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2004-10-21 11:32:59

Foreigners May Choose To Avoid The Bahamas

For a country dependent on foreigners visiting their islands for tourism, the Bahamas appears to have a problem ensuring that crimes against foreigners are properly dealt with.

Foreigners are growing wary of visiting the Bahamas, especially Cat Island, due to violence directed towards them in the island nation.

Yesterday, an American woman, a long time resident of the island, was murdered after being mutilated about the body, including her breasts and genital area, while she was still alive.

Cat Island is long known for its criminal history and violence against foreigners due to the drug trade flourishing there.

Several years ago, an American couple who operated a tourist facility on the island were beaten, nearly to death, after reporting drug dealing activity at the island's tiny airstrip.

Rather than act on the tip, the Bahamas Government ignored the couple's concerns and stood by, while the couple was routinely terrorized and harassed. Eventually, the couple was physically attacked and their resort was burned to the ground by a local arsonist.

Despite the attackers being identified, and the couple vigorously pursuing the matter in the courts of the Bahamas, no one was ever brought to justice and the couple moved back to the US, where it is understood that Bahamian "hit men" continued to threaten them.

The violent crime in Cat Island is thought to be due to the fact that many drug dealers and other criminals have a close relationship with the island's MP, Attorney Philip "Brave" Davis.  Davis is a lawyer from Nassau who has made a living defending the biggest drug dealers in the Bahamas, keeping many of them on the streets to commit additional crimes.

Mr. Davis was Prime Minister Christie's first choice for Attorney General, but that plan was nixed when the United States DEA strongly objected to the appointment.

It is not clear why Mr. Davis has not been arrested and his assets stripped under the "Proceeds of Crime Act", as the majority of his income over the years has come from drug dealers and other nefarious characters.

It is widely believed that, even if the murderer in this most recent atrocity is identified, the person will never be convicted of murder. This is because Bahamian prosecutors and juries apparently do not understand the difference between manslaughter and first-degree murder. This confusion has become apparent as numerous murder cases have resulted in convictions for manslaughter, despite obvious premeditation. Further, crimes against foreigners are rarely pursued and almost never result in convictions in The Bahamas.

This was proven in the trials of Tenel McIntosh, the man accused of raping and murdering two women, an American and a Canadian, on Paradise Island several years ago.  Despite compelling evidence, including DNA, McIntosh was acquitted of one murder and convicted of manslaughter in the other.

Some in the international community are calling for an investigation into the stymieing of justice for foreigners in the Bahamas, with nearly every crime against a  foreigner being poorly prosecuted or not brought before the courts.

The family of a two-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a speedboat while on a beach at Paradise Island have called the British police to travel to the Bahamas to launch a thorough investigation into the tragedy.

The Gallagher family from Kent, England say their lives were torn apart following the horrific boating accident on Cabbage Beach outside the Atlantis resort more than two years ago and are demanding answers from the Bahamas government. They say they have been met with a "wall of silence" since the tragedy.

Another American man, who was attacked by a cutlass wielding maniac on the streets of the Bahamas, in broad daylight, with hundreds of Bahamians passing by, tried for three years to bring his attacker before the courts. When the trial finally occurred the prosecutors did not show up and the police lost the evidence, so the judge dismissed the case.

In another incident, a British school teacher was murdered and her family fought for over a decade to bring the murderer, who was well known on the Family Island, before the courts.  After pressure from the British government an arrest was made and the case was brought to trial.  Again, however, the case was thrown out because the prosecution, some believe intentionally, "failed to make a good enough case" against the accused.

Earlier this year, a team of detectives flew into Rum Cay to probe an arson attack that destroyed a $300,000 plane at the island's new airport. The plane belonged to American Rob Little, whose family has lived on Rum Cay for many years. The investigation has yet to result in any arrests, despite many people on the island knowing exactly who committed the crime.

In August, 2003 an American family was terrorized in a hotel room on Cable Beach. The man was tied up and his wife and daughter were raped. A police report was filed and the family left the country. Nearly two months later the man had to write the Bahamas Minister of Tourism demanding to know what, if anything, was being done about the matter. He did not even receive a reply. Now, over a year has passed and there ahsn't even been an arrest.

For a country dependent on foreigners visiting their islands for tourism, the Bahamas appears to have a problem ensuring that crimes against foreigners are properly dealt with.  Perhaps this is why stay-over visitors to the Caribbean islands are increasingly choosing other countries for their vacations.

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