BAHAMAS: National Laws

Summary: General overview of the Bahamas' national legal provisions on children's rights, including guidance on how to conduct further research.

National laws on children's rights

Status of the CRC in national law
Ratified treaties including the Convention on the Rights of the Child are not automatically incorporated into national law; rather, the rights contained therein must be implemented via additional legislation.  The CRC has not yet been incorporated into Bahamian law, which means that it is not directly enforceable in the courts.  Nonetheless, courts can in theory look to the CRC and other treaties for interpretive guidance, and the Privy Council, which holds appellate jurisdiction over the Bahamas, interprets law in the light of international obligations but would not set aside domestic legislation where there is a clear conflict with a treaty or convention.

Constitution: Chapter III of the Constitution of the Bahamas contains a number of rights provisions that apply regardless of age, but a small number that make specific reference to the rights of children are also found throughout the Constitution:

  • The preamble: contains a prohibition on slavery and bondsmanship of children
  • Art. 19(1)(e): allows for the deprivation of personal liberty as authorised in law for the purpose of the education or welfare of a person under the age of 18
  • Art. 19(2): requires that a person under 18 years be allowed reasonable opportunity for communication with his or her parent or guardian upon being arrested or detained
  • Art. 20(10)(a): allows for the public to be excluded from court hearings for the welfare of persons under 18 years
  • Art. 22(2): allows for guardians to consent to the religious instruction of their children in a place of education
  • Arts. 122(1) and 123(5): include provisions related to the inheritance of pension rights by children

Legislation: The Bahamas has no consolidated or comprehensive Children's Act, rather provisions relevant to children are found in a variety of sources. Relevant legislation includes, but is by no means limited to:

  • The Status of Children Act 2002
  • The Children and Young Persons (Administration of Justice) Act 1947
  • The Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act 1991
  • The Minors Act 1976
  • The Criminal Law (Measures) Act 1991
  • The Adoption of Children Act 1954
  • The Early Childhood Care Act 2004
  • The Employment of Children (Prohibition) Act 1939
  • The Education Act 1962
  • The Employment of Young Persons Act 1939
  • The Employment Act 2001
  • The Inheritance Act 2002

Legal Research:
The Government of the Bahamas has an official website that publishes Bills, Laws and Acts online ( and also maintains the Laws-Online website, which contains an extensive database of national legislation ( The World Law Guide provides links to selected Bahamian legislation in English (, and the Constitution is available through the website of Georgetown University ( In addition, the U.S. Law Library of Congress ( and the World Legal Information Institute ( provide links to a range of legal and governmental resources.

Case Law
CRC Jurisprudence

Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any cases in national courts that reference the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Case Law Research
Both the Court of Appeal of the Bahamas and the Supreme Court of the Bahamas maintain official websites that publish their cases online (; The website of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute publishes the decisions of the Privy Council (

Compliance with the CRC
In its 2005 Concluding Observations, the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed a range of legislative reforms intended to harmonise national law with the CRC, including with regards to combating discrimination on the basis of a child's parents' marital status, providing for equal rights of children in the event that their parents die intestate and with regards to the management of pre-school institutions. The Committee nevertheless highlighted a number of areas of national law that fell short of the rights and provisions of the Convention and urged the State to pursue further reforms, including establishing children's rights provisions in the national Constitution.

In depth analysis:
Several aspects of Bahamian law emerged from the 2005 Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child as inconsistent with the provisions of the CRC. The Committee expressed particular concern at the high prevalence of child labour, specifically hazardous employment of children between the ages of 14 and 18. Accordingly, the Committee urged the State to establish a legal definition of hazardous labour in conformity with the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 182 and prohibit the employment of children in such labour. Furthermore, the Committee recommended that the State improve its monitoring mechanisms, including the Labour Inspectorate, so as ensure compliance with the amended law. The Committee also noted that there was a discrepancy between the minimum age for access to employment (14 years) and that for the end of compulsory education (16 years), and recommended that the State harmonise the two age limits.

With regards to the juvenile justice system, the Committee expressed a number of serious concerns, particularly with regards to the low age of criminal responsibility (10 years) and the practice of detaining children in the same facilities as adults. The Committee recommended that the State legislate to address these concerns, and act so as to ensure proper legal assistance is available to children in conflict with the law throughout legal proceedings.

The Committee also expressed concern that corporal punishment remained widely practised in the family, in schools and in other institutions, and that domestic legislation does not expressly prohibit such violence. As such, the Committee advised the State to implement an unequivocal prohibition on corporal punishment of children in all settings.

Current legal reform projects
Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any current legal reform projects.


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.