Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Arthur Hanna
Head of government: Hubert Ingraham
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 335,000
Life expectancy: 72.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 20/14 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 95.8 per cent

At least one person was sentenced to death; no executions were carried out. There were some reports of abuses by members of the security forces. Allegations of ill-treatment of and discrimination towards migrants continued to be reported.


In December the Bahamas ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Police and security forces

Several allegations of use of excessive force and one case of unlawful killing by the police were reported. The lack of an independent body to investigate allegations of ill-treatment involving police officers undermined confidence in due process.

  • Patrick Strachan was shot in the stomach by police on 27 February in Wilson Tract and died later in hospital. Local residents stated that he was not armed when police shot him. Police stated that the victim fired at the officers first. At the end of the year, Amnesty International was unaware of the status of the investigation into his death.

  • Emmanuel McKenzie, Chairman of an environmentalist organization, was harassed and ill-treated by the security forces in a joint army/police raid on a fundraising event on 19 April. He was handcuffed, dragged off to a clearing and had a gun pointed at his head. Some of those attending the event were also beaten and ill-treated. Although a formal complaint was lodged, no investigation had been initiated by the end of the year.

Asylum-seekers and migrants

Haitians living in the Bahamas appealed to the Haitian government to help them overcome the discrimination they face in the Bahamas. Some Cuban migrants also complained of discrimination and ill-treatment at the Carmichael Detention Center which houses foreign nationals accused of breaching immigration laws.

Violence against women

The Domestic Violence Protection Order Act came into force on 1 December, more than a year after it was passed by Parliament. Amendments to the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act increasing the penalty for serious sexual crimes to life imprisonment were passed by Parliament in November.

Death penalty

According to the press, at least one person was sentenced to death during the year. A number of prisoners had their death sentences reviewed and commuted to life imprisonment; this followed a ruling in 2006 by the UK-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which abolished mandatory death sentences for murder. The national public debate on executions continued, with the Prime Minister, the President of the Bar Association and the Acting Commissioner of Police voicing support for resumption.

In December the Bahamas voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

Amnesty International reports

  • Bahamas: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review – Third Session of the UPR Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council, December 2008 (14 July 2008)

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