by Roy R. Morris
Despite negative publicity in the British media over recent incidents of crime, Barbados continues to enjoy excellent an “recommendation” from Canadians authorities.
In fact, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, has maintained on its website that its nationals need take only “normal security precautions”.
Using an interactive world map which serves as a guide to Canadians travelling abroad, that country’s government has provided an at-a-glance reference on how safe it views many parts of the globe.
The map colours Barbados a bright green, the lowest level of security on its legend, with a note “take normal security precautions”. This same colour is applied to the French Caribbean islands and Cuba.
By contrast the map warns travellers to Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic that they should “exercise a high degree of caution”.
However, Haiti is lumped with countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Honduras and attached with a label “avoid some areas”.
At the same time though, the country appears to be facing a growing public relations headache in the United Kingdom over the police’s handling of a rape case involving British women who were attacked while on the island.
British Member of Parliament for Stevenage, Stephen McPartland, sent a letter to Barbados TODAY this morning threatening to lobby the Foreign Office to have its travel advisory updated to list Barbados as a place that is unsafe for travel.
McPartland said: “I am very concerned the disgusting criminal that raped Rachel Turner has not been caught and the police in Barbados do not seem to be trying to find such a dangerous person. It is absolutely unbelievable that they [arrested and charged] someone when Rachel clearly explained that it was not the person who raped her — surely that would give cause for reasonable doubt. The person [charged] and set free due to Rachel’s brave decision to come forward has had a miscarriage of justice, but Rachel has had no justice.
“I am disgusted by the refusal of the authorities in Barbados to reopen the case and find the rapist. The Foreign Office should update their travel advice and make it clear that Barbados is not a safe place to travel and warn British tourists to stay away. Maybe, then the authorities in Barbados will make the Police reopen the case and find this rapist.”
According to the British MP’s correspondence, Dr. Rachel Turner was raped in Barbados in late 2010, only weeks after moving to the island to take up a research post at the University of the West Indies. “Rachel’s parents are my constituents and met with me to share their concerns that Rachel’s rapist had not been caught. Both they and Rachel believe the police in Barbados have swept the issue under the carpet and are understandably angry.
“The police did arrest a local man who spent 18 months in jail and was acquitted after Rachel and another British national both stated he was not their attacker. However, they had told the police in Barbados this from the beginning, but they did not listen and now refuse to reopen the case to find the real rapist,” he charged.
Up until today, however, the British Government’s travel advice for Barbados stated merely: “180,000 British nationals visited Barbados in 2012. Most visits are trouble-free…
“But there have been cases of sexual assaults against tourists and a recent increase in muggings and armed robbery, some involving the use of firearms and other weapons.”
On the other hand, the United States State Department says of Barbados: “Crime in Barbados is characterised primarily by petty theft and street crime. Incidents of violent crime, including rape, do occur. Visitors should be especially vigilant on the beaches at night. In 2012 several female tourists were reportedly sexually assaulted in separate attacks while walking alone in the Holetown area on the West Coast of Barbados. “As always, visitors to and residents in Barbados should always be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution, especially when walking alone and even during the day. If walking alone, avoid secluded areas.” [email protected]