Bahamas - Amnesty International Report 2007

Human Rights in COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS

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Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Arthur Hanna (replaced Paul Adderley in February)
Head of government: Perry Gladstone Christie
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: signed

Death sentences continued to be handed down by the courts. Asylum-seekers and migrants, the majority of whom were black Haitians, were deported. Some were reportedly ill-treated. Reports of abuses by members of the security forces, including excessive use of force, continued.

Death penalty

In March, the UK-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for the Bahamas, abolished the mandatory death sentence for murder. Following this ruling, the Attorney General announced that re-sentencing hearings would be held for all inmates currently on death row.

Several new death sentences were issued after the decision. At least two people were sentenced to death in 2006 and 26 remained on death row. No executions took place.

Abuses by the security forces

There were reports of abuses, including excessive use of force, by members of the security forces.

• Neil Brown was reportedly shot dead while handcuffed as he was being transported back to Fox Hill Prison in January. He had been recaptured following a prison escape in which a prison guard was killed. A prison officer was subsequently found guilty of his murder by a coroner's jury, but the verdict was deferred pending a constitutional review; the officer remained on duty at the end of the year.

• On 27 March, Deron Bethel, aged 20, was fatally shot three times outside his home by a police officer who claimed he mistook him for a criminal suspect. Investigations were ongoing at the end of the year.

Asylum-seekers and migrants

Immigrants, the vast majority from Haiti, continued to be deported in large numbers. Some were reportedly ill-treated. On 8 April, 187 Haitians, including children, on the island of Eleuthera were rounded up and detained. It was later found that 166 of them had legal documents and 27 also had permanent residence.

Corporal punishment

In October Alutus Newbold was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment and eight strokes of the rod for an attack on an 83-year-old woman in her home in 2004. The ruling sparked a debate about the continued use of corporal punishment.

AI country reports/visits

Reports

• Bahamas: Privy Council abolishes mandatory death sentence (AI Index: AMR 14/001/2006)

• Bahamas: Flogging ? Alutus Newbold (AI Index: AMR 14/005/2006)