Tuesday, 21 November 2017

PM Minnis says new Constitutional Bill will remove ‘temptation’ for political interference in administration of criminal justice system

Nassau, The Bahamas – The establishment of an independent Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in The Bahamas will ensure – among a number of things -- that the State’s prosecutorial functions are insulated from Executive direction, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis told a gathering of Commonwealth Attorneys-General, Law Ministers and Senior Officials on Monday.

Prime Minister Minnis said the Bill should also remove the “temptation” for political interference in the administration of the criminal justice system.

The Bill for An Act to Amend the Constitution of The Bahamas to provide for the Establishment of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and For Matters Connected Thereto (Long Title) was tabled in the House of Assembly Wednesday (October 18, 2017). The Short Title is the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017.

By virtue of the creation of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Bill seeks to confer all powers relating to criminal prosecutions previously vested in the Attorney-General, to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Certain functions now being performed by the Office of the Attorney-General, such as the power to issue a Fiat authorizing commencement of legal action in sensitive matters, or a Nolle Prosequi, will be transferred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

 The establishment in law of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, was part of the legislative package promised in the Speech From the Throne in May.

Addressing the Opening Session of the Meeting of Commonwealth Law Ministers and Senior Officials at Baha Mar Resort, Prime Minister Minnis told delegates that it was “inspiring” to see the emphasis that was being placed on the independence of the judiciary as a separate branch of Government.

“Here in The Bahamas, we have had a recent case in which the constitutional limits of the courts and Parliament collided,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “It is therefore important that we give recognition to principles that will ensure that there is no intrusion on the province of the courts.

“Closely aligned with this is the need to ensure that the State’s prosecutorial functions are insulated from executive direction and to remove the temptation for political interference in administration of the criminal justice system.

“We are introducing in law, an Independent Director of Public Prosecutions which was one of the recommendations of our Constitutional Commission and one of the commitments made by this Government,” Prime Minister Minnis added.

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