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PM Davis Unveils ‘Clear, Hold and Build’ Approach to Addressing Crime

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#TheBahamas, January 19, 2024 – During his first broadcast public statement for 2024, on January 14, Prime Minister and Minister Finance the Hon. Philip Davis noted that he would have preferred to have taken that time to “set out the plans we have in place to further lift our national development in 2024.”

“Instead, with the country having witnessed 11 murders over the past 14 days, I want to speak to you about the things we are doing to reduce the incidence of crime, and the plans we are beginning to implement ultimately to prevent crime being committed in the first place,” he said.

“Over the past year, and in the past few weeks in particular, New Providence has been the scene of senseless carnage, much of it attributed to persons already on bail for serious offences,” Prime Minister added.  “Most murderers and victims have also been connected to those associated in some way with gangs.

“Gang-related activity has plagued our country for far too long.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, over the years a number of initiatives had been launched to try to deal with that issue.  He added that his Government was, at that time, preparing the “most comprehensive approach yet.”

“Our frontline response to the present crisis is to bring forward a strategy which is already in the advanced stages of planning,” Prime Minister Davis stated.

He added:  “Our approach lies in three stages: ‘Clear, Hold and Build’.  We’re going on the offensive.  Put simply, our first phase is to ‘Clear’ out the gangs from our neighbourhoods.

Our police, armed with new resources and resolve, will strike hard against these gangs.  We’re not just disrupting them, we’re dismantling them.  We will show no mercy to those who have shown no mercy to their fellow citizens.

“If you choose crime, you will face the full weight and might of the law.”

Prime Minister Davis stated that, after clearing those neighbourhoods, they are not “just walking away”; and will move to phase two, which is the ‘Hold’ phase.  The police, he added, will ‘hold’ these communities by maintaining an “ongoing, relentless presence.”

“This is an area which we think has not been addressed fully in the past,” Prime Minister Davis pointed out.  “We’re sending a clear message to any criminal who thinks they can make a comeback: we’re here, we’re here to stay, and we’re not going anywhere.

“This phase is about constant vigilance and strength.”

Lastly, Prime Minister Davis continued, his Government will ‘Build, adding “not just buildings and roads, but building opportunities, building futures, building hope”.

“This is about investing in our communities, creating opportunities that didn’t exist before, and ensuring that crime is never again seen as a desirable option.

“We’re not just reclaiming our streets; we are revitalizing them,” he added.  “‘Clear, Hold,  Build’.  It’s an approach which has been used in some form or another in other countries, with significant degrees of success.

“We are adapting it to suit the situation on the ground here in The Bahamas, and we are fully resolved to do what is necessary to succeed.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that most of the killings in The Bahamas were gun-related; and that there were “far too many” firearms on the nation’s streets.

“In fact, we have already begun to take more aggressive actions against those found in possession to support our zero-tolerance approach,” he said.  “Our Anti-Gang and Firearm Task Force is in full swing.

Prime Minister Davis added:  “Last year the Judiciary designated a magistrate specifically to deal with firearms offences.  We now have quicker prosecutions, with stiffer penalties being imposed.  From the date of first appearance in court to conviction or acquittal, it now takes an average of two months rather than a number of years as was previously the case.

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the backlog was also being cleared.  Swift Justice was at work, he added; and he noted that his Government “will build on this success”.

“Friends: You won’t believe where we’re finding these guns: stashed in cereal boxes and tucked away in snack packets, buried in innocent-looking surroundings,” he continued.  “Guns are also being hidden by girlfriends, parents and grandparents.”

“Most worryingly, children and young people are being used to hide weapons near schools or even attempting to smuggle them in their underwear – and this is true of both girls and boys,” Prime Minister Davis added.

He said that it was clear evidence of the lengths criminals will go to.

“But let me tell you, no matter how clever these gangs think they are, our task force is smarter, tougher, and more determined,” Prime Minister Davis stated.  “We’re uncovering their tricks, and we’re putting an end to their game.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that guns are not made in The Bahamas, with firearms coming from abroad, primarily from the United States.

“I’ve been straight with the US Government about the need to step up their game, and they have, as a result, tightened their response,” he said.  “Our partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is strengthening.”

“We’re not just talking; we’re taking action,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “We’re tracking down Bahamians with dual citizenship who have been buying guns in the US and trafficking them here.

“And it’s working – we’ve already busted some major operations.”

PHOTO CAPTION
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, during his National Statement on Crime, on January 14, 2024.  (OPM Photo)

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Bahamas as Caribbean top 2024 Spring Destination

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Bahamas#Tourism, February 23rd, 2024 – The Bahamas has been categorized as the most popular Caribbean destination for travel in the upcoming spring season by travel insurance company Squaremouth, in a new report. It was the only Caribbean nation to make the list for the top 10 destinations. The report is derived from travel insurance purchases made through Squaremouth.

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Regional Soldiers head to Jamaica to train for pending Haiti mission

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Rashaed Esson

Staff  Writer

 

#Haiti#KenyaMultinationalForce#CARICOM, February 22nd, 2024 – About 150 Bahamian soldiers are heading to Jamaica within the next one or two weeks for a joint training with Jamaican soldiers, in preparation for the pending Kenya led multinational force mission to Haiti according to Bahamian Defense Chief Commodore, Raymond King, in reports. Soldiers and security forces from Chile and Argentina will also travel to Jamaica for the training.

King informs that Kenya and Haiti are in the process of signing off on an agreement to allow Kenya to lead the force into Haiti, following advice from Kenya’s High Court which recently deemed Kenya’s decision to deploy police officers to the gang run nation as unconstitutional. This agreement includes a formal request for assistance from Haiti, allowing Kenya to legally intervene on the ground.

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Major plans for The Bahamas announced Davis

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Bahamas#Development,February 22nd, 2024 – “Things are changing in The Bahamas,” were the words of Prime Minister Philip Davis as he outlined some of the Government’s plans to improve the nation through a decrease in the cost of living, enhanced security for Bahamians and the expansion of access to opportunities. Davis, who was presenting on February 21st, the Bahamas Mid-Year Review of the fiscal performance for the fiscal year 2023/2024, highlighted a long list of plans for the archipelago.

Here’s the full list stated in Davis’ address :

  • A new energy policy and an expansion of renewable energy, including microgrids, and an emphasis on engaging local Bahamian firms and building local professional capacity; 
  • An expansion of Bahamian ownership in our economy, including support for entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, and an expansion of affordable housing –with hundreds of families moving into new homes by this summer; 
  • A modern and award-winning specialized tourism product, with new investments across our archipelago, and major visibility and branding campaigns in New York, Florida, and the UK;
  • Progress on redeveloping downtown Nassau, long overdue;
  • New commitments to education, including a Parental Engagement Unit; more teacher training, modernizing the curriculum, classroom enhancements, improving school attendance, and using the Renaissance testing results to design individualized support for students; 
  • An expansion of technical and vocational training, including certification at the high school level;
  • An Empower Grand Bahama micro-grant programme for entrepreneurs; $1.5 billion in investments for Grand Bahama in the pipeline; the Beautiful Grand Bahama programme, in which collaboration has led to safer communities; and Collab Grand Bahama, which fosters partnerships between the government and the private sector to bring change and progress to Grand Bahama;
  • Major upgrades to our health infrastructure;
  • More support for our athletes and sports programmes;
  • We’re on track to pave 65 miles of road in New Providence alone this year;
  • Investments in NIB to improve fairness and efficiency;
  • A National School Breakfast pilot programme, which is already giving thousands of our children breakfast in their primary schools, and is ready to expand;
  • New classes, camps, lessons, and programmes at our Urban Renewal Centres;
  • A Youth Guard to strengthen our capacity during national emergencies, and give more young Bahamians a path forward;
  • A Task Force addressing unregulated shantytowns in New Providence and Abaco, with other islands to follow;
  • The selection and training of new immigration officers;
  • Saturation patrols and new investments and collaboration in crime prevention; 
  • A juvenile detention facility;
  • A cadre of officers trained to recognize and manage psychiatric issues;
  • Stronger partnerships and new patrol vessels to secure our nation’s borders; 
  • Major new investments across our Family Islands, including new airports, and road paving in Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Abaco, Long Island; Great Harbour Cay, and Crooked Island;
  • The development of our nation’s blue carbon credits strategy; and
  • A major investment in agriculture and national food security.

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