The positioning of T&T as the 12th most dangerous country in the world by the international business news website, Business Insider can cause damage to T&T’s tourism and business development thrust, says professor emeritus at the University of the West Indies Ramesh Deosaran.
On November 1, Business Insider published an article titled These are the world’s 20 most dangerous countries and added photos showing what life is like there. It ranks T&T as more dangerous than Mexico where drug cartels carry out mass executions and where over 25,000 people were murdered last year. Referencing the US State Department, the article states that murder, domestic violence, and sexual assault each saw an increase in T&T in 2017.
Responding to the article, Deosaran, a criminologist and former chairman of the Police Service Commission, said that the Government should be making queries to the publisher about the source of the data. He said the article leaves many questions about what criteria was used to create the list.
Deosaran said, “A lot of rankings have been coming from overseas about competitiveness and about an unfriendly business environment, referring to Trinidad, but the fact is that we don’t know the criteria being used.
“To be fair to the countries affected, we need to know the criteria used and published and compare it to other countries because when you lump all countries as one in such a narrow analysis, you can give misleading results.”
He said foreign embassies in Trinidad have been issuing advisories that reflected badly on the country and will hamper tourists and investors from visiting local shores.
‘Foreign Affairs, other ministries must buck up’
It warned against travelling to Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, Cocorite, and the interior of Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, due to violent crimes such as murder, robbery, assault, sexual assault, home invasion, and kidnapping. It stated that gang activity such as narcotics trafficking is common, and tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting, and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas were being targeted.
“Violence and shootings occur regularly in some areas of Port-of-Spain. US Government personnel are prohibited from travelling to the following areas: Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots, Cocorite, and the interior of Queen’s Park Savannah. After dark, US Government personnel are prohibited from travelling to downtown Port-of-Spain, Fort George, and all beaches,” the advisory stated.
Deosaran believes advisories should be tamed and contain proper perspectives. The US was ranked as the 56th safest country, according to the article, but Deosaran said that in New York there were frequent shootings that result in dozens of lives being lost.
“This whole thing about index measurement with respect to crime or investment opportunities and the safety of tourists, we need to revisit that and demand the provision of criteria and reliable comparative data. We are yet to receive that. Our authorities here, our Foreign Affairs (ministry) especially and our various ministries must buck up and ask the hard questions of the people who are delivering these reports. That is my take on it.”
Asked whether he believes T&T was among the most dangerous countries in the world, Deosaran said he was aware that crime needed serious attention.
However, he said without knowing the criteria used in arriving at T&T’s position, it would be difficult to remedy the situation based on that report. He said professional staff at the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs and sophisticated bureaucracy were needed to tackle this.