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Ask the DR and Jamaica about crime and tourism; TCI must be careful

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#Providenciales, August 15, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – The Dominican Republic saw a sharp drop in tourism bookings and visitor interest by Americans in June 2019 following the headline-grabbing news reports of suspicious deaths and alleged brutal attacks.  The DR enjoys fantastic popularity normally, having recorded 6.6 million visitors in 2018. 

Law suits, dramatic loss in flights to the Dominican Republic and cancellations so severe that at least one all-inclusive resort caught in scandal is closing temporarily in November; these are examples of how crime against tourists can sink, an otherwise buoyant ship.

Fortunately for this Latino-Caribbean country, to which the Turks and Caicos is connected by direct flights through two domestic airline companies, the drive to the DR is not slowing down.  The Dominican Republic Central Bank reported to CNN that U.S. tourist arrivals are up almost 10 percent for the first half of 2019.

But the DR admits, it is a precarious predicament and there continues to be a lot of making up for the fall out caused by those damaging reports related to questionable medical care, unhealthy hotel environments and visitor-targeted crime.

From the US; the FBI, the ATF and the CDC have been invited by the United States Department of Homeland Security to join the investigation and the report is there has been no travel advisory issued by the USA against trips to the Dom Rep.  

Not too far way, and also directly connected to Turks and Caicos by flights is Jamaica.

Just hours ago, news of new travel alerts surfaced from the Canadian Government after the Jamaican Government was forced to extended its state of emergency to October 28, 2019.  Crime in tourist areas is simply too high. 

The State of Emergency which applies to St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover parishes – which are homes to Montego Bay and Jamaica’s world famous, Seven Mile Beach means security forces will be able to have more freedom to conduct searches and seizures, to detain persons of interest and curfews can come into effect without notice.

Simultaneously, Jamaica is recording record growth in tourism. The #1 English speaking country, when it comes to visitor arrivals experienced a decrease in hotel occupancy during the month of June.

One analyst in BuzzTravel explained that the reason Jamaica is still seeing double digit growth in arrivals, despite its issues with crime is there is greater transparency.

“Jamaica is both honest and proactive when it comes to tourism and tourism security. When confronted with a problem, Jamaica recognized the challenge and then solves it.”

In fact, on July 31, 2019, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett announced the appointment of a retired Jamaica military officer, Dave Walker, as the Director of Visitor Safety and Experience.

Growing over its record performance last year are the Turks and Caicos Islands, which continues to be listed as one of the safest places to visit. Still the fragility of this leading industry, which is actually the fuel driving all other industries in the country is being captured in social media op-ed pieces.

Residents are concerned about the surging figures in gun crimes. 

“We must also ensure that there is a visible presence of police officers throughout all communities in the Turks and Caicos 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.  In addition, the officers must provide confidence and trust to the community so that the residents can report the crimes to the police, thus creating fear for the criminals. People are afraid to report crimes and the criminals know that.”

While reports of crime overall from April to June 2019 were down, crime statistics reveal that gun crime grew by a concerning 80 percent in the same period. This trend is concerning as a glance back at crime stats for 2017-2018 reflected a decrease in gun related offences. 

Now retired Police Commissioner, James Smith said over that period 13 firearms and 178 rounds of ammunition were recovered.

Businessman and social media columnist, Drexwell Seymour in his latest article said there are too many guns, too much crime and not enough fear about doing wrong.

“I know there is a cry that we need to find jobs for our people so the crimes can be reduced. I am not convinced that this is the case as there are people who are working and simultaneously committing crimes.  I personally believe if we start fearing God, start fearing the laws of our country and start fearing the police officers, it will be the beginning of the resolution and alleviation of crimes in our country.”

Country leaders and officials continue to point to the abatement of crime as being a ‘community as a whole’ issue to be tackled.  Perhaps now, with a new Governor and a new Police Commissioner, the atmosphere is perfect for a sincere attempt at synergy.

#magneticmedianews

#tourismandcrime

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Bahamas News

Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.

The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.

The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.

Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.

In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.

The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.

Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.

 

Photo Caption:  Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG

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News

New Rules for Turks & Caicos JPs

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Rules governing Justices of the Peace in the Turks and Caicos are now significantly stricter after the passing of the amendment to the Magistrates Amendment Bill in July 2022.

Despite the fact that Justices of the Peace are allowed the same powers as a magistrate previously the only requirement for their appointment was the discretion of the Governor and that they be under 65-years-old.

That power has now been transferred from the Governor to the Chief Justice.

Justices of the peace have always by law been allowed to receive complaints, sign charges and issue warrants for the apprehension of persons charged with criminal offenses. They can also issue search warrants summons and administer oaths.

Considering the potentially unchecked execution of these powers, the attorney general’s chambers lobbied for a change in the system.

“These are very wide powers and there is no framework for the supervision and regulation of the whole of justices of the peace in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

The amendment rectified this and the Chief Justice now has the power to make binding rules and regulations governing the appointment of JPs, a code of conduct disciplinary action and orientation and periodic training for JPs.

In addition, to maintain separation of powers the governor will be stripped of the power to disallow laws made by resident magistrates. That power now belongs to the Chief Justice.

Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, TCI Attorney General maintained that the amendment was short but necessary.

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Health

Young People in TCI are having sex, Rapport wants to ensure they’re doing it safe

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Young people in the Turks and Caicos are very sexually active and while there are no concrete statistics, the newest members of the Rapport all said “Yes” to the question about whether there is rampant sexual activity.

“As a young person I totally agree that they are having a lot of sex,” Arean Louis said.

This is particularly concerning given wider statistics point to a very young age group which is still contracting HIV/Aids.

“Caribbean statistics are showing that between the ages of 15 and 25 those have the highest amount of HIV rates.”

A five person delegation was this past  week representing the Turks and Caicos Islands at the International Aids Conference, staged in Montreal, Canada July 29 – August 2, 2022.

Young adult members of Rapport TCI all agree that youth in the TCI must be made aware of HIV and other STIs. Arean Louis, Denae Dennie and Arielle Neely spoke to Magnetic Media on their way to the International AIDS Conference.

All three agreed that our young people are having a lot of sex.

“I would say that our young people are having sec the only thing that I would say is I hope that they are letting their partners know their sexual history, their status, and that they’re being safe.” Dennie said.

Louis added, “As we talk about HIV and AIDS in the Turks and Caicos Islands we most definitely need to bring awareness to our young people because there is no set age— kids nowadays just like to experiment.”

He stressed safe sex, using protection and abstinence to maintain sexual health.

“What we aim to do is keep them safe here, we’re tired and we don’t want to see anymore STD and STI new cases in the Turks and Caicos.”

Dennie says she still thinks there is fear surrounding HIV but with education and protection, the world can get to zero new cases and it was something she was looking forward to.

The final member Arielle Neely explained that there were not enough tools and resources to educate youth.

“There are not enough tools or enough record to educate them. Our parents think they’re doing a good job by telling us don’t have sex but telling us don’t have sex isn’t enough. You have to teach us about birth control planned parenthood.”

The three members had high hopes for Rapport and stressed that they need more members to make an effective change on sexual health in the TCI.

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