Minister of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday defended efforts being made to reduce crime in The Bahamas after the United States released its latest travel advisory for the country.
The U.S. Department of State reissued a level two travel advisory on Monday, warning U.S. citizens to “exercise increased caution” when visiting the country due to crime.
The U.S. issued a similar advisory in January 2018.
Addressing the issue at the House of Assembly, Dames said, “Every country has a right to issue an advisory and countries issue advisories based on whatever they feel that their citizens ought to know.
“I mean we would’ve crunched some numbers during 2018 and from the numbers that we would’ve crunched of matters reported to the police, we feel that…any crime against a visitor is one too many. But we feel that those numbers can stack up against any country almost anywhere in the world.”
Although overall crime in The Bahamas decreased by eight percent in 2018 compared to 2017, the United States advised that this latest warning was reissued after periodic review with updates to information on crime.
“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies and sexual assault, is common, even during the day and in tourist areas,” the advisory read.
“Although the Family Islands are not crime-free, the vast majority of crime occurs on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands.”
Dames said crimes against visitors were approximately 0.004 percent.
“Do we need to work on things?” he asked.
“Of course…every country is faced with the same thing so we just have to continue to work with our neighbors and other countries from around the world to see how we can address any concerns that they may have.
“Listen, a travel advisory is a travel advisory. You can have one incident and cause a travel advisory.
“You know, the thing is what do we need to do to continue to improve on those things that we need to improve on? As you would know by now…our numbers over 2018 [were] the best that we have seen in more than a decade and the numbers continue to trend downward.”
Dames said he was pleased that “we are headed in the right direction”.
While noting that it will take time, the minister said the government is working to address the issue of crime “in a very effective manner so that Bahamians and visitors alike can feel safe to move about this country wherever and whenever they chose”.
The advisory urged U.S. citizens who travel to The Bahamas to exercise caution in the Over-the-Hill area and the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in Nassau, especially at night.
Visitors were also told not to answer the door at their hotel/residence, unless they know who is on the other side, and not to physically resist any robbery attempt.