Yes, it was right to put out the advisory.
No, it was not.
312 total votes.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
THE United States Embassy is “wrong” and the assertions made in their latest crime advisory regarding The Bahamas are “not true,” National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage insisted yesterday, a day after the US released a security message urging its citizens and visitors in Nassau and Paradise Island to exercise heightened personal security awareness.
As reporters pressed the Bain and Grant’s Town MP on the issue, Dr Nottage remained tight-lipped and did not explain why he took the position that the local mission had not fairly assessed the crime situation in the capital.
“The US is wrong in their statement,” he told reporters. Asked if the advisory was a fair assessment, he said: “It’s not true”.
He was questioned following the morning session of the House of Assembly in light of his announcement last month that overall crime in The Bahamas had dropped by 29 per cent from January 1 to June 14 compared to the same period in 2015.
At the time, he also revealed that there was a 21 per cent decrease in armed robbery and an 18 per cent decrease in robbery during the specified period.
Meanwhile Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr Hubert Minnis appeared to side with the US government yesterday, saying Prime Minister Perry Christie and his administration have ignored the reality of crime.
In a statement, Dr Minnis said it is “frightening” for Bahamians to see the government continuously dismiss the crime warnings.
The FNM leader pointed to the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) election campaign promise to solve the nation’s crime problems. However, he said despite this, crime has only gotten worse.
On Tuesday, the embassy issued its second advisory for the year, pointing to armed robberies and violent crime remaining a primary criminal threat and noted that officials received reports of a significant increase in armed robberies throughout New Providence over the past six months.
Dr Minnis’ statement read: “The warning signs are everywhere, yet this government continues to ignore them. Before it was the Canadian government, today it’s the US government that is issuing a travel warning to their citizens about the Bahamas. This is the second warning this year the US has issued to American travellers.
“The root cause of all these problems is crime. Our people don’t need a travel warning from a foreign government to know their communities and neighbourhoods have been gripped by crime. The murder rate has hit historic levels these past four years. Sexual assaults are ripping apart lives. Yet to hear this PLP government tell it, according to them everything is fine, and there is nothing ‘unusual’ regarding crime in our Commonwealth.
“Out of touch doesn’t begin to describe their lack of leadership. It has become all too common for foreign governments to issue travel and crime warnings, while it has become commonplace for the Prime Minister and his PLP government to ignore the reality on our streets. And their failed leadership is hurting families here and also threatening our tourism industry – the lifeblood of our economy.
“It is sad when Minister (of Foreign Affairs Fred) Mitchell describes these warnings as ‘nothing particularly unusual’. It’s frightening to the people when this PLP government dismisses the continued warning signs. And it’s demoralising to the country as other countries see the clear and present danger, yet their own government turns a blind eye even as tourists look to go elsewhere where they consider it to be safer.
“It shouldn’t take foreign government warnings for the Prime Minister and the PLP to do their job and present and start executing a concrete plan to wipe out the crime wave infecting our communities.
“Four years ago they promised to reinvigorate our tourism industry but our tourism industry is spiralling downward. These are issues of life and death - both to our people suffering through staggering crime and then the impact the crime epidemic has on our economy.
“It is time for the Prime Minister and the PLP government to end their empty rhetoric and broken promises and stand up for the Bahamian people. The Bahamian people deserve leadership that will take action and fight every day for them and stop the endless stream of crime. The FNM will provide the leadership that the Bahamian people deserve and will stand side-by-side with them as we fight to root out crime in our country and make our communities safe for everyone,” the statement continued.
The US advisory came four days after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued its own travel advisory warning Bahamians, specifically young men, to comply and be extremely cautious when interacting with police in the US. It was due to heightened tensions over recent fatal police shootings in America of black men.
While many observers thought the US warning was retaliation for the Bahamas’ July 8 advisory, US Embassy spokesperson David Allen insisted on Tuesday that this was not the case.
Mr Allen said that the embassy recently put its staff and their families on alert due to increasing reports of armed robberies, and as such was legally required to issue a similar message to its citizens.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ warning went viral after it was issued and has come under fire from American commentators who argue that the notice was political - a claim Mr Mitchell has denied.
Mr Mitchell said on Tuesday that he believed the timing of the US advisory was not politically motivated but coincidental, and declined further comment.
In 2015, the US Embassy issued just one security message to its citizens living and travelling to the Bahamas appealing for heightened security awareness during the holiday season.
The embassy sent out four security messages in 2014.
In four years and two months under the PLP administration the Bahamas has recorded 520 murders according to The Tribune’s records.