SPEYSIDE, Tobago — With a steady rise in violent crime including an alarming increase in homicides, Trinidad and Tobago has overtaken Jamaica as the “murder capital of the Caribbean”.
While homicides increased two percent in Jamaica in 2008, murders were up a staggering 38 percent in Trinidad and Tobago.
Although much of the violence is gang-related, in recent years tourists have increasingly become targets for robbery, sexual assault and murder.
In October 2008, a Swedish couple was chopped to death in their hotel room in Tobago.
Just 10 days later in Tobago, two British females were robbed and sexually assaulted by a bandit who forced his way into their holiday apartment.
The US and the UK issued travel advisories warning travelers about increasing violence and the failure of police in Tobago to apprehend and prosecute criminals.
“You should be aware that there are high levels of violent crime, especially shootings and kidnappings,” states a travel advisory issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in October 2008. “British nationals have been victims of violent attacks, particularly in Tobago where law enforcement is weak.”
A US travel advisory issued about the same time warns travelers that armed robbers have been trailing tourists as they depart international airports in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Violent crimes, including assault, kidnapping for ransom, sexual assault and murder, have involved foreign residents and tourists (and) incidents have been reported involving armed robbers trailing arriving passengers from the airport and accosting them in remote areas…the perpetrators of many of these crimes have not been arrested.”
Highest crime rates
According to the Economist, the English-speaking Caribbean, which extends from the Bahamas in the north to Trinidad & Tobago in the south, averages 30 murders per 100,000 inhabitants per year, one of the highest rates in the world.
By comparison, the murder rate in both Canada and the UK is about two per 100,000.
With 550 homicides in 2008, Trinidad and Tobago has a rate of about 55 murders per 100,000 making it the most dangerous country in the Caribbean and one of the most dangerous in the world.
The rate of assaults, robbery, kidnapping and rape in Trinidad and Tobago is also among the highest in the world.
According to a report issued by the United States State Department, gang-related homicides and other crimes will continue to increase in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 and 2010.