Indicating his support for the death penalty, newly appointed Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs John Delaney yesterday pledged that his office would not "frustrate" the process of carrying out capital punishment.
"I believe that it is an appropriate penalty for the most heinous and egregious offense," Delaney told reporters shortly after he received his instruments of appointment as a minister and senator from Governor General A.D. Hanna. Delaney was sworn in during a special ceremony at Government House yesterday afternoon.
"Where a judge has determined that it is appropriate in a capital case of murder, I certainly would want to know that there is nothing about the workings in the attorney general's office that would frustrate such a penalty from being carried out because we need that.
"Any sort of punishment is only efficient if it is carried out in a timely basis. Now we know there are certain parameters when that may be carried out set by the Privy Council. So it's important to ensure that the workings of the criminal justice system does not work in such a way that it frustrates getting from the point of the determination of a case, to getting to the point of a particular punishment — whatever that may be."
A landmark 2006 Privy Council ruling said the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional and trial judges must use their discretion in sentencing murder convicts.
Delaney, 45, who specializes in commercial litigation and financial services law, said his first order of business will be to deal with the criminal side of his portfolio.
He said the backlog of cases is probably one of the biggest challenges of his new position.
"We certainly must optimize the management and conduct of criminal cases. And as soon as I get to my office that will be something that I'm looking to do," Delaney said.
He added that the AG's office will seek to ensure that where there is a need to review the law in order to maximize efforts, as it relates to criminal cases, that will be made a primary focus.
Delaney said it is essential for a country like The Bahamas to modify its laws to ensure that they remain relevant.
In addition to the usual matters in the portfolio of the attorney general and minister of legal affairs, Delaney's responsibilities will also include relations with the Financial Services Industry and the Bahamas Financial Services Board, as well as responsibility for the promotion and development of financial services.
Delaney admitted that the financial services sector requires some immediate attention.
"It is very important that we maintain our brand and our reputation as a quality one. Now you would know that is a challenge right now with respect to transparency and information exchange from the (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) OECD with its 12 agreements as a standard."
The OECD dictates that countries must sign tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) with 12 other countries.
"I want to see that that standard is complied with in the shortest possible time," he added.
The government has already signed four TIEAs and is working to meet a March 2010 deadline to sign the remaining agreements to improve the country's financial transparency, and be removed from the OECD's gray list.
The portfolio of attorney general has been held temporarily by Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette since the resignation of former AG Michael Barnett, who was appointed Chief Justice.
Prior to these appointments, Delaney was a member of the law firm of Higgs & Johnson and managing partner since 2007.
This will be Delaney's second stint in the Senate, as he served in the upper chamber as a Free National Movement (FNM) senator from 2005 to 2007.
Prime Minster Hubert Ingraham said he has every confidence that Delaney will be an invaluable member of his Cabinet.