The 1973 Constitution of the Bahamas explicitly protects the right to life but provides that the right is not violated if a person
dies as the result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably justifiable-
(a) for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property;
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
(c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or
(d) in order to prevent the commission by a person of a criminal offence.
- or if he dies as a result of a lawful act of war.S. 16(2), 1973 Constitution of the Bahamas.
Under international law, firearms may not be used purely to protect property.
The Constitution further stipulates that:
No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.S. 17(1), 1973 Constitution of the Bahamas.
The Constitution refers to the Bahamas police but does not otherwise explicitly regulate police use of force.
The right of peaceful assembly is protected though restrictions may be imposed by law where this is "reasonably required"
(i) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
(ii) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons;
and except where this "is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society".S. 24, 1973 Constitution of the Bahamas.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||Signatory|
|1948 Charter of the Organization of American States||State Party|
|1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights||Not party|
|Competence of Inter-American Court on Human Rights||N/A|
Police Use of Force
The Royal Bahamas Police Force is subject to the 2009 Police Act although this does not expressly govern the use of force for law enforcement purposes. The 1873 Penal Code provides that:
Any person may, with or without warrant or other legal process, arrest and detain another person who has commited a felony, and may, if the other person, having notice or believing that he is accused of felony, avoids arrest by resistance or flight or escapes or endeavours to escape from custody, use any force which is necessary for his arrest, detention or recapture, and may kill him, if he cannot by any means otherwise be arrested, detained or re-taken.S. 103, 1873 Penal Code.
This is significantly more permissive than international law allows.
There is no independent civilian police oversight body in the Bahamas. With regard to reports of excessive use of force by police officers, the Complaints and Corruption Branch, set up by the 2009 Police Act,S. 81, 2009 Police Act.is responsible for investigating complaints made by members of the public against members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force. In 2018, during its Universal Periodic Review under the United Nations Human Rights Council the Bahamas acknowledged that there were deficiencies in the Complaints and Corruption Branch due to a lack of oversight, and it said that it was reviewing the operation of that body.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
The Bahamas has not come before the Human Rights Committee or the Committee against Torture in recent years.
The Bahamas is not a state party to the 1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and therefore the Inter-American Court on Human Rights does not have jurisdiction to hear cases concerning alleged excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies in the Bahamas.