Assembly apprised of rise in crimes against tourists


27-June-2012

This was said by the Minister for Home Affairs and Transport Joel Morgan, who was in the National Assembly yesterday to answer an urgent question by the leader of government business Marie-Antoinette Rose. Also there was the Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St Ange.

This follows joint announcements the two ministers made last week concerning the alarming rate of crime which is affecting the tourism industry, other individuals, businesses and also terrorising whole communities.

Mr Morgan said also on the rise is armed thefts against tourists, theft in tourism establishments, on trails, beaches and parked vehicles close to beaches.
He said the police had started an intensive operation to contain the crime situation in the country.

Minister St Ange said the message to the people regarding the impact of crime on the tourism industry is clear – every Seychellois businessmen and women will be the first to be affected before the effects will be felt by all Seychellois without leaving any exception.

“Tourism is every one’s business. It is ours and our country’s industry and all ministers in the cabinet are responsible for tourism in one way or another,” Minister St Ange said, noting that he made the point during a presentation to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently.

Minister St Ange further noted that each and every one of us has the power to either promote or destroy the industry through our actions.

Seychelles’ safety label and confidence gained through concerted hard work between the private sector, government and everyone who welcome visitors from all corners of the world to our shores are being tarnished and affected, Minister St Ange pointed out.

He said the situation is alarmingly getting worse to a point where some countries were considering imposing a travel advisory to Seychelles as a holiday destination because of increasing incidence of attacks on tourists, thefts and break-ins in tourism establishments.

Minister St Ange said our Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs Jean-Paul Adam has had to intervene to try and redress the situation but further noted that while an amicable way out was being found, two more visitors coming from Trois Frères were robbed of their valuables including a wedding ring.

Minister St Ange noted that this prompted London to issue a travel advisory notice to its visitors to Seychelles thus tarnishing our country’s safe destination reputation.

Minister St Ange said this notice is a disgrace for Seychelles, for our tourism industry and for all Seychellois.

He noted that we have been made aware of the seriousness of the situation and as a country and a people who depend on the tourism industry we have to act and declare war on criminality affecting this industry before it destroys what we have worked so hard to achieve.

“When a European country where most of our visitors come view Seychelles as an unsafe destination there is no guarantee that others will not follow suit,” noted Minister St Ange.

With regard to the impact the spate of crime is having on the industry and our economy, Minister St Ange said it is clear that the  destructive actions of a few individuals if not curtailed will affect our economy and  bring poverty to our people.

He further noted that Europe today is facing a serious economic crisis which is in turn reducing the number of visitors Seychelles get from European destinations and any news that Seychelles is no longer a safe destination will immediately bring uncertainty for visitors planning a holiday.

“This is something our tourism industry does not need at this most difficult time for our partners in the industry in Europe.”

Minister St Ange implored the Assembly for its help to get across the message on the need to work together to protect the tourism industry from criminal acts.

For his part minister Morgan again highlighted the measures being taken by the police and the judiciary to ensure that offenders of such crimes are brought to justice in the shortest possible time.

He also talked about the challenges and weaknesses which the authorities have to address and overcome to ensure that visitors to our shores as well as our own citizens who are being terrorised by criminals get the security and protection needed.

He noted that the police have in place a mechanism to deal with reported criminal cases to ensure that suspects are promptly brought to court.

Minister Morgan also noted that the police are continuously restructuring and developing its plan to increase its efficiency and professionalism.

He pointed out that as part of it development the police have introduced a National Crime Services Division (NCSD) responsible for patrols, crime prevention and investigation, carrying out checks on “black spots”, searching vehicles, looking for criminals on wanted list as well as helping police stations around the country to meet the need of people in the communities who seek police assistance.

Minister Morgan said as the police get more human resource, the force will increase its visibility by making more patrols in the districts and communities.

Minister Morgan stressed that the police is doing a lot to counter the crime situation but he admitted there are still areas which need to be developed to ensure more safety for the public and security for visitors to our shores.

This include more intensive training for new recruits in the police force, more specialised training for police officers to better deal with the public, building capacity of the force to be more proactive, more committed and combative when dealing with crimes.

He noted that the authorities have called on the judiciary to review the system in place especially the various sentences imposed on criminals, the system of plea bargaining, the cash bails which are too low especially for offences like armed robberies, thefts on tourists, break-ins, repeat offenders, among others.

This, said Minister Morgan, will reduce the number of criminals roaming free while they wait for their cases to heard.

Minister Morgan noted that to have a country where  citizens and visitors alike feel protected and in security, there needs to be a police force and a judicial system which the people can trust.

“The time has come for more severe actions against crime and for this to happen all actors in the justice system should be equally committed to deal with crime,” Minister Morgan stressed.

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