It is no secret how I feel about Minister Tommy Turnquest. So I invited a friend to share his thoughts on the Minister’s recent outburst/attacks on the Judiciary. This is a guest post by Cecil Newry
Many in the Bahamas agree with the honorable Tommy Turnquest’s sentiments, that there is something foul with the idea of repeat offenders continually being set free to roam without restraint, only to wreak havoc upon our streets and communities.
The honorable Tommy Turnquest raised a personal concern about this, at a recent Rotary of West Nassau meeting, where he said, that many judges have been far too “liberal” when it comes to granting bail to career criminals and those accused of serious offences. He went as far as saying that if the Bahamas had a system as they do in New York, where judges are elected, many of them would have been chased out of town.
Well of course, the Minister of National security’s comments raised some eyebrows. The Chief Justice was quick to defend the judiciary; the PLP retorted that Mr. Turnquest’s comments were cowardly, shameful, counterproductive and baseless; and the DNA requested that the Minister resign from his post immediately, citing that he is clearly ‘frustrated and overwhelmed’.
But were the Minister’s comments so wrong?
Mr. Turnquest at the Rotary meeting said that he believes that the police and the public at large would agree with his sentiments. In fact, we do.
Bahamians are tired of seeing murderers and persons accused of serious offences on bail committing new crimes; this is why many still march with the flamboyant activist Rodney Moncur begging the powers that be not to give bail to murderers.
In fact, past and present Commissioners of Police echoed similar concerns about the judicial system as they praised and commended police officers efforts against crime in spite.
It seems as if everyone is looking for that weak link in order to correct this crime epidemic. And the fingers are now being pointed at the judiciary, yet again. But are the criticisms warranted?
In a Nassau Guardian article written by Candia Dames, June 2nd 2011, regarding a US cable, released by Wikileaks, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is quoted to have remarked that ‘the judges in the Bahamas are not competent having been appointed for political reasons’. The article said, that “Mr. Ingraham acknowledged that the Bahamian courts are dysfunctional and needed changes in leadership.” Perhaps, it is these judges that Tommy Turnquest refers to?
Well, we all know that the FNM administration has done some changes to the judicial system. Appointing a new Chief Justice and several clearly competent and accomplish judges/magistrates, improving upon the courts infrastructure and increasing staffing, and a new crime bill will be tabled within a matter of weeks. But it seems as if some ‘liberal’ minded judges remain, perhaps thwarting the FNM efforts to stabilize crime epidemic.
Nevertheless, since Mr. Turnquest’s statements about the judiciary, followed by criticisms by the official opposition, echoed by statements from the alternative party, we now see the Prime Minister will finally address the nation regarding crime.
Perhaps Turnquest’s suggested gaffe was intentional?
Earlier in the week, he easily explained the issues the Bahamas judiciary had with the Privy Council, citing laws and judicial procedures as if he were a trained lawyer. One finds it uncanny that he misspoke at this particular engagement.
Gaffe or not, Turnquest’s statement allows the Prime Minister to once again be the super hero: the Bahamas’ official crime fighter, the savior of the nation coming to the aid of little Tommy and Bahamians at large.