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US issues safety warning for its citizens in Trinidad

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The United States Department of State has warned its citizens in Trinidad and Tobago to avoid “hot spots” and taking taxis in several areas because of increasing crime.

The department said “due to serious safety and security concerns” they are restricted from traveling to Laventille, Sea Lots, Cocorite, Beetham — all within a short distance away from the City of Port of Spain — and the interior of the Queen’s Park Savannah, downtown Port of Spain after dark. Fort George (a tourist attraction) after dark and “’all beaches after dark.”

The advisory is contained in the 2016 Crime and Safety Report dated April 18, 2016 prepared by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Overseas Security Advisory (OSAC), in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain.

The OSAC’s report states, “there is no evidence to indicate that foreigners are targeted in particular but crimes, including robberies, break-ins / burglaries, vehicular assaults “do occur in areas frequented by tourists and in which the expatriate community lives.”

“The government of Trinidad and Tobago faces numerous challenges in its efforts to reduce crime, including an overburdened legal system, bureaucratic legal system, bureaucratic resistance to change, unemployment in marginal areas, disenfranchised youth, the negative influence of gangs, drugs, weapons and an economic recession,” it noted.

The OSAC is also advising U.S. citizens to avoid using route taxis because “crimes have taken place inside taxis.”

The report says crime in Trinidad and Tobago continues to be a serious concern although the Police Service 2015 crime statistics show a 6.7 percent decrease in overall serious criminal activity as compared to 2014 and “despite the seizure of 691 firearms in 2015, almost 81 percent of murders were committed by firearm, continuing to highlight the problem of imported and often illegal weapons and firearms.”

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