NASSAU, BAHAMAS — National Security Minister Wayne Munroe yesterday said that there have been numerous applications from persons seeking to have convictions for offenses under the Emergency Powers COVID-19 lockdown orders removed from their records as it is prohibiting them from securing employment.
Munroe described the situation as “unfair” and “unjust” as he led debate on the second reading of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Ammendment) Bill 2022. The bill includes a new Section 15, which outlines the minister’s discretion to declare certain persons rehabilitated.
Munroe told Parliament that the legislation fulfills a commitment made by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) to the Bahamian people in its Blueprint For Change, to expunge the records of persons convicted of minor offenses due to a violation of the Emergency Orders.
He described many of the regulations under the Emergency Powers Order as “inflexible”, noting that persons had been cited for being outside of their homes only minutes after the imposed curfew times.
“It was overkill. It was a lack of consideration for the least of us,” said Munroe. He further noted, “The scheme of the State of Emergency cancelled a lot of the constitutional orders in this country, which is why it was meant to be short lived,” said Munroe.
“As a result of the orders, many persons were criminalized,” said Munroe, noting that the Regulation of Offenders Committee which is housed at the Ministry of National Security has received numerous applications from persons seeking to have their convictions expunged.
“It is holding them up from getting a decent job. Persons are being disadvantaged now that the economy is open. That isn’t right and it isn’t just. We are fixing that. Sadly what this cannot remedy is the reported case of the homeless man in Grand Bahama who was sentenced to prison for having no home and therefore breaking the shelter in place order,” said Munroe.