10 March 2006 :the mandatory death penalty in the Bahamas was abolished by five British law lords when they held it to be a breach of international human rights. In a significant ruling the judicial committee of the Privy Council struck down the mandatory death sentence imposed in two test appeals as a breach of the constitution. Lord Bingham of Cornhill, the senior law lord, said that, as early as 1973, the mandatory death penalty should have been regarded as inhuman and degrading punishment.
Since 1973 16 people had been executed in the Bahamas. If the judge had had a discretion — as argued by counsel for the appellants, Edward Fitzgerald, QC, of Doughty Street — then they would probably not have been executed.
The challenge was brought by Forrester Bowe Jr, who was convicted of the murder of Deon Roache in 1998 and sentenced to death and had served eight years; and Trono Davis, convicted of the murder of Jerrad Ferguson in December 1999 and sentenced to death. He had served six years.
Keir Starmer, QC, of Doughty Street, said: “This case . . . marks a new dawn for human rights in the region.”