in 1993 for the murder of his niece Pauline Johnson,
in a "hit and run". He was convicted and sentenced to death on 25 January 1995.
His appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed on 20 July 1995 and his
application for leave to appeal to the JCPC was dismissed on 6 November 1996.
A previous execution warrant for Richard Woods was issued on 27 June 1996,
following the dismissal of his appeal by the Court of Appeal. The execution
was stayed when an application for leave to appeal was filed with the JCPC.
Following the JCPC dismissal of the application for leave to appeal, the IACHR
asked the Bahamas to continue the stay, pending their investigation of the
facts of his case.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The death penalty is the mandatory punishment for murder in the Bahamas.
Amnesty International has the utmost sympathy for the families of Durventon
Daniels and Pauline Johnson and all victims of violent crime. However there
is no reliable evidence that the death penalty has any unique deterrent effect
on violent crimes; rather, it brutalizes all involved in it’s application.
Amnesty International campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty in all
cases as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation
of the right to life.
Thomas Reckley and Dwayne Mckinney were the last people to be executed in the
Bahamas. Both were hanged in March 1996. They are the only people to have
been executed in the country since 1984.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- urging that Trevor Fisher’s and Richard Woods’ death sentences be commuted;
- urging the government to respect the requests of the IACHR and uphold the
integrity of the Inter-American System for the protection of human rights by
staying the executions pending the decisions of the IACHR on their petitions;
- expressing sympathy for the relatives of Durventon Daniels and Pauline Johnson
and for victims of violent crime and their relatives but stating that the death
penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which violates
the right to life;
- urging the government to commute the sentences of all those sentenced to
death in the Bahamas and join the majority of countries in abolishing the
death penalty, and, as a first step to propose and support the enactment of
legislation which would provide alternative (non-capital) penalties for murder.
You can also add:
- stating that the death penalty is brutalizing to all who are involved in
the process;
- pointing out that it is arbitrary and often falls disproportionately on
minority and underprivileged groups, that it denies the widely accepted
principle of rehabilitating the offender and that it does not necessarily
alleviate the suffering caused to the victims of crime.
APPEALS TO:
Prime Minister
The Honourable Hubert Ingraham
Sir Cecil V. Wallace Centre
PO Box CB 10980
Nassau, Bahamas
3
Telegrams: Prime Minister, Nassau, Bahamas
Telephone: + 1 242 322 2805
Faxes: + 1 242 327 5806
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Attorney General
The Honourable Tennyson Williams
Attorney General
PO Box N-3007
Nassau, Bahamas
Telegrams: Attorney General, Nassau, Bahamas
Telephone: + 1 242 322 1141
Faxes: + 1 242 322 2255
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
COPIES TO:
The Governor General
His Excellency Sir Orville Turnquest
Governor General
PO Box N-8301
Nassau, Bahamas
Telephone: + 1 242 22 1875
Faxes: + 1 242 322 4659
and to diplomatic representatives of the Bahamas accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.

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