Bahamas Crime Watch: How Do You Manage a Country's Reputation With Stories Like These?

News accounts of violent crime against both tourists and residents in the Bahamas continue to be regularly published in the international and local press. 

David Jessop, the Managing Director of the Caribbean Council, has written insightful articles this year regarding the damage to the image of the Bahamas caused by articles in social media regarding such crime. He states that that the Bahamas, like other Caribbean islands, doesn't have the social media skills necessary to promptly and effectively minimize damage to the country's reputation when tourists become victims of violent criminal acts. I suggest reading his articles: Social Media and Managing Mitchell Nini Crime BahamasReputation published in January, and Reputational Damage published a few days ago in the Bahamas Tribune.

But how does the Bahamas manage its reputation when its newspapers are regularly filled with gruesome stories of violence virtually every day?

On April 30th the local newspapers in the Bahamas reported that a jury acquitted three Bahamian men in their 20's of the "near-fatal stabbing" of a Canadian tourist, Mitchell Nini. Mr. Nini was stabbed 7 times in the chest, back and stomach when the thugs robbed a gold chain from Mr. Nini's friend. 

I have written before that tourists injured during violent crimes in Nassau cannot find justice in the archaic Bahamian legal system, although the Bahamian tourist police seem effective in boarding cruise ships at the wharf and arresting U.S. citizens for small amounts of pot

I first learned of the acquittal of Mr. Nini's attackers when his friends and family posted the news of the acquittal on Facebook and Twitter.  The articles posted by his mother on Twitter indicate that the three men confessed to the crime but later claimed that the police beat them into signing the confessions. 

The Canadian press published New Brunswick Man Warns of Traveling After Being Stabbed in Bahamas. The newspaper article shows a photo of Mr. Nini recovering from the vicious attack in the hospital while saying that tourists should stay clear of the island. He told the Global News "Whether you feel like you’re safe on the resort, as soon as you step off the resort you’re in a war zone.”

Mr. Nini's reference to a "war" is appropriate.

Bahamian Prime Minister Perrie Christie told that Tribune newspaper last week that the government is "developing new crime fighting strategies to win the 'war' that they are fighting against the 'hostile young men' in the capital."

Meanwhile, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader Branville McCartney made the news stating that he does not feel safe given the ongoing scourge of crime in the Bahamas. He told the Tribune “I don’t feel safe in this country . . . We live in paradise, but we are paralysed by fear. We are in prison in our own homes because of the criminal element running amuck in this country.”

There is good reason for even the politicians to be afraid of crime in Nassau. In December, the Acting Prime Minister Philip Davis was robbed at gunpoint. Then in January a police officer assigned to guard a residence of the Prime Minister Christie was arrested on suspicion of stealing a television at the residence. The latter is a petty crime I know, but you have to shake your head when the bad guys are bold enough to stick up the Acting Prime Minister and the police are stealing from the Prime Minister.

What's the response from the Bahamas to these and many other stories about trouble in paradise?  I have received many comments from the citizens of the Bahamas chastising me for suggesting that the out-of-control crime in Nassau also exists throughout the many islands which make up the country. But there are too many stories about crime against tourists outside of Nassau as well.

Last month Edgar George Dart, a 56-year-old British citizen who lived in Canada, was shot and killed and slowly died in front of his family after three masked intruders burst into his mother's home in Freeport. And a 14 year-old U.S. girl was raped on one of the out islands just ten days ago.   

Violent crime is a part of life in Nassau. Dangerous young men with knives and guns are menacing the residents and tourists alike. Do the families on Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise ships know that a war is raging in Nassau and even the top politicians in the Bahamas are afraid of crime and have been victimized themselves? How can a country even attempt to manage its reputation as a paradise for tourists when the local residents are paralyzed by fear? 

Watch the video of Mr. Nini below: 

Consider reading: Bahamas Responds to Making the List of Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations: "The Bahamas Is Safe"

Bahamas Weekly: The Bahamas - Still Paralyzed by Fear: "Over the past two weeks, newspaper headlines have recounted horrific stories of violence, murder and mayhem which have gripped communities here in New Providence and on Grand Bahama Island; cementing crime and the fear of crime as one of the country’s most pressing national issues."

Have a thought? Leave a message below or join the discussion on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Global News

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Comments (29) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Adrian Maggs - May 4, 2014 7:56 AM

Yet another sensationalist piece. All three of the cases that you reference in this piece involved residents in the Bahamas, or tourists who were there on vacation, and not on a cruise.

Yes, crime happens in the Bahamas. Guess what - crime happens in other parts of the world as well, and tourists (and locals) are mugged and attacked at knife or gun point (or worse) in other countries as well.

I have visited the Bahamas 5 or 6 times in the past few years, both as part of a cruise, as well as independently, and I have always felt safe, and found the Bahamians to be pleasant and easy to deal with. Perhaps you should visit the islands yourself and find out what it is like?

Jim Walker - May 4, 2014 11:48 AM

Mr. Maggs:

I'm glad you felt safe but the article is not about you or your perceptions.

The murder, armed robbery and rape stories all involve tourists. It makes no difference whether the visitors arrived by airplane or cruise ship.

I have flown and cruised to the Bahamas and have seen the islands with my eyes wide open thank you.

Rose - May 4, 2014 1:27 PM

As a born, raised and current Bahamian resident i will say, even with the guaranteed backlash i will get from any resident that reads this, crime really is getting out of hand. It is to the point now that if you listen to a news broadcast murder is not even breaking news anymore. It is almost certain that at least one murder, several gun related crimes and a burnt body will be found over the weekend. Don't get me wrong I love my country, it's a beautiful place with good people. But, the politicians don't know what their doing, half the police officers on greater than 12 hour shifts can't catch everything from exhaustion and the other half probably involved in the illegal activities.

What is sad is that it is not until more tourist stop coming to the country that we will probably see a more active response from politicians. Until then all they care about is VAT. I don't and can't see a future for myself here in this country.

Jazzy Cartwright - May 4, 2014 1:39 PM

Crime is everywhere its not just in the Bahamas. Everyone will have their own opinion relating to the Bahamas. Some tourist will feel fear because of what they hear and some tourist will love it regardless of what they read. At the end of the day its apart of life, and although people are being hurt in the Bahamas, persons are being hurt everywhere relating to violence. So please stop trying the single out the Bahamas as if it is the only place where there is crime.

spicy - May 4, 2014 2:47 PM

we are paralyzed by fear .. ITS better to bruise a heart with the truth than to break it with a lie ... THis government is failing us miserably ... when these criminals get convicted they shouldn't have bail especiallly repeat offenders the govrnment is responsibile because if they put laws in place where criminals can face the maximum of 20 or 15 years for gun possession that would be a start not just 4 years .... I blame the government and the criminals because are number one industry isn't safe and thats tourisum ..

dave - May 4, 2014 3:36 PM

while there have been occurrences of crime in the Bahamas, I believe that the Bahamas is still a safe place to live... No matter where you go in the world there will be antisocial behavior being exhibited but to out rightly condemn the Bahamas just because of a few occurrences is totally wrong... Everyday around the world people are being kidnapped, killed, raped, found with possessions of illegal substances and the list goes on....I think that it is unfortunate that those individuals was subjected to that type of treatment and I give my sincere regards and apologies to them and their families but this is my home and its been my home for the last 31 years... There are so many high points and things about the Bahamas that one can talk about: why not high light the youths in the sporting arena who is doing a marvelous job in representing their country... Why not talk about those youths young who are endeavoring to give and make meaning strides and contributions to the development of their society and indeed the Bahamas as a whole... IT'S SO EASY TO POINT BLAME BUT AS YOU POINT THE FINGER THEIR ARE MANY POINT RIGHT BACK AT YOU...Every nation has is downfalls and its share of unwanted behavior..... There are many citizens like myself who make meaningful contributions to this country everyday and are law abiding citizens...Are we to say because a few bad apples exist in the box, that the entire box is rotten?

Concerned - May 4, 2014 3:42 PM

As a Bahamian, the bigger problem is in making an impact on this crime situation. It seems most Bahamians are more concerned about deceiving potential visitors to come and spend money. Our tourism product is no good unless its true. Most Bahamians...and non- Bahamians are not aware that this tiny nation ranks #10 in the world for homicides...crazy! I liked it in the days of Robin Leach when we were on the top ten best beaches in the world. How far we have come...

BahamaMama62 - May 4, 2014 3:59 PM

The Bahamas is a beautiful country with beautiful people, with that said, it's a country now riddled with all types of crime. I'm not concerned about other places that have crime, I'm worried about here, where I live. It will be safe again when the right government is elected that truly knows what is needed for the safety and welfare of its citizens and tourists. It is against the law to own a gun here, so, where are all these guns coming from? Whose letting these types of arms into the country? Someone is making serious money on the corruption of what was once the most beautiful country in the Caribbean. It can again...with pride, grace and respect.

Grasmere Jones - May 4, 2014 4:20 PM

There is a very simple answer to all the questions you pose here.
The Bahamas is corrupt from top to bottom. The judicial system has no respect for foreigners, especially if the defendants are related to leading politicians or other influential people. Some police do a good job, but all law enforcement agencies have been badly corrupted for years, ever since the gangster Lynden Pindling was prime minister.
Bahamians should forget about 'reputational damage' and get to the core problems in their rotten society. The place has no moral foundation at all, just a bunch of holy rollers spouting meaningless garbage about God and an abundance of dishonest lawyers whose greed and incompetence have contributed greatly to the country's decline.
You mention 'archaic' laws, but you need to remember that the last time the Bahamas had anything like a properly functioning legal system was when the 'archaic' British were still in charge 40 years ago. As a colony, the Bahamas was one of the world's great locations. Under Pindling and his cronies it became a cesspit - and a cesspit it remains.

Chris M. - May 4, 2014 4:42 PM

I am a resident of the Bahamas and yes crime is an issue just like it is in all parts of the world. The United States for example had 9/11. The most fearful event of all times.Does that mean I should not visit NY? Florida, another crime ridden state, should I not go and visit Disney. Chicago, Atlanta, L.A, gang infested. Murder and every day event.
You have an issue because the courts failed your American brethren. Oh well, no court is perfect. How many cases in the states have had the same result in the judicial system.
You need to be more understanding and stop being so vindictive and annoying. Yes annoying. We have had cases of Bahamians being mugged, robbed, murdered in all parts of the states and it does not make any news.you feel that you need to make this path of hate for one person,for all you know he was interacting with these groups of men which caused him his unfortunate attack. Possibility!!! But it is his words against the 3 men. You will never know why he got attacked because if he was doing something illegal, he will never divulge that information.. So the positive to all of this is he lived. You have no grounds for this pursuit of hate. Your state probably has more accounts of murder and robbery than the Bahamas will ever see. I hope people who read my response have clarity and maturity to relate to there surroundings and can say yes we have the same issues. If you or others say this issue does not exist in your neck of the woods,well guess what, you are a dam lyre.
Keep up the good fight because in the end people will continue to visit and spend there money here just like I will in the USA knowing you have the same reputation as we do.
Signed
An American Bahamian .

Ferguson - May 4, 2014 5:01 PM

Your points may be relevant but help me to reconcile the fact our borders are being filled with illegals from The USA. American citizens are sending guns to the islands. It is big business and very profitable. Please help us to combat this with a blog. Tell Americans, their guns are FLOODING OUR STREETS AND PROVIDING YOUNG MISGUIDED MEN TO COMMIT VIOLENT CRIMES.

C Curtis - May 4, 2014 5:01 PM

As a Bahamian citizen living on New Providence. Crime is out of control here. Crime against tourist really hurts my heart deep. I am afraid to even go out and hang with my friends and even walking to school because who knows someone might ambush me a rob me at gun or knife point. Yes crime is everywhere in the world but this is a small island with a small population and the crime rate on this island is a disturbing one as more and more young men dying so early. Don't get me wrong I love my country but I don't feel safe living here. I made a promise that I was one step away of moving to Canada after graduating from college and I will keep my word because I can't picture a future for myself living here. The Bahamas is a beautiful country and Bahamians are there friendliest people. What this country needs is stricter laws and harsh punishment for law breakers and a strong judicial systems. Not going to say anything negative about the government but the RBPF are doing a wonderful job in protecting the civilized citizens. The government just need to enforce these laws to the fullest and to combat this crime problem in the country.

tavares beckford - May 4, 2014 5:24 PM

If our own Prime Minister can call it a war thats what we have to look at it as,even though the rest of the world has crime THE WORLD ISNT OUR PROBLEM WE NEED TO CONCERN OURSELVES WITH WHAT IS AFFECTING Bahamians. We only have a little over 300,000 people living in the Bahamas and i cant understand how come our murder rate is so high. how come a murderer can kill several people in one yr and he hasnt stood in the front of a jury for his 1st murder? We need to realize that we call ourselves a CHRISTIAN NATION

Tim - May 4, 2014 9:47 PM

All told there are many valid points brought home in this article; much that is true. The crime here is a significant problem and there is a rising tide of fear....in Nassau - the capital of The Bahamas.

There is crime of concern in Freeport, Grand Bahama, but nothing to scare people off. The rest of the many family islands throughout the country are low crime or virtually crime free.

The problem with articles like this is that it paints the entire country as a bad place to visit, when in reality there is only one place of significant concern.

Imaging if you would that Washington DC has one of the highest rates of murder in the world, would it be right of any half-way decent journalist to write that the United States is a bad place to visit because of the high rate of murder in one place in the entire country???

Shoddy journalism has caused much unnecessary and undeserved damage to the rest of the country - most of which also rely on tourism to sustain local economies.

The problems with crime are real, but the entire country suffers because of lazy and inept journalists!

Thanks!

R. Wood - May 5, 2014 12:01 AM

I read these comments and it is very interesting to hear the amount of persons attempting to justify the 'out of control' crime situation in the Bahamas by referencing other countries. Now I understand why the same incompetent politicians are re-elected every 5 years. If the citizens are making excuses for the incompetent management of the country instead of holding the feet of the country's leaders to the fire when will the leaders ever feel compelled to rise to the occasion and do what they were elected to do? Which is manage the affairs of the country effectively and create a safe environment for all in it's borders both visitors and residents alike.
The bottom line is that criminals do not respect the judicial system in the Bahamas. There is a culture of lawlessness that started in the Bahamas in the early 80's with the drug era and we are now reaping the bitter fruits of those seeds of corruption and lawlessness that were planted back then. These lawless young men are the 2 to 10 year old toddlers who watched as their fathers, neighbors even politicians committed crimes and were able to walk free because of who they knew or their ability to pay a bribe to the police or even the court officials. Don't give me that "Deer in the headlights look" Bahamas, we are reaping what we sowed.

KD Albury - May 5, 2014 8:42 AM

There are 700 islands in the Bahamas and as Tim said, don't class them all together. We live on one of the Family Islands, albeit a small one, where we don't feel the need to lock our doors, take keys out of vehicles,etc. There has never been anyone murdered here in the history of this island. I am a 7th generation Bahamian and proud to say so!!
Very few people that I know of would think of going to Nassau or Grand Bahama for a vacation, other than Atlantis.
Please, do your homework…look at the REST of the Bahamas…Don't put Nassau in the same category as Abaco, Eleuthera, Exuma, etc.

Jim Walker - May 5, 2014 9:10 AM

KD:

The blog article is intended as a warning to cruise passengers.

Cruise ship passengers disembark in Nassau, New Providence island (where 70% of the Bahamian population is located) and in Freeport, Grand Bahama island (where 15% of the population is located).

The remaining 15% of the population is scattered about the other 698 islands or so where the crime is less, but the cruise passengers don't go.

Lecia Russell - May 5, 2014 2:52 PM

I personally think we in the Bahamas can do more (as individuals and as a whole).

I just wish focus could not be on Nassau :-(

www.goodnews242.com
https://www.facebook.com/GoodNews242

My Five Cents - May 5, 2014 7:42 PM

Personally Sir, I feel as if you have a serious vendetta against The Bahamas!! What have we done to you for you to be so mean-spirited and spiteful since you are constantly and consistently trying to sully our reputation by attempting to paint us as the most dangerous place in the region or perhaps the world, who knows? Did someone deny you a contract? Was a member of your family killed here? A friend? If so, please accept my condolences. Or do you have a more sinister motive? Are you in league with the Cruise Lines and therefore trying to prevent the Government from increasing the taxes on the Cruise Lines since this is currently being debated? Or are you working for the Cruise Lines to get more passengers to visit the private islands owned by the Cruise Lines thereby bypassing New Providence and the other islands all together. The overall lack of research, objectivity and viciousness of your articles makes them highly suspect to me. I do not see you targeting any other country like you are doing The Bahamas.

It is my humble suggestion that you seek therapy for your obsession with The Bahamas. God bless The Bahamas, the United States and indeed the world!

Jim Walker - May 5, 2014 10:04 PM

Mr. Nickel:

You are one of many Bahamians unable to face the reality of your country's substantial crime problem. You blame others for your own problems.

I have written 2,000 articles about the cruise industry and the ports of call that they frequent. It's a chuckle to read your allegation that I am working for the cruise lines considering that I have litigated and railed against them thousands of times. You will find no one at the cruise lines who considers me a friend.

Ironically, your country's problems are, in part, due to the fact that the cruise lines invest so little into your country and pay such a pittance in taxes. The Bahamas is dependent on the tourism from the cruise lines yet the cruise industry exploits the Bahamas so thoroughly.

The majority of the sources of my articles are your own country's newspapers. The Nassau Guardian, the Tribune and others report on the violence of your young men. You should read them all daily like I do. It's extraordinary, unprecedented violence. Too many people are dying in your streets. It's a shame.

I have written about other violent ports of call such as some Mexican ports, St. Kitts, Roatan, Venezuela, U.S. Virgin Islands and others.

Sorry there is no sinister motive. My job is to warn visitors on cruise ships of dangers that they do not anticipate when they walk down the gangway into what the travel agents, the cruise lines and the tourism representatives represent to be a paradise.

You need to look into the mirror and take stock of your own mess.

Ryan - May 6, 2014 8:20 AM

I worked on cruise ships for nearly 5 years, speaking with many tourists on the islands from ships and from hotels etc.

While yes some of these islands struggle with the "PR" side of things to fix their image. They need to fix the crime first.

Stir Fry - May 6, 2014 11:41 PM

David Jessop's statement is astonishing - "the Bahamas, like other Caribbean islands, doesn't have the social media skills necessary to promptly and effectively minimize damage to the country's reputation when tourists become victims of violent criminal acts"

New flash for you David, crime is not something to be minimized. As far as "social media skills", that must translate to "shills". Most people can see through them especially ones that post here defending the indefensible.

SeaFM - May 7, 2014 8:18 AM

As a former crew member, there were some places that I would just stay onboard.

Nassau was one of them.

karen balcombe - May 7, 2014 9:19 AM

I would not recommend Nassau Bahamas, to anyone going there, crime is on a high alert, you have to watch over your shoulder at all times when leaving your resort, lack of jobs, and drugs are their only way of a income, along with robbing, you got to remember the island is so small with a high population of young people without jobs. I am talking with experience, I lived there 30yrs, was not like that back in the good days, now FORGET IT, I left and came to south beach, you can sit on the beach at night, fish at night, jog the lovely board walk at midnight, without fear, I'm so at peace here

Tommy - June 1, 2014 3:10 PM

This is with out a doubt one of the most dishonest and violent countries in the Caribbean area. My family and I visited Grand Bahama about three weeks ago, worst vacation in our family's history. From the taxi driver to the hotel manager everyone in the Bahamas is dishonest and out to rip you off. And if you have a pretty wife or daughters, don't go there because the sexual harassment is endless. This is a country who will telling you every lie in the book to take your money from you. I hate the Bahamas and it's rude stealing people.

S.G. - August 20, 2014 11:22 PM

Holy s#@t, I can't believe all these comments, but I understand them completely. I'm Bahamian and live in Freeport, and can totally relate to one of the comments. I have four sisters and one brother, we are always fighting and protecting ours sisters from men here who have no respect for women. That's one of our problems here, no equal respect for the women here. My sisters are very attractive and highly educated. Three months ago three of the four told the family they want to leave the Bahamas and move to Britain. Our hearts are broken, they won't tell us why, but we know why. This government better start making our lives a little bit easier, because most of my friends have all left. God bless the Bahamas, and may God hear our cry.

D.Mattews - August 27, 2014 4:36 PM

If you want a vacation spot where you hear gun shots all night long, litter everywhere you look, people who make you feel unwanted, rude replies to all your questions asked; The Bahamas is the perfect place for you my friend. I don't care what Island you pick, the bad attitude towards tourist is everywhere. We visited five different islands and was treated the same on all five; badly, like they didn't want us there. On Treasure Cay the locals don't even talk to you. This country's problem is more than just crime, drugs and murders, it's a society that does not want outsiders there, just their money. My family and I will never return to this hateful place, a month later and I'm still depressed from it. I'm going to tell everyone I know not to bother going there. I'm even going to write a letter to our local newspapers informing them to warn our community to stay away from such an unwelcoming country.

kurt - October 8, 2014 2:45 PM

I have been going to the Bahamas my whole life, and had never had any issues. Crime happens everywhere. It is not a warzone when you step out of your hotel just be smart and carefull.

Holly - October 24, 2014 1:42 PM

Kurt, your own government calls it a warzone in your own Bahamian newspapers, but you in denial call it "Paradise, right"? Your crime rate as of right now 10/24/14 has reached almost 100 murders per 100,000 capitol this year, and the year is not even over yet. The government reports that rapes are also on the raise. But let's remember folks, crime happens everywhere, so it's O.K. in the Bahamas. You know what I think Kurt, I think you work for the Bahamian government, and your main concern is tourist money coming into your economy. You and your government could careless about the safety of tourist visiting your so called "Paradise.

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