Home US What is driving Bahamas crime spike? After spate of murders and shocking resort rape allegations, prime minister blames the MEDIA for threatening tourism by reporting on the grim trend

What is driving Bahamas crime spike? After spate of murders and shocking resort rape allegations, prime minister blames the MEDIA for threatening tourism by reporting on the grim trend

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Authorities in the Bahamas are grappling with a disturbing rise in violent crime that they fear could harm tourism, a vital industry for the Caribbean archipelago.

Authorities in the Bahamas are grappling with a disturbing rise in violent crime that they fear could harm tourism, a vital industry for the Caribbean archipelago.

Last month, the US State Department issued a travel advisory, citing a spike in killings in January and warning that killings “have occurred at all hours, including in broad daylight, on the streets.” .

At the time of the alert, the country of just 400,000 people had recorded 18 murders in 2024. That number has since risen to 25. None of the murder victims were foreigners.

Then, earlier this month, two Kentucky mothers came forward with allegations that they were raped by staff at the Pirate’s Cove beach resort on Grand Bahama after being served “spiked” cocktails during a shore excursion from their Carnival cruise ship.

And just this week, the family of an 80-year-old Canadian woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s went public with allegations that she was raped by another tourist at the Warwick Hotel on Paradise Island.

Authorities in the Bahamas are grappling with a disturbing rise in violent crime that they fear could harm tourism, a vital industry for the Caribbean archipelago.

Investigators work at the scene of a recent homicide in the Bahamas. The archipelago of 400,000 people has recorded 25 murders this year, a sharp increase from historical norms.

Investigators work at the scene of a recent homicide in the Bahamas. The archipelago of 400,000 people has recorded 25 murders this year, a sharp increase from historical norms.

For Bahamian residents, concerns about rising crime are twofold: The violence not only affects their own quality of life, but threatens to disrupt the tourism industry that drives the country’s economy.

Earlier this week, Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis drew criticism after he appeared to blame journalists for reporting on crime in the country, rather than the criminals themselves.

“I want to ask the press to be sensitive,” Davis said Monday while addressing religious leaders in New Providence.

‘I think they should see their role as trying to help the country. I’m not saying don’t report, but when you do, it can make a difference.’

‘Every bullet that is fired seems to be front page news in all of our daily news. And what happens: AP picks it up, Reuters picks it up,” he added, referring to international news services.

Although Davis also spoke about crime-fighting strategies, his attack on the Bahamian press sparked furious controversy and criticism from local journalists.

“The comments were poorly worded and ill-advised,” said Our News host Jerome Sawyer. Eyewitness News Bahamas. “When the media is at a crime scene in a row, suddenly that’s an anomaly, and it’s our job to sound the alarm.”

On Thursday, Davis defended his comments, insisting to reporters: “I’m not trying to censor the media, I’m not a dictator.”

“I’m not trying to censor the media, I’m not a dictator,” Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis said after chastising journalists for reporting on rising crime.

Wanted posters seen for murder suspects wanted by Bahamian police

Wanted posters seen for murder suspects wanted by Bahamian police

Wanted posters seen for murder suspects wanted by Bahamian police

The US State Department said in January that “retaliatory gang violence” appeared to be the main motive for the killings so far this year.

“The majority of crimes occur on the islands of New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport),” the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs said in a travel advisory.

‘In Nassau, practice increased surveillance in the ‘Over the Hill’ area (south of Shirley Street), where gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate affecting primarily the local population.’

The alert warned tourists not to physically resist any attempted robbery, and not to open the front door of any hotel or residence to unknown persons.

The number of homicides reported in the archipelago last year is not available, but murders increased 8 percent from 2021 to 2022, with 128 murders reported, up from 119, according to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Although the year is still young, the Bahamas is on track to surpass 190 murders in 2024 if the current pace is maintained, far surpassing the most recent annual total available.

Local officials say drugs, gangs and poverty are major factors driving the violence.

“We target drug dealers in many of these inner-city communities, and we know that’s the reason we have so much crime,” said Deputy Police Chief Damien Robinson. ZNS Network in a recent one-hour special on crime in the Bahamas.

‘They are drug-based gang reprisals. We know that is the key reason, and everything that follows is because of this drug issue that we are having,’ he added.

ACP Anthony Rolle added that poverty was a major factor driving young people into the gang lifestyle.

“The main problems in our community are due to socioeconomic issues, specifically unemployment,” he said.

‘We lack adequate housing. We have (lack of) education. We are also low income. So this is impacting our communities, the residents of our communities,” Rolle said.

“We target drug dealers in many of these inner-city communities, and we know that’s the reason we have so much crime,” said Deputy Police Chief Damien Robinson.

Although the Bahamas may be associated with wealth and luxury, for local residents the reality is often completely different.

The poverty rate in the Bahamas was estimated in 2017 at nearly 15 percent, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

More recent figures show an unemployment rate of 13.24 percent on the island paradise, with the youth unemployment rate (aged 15 to 24) approaching a third.

Authorities say economic desperation drives some young people into a life of drug dealing and gangs, fueling the recent rise in murders.

Tragically for the country, rising violent crime now represents a real threat to tourism, which drives the Bahamian economy and provides thousands of jobs.

Last year, 5.8 million visitors arrived in the Bahamas in the first seven months of 2023, putting the country on track to welcome more than 8 million visitors during the year.

Tourism accounts for approximately half of the country’s gross domestic product.

Separately, several reports of rapes at exclusive resorts in the Bahamas have generated international headlines, although the circumstances of the cases vary.

Earlier this month, Kentucky mothers Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer, both 31, publicly alleged they had been sexually assaulted during a shore excursion from their Carnival cruise ship.

The two women, who gave permission to be identified, said they were drugged with “spiky” cocktails and raped by staff at the Pirate’s Cove beach resort in Grand Bahama.

Earlier this month, Kentucky mothers Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer, both 31, publicly alleged that they had been sexually assaulted during a trip to the coast.

Earlier this month, Kentucky mothers Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer, both 31, publicly alleged they had been sexually assaulted during a shore excursion.

In another shocking case, an 80-year-old Canadian grandmother suffering from Alzheimer's was kidnapped and raped at the Warwick Hotel Paradise Island Bahamas.

In another shocking case, an 80-year-old Canadian grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s was kidnapped and raped at the Warwick Hotel Paradise Island Bahamas.

The resort angrily denied their claims and local police appeared to cast doubt on the allegations and released the suspects after reviewing security footage.

But Ladonna Batty, a family nurse practitioner from Arkansas, corroborated the allegations and described the traumatic scene she encountered when she treated the two women.

Batty told Fox News that the two women were bruised, partially naked, vomiting and disoriented, and said he had no reason to doubt they had been assaulted.

In another shocking case, an 80-year-old Canadian grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s was kidnapped and raped at the Warwick Hotel Paradise Island Bahamas on January 28.

Another Canadian, Gordon Wilkie, 61, of New Waterford, Nova Scotia, was arrested and charged with rape in the case.

The alleged rapist did not know the victim, but boarded the elevator with her and her daughter, and kidnapped her as the daughter was getting off the elevator on her floor, the victim’s son told DailyMail.com this week.

The mother was missing for about 40 minutes while the daughter and other guests frantically searched for her. Wilkie was arrested and accused of raping her in her hotel room.

The victim’s son, David Arhens, praised Bahamian police but said staff at the Warwick resort were completely unhelpful, refusing to help in the search and delaying calling police.

The resort did not respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com.

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