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June 10, 2008

Comments

Rick

Shocking stuff Larry.
I wonder why he is only making this known after he quits as the country's prosecutor?
However, it's important that the public knows about it, even if he might bear some responsibility for the tragedy.

Lee

Well, he couldn't have done it while in their employ but the truth needs to be told. Unfortunately, corruption has permeated every sector of our society and his words will fall on deaf ears as usual.

nicob

Rick, it's very easy to sit in judgment until you work a year or two in the system. Bell cannot be held accountable for a system in which we are all -- private and public alike -- responsible (private for willing ignorance, general self-interest and massive conservatism and public for unwillingness to change policy).

One of the major problems with the entire system t is that public servants cannot by law speak as Keith Bell has done here.

Have a look at General Orders, which governs the civil side of the public service. The police have their own rules, probably more stringent. Neither has changed substantially since the mid-20th century.

One has to leave the service to be able to speak, thus ending one's ability to change from the inside. The culture of secrecy -- many individuals have to sign oaths of secrecy upon joining the government service -- is both pervasive and destructive. Civil service reform is critical, and it is no a joke -- it is fundamental to our future, and to our very society.

C.Lowe

To work a year or two in that system would probably rob any individual of any desire to change the system. Surviving that system would be task enough.
Yes the oath of secrecy taken is a hinderance to truth, but only to those who take it seriously, which few do.
The system is the problem itself, and this system will not self correct.
Surgery is required, and from external pressure or action.
The private sector though, in having to produce in spite of the adversarial stance of the public sector, has by and large "cut a deal with the devil"
Only those who have not compromised themselves can effect change, and by not compromising with the rules or law.
This makes for a small contingent to effect change.
This method of rule by compromise or complicity by guilt is the problem, from top down.
By the way, "general self interest" is not the problem, it is the foundation of human achievment.
The methods used to acomplish individual achievment are most often the problem. We have not yet recognised that win, win, win is possible, instead repeating the same old "win at someone elses expense" scenario.

Lynn Sweeting

Kidnappings and terrorism? Truly a terrifying prediction from a former police prosecutor. One third of accused murderers are out on bail? An outrage. In my opinion Mr Bell should be commended for speaking out.

Nanaqu2

Very interesting article, I wish most of our students would of attended this meeting. I think that we need to have the death penalty, the death penalty needs to be enforced. Who are committing these murders and why? There should be a study into why such crimes are being committed.

Rick

Absolutely right Chris.
I do not buy Nicolette's argument that all 'good people' like herself and Mr. Bell cannot do anything about the system while they are in it. They choose not to - General Orders or not.
The points Mr. Bell raised should be in a report somewhere, and this in turn should be public knowledge. Pressure can then be brought to bear from inside and outside the system.
If they are not in a report, they can be leaked to the press or other sources that are willing to state them publicly.
I think they refer to it as accountability???
As I keep repeating, laws are passed every day to keep society and the private sector accountable, yet many in the civil service and many politicians get a pass.
As I pointed out in the first comment, it is important that these points are made public. Now we will see what those that hold the mantle will do about it.

C.Lowe

I still say build a prison to accomodate ten thousand inmates and stop bail being given for repeat offenders.
Hire sufficient Judges from the commonwealth group of countries to process realtime and clear the backlog.
It is obvious we cannot "judge" ourselves, or trust the system as it exists.

Bill

Hi Larry,

Great excerpt. I was shocked by Bell's outlook as well. But, he is only the messenger. Fact is, he articulated what's on many people's minds, anyway!

We have kidnappings now as we speak. The amount of murders on bail, in addition to this, witnesses going missing, is a recipe for further kidnapping- but, kidnapping is a case for ransom. So, I don't buy the kidnapping argument, from the way Bell put it. But, witnesses going missing, is basically kidnapping and subsequent, murder.

Nicollette said it right; people in the service, can't speak. The minute you do- as lax as the regulations are in public information leakage- and come forward publically after you have TRIED to persuade your superiors on the seriousness of the matter, you are branded and beaten down; victimized by the system.

No government, wants for folks, to say that their administration, is screwing up. No Department Director, would want his subordinates, to go public with mis-management of public services and funds. So, this "go and tell it on the mountain", when we factor in personal victimization and the singularilty of the phenomenon, gives you enough common sense to simply try to do your job, the best way possible- especially when public disclosure, is against the governemnt code of conduct.

That being said, I thank Bell for the revelation. Hopefully, from his new and fresh position, we can move forward on addressing what it is that is wrong.

Best,

Bill

Rick

A couple additional things please Larry.

It seems that, once elected, the political class becomes defensive when discussing the Ministry that falls under their purview.

If we are all about offering comment to help build a better Bahamas, petty personal differences aside, we should all be able to agree on what the problems are and seek to fix them.

Of course there may be differences in the "how to" but not on whether or not the problem exists.

In this particular case, Mr. Bell has been in place for years and we are now just learning about most of these problems. They must have caused him tremendous angst when he held the post, as it will cause his replacement.

Saying that the system prevents people in responsible positions such as this from pleading their case to the powers that be in writing or through the press or friends in the legal fraternity is simply a cop out.

Maybe resigning is his protest?

Leandra Esfakis

I would like to reply to the comment by Nanaqu2 that we need to enforce the death penalty.
In my view that is not the solution. No study I know of, has shown that the existence/enforcement of a death penalty reduces the murder rate, so it is not an effective deterrent.
As a Christian nation, we cannot endorse the death penalty as a solution. If Christ died for our sins, then he died also for the sins of those convicted of murder - assuming that the justice system convicted the right person. In a number of celebrated instances, the justice system has been proved wrong.
Studies to determine why people murder could be helpful in the intermediate term to long term but at present resources would best be applied to crime detection, and enforcement, and getting the accused to trial so that they are not released on bail.
The first real obligation of a state government is to provide for the physical safety of its residents, from invasion from without, or violence from within. If it cannot do that, it forfeits its right to govern.
The Nassau Institute had a speaker here last(?) year. He was a former president of El Salvador. His young party went into power after a long civil war. They learned that a high crime rate was linked to a high corruption rate. That government fired 1/3 (?) of the police force. The crime rate ( ie not the detection rate, but the actual crime rate) decreased correspondingly.
Our political leaders need to take similar healthy initiatives, even if it means they are not going to be re-elected. What is more important here: putting the country back on track, so we have a place where we want to- CAN live, and survive, or getting a particular party or Mr. X or Y re-elected?
It is a question of priorities.
We need to introduce accountability, if we want a better Bahamas.

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