Government to expunge records of COVID-19 Emergency Orders offenders

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The Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee is accepting applications for the expungement of records for those who committed offences in violation of the COVID-19 Emergency Orders. A press conference was held On Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at the Ministry of National Security. Committee Chairman Paul Farquharson provided the update. (BIS Photos/Kristaan Ingraham)

From: Bahamas Information Services

In keeping with the government’s commitment to expunge the records of COVID-19 Emergency Orders offenders, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee is accepting applications to have record such offences expunged. On Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at the Ministry of National Security, the committee held a press conference to update the public on the process. Chairman of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee Paul Farquharson announced that the committee is accepting applications for individuals convicted of an offence under the COVID-19 Emergency Orders to have their records expunged. He revealed that of the 200 applicants who have applied to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee to date, 31 individuals have had their records expunged.

Mr. Farquharson, flanked by members of the committee, also highlighted the work of the committee during its two-year tenure. He advised that 27 applications were referred to the Prerogative of Mercy Committee; five were recommended for counseling, and two applications came from individuals who applied too early.

On Grand Bahama, he reported that 28 applications have been dealt with, and a recommendation was made in August to have nine of those records expunged. Additionally, there were another eight applicants for expungement of records on Bimini. The committee was formed in September 2019 with a mandate to review applications and make recommendations for the expungement of records to the Minister of National Security. Its focus has been on young people and first-time offenders.

The work of the committee is part of a regime change that is expected to include an established parole system that would allow some inmates to be released early, with stipulations.

The committee hears applications regarding all offenses excluding murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, rape, kidnapping and treason, according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Amendment) Act, 2015. The committee can expunge the records of an offender convicted of possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply, if the quantity was less than 10 pounds of marijuana, two pounds of cocaine, or 20 grams of opium morphine and its salts. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, young people and first-time offenders can have their conviction expunged after two years, rather than the five-year period that applies to others.

Mr. Farquharson again called for eligible individuals to apply to have their records expunged.

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