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"Solving crime versus protecting tourism"
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"Solving crime versus protecting tourism"

Ariela St Pierre-Collins 2Tourism is increasingly important to the Caribbean in difficult economic times, writes Ariela St. Pierre-Collins, 16, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Barbados, but it means a balancing act between the image of idyllic holidays and policing a disenfranchised population.

As the Caribbean region continues to suffer from a deepening recession, the problem of escalating crime against tourists continues to grow as well, as people grow more desperate and disenfranchised. 

Caribbean police forces know that the crimes must be kept quiet in order to preserve the tourism industry, but in the age of social media it becomes harder for them to do so, and compels them to actually solve the crimes quickly, effectively, and to stem this rising rate of crime in the region.  The consequence of ignoring a crime can have far-reaching repercussions. 

In 2010, two British women were raped and beaten within days of each other on a West Coast beach by the same man.  The Barbadian Police Force hastily arrested a native Barbadian, who was wrongfully charged with the rapes.  The arrest provided relief from the mass amount of pressure applied to the police force by the British Government to find the culprit to ensure the safety of tourists when visiting.  The victims, Dr. Rachel Turner, 31, and Diane Davies, 63, refused their right to anonymity to clear the wrongfully accused’s name, and after a two-year court battle, he was cleared of all charges. 

After the prisoner’s release, Dr. Turner and Mrs. Davies actively appealed to the Barbados Police Commissioner to reopen the case in order to find the real rapist, but the Commissioner refused.  The two women made a formal enquiry pertaining to their treatment by the Barbados police and an explanation of police insistence about the guilt of the wrongfully-accused man, even after both ladies insisted that he was not the man guilty of the crime, and there was not a scrap of forensic evidence against him.  The women also wrote their Members of Parliament in the UK, Stephen McPartland and Albert Owen, to help plead their case.  Both parliamentary representatives have been playing active influential roles in their case.

Dr. Turner recently wrote the Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, insisting that the case be reopened in order for the correct attacker to be apprehended.  She wrote in her letter, “The lack of action by the authorities in this matter suggests to me that they are not sufficiently concerned about the safety of local people or visitors to the island to resume the investigation and find the real rapist.”  As the victims of a horrific crime, both Dr. Turner and Mrs. Davies have the right to justice for their attacker and for some closure, and they clearly aren’t being provided with either.  Dr. Turner specifically states in her letter to Stuart that she wishes the case to be taken back up to protect the “people of and visitors to island”.  Would the Prime Minister be sensible to ignore the threat of such a violent rapist running about the island free? 

Although the women are owed justice and closure, does the government have the right to hush up this case in order to protect its largest source of income?  The tourism industry has become more important to preserve in these hard economic times, and the government’s main priority is to sell Barbados as a holiday destination.  A violent rapist puts a dark cloud over a bright and beautiful paradise, and our main income and foreign exchange source would come under threat. 

So what really is the correct course of action? Do you provide two women with the justice and closure that they deserve, or do you protect your largest income source and foreign exchange earner? Is there a way of doing both, a middle ground? It depends on what you believe is more important. 

photo credit: angietorres via photopin cc

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About me:

I am a Barbadian-Canadian and the founder of ‘Youth For Epic Change’, a charity aimed at raising funds for causes both locally and globally and inspiring teens in Barbados to be the catalyst for positive change. View my personal blog at www.unleashthepowerofone.tumblr.com.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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