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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09NASSAU531 2009-09-08 18:35:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Nassau
Cable title:  

NASSAU- CRIME SPIKE TRIGGERS DEMAND FOR HANGINGS

Tags:   PGOV CASC PHUM ASEC BF 
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VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBH #0531/01 2511835
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081835Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY NASSAU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6631
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L NASSAU 000531 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2019
TAGS: PGOV CASC PHUM ASEC BF
SUBJECT: NASSAU- CRIME SPIKE TRIGGERS DEMAND FOR HANGINGS

Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES A.I. ZUNIGA-BROWN FOR R
EASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)



1. (U) SUMMARY: A recent surge in violent crime to include
home invasions, rapes and murders have triggered calls for
capital punishment to resume. The crime wave, attributed in
press editorials to Haitian gang activity, also threatens to
undermine the shaky Bahamian tourist industry. The potential
for a high-profile incident leading to a public relations
disaster for the tourism sector could devastate an already
weak economy. END SUMMARY.


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Murder and Mayhem


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2. (U) Local media carry a steady stream of
sometimes-shocking violent crime reports. The latest
statistics reveal a 19% increase in violent crimes and a 25%
increase in murders when compared to the same period last
year. The yearly homicide toll now stands at 55. While most
homicides are isolated to typically crime ridden areas, the
50th murder victim was a 29 year old mother of two who was
shot dead in a residential neighborhood in front of her
children. Although not publicized, the woman was a dual
U.S.-Bahamian citizen. Media reports include frequent
articles about the discovery of bodies in the middle of
streets, in abandoned cars and gun shots victims who have
survived attempted murders. Last week, two women reported
being terrorized by a gang of 12 men at a secluded beach on
the south side of New Providence.


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Serial Rapist on the loose


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---


3. (U) Five rapes were reported in eastern New Providence in
the last month. Public outcry ensued after it was revealed
that the perpetrator could be a serial rapist. The Police
were faulted for failing to adequately notify and warn the
public. In addition, the number of rapes and attempted rapes
in the first five months of this year has surpassed the
entire number of reported rapes in 2008. There were 69 cases
reported by June 2009 versus a total of 63 for 2008. The
Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the Caribbean
according to a UN report on crime and violence. The media
has also reported rapes in conjunction with home invasions
and a recent high profile case involving a police officer who
was taken into custody after allegedly raping a 15 year old
girl at the police station.


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Robberies and Theft


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4. (U) Armed robbery statistics for 2009 remain similar to
2008 and the criminals do not generally appear to be
targeting tourists. However, there were several incidents of
note in early August. Three U.S. tourists were robbed at
gunpoint in the South Beach area of New Providence Island
after requesting directions. In addition, two British women
were robbed at gunpoint and assaulted on St. Albans Drive in
Nassau the same weekend. Non-gun related robberies have
totaled 170 in the first 6 months of the year compared to 120
in the same period last year. Vehicle theft has also
increased.


--------------------------

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Haitians accused of causing crime spike


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5.(C) Recent newspaper editorials have linked the rise in
crime to Haitian gang activity. Societal tolerance for
Haitian immigrants was already at an all time low due to
economic hardship and unemployment in The Bahamas. When
coupled with the dramatic rise in crime, such rhetoric could
become the spark that ignites ethnic conflict. Inner-city
Nassau neighborhoods are most at risk, but the potential for
conflict also exists in suburbs where new subdivisions
encroach on existing migrant settlements. Conflict is also
possible in outlying islands, which are proportionately
greater affected by demographic changes or economic
deterioration, and where the competition for scarce land and
jobs is fiercer.


--------------------------

---
GCOB calls for Hangman to ready noose


--------------------------



--------------------------




6. (U) The Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest
announced on August 28 that hangings would recommence as a
deterrent to serious crime. He also announced a new four
part crime reduction strategy. The tenants of the strategy
include targeting high crime areas and known hot spots of
criminal activity; focusing on reducing the number of violent
crimes; targeting repeat offenders and lastly; enhancing
public confidence and reducing the level of public fear.


7. (U) Turnquest announced that the police had knowledge of
who was causing the crime. He declined to provide that
information to the press so as to protect the integrity of
the investigations. Turnquest acknowledged that 250 police
officers had been taken off their normal rotations due to the
Miss Universe Pageant; but he did not attribute that action
with leading to the spike in crime.


8. (U) The new crime reduction strategy was criticized by the
opposition as a &public relations exercise8 that did not
address the issues causing the crime. Opposition Member of
Parliament Fred Mitchell criticized Turnquest for not
addressing systemic police morale issues that were recently
highlighted by Chairman of the Police Staff Association,
Inspector Bradley Sands. Sands pointed to internal friction
in police management which he said has had a detrimental
effect on police focus.


--------------------------


Comment


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9. (C) Calls for the death penalty to resume are well
received by the public at large and allow the GCOB to be seen
as being tough on crime. Even the opposition refrained from
criticizing the announced resumption of the death penalty.
While this tactic may temporarily placate the public, death
sentences are unlikely to be carried out because the Privy
Council ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 2006.
Although the crime wave has been mostly isolated to
impoverished areas of the island, the ever present risk
remains of the violence spilling over into tourist areas or
in the vicinity of embassy homes. A high profile crime
incident involving a U.S. citizen could have a devastating
effect on the Bahamian economy which is suffering from the
global economic crisis, numerous hotel closures, stalled
tourism projects, cuts to public services and significant lay
offs. Angry public rhetoric targeting the Haitian community
as the source of the crime could also lead to ethnic violence.
ZUNIGA-BROWN