Three Shots In Just 12 Hours reads the headlines in the Tribune newspaper today. Other articles in the local newspapers in Nassau include Tourist: I was Victim of Sex Attack by Jet Ski Operators.
The U.S. Embassy in Nassau has issued a warning to U.S. citizens of the danger of women (including girls) being sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on Paradise Island near the Atlantis resort.
The murder count in the Bahamas just reached 106 for the year and is rising. Last year 111 people were murdered there. The body count will exceed that number this month. The vast majority of the homicides involved local citizens and occurred in Nassau (New Providence) with a population of only 250,000. By contrast Miami-Dade County has a total population of 5,500,000 with only 229 murders (Miami-Dade has twenty-two times as many people and only twice as many murders as Nassau).
Compounding the problem is the inability of the local police in the Bahamas to solve these crimes and prosecute the criminals. The same police officers who can’t solve a crime when a U.S. tourist is robbed at gunpoint in downtown Nassau are often tasked with investigating crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships.
Cruise lines like Carnival, Disney, NCL and Royal Caribbean register many of their cruise ships in Nassau to avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and safety regulations. By flying "flags of convenience," the Miami-based cruise ships divest the U.S. authorities from law enforcement duties. In cases where U.S. citizens are victims, the FBI has special maritime jurisdiction and are permitted to become involved (although the FBI rarely does).
But when the victim is not a U.S. citizen (over 95% of the crew are not) the FBI has no jurisdiction and the responsibility to investigate crime on Bahamian-flagged ship falls to the Bahamas.
This is, of course, an absolute joke. There are well over a thousand ships registered in the Bahamas, including not only cruise ships but tankers, bulk carriers, and cargo ships of all types. Does anyone really think that the local police in Nassau have the interest or resources to fly to Bahamian cruise ships around the world and solve crimes when they can’t solve a crime when a tourist is assaulted in front of their own police station?
I have never heard of the police in Nassau ever solving a single crime on a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship. But if you are a crew member from the Philippines assaulted by another crew member from Central America, it’s the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) who has jurisdiction. The BMA won’t do anything but may (but usually not) delegate responsibility to the Nassau police. The local police, in turn, will simply not show up.
Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas, has dominated the news as of late. There’s endless news about all of the technological marvels on the ship. But Royal Caribbean registered the ship in crime-infested Nassau. When the first violent crime occurs on the Quantum, don’t expect anyone from the Bahamas to show up and investigate.
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Photo Credit: Tim Clarke / Tribune