4 December 2014 Word today that Trinidad and Tobago has moved from 83 to 85 in the Corruption Perception Index. This was revealed by President of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, Mr. Deryck Murray, at a News Conference on Wednesday. According to Mr. Murray, Barbados remained the highest ranking Caribbean country, at 15th place, with Venezuela ranking the lowest.
"Trinidad and Tobago maintained a score below 50, below the average, and that tells a story." The Corruption Perception Index is a ranking of 175 countries according to the extent to which corruption is believed to exist. In the 2014 poll, Somalia and North Korea remained at the bottom while Denmark and New Zealand took the top two spots.
30 November 2014 Thuggery as a possible motive for attacks on foreigners to the island of Tobago, may not be ruled out as police continue their investigations [into the murder of Birgid & Hubertus Keil].
The Sunday Guardian returned to the Bacolet area yesterday and received information, from undisclosed sources, that foreigners who are interested in purchasing land and property in remote and residential areas in the sister isle are asked to make a down payment of ten per cent of the value and are required to make the full payment within a stipulated time period.
Sources believe that they are then forced to leave the country by one means or another before the time period is up, so that they lose their down payment. They are often threatened, attacked or in some cases murdered.
When told about the information the Sunday Guardian received from sources, ACP Simon Lendore of Homicide said he could not comment directly on this particular motive. He assured that all information and/or leads will be investigated.
27 November 2014 With a population of a mere 1.3 million, this country has been ranked 12th in a United Nations (UN) study among countries worldwide where the most homicides occur. Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams says he is not surprised by the report findings, noting this country is "a very violent place." He was responding to an article published on businessinsider.com entitled "The 12 Countries Where The Most Homicides Occur" and which referenced a UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Study on Homicide 2013. The rankings are categorised as number of murders per 100,000 people and specifically related to 2012:
- Honduras, 90.4 - Venezuela, 53.7 - Belize, 44.7 - El Salvador, 41.2 - Guatemala, 39.9 - Jamaica, 39.3 - Swaziland, 33.8 - St Kitts and Nevis, 33.6 - South Africa, 31.0 - Colombia, 30.8 - The Bahamas, 29.8 - Trinidad and Tobago, 28.3
The global average homicide rate stands at 6.2 per 100,000 population, and this country's rate in 2012 was more than five times that figure. Williams noted that when the media print the tracking of homicides "and pushing in people's heads on a daily basis the issue of violence and homicide, it isn't helping our country and it ain't helping our image, it isn't helping our young people". He questioned whether anywhere in the world there is tracking of the homicide rate as is done by the local media "I'd love to know". Williams said if young people continue to be familiarised with violence it will "remain in their heads".
25 November 2014 British national Peter Green who along with his wife Murium were viciously attacked while holidaying in Tobago in 2009, yesterday announced he will be suing the Trinidad and Tobago Government for £2 million or approximately TT$20 million and will be continuing his campaign to tarnish Tobago as a tourism destination.
Green, speaking via telephone from his home in Somerset, England, said his anti-Tobago campaign was reignited following the murders of German couple Birgid, 71, and Hurbertus Konrad Keil, 74, who were found dead in Bacolet, last Saturday morning. Green noted that he and his wife were friends with the Keils and, "we're so upset at losing such wonderful people." Green, who returned to the UK following the attack in 2009, had not seen the couple for five years. Green said he does not believe the killer/s would ever be caught.
He reported they were initially given a statutory TT$25,000 for their injuries but will be pursuing for £1 million each. He said that after an initial difficulty to find a barrister to represent them he secured the services of Marc Beaumont, who has chambers in the UK, New York and the Caribbean. He said the matter will be placed in the High Courts in London around the time of Christmas 2014. He noted that even if the suit is unsuccessful, "at least we will embarrass Trinidad and Tobago."
22 November 2014 The bodies of a retired German couple were discovered Saturday morning at picturesque Bacolet Beach on Minister's Bay in Tobago. Around 10:00 AM two beachcombers discovered the body of 71-year-old Birgid Keil. Police were called and arrived to begin the investigation, later finding the body of 74-year-old Hubertus Keil a short distance away in the bushes.
They were brutally chopped to death, suffering deadly wounds to the back of their necks and defensive wounds about their hands and bodies, indicating a struggle had ensued.
The Keils are the fifth elderly persons murdered this week and the seventh murdered in the last three weeks. On Wednesday, two elderly men, were murdered in separate incidents. Ramlal Ramroop, 66, was found stabbed to death in Biche. John Mitchell, 74, was found beaten to death in Belmont. Two days earlier on November 17th, Edna Reid, 88, was stabbed to death in her South Oropouche home. On November 9th, Normal Holder, 76, was raped and strangled to death in her Laventille home. And finally, on October 29, Florentine Arneaud, 73, was found stabbed to death in her Sangre Grande apartment.
19 November 2014 Safety and security in the tourism sector should be addressed as threats or challenges, and how the sector responds to these threats and challenges is important. This is the view of Richard Campbell, Chief, Officer of Tourism, Organisation of American States (OAS).
Campbell said visitors are unlikely to travel to a destination if the water supply is unsafe, the food supply is not trustworthy, or if they feel they are likely to be the victims of crime or violence. "More than any other economic activity, the success or failure of a tourism destination depends on being able to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors. In reality we should be treating tourism security as an essential component of tourism competitiveness and sustainability," he said.
TDC Chief Executive Officer Keith Chin said visitor safety and security have become a critical factor in the decision-making process for visitors. He said more than two-thirds of global respondents cited safety and security as the greatest concern when choosing an international tourist destination, ranking higher than cost.
30 October 2014 The murder detection rate "has increased" this year, thanks to an "executive decision" taken by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) a few months ago to transfer "50 percent of our detectives in mainstream policing into the Homicide Investigation Bureau," says Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Glen Hackett.
These detectives have been assisting with "current investigative processes that are being undertaken and with cold cases." As such, Hackett added, "We have solved a number of murders and the detection rate has increased from what it was before." Hackett said there were 340 murders for the period January 1, 2014 to October 29, 2014, which is an increase over the 324 murders recorded for the same period last year. "So we have done quite a bit of work to bring it down (murder rate) from what it was before mid-year, and I estimate that if we continue, we would expect to see a decrease in homicides in 2014 over 2013," Hackett stated.
Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, thanked the public for their support saying many citizens have given their "clear endorsement of the visible police presence" in their communities while speaking with officers at the police town hall meetings held each week in communities across the country.
28 October 2014 A team led by Secretary of the Division of Tourism and Transportation in Tobago, Tracey Davidson Celestine has today October 28th begun its efforts to renew its ties with the Austrian market and therefore increase the number of Austrians visiting the island.
Tobago has a long close relationship with Austria with many of the country's nationals spending holidays in the Caribbean. The visit is meant to renew those relationships and to inform stakeholders of the improvements in the product that is Tobago.
Secretary Davidson Celestine and her team will today host more than fifty travel industry partners as well as conduct interviews with Austrian media in the country's Capital Vienna.
15 October 2014 On the second day of a conference on the theme of Restorative Justice, Chief Justice Ivor Archie said current methods of dispensing justice have proved ineffective.
"We now seem almost incapable of having civil and restrained discourse," Archie said. "I can see no way forward for this society unless we make a choice to practice forgiveness actively. It is the only way out of the climate of conflict and anger that now pervades our psyche."
The Chief Justice's remarks came one day after President Anthony Carmona said harsh penalties were not working and called for greater involvement of victims and the persons affected by crime within the system of criminal justice.
The Chief Justice said the lack of inclusion of victims in the process contributed to the problem. Archie said, "If there is anything that fuels the antisocial behaviour, gang warfare and tit for tat killings it is a general sense of being victimised, whether by the state, another gang, abusive or absent parents or any one of a number of triggers coupled with the anger, hopelessness, alienation and unforgiveness that drives some to believe that the only way they can get a sense of validation is by striking back or striking out."
He called for restorative justice, saying it could repair the harm caused by crime.
9 October 2014 Yachties are threatening to pull out of T&T because they claim immigration officers are demanding fees — as much as $3,000 — to extend their stay if they wanted to complete repairs to their yachts. They come to T&T from all over the world to have their boats repaired, because they say T&T is one of the best dry docks in the Caribbean. Many businesses along the western peninsula benefit from yachties' business.
Speaking on Tuesday, a boat owner, said he was approached to pay a bribe for an extension but refused. He said his fellow yachties were becoming more and more frustrated and planned to leave the island, never to return. "In 2008 when I came there were 3,000 yachts here. When we are here we create employment for about 500 people. In 2010-2012 there was a significant decline to about 1,000 boats," the retiree said.
Minister of National Security Gary Griffith recommended to all yachties not to pay bribes for extensions. He said they should immediately contact Chief Immigration Officer Gerry Downer or himself personally and report the immigration officers.
30 September 2014 T&T is at risk if claims by Desperlie Crescent, Laventille, residents that law enforcement officers executed three people last Thursday, People's National Movement leader Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday. He made the comment after residents gave him more information, including over 18 spent shells from the crime scene, as he toured the community yesterday. The community has been tense since the killing of reputed gang leader Dillon "Bandy" Skeete, 30, Joel Tash, 22 and Tremaine Thomas—a Jamaican national—were shot dead in an attack on Thursday.
After getting first-hand information from residents yesterday, Rowley said he was of the view that the police were not handling the matter properly. "This matter warrants a very thorough investigation, not only of the killings but of what happened after," he said.
He said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, National Security Minister Gary Griffith and acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams must be made aware that "something very terrible has happened in Laventille and it requires a very thorough, conclusive investigation." "If we never determine what happened here, we are far worst off than we were last Thursday morning," Rowley said.
25 September 2014 The U.S. Department of State considers crime in Trinidad and Tobago to be rated at a Critical level. Crime is the principal threat to visitors.
While overall criminal activity decreased in 2013, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) crime statistics, the murder rate increased. Violent crime is a concern for local security services and the general population.
The majority of violent criminal activity (i.e., homicides, kidnappings, assaults, sexual assaults, etc.) in Trinidad is gang/drug related or domestic in nature.
Most crimes are crimes of opportunity. American citizens have been victims of pickpocketing, assault, theft/robbery, fraud, and murder. However, there is no evidence to indicate that foreigners, specifically expatriate communities, are targeted in particular. Crimes, to include robbery, break-ins/burglary, vehicular break-ins, home invasions, and assaults (including sexual assaults), regularly occur in areas where expatriates live and congregate.
Many crimes go unreported. Further, there are instances in which crimes are reported but not documented. Most reported crimes occur within the metropolitan areas of Port of Spain and San Fernando. Approximately 18 percent of reported crimes result in an arrest.
As for the sister-island of Tobago, murder, home invasion, petty theft, and swindling, including theft of large sums of cash and passports from hotels rooms, affect tourists. Several violent home invasions targeted well-to-do villas sometimes rented to tourists.
Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) osac.gov
17 September 2014 Speaking to members of Parliament yesterday, T&T National Security Minister, Gary Griffith,claimed serious crime had dropped by 38 percent in T&T and crime levels are now at a 30 year low. He also claimed that of the 407 murders in 2013, 250 were gang-related. Griffith said breaking up criminal gangs in T&T is "the last piece of the puzzle" and that increased police and Defence Force patrols were key to the decrease in crime. He defended the police and Defence Force against criticism that they have been murdering civilians. Griffith denied charges that there were plans afoot to militarize the police. He asserted Laventille is now the safest it has been in years and boasted that people throughout the Twin Island Republic are complaining of seeing too many police vehicles with flashing blue lights. Regarding the complaints, Griffith proclaimed, "Expect to see a lot more very soon because we intend to turn this place into a blue-light district. We intend to put as many police vehicles and patrols all over this country to ensure that we take away the perception and fear of crime. That is our objective."
TnTWarning confirms that since the crackdown on crime began in late July, murders have dropped to 36 total in August 2014 as compared to 44 total for August 2013. To date in September 2014 there have been 8 murders, while on the same date in 2013 there were 24.
Before the crackdown, the number of total monthly murders in 2014 consistently exceeded totals for the same month in 2013. July and April of 2014 were especially deadly.
Let's hope the positive trend continues into the future.
6 September 2014 Murder was the leading cause of death among adolescent boys in the year 2012, according to a report from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) which was released this week. The report, entitled, Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence Against Children, finds that in that year, more boys died from homicide than from communicable and non-communicable diseases. The report states Trinidad and Tobago was among seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where homicide was the leading cause of death among adolescent boys. About 45 percent of deaths were due to homicides. About 35 percent were due to disease. About 20 percent were due to intentional and unintentional injuries. The country was an exception to the general rule that in jurisdictions with high incomes, the child homicide rate was low. The number of homicide victims among children and adolescents aged 10 to 19 years per 100,000 for this country was 12, the tenth highest in the Latin American and Caribbean grouping.
27 August 2014 A father and son who were murdered last week in St Helena Village, Piarco were laid to rest yesterday following a funeral service. (Read More) A desperate attempt was made to locate the killer who, police said, calmly walked back to his car and sped off, but up to last night there were no arrests. Rev Dave Alleyne [of Flaming Word Ministry], who conducted the homily, afterwards said he likened 2014 Trinidad and Tobago to 1930s Chicago. He said that an elite force [like the FBI's historic Untouchables] is needed to be created in order to "break the back" of the criminal element. He also said "The police are unable to do it by themselves and that families as well as the judicial system needed to do their part." Alleyne said that religious teaching needed to be done and that "There was a time you can get away from man, but you cannot get away from God."
25 August 2014 Attorneys representing Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday produced a certified affidavit from Google Inc which they claim invalidates the entire emailgate scandal. They now intend to find the conspirators who were responsible for the "diabolical, evil and wicked plot" aimed at destroying the Government. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is to be sued for his role in the fiasco. On May 20 last year, Rowley presented a series of purported e-mails to the Parliament which, he said, implicated the Prime Minister, Attorney General and Local Government Minister in "high crime", "misbehaviour of public office" and a massive cover-up. Ramlogan said Google provided all the e-mails between himself and Persad-Bissessar during September 2012 when the emailgate correspondence occurred. He said none of those e-mails sent by Google corresponded to the claims made by Rowley. Senior Counsel Pamela Elder said the e-mails provided by Rowley were forged. "In essence... they do not exist."
22 August 2014 A Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) student who flew to the Big Apple to start a new school year arrived at her dorm in Manhattan, opened her suitcase — and discovered 10 pounds of cocaine inside, police sources said. The baffled 21-year-old made the stunning discovery after an airplane flight on Friday as she moved into the room and quickly called cops, police sources said. "She said she had no idea how it got there," a police source said. The freaked fashionista handed over the four packages of blow — which had a street value of $150,000, police sources said. The woman had just flown from Trinidad and Tobago to JFK Airport — leading authorities to believe a smuggler may have planted the stash in the wrong suitcase, a Port Authority source said. Corrupt custom officials, baggage handlers or airport workers — in both the Caribbean and New York — may have teamed up on a scheme to use her as an unwitting drug mule, a Port Authority source said. The smugglers may have flubbed the plan by failing to unload the drugs in New York, the Port Authority source said. "Smugglers play the odds... It has been done before to travelers especially in countries where there's heavy narco-trafficking," the Port Authority source said.
19 August 2014 It seemed unusual that a woman and man caught smoking cigarettes at a bar in Marabella, were brought to court yesterday in handcuffs for violating the no-smoking law. Shantel Ali Bocus, 20, of Princes Town and Marvin Trotman, 35, of San Fernando were charged separately under the Tobacco Control Act which has been in force since February 2010. Both were charged by constable Devon Meah and pleaded guilty. They were held last Saturday at Kansas City Recreational Club at Southern Main Road, Marabella, and charged with holding or smoking a tobacco product in an enclosed public place. Bocus, the mother of a three-month-old son, was also charged with resisting arrest. She was fined $1,500 ($237 USD) for smoking and $750 ($118 USD) for resisting the officer in the execution of his duty. In default of paying both fines in eight weeks, Ali Bocus will serve three months in prison. Trotman, a labourer, told Diop he was highly intoxicated and "wasn't in my clear head... I was wrong". The father of two, who had a previous conviction for possession of marijuana, was fined $3,000 ($473 USD). He was given four weeks to pay the money or he will serve four months in prison.
16 August 2014 Having developed a reputation for being a no-nonsense crime fighter, Central Division head Senior Superintendent Johnny Abraham repeated his warning to criminals to stay away from Central. He made the statement moments after police officers, on Thursday night, shot and killed two armed bandits who earlier robbed a Couva woman of her van valued at $250,000 ($39,500 USD). It is alleged that the men, in their attempt to evade capture, fired upon the police officers who responded to the robbery report. Abraham said: "I warn wrongdoers to stay away from Central please. But if they do come and they commit a crime, they must surrender peacefully. Once they engage my officers, we are going to deal with them decisively and I have been saying from time and time again. Some people take heed and they stay away. Others didn't." One of the men killed has been identified as Beresford Asson of Sangre Grande while the other man is yet to be identified.