In the wake of the stabbing of a prosecutor last Saturday, Bahamas Bar Association (BBA) President Kahlil Parker has called on both Attorney General Carl Bethel and Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin to immediately implement “substantive measures” to protect prosecutors.
Joel Seymour was stabbed in the head Saturday night at a business off Baillou Hill Road after he was reportedly confronted by a man who testified on behalf of a defendant, who was subsequently convicted.
Two men were in police custody as officers investigated the incident.
During his speech at the ceremony to mark the Opening of the Legal Year on Wednesday, Parker said, “Mr. Seymour suffered a vicious attack under circumstances that give us all cause for alarm.”
Parker said while prosecutors perform “in the face of ever-present dangers”, the assault “has made manifest the fact that the time for debate has passed and that meaningful action is required”.
Bethel also addressed the issue, saying that he took “the question of the physical safety of all persons involved in the administration of justice with utmost seriousness, inclusive of all members of the judiciary and prosecutors”.
Bethel said, “If there are any apparent deficiencies, one need only inform my office and we will immediately seek to assist in addressing any such issues.”
Back in 2014, then BBA President Elsworth Johnson called for prosecutors to carry firearms.
At the time, he told The Nassau Guardian, “We’re going to have to very soon consider whether we’re going to arm prosecutors. They should be allowed to carry firearms.”
He said prosecutors have to deal with “the worst of the worst” in society and should be afforded adequate security.
He noted that most of the prosecution’s staff are women, while most defendants before the courts are men.
Johnson is now minister of state for legal affairs.