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Crime

Residents React to Crime Press Conference; Officials fail to bring comfort or confidence

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 18, 2022 – Over a thousand people tuned in to the government’s joint press conference addressing the scary surge in violence in Five Cays on the weekend of September 3rd and based on the reactions many residents were thoroughly disappointed.

While the Governor, Nigel Dakin,  laid out an 8-step National Security Response, residents felt that interventions by other speakers were severely lacking in the conference which was supposed to be aimed at reassuring Five Cays and Provo residents that they were safe after seven people were shot in the span of two days; four of them fatally.

The air of residents in the press conference was one of fear, disappointment and anger.

Consistent reactions by dozens of residents expressed displeasure with the fact that there seemed to be no accountability from the force regarding their record. In addition, a barrage of comments indicated the residents believe there are major leaks in the police force, crushing claims of confidentiality by the Commissioner.

Also a bone of contention; a seeming lack of preparation by some speakers and the fact that there still seem to be no immediate measures in place to protect residents

One resident said, “This live is not reassuring at all, all it’s giving ‘we gonna try’”.  In response another resident said, “I am actually feeling worse about the situation.”

Others continued. “They never had a plan— lol, they just wanted to show up so we the people can’t say they are silent.”

“What is the plan for immediate response for what is currently happening, everything that was mentioned is near future action, nothing immediate. Our people are dying now, our people are losing sleep and are fearful now! What are the measures that are in place for the NOW!!!!!??????” was one resident’s query.

The sentiment was shared by many others including this resident who said, “This press conference is just to show that our nation doesn’t have any specific measures set in place to resolve such situations, though it has been happening for years. I mean it’s quite ridiculous that our government is taking this so lightly, we are in fear for our lives!”

Several residents were displeased with Commissioner Trevor Botting’s response in which he reiterated that the police were working hard to keep residents safe and people refused to speak to them.

One resident said, “What is the plan to keep us protected because y’all don’t have any confidentiality in that force at all.” Another chimed in. “I have no confidence in what he is saying. Talk is cheap.

“Y’all keep saying say something if you see something and when you do, your name be called before you leave the station, what plans y’all have in place to protect persons and their families if they should come forward about something they see???” One person added.

Residents in the comments also lamented the poor conviction rate calling for audits of the police force and expressing little faith in the witness protection program designed to keep informants safe.

“Is there any plan to audit the current commissioner? How many unsolved murders have occurred since he has been in his position?“

Another added. “The Force does gossip and talk too much for anybody to feel safe to trust them with information. It’s embarrassing the level of information that gets leaked.”

There were those who reiterated that the onus was on all TCI citizens to play their part in stopping crime.

One individual said “No matter what, we prove our ignorance on to many levels if we want things to change first we must listen not listen half way then criticize what can be a step in the right direction.”

Others maintained that police needed more equipment including better technology, potential sniffer dogs and better customs security to find illegal weapons.

“I don’t blame the force entirely. It’s the lack of equipment and the lack of efficient manpower that is to blame. There are other departments that should be held accountable— [including] the lack of our borders being properly protected. The firearms didn’t drop out of the air nor did they appear overnight.” A resident contended.

The solution to put lights in Five Cays to reassure residents and slow crime being committed under the cover of darkness was also poorly received by several residents.

“Lights?” One said. “These people are shooting and killing at 8 a.m!”

“Exactly!” Another agreed “They don’t GAF.”

Many residents were discomfited by MP Rachel Taylor’s speech. Some expressed concern that the matter at hand was not truly addressed and others claimed that young men in the constituency had pleaded for help and were being ignored.

“[SIC]Go look for the young men in five cays and talk to them to see what they need” one resident encouraged. Another responded directly “She doesn’t care, they beg her for help, we see her she don’t never pay us any mind.  I’m telling you from experience we beg that woman.. we follow her all the way to batchies where they had a meeting just to get her to hear us out.. all we got was “ill get back to yall”

Dozens of viewers expressed frustration that the issue at hand was lost in reporting on other social issues that could have possibly been more appropriate at another time. Comments included

“What is this conference about crime or education?“

“Is this a basketball conference?”

Stop reading and speak from the heart and feel how the people feel. TCI should be mourning now!” One viewer chided.

In addition, there was concern for the security officers who would be placed in schools and whether or not they would be armed to protect teachers, students and themselves should an unfortunate situation take place.

At this time, Turks and Caicos legislation forbids security guards being armed with guns.

One resident expressed eagerness at a stronger response to the four murders and unbridled gunfire in the community over the weekend.

“Where are the strong measures that’s coming that we the people might not like that was talked about in the Statement from the Premier at the funeral. I haven’t heard any yet or did I miss something?” One noted.

“This is frightening…these responses are very vague.”

“I don’t think the authorities grasp the gravity of the situation. At least in my opinion they don’t.” Another mentioned.

Member of Parliament for the Bight, Jay Stubbs was also concerned, adding “What should the communities on Provo look forward to immediately?”

The exasperated responses continued to the end of the press conference. There was an unmistakable air of dissatisfaction with the few solutions put forward and the fear that pushed residents to lock up and shut down in an effort to protect themselves.

Crime

Too Many Unknowns, Scandalous Rumors emerge about Murder-Accused Brandon Rahming relationships

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 2, 20222 – Just over a week now since the death of suspected murderer Brandon Rahming  and social media chatter is raging; accusations, speculations, voice notes, photographs and undeniable discontent despite the country’s most notorious suspect now being himself, dead.

Magnetic Media has been privy to strings of communication which are unsubstantiated, but which point to the ongoing apprehension and legitimate musings about the light which could have been potentially shed if Rahming had been taken alive.

The alleged gang leader had been fingered by police for his involvement in drugs, arms and several murders.  It’s very likely that Rahming had significant information on who may have  been funding him, who was providing drugs and how they were entering the TCI.

With the gang leader dead, a wealth of information that could have validated the Governor-announced ‘transnational gang activity’ and likely put a real monkey-wrench into the nefarious activity in the TCI is lost.

Meanwhile, Police announced a man was charged in the Dock Yard arrest and take down of Brandon Rahming.  It said: “A Dock Yard man has been remanded into custody, after he appeared before a Magistrate yesterday (November 30th).

Guilene Jean-Baptiste, 25, is charged with the following offences:

(1) Possession of Controlled Drugs namely Cannabis
(2) Possession of Controlled Drugs namely Cocaine
(3) Possession of Controlled Drugs namely Methamphetamine
(4) Possession of Controlled Drugs with Intent to Supply namely Cannabis
(5) Possession of Controlled Drugs with Intent to Supply namely Cocaine
(6) Possession of Controlled Drugs with Intent to Supply namely Methamphetamine

Jean-Baptiste was arrested on November 19th, 2022, following a joint operation by police officers.

He is scheduled to re-appear in Court on December 19th, 2022.”

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Crime

Letter Bomber Hunt on in Spain

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

#Spain, December 2, 2022 – Police in Spain are desperately trying to find the culprit or culprits behind a series of letter bombs that have targeted high profile government officials and embassies since the start of the week.

So far the bombs which have arrived in inconspicuous cardboard boxes with handwritten addresses targeted six places: the Spanish Prime Minister’s office; US Embassy; Ukrainian Embassy; Spanish Defense Ministry; a weapons maker;  and a Spanish Air Base.

At least one individual from the Ukrainian embassy was hurt when the bomb targeting it went off.

All of the areas targeted have some connection to the EU or to the war in Ukraine.   A European newspaper Euractiv quoted the Ukrainian ambassador as saying that the package came with a box inside.  Suspicious, a security guard opened the package, pulled out the box, opened it, heard a click and tossed it.  Despite tossing it before it exploded he still received a concussion and hand injuries.

Police say they believe someone in Spain sent the packages and that they were all connected.

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Crime

Study reveals Online Sexual Exploitation of Children rose in Pandemic; Philippines among the worst

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

A recent study from UNICEF and investigation by the BBC have revealed horrific levels of child abuse in the Philippines fueled by pandemic lockdowns and increasing poverty. The study  revealed that country has become a den for Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OSEAC) in which adults sometimes even parents force children to perform sexual acts on camera for paying pedophiles on the internet.

A key finding of the study was that certain cultural beliefs contribute to the spread of OSAEC such as ‘if the children are untouched, they are not harmed’ and ‘OSAEC provides easy money and almost everyone does it.’

The BBC’s Laura Bicker visited Preda, an orphanage in the country that specifically helps abused children. Located in the orphanage is a dark padded room outfitted with an on hand therapist. Bicker described what she saw and heard.

“Some of the toughest healing at Preda happens inside a dark room with soft music playing in the background. There are large pads on the walls and floors – the kind gymnasts would use for a soft landing. The only light comes from the open door. About five children are kneeling, each in their own space.  Most of them are facing the wall. The overwhelming sound is the erratic thud of their fists and feet as they pummel the pads. The first raw, anguished cries make your heart stop. And then it starts again, but it’s difficult to keep listening, even from a distance, even for a few minutes. The questions hurled at the cushioned walls – “Why did you do this to me? Why me? What did I do?”

The situation is becoming increasingly dire.

Only around 20 per cent of Filipino children are listed by UNICEF as not vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and the pandemic has made it worse. UNICEF says a good grasp of the English Language, availability and ease of access to technology, well-established financial transaction facilities, and ‘absence of perceived conflict between sexual exploitation and significant social norms are some of the reasons the gruesome industry is allowed to thrive and expand.

While instances of online abuse may not be as prevalent in the Caribbean instances of sexual abuse are still high.  A recent study revealed that nearly 15 per cent of children aged 11–12 years and, 35 per cent of young people, 14–15 years old reported having had sexual experiences. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2019 those numbers have spiked.

In  Jamaica alone pediatricians said cases abuse rose 70 per cent during the pandemic but cases reported to the police dropped significantly indicating extreme underreporting.

Sexual crimes are some of the most underreported crimes in the world for various reasons including fear, coercion and shame. Protection of children from sexual abuse in all its forms must then become a community effort with adults taking on the responsibility of investigating and speaking up on behalf of children who may not be able to do so on their own.

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