Journalist defends video on 'crimewave'

By AVA TURNQUEST Tribune Staff Reporter aturnquest@tribunemedia.net AUSTRALIAN journalist Nick Lazaredes defended the journalistic integrity and relevance of his controversial crime documentary "Caribbean Crimewave" yesterday. Rejecting calls for a public apology, Mr Lazaredes called for a more open discussion on crime challenges and social ills in the country during an exclusive interview with The Tribune. Mr Lazaredes said: "In my opinion, problems such as the crime problem in the Bahamas should be discussed openly, not hidden. In the long term the damage is far greater for problems to be allowed to fester. While he acknowledged conflicting views over descriptive language used in the film, Mr Lazaredes denied claims that he had a subversive agenda to damage the country's tourism industry. He also noted that most of the information discussed in his report had already been documented by international organisations, such as the United Nations. Publicised through Australia's Special Broadcasting Services' Dateline programme, the 15-minute report was aired on March 13 and depicts a country under siege by violent crime. The report examines the country's crime roots and challenges through select interviews with National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest, journalist Jerome Sawyer, evangelist Myles Munroe, an off-duty police officer and two citizens. The brutal killing of 11-year-old Marco Archer in September last year was highlighted as a new low for the country, according to Mr Lazaredes, who reported that Bahamians were forced to live in fear of being attacked or robbed. Mr Lazaredes said he chose to focus on the murder of 11-year-old Marco Archer because it was a prominent example of the overall toll exacted by a rise in violent crime. "The people that are watching are very touched by (Marco's story)," he said. "People shouldn't think that stories like this are really going to make a terrible and dramatic impact on the tourism industry. These things perhaps can have short term impact but it is far better for such issues to be discussed." Opposition leader Perry Christie was also interviewed; however, Mr Lazaredes said he chose not to include the footage as it might have politicized the documentary and subsequently detracted from its message. Earlier this week, Mr Turnquest demanded an apology from the Australian journalist and said the documentary was a "total misrepresentation" of the crime situation in the Bahamas. Mr Lazaredes said: "I was really impressed with how articulate young Bahamians were about this problem - that's where I'm a little perplexed about where I apologize. The story was a collection of media reports, government leaders, and Bahamians, they expressed the views that's coming out in the video." He added: "My reaction was on one side a bit horrified that it upset a certain group of people, but at the same time I guess I was pleased in a way." Mr Lazaredes said: "For me, I guess that's what journalism is all about, inspiring a reaction in people. I guess I'm glad the issue is being discussed." The documentary was inspired by the "stark increase" in crime in the past year, according to Mr Lazaredes, who said he'd been monitoring the Caribbean region, specifically The Bahamas, for nearly a decade. Mr Lazaredes said he was particularly intrigued by the issue of capital punishment and the Privy Council. The proximity, and subsequent burden as so aptly described by Mr Munroe in the documentary, of the United States was also a point of interest. "In the last 12 months, you saw this rapid spike in murder. It caught my interest because now you had a situation where the death penalty was no longer applied but the crime situation was worsening. "The fact that you've had so many differences recently with regards to Privy Council, if you like, interfering to the point that you have to change laws. It speaks to the views of Bahamians." He added: "While capital punishment is a burning issue in many countries, it was very interesting and refreshing to listen to Bahamians and their views as to why or otherwise capital punishment should carried out." Up to press time last night, the video had attracted just under 15,000 views on Youtube. While Youtube comments for the video have been disabled, Mr Lazaredes encouraged persons wishing to express fair views to comment on Dateline's website, www.sbs.com.au/dateline.


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