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Us Advisory On Crime ‘Wrong’

Former National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage.

Former National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage.

Reader poll

Do you think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was right to put out an advisory on travel to the US?

  • Yes, it was right to put out the advisory. 46%
  • No, it was not. 54%

312 total votes.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

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.

Comments

Honestman 2 years, 8 months ago

"It's not true, it's not true" bleats Nottage as he puts his head in the sand. Sure the USA's advisory was a heavy handed response to Mitchell's stupid release but few residents of New Providence will find fault with its content. Crime is out of control in New Providence and Grand Bahama but the PLP cannot bring itself to admit it. Nottage is completely out of his depth as Minister of National Security.

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 8 months ago

BJ really is a waste of time.

Go back to sleep son. We don't need you...

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 8 months ago

Is Canada wrong too in putting out a similar travel advisory in an effort to warn Canadians about the high level of crime in the Bahamas? Nottage and Bell are two buffoons alike with absolutely no idea how to go about formulating and implementing policies and measures to protect our society and our foreign visitors from the continuing high levels of crime. And Christie knows this to be true, but is content to sit back and do nothing about it!

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banker 2 years, 8 months ago

You forgot about Canada's warning about buying property in the Bahamas as well.

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TalRussell 2 years, 8 months ago

Comrades even if the minister is correct that crime has decreased by 29% and he's not just blowing smoke for political smokescreens to exploit the approaching 2017 General, declining statistics have not brought about a receding in the increasing levels of the fear residents residing Nassau wide are feeling whether it's daytime or nighttime outside. Fear of crime may be a different crime animal but its as real and not only can it restrict a peoples freedom to move about their Nassau Town - it will destroy one's mental state.
Minister at least be willing to acknowledge that hundreds millions dollars have been lost by business operators who cater to after dark customers?
Minister, are you aware that a growing number of nighttime church services and church functions are being canceled out of not wanting to place their members at risk of coming into contact with the criminal thugs willing to rob and murder them?
Minister the out of paychecks statistics can only increase if business owners are not hiring after dark workers.

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John 2 years, 8 months ago

BJ IS RIGHT!!! There have been significant decreases in most crimes including murder. This year. Last year this time the murder count was 80. Today it stands at 62 or 64 depending on who's keeping records. If the declining trend continues the murder count for 2016 can be below 116 and if can even go below 110 which will be the level murders were when this government came to office. The focus now should be on armed robberies, car thefts,house breaking a etc., These are the crimes directly related to unemployment and the state of the economy. The cost of living has skyrocketed thru the roof and with unemployment at record levels these crimes will continue to escalate until the government fixes the economy.

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banker 2 years, 8 months ago

The trouble with the murder count, is that murders didn't really affect the tourism trade -- except for instilling an aura of fear. As you point out, it is the robberies etc related to the economic conditions ... and that does affect the tourist trade. Nobody is going to murder a tourist, because that will bring down the wrath of everybody, but they will try to rob them if they are economically desperate.

The bottom line is that crime correlates to the economy and no one cares about fixing the economy.

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banker 2 years, 8 months ago

Jeez this is scary! In the picture above Nottage is starting to look like my chinless uncle as he ages.

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John 2 years, 8 months ago

So then you see the problem of crime that is plaguing the Bahamas and threatening the tourism industry I'd not BJ's problem (at least not exclusively) but Perry Christie, Brave Davis and Mike Halkitas who have failed to provide even an once of stimulus to the local Bahamian economy. Instead they continue to pile on tax after tax, penalty after penalty, threat after threat, and so many persons have chosen to shut their businesses down rather than face conviction. Halkitas seems like he is prepared to see every single Bahamian owned business closed with the exception of web shops. And now only the top two or three of them are operating at profit levels. The other 5 or 6 are drowning in debt. Poor government fiscal policy leads to a dead economy, record unemployment and similar crime numbers. Blame Perry and Mike!

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John 2 years, 8 months ago

Perry thought that Bah Mar was the God and savior of the Bahamas. So much so he even in his wildest imagination didn't expect what happened with Bah Mar to happen. So there was no back up plan, no alternative plans. Apparently not even any plans to grow the economy if Bah Mar was a success. Yet Perry Christie continues to worship the golden calf. At the expense of the Bahamian people. So this why we is where we is now. Our government worshipping strange gods. Not the God of our fathers.

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MassExodus 2 years, 8 months ago

Get a life government. You have ruined this country, and you have mordacity to defend your actions! Get lost, and get off my island!!!!!!!!!

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TalRussell 2 years, 8 months ago

Comrade Banker I am clueless where you got that the trouble with the murder count, is that murders didn't really affect the tourism trade -- except for instilling an aura of fear?
Potential tourists thinking to visit our Bahamaland would be influenced by their perceptions or knowledge of what they know from firsthand or secondhand experinces, heard, viewed on media, or have read about The Bahamaland.
Let's not forget tourism is a discretionary product, the majority of tourists will not vacation in a country where their safety and well-being may be in jeopardy. Crimes outside of murder will result in economic losses in the thousands of tourists dollars. Economic losses from crimes of murder - regardless if against tourists or locals - runs in the many millions of dollars. Millions of tourism dollars go unspent island-wide every single day in and around our Nassau Town, as we blog. Millions in losses resulting from tourists who will not venture to spend their dollars beyond the saftey of their resort and cruise ship surroundings.

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banker 2 years, 8 months ago

Only 23% of tourists get off the boat in Nassau according to a Florida consultant in the pay of the cruise lines. The biggest reason is that there is nothing to see or that prices are too high. Specific complaints are a $15 plate of hummus at the Athena Cafe where it is free on the boat with lunch. Or the $8 and $9 dollar ice cream cones at Marina Village or the $20 personal pizza at Atlantis (that you can get for $5 in America) and the $6 bottle of water. Tee shirts are cheap and shoddy and so dated as a tourism product. The straw market is loud and unappealing. Most tourists are unaware of the high crime in Nassau until they get warned on the boat. In the minds of the first time tourists, The Bahamas still has the glamorous cachet of the 1970's and tropical and exotic James Bond portrayal. When they land, they are disappointed and upon revisiting Nassau, do not get off the ship. The majority of cruise ship passengers are repeat customers, and learn quickly that it's not worth getting off the boat. That was my rationale for my statement.

I do suppose that the murder count does affect the stop-over visitors perceptions, but the number of stopover visitors are in such decline, that it may not matter in a big way to the bottom line.

Of course crime is a concern to tourism in general, but the worst of it how it affects Bahamians. My goodness, it used to be quite pleasant to go for an evening stroll along the water where Eastern Road has the loop view and meets Yamacraw Hill Road. Nowadays, when you see folks, they are carrying sticks or have a dog on a leash as personal protection, or travel in groups. Sad. Even the Winton area is not safe anymore.

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John 2 years, 8 months ago

When persons are hungry they will do things they will not ordinarily do just to get a bite to eat. Crime Just ride around Nassau and see the number of homeless people or persons who have 'lost it' wandering around. Hopeless. One time ago the Red Cross or other charity organizations use to go around and give these people a warm meal and a cool drink. Today they say it is too costly and too risky to do this. with temperatures expected to get even higher maybe regular citizens can do more to help these people. Simply as buying a $10.00 case of water. freezing it and handing it out once a week.

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John 2 years, 8 months ago

In all fairness Freddy must now issue a travel warning for France, considering the tragedy tha happened there last night during their independence celebrations. Nearly 100 people dead..many more mowed down by a truck. Donald trump called it an act of war, while Hillary Clinton was more reserved in her comments. The president didn't yet give comments. The sensible thing to do was to issue an general warning for Bahamians travelling abroad to exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings at all times, or let sleeping dgs lie..except the dogs who want to create mischief and mayhem are not sleeping. They are hard at work all around the world.

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Honestman 2 years, 8 months ago

What is the purpose of travel warnings? Surely it is to warn citizens of dangers that they might not be aware of in other countries? EVERYONE will now be aware of the horrible vents in Nice last night and I doubt that anyone needs a warning from their government about the danger of visiting France. People can make their own mind up. Similarly, I would imagine most Bahamians are well aware of the recent police shootings of young black men in the USA and don't need a travel advisory from the Bahamas government to help them decide whether to travel to the States or not. Fred Mitchell was simply trying to be the "big man politician" but his action back fired and The Bahamas has suffered as a consequence.

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