Though not brushing aside the latest report of an alleged attack on a British visitor, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy is giving the assurance such occurrences are not the norm in Barbados.
In fact, Sealy said he was confident the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) was doing all it could to adequately protect visitors to these shores.
Last week the British newspaper Mail Online reported that Helen Najuk, 27, was grabbed from behind and almost raped while out jogging here, only to be met with “complete indifference” from the local police.
The report stated that Najuk had to fight for her life after being dragged to the ground, kicked and beaten by a stranger just yards from the holiday apartment where she was staying with her boyfriend David Pownall.
But when the couple went to the local police station to report the assault, desk officers “didn’t even stand up from their seats” to ask the bruised and bloodied businesswoman if she was alright, the paper charged.
“The island is not as peaceful as the authorities might have you believe. I suffered an extremely traumatic ordeal but the police couldn’t have been less caring,” Najuck was quoted as saying.
However, asked to respond to those claims and how such incidents should be handled, Sealy said it was in the best interest of everyone if reported cases were dealt with speedily.
“Such instances need to be dealt with swiftly, appropriately and [on a] case-by-case basis. It is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination, and we need to see to it that these are treated accordingly,” Sealy told a news conference yesterday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“As we well know we have to be fair on these issues. You know there are several sides to a story, but I can comfortably say that the Royal Barbados Police [Force] are very strong partners in our tourism efforts and certainly they do everything humanely possible to make the stay of our visitors, not only safe and secure, but comfortable. That is the standard you will meet. I am not saying you will not have a one-off here or there, but certainly they will be treated accordingly.”
Just last month a Grenadian family, who swore never to visit Barbados again, said they would be filing a lawsuit against the RBPF, after claiming they had been bullied and humiliated after being falsely accused of stealing a mobile phone.
In August last year Jamaican national Sonya Samantha King claimed that she and her son Kaleb Joseph were subjected to inhumane treatment at the Grantley Adams International Airport, a claim that has been refuted by the Division of Defence and Security in the Prime Minister’s Office.