Report No. 30 (1998) IACHR. Petition No. 11.643 (Bahamas)

CourtInter-American Comission of Human Rights
Case TypeAdmissibility
Respondent StateBahamas
Report Number30
Petition Number11.643
Alleged VictimTrevor Fisher

REPORT Nº. 30/98
CASE 11.643
COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS1
Trevor Fisher
May 5, 1998

I. ALLEGED FACTS:

1. On June 19, 1996, the Commission received a petition dated June 7, 1996, on behalf of Mr. Trevor Nathaniel Pennerman Fisher, from McKenna & Co., Solicitors, in London, United Kingdom. The petition stated that Trevor Fisher was convicted of murder and sentenced to death on March 25, 1994. He then appealed to the Court of Appeal of The Bahamas against his conviction and sentence but his appeal was dismissed on October 10, 1994. Subsequently, he applied to the Privy Council in London for leave to appeal his conviction. On May 23, 1996 the Privy Council dismissed his application for leave. The petition stated that Mr. Fisher has exhausted all domestic remedies available to him and is at risk of imminent execution. The petition also stated that Mr. Fisher has lodged a Constitutional Motion challenging the constitutionality of his sentence, including an application to the Supreme Court of The Bahamas for a Conservatory Order2 pending the outcome of this application. Moreover, the petition stated that Mr. Fisher is incarcerated on death row, at Foxhill Prison, Nassau, in The Bahamas, and is awaiting execution.

2. The petitioner claims that Mr. Fisher is a victim of a miscarriage of justice because of errors committed during his trial. The petitioner argues that Mr. Fisher's human rights have been violated by The Bahamas, and claims that the following articles of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man have been violated. Namely, Article I, the right to life, Article ll, the right to equality before the law, Article Xl, the right to the preservation of health and to wellbeing, Article XVIII, the right to a fair trial, Article XXV, the right of protection from arbitrary arrest, and Article XXVI, the right to due process of law.

Il. PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

3. The petition, dated June 7, 1996, made the following allegations on behalf of Mr. Fisher: The Petitioner argues that Mr. Fisher's fundamental right to life and the protection of the law, guaranteed by Section 1 5(A) of the Constitution of The Bahamas will be infringed if he is executed pending the determination of his complaint by the Commission.

4. The petitioner argues that Mr. Fisher has suffered cruel and inhuman treatment and punishment by reason of the overall delay in the criminal process, namely (a) that he was arrested on October 4, 1990 and was detained on Death Row from that date to the present, a total of 5 years and 8 months; and (b) that he was convicted on March 25, 1994, and has been detained on Death Row from that date to the present, a total of over 2 years and 2 months.

5. The petitioner argues that it is accepted that the sentence of death itself may be constitutional as acknowledged by Section 16(1) of the Constitution of The Bahamas, and in itself does not violate the American Declaration. However, in The Bahamas, it is mandatory to impose a death sentence on all those convicted of murder without any allowance for extenuating circumstances, which renders the sentence cruel, infamous or unusual punishment in violation of Article XXVI of the American Declaration.

6. The petitioner argues that the automatic imposition of the death sentence is also contrary to an evolving policy in the Caribbean states where the death penalty is only applied in cases of murders with substantial aggravating circumstances.

7. The petitioner argues that in every case in The Bahamas, a mandatory death sentence is imposed upon conviction of murder, and that sentence is contrary to Articles I and ll of the American Declaration.

8. The petitioner argues that since his arrest in October 1990, Mr. Fisher has been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment due to the appalling conditions in which he has been detained. The Petitioner also argues that Mr. Fisher was sentenced to death, and not sentenced to death aggravated by a lengthy period of inhuman and degrading treatment whilst awaiting execution. The Petitioner argues that this additional suffering inflicted upon Mr. Fisher was not authorized by the original sentence and, submits that it amounts to cruel, infamous or unusual punishment in violation of Article XXVI of the American...

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