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Bell: Bahamians Must Respect The Dead –Minister Bemoans Gruesome Social Media Postings

If a Cabinet minister has his way, the government will look at the country’s laws and determine what can be done to prevent the “disturbing” trend of people taking and posting the photos of murdered victims on social media websites.

Making the plea in the Upper Chamber yesterday was State Minister for National Security Senator Keith Bell, who urged Bahamians to show some respect for the dead.

“Within minutes after a tragedy, before a next of kin is notified, you have people circulating the most gruesome disturbing pictures of the deceased along with the names,” Senator Bell lamented.

“I cannot imagine the horror and torment that families are going through – firstly for the traumatic experience of losing their loved ones and secondly by having the most horrific pictures imaginable posted on social media. Please, I am begging all persons concerned – stop circulating crime scene pictures. This serves no useful practice. It prejudices investigations and trials and is deeply traumatic to families.”

Just this past weekend, the graphic photos of the country’s two latest murder victims were almost immediately posted to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The pictures showed the victims’ lifeless bodies lying in the streets in pools of their own blood as crime scene investigators combed the area.

Photographs like these often get thousands of likes, comments and shares on social media sites from Bahamians who apparently rely on the tabloid pages for up-to-the-minute information.

Social commentator Rodney Moncur was also last year arrested and charged for posting a photo of the body of Jamie Smith, a man who was killed in police custody.

During his Senate speech Minister Bell also gave an update on the number of illegal guns and ammunition removed from the streets.

He said from January to December 2013, 438 illegal guns and 6,853 rounds of ammunition were removed from the streets.

So far this year, 86 illegal guns have been found coupled with 765 rounds of ammunition.

“The levels of criminality and particularly murder remains too high,” the minister said.

“With each life lost, we cut a hole in the fabric of our community. With each death, the trauma to a family and community is enormous. The natural tendency to seek revenge or justice can further complicate a situation creating enormously volatility in many communities.”

As is the case in previous years, a number of disturbing trends remain prevalent with murders.

According to Senator Bell, these include the fact that the offenses are committed with an illegal firearm – American made pistols remain the most common weapons used in murders.

Police data have also showed that in the majority of cases, the victims and suspects are known to each other, in most murder cases and conflicts between people involving the illegal drug trade were the motive for the crimes.

This, said Senator Bell, was followed closely by cases involving general conflict between people and retaliation as a result of ongoing feuds between people known to each other.

Officials have also concluded that the majority of murder victims and suspects were between the ages of 18 and 45 years old, victims and perpetrators were predominately adult Bahamian males ordinarily resident in New Providence; a significant number of victims and perpetrators were known to the police and had appeared before the courts on a number of occasions; several murder victims and suspects were on bail at the time of their death or during the time they reoffended and most murders were committed on weekends between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

“These facts are astounding but they assist us in formulating and adjusting our saturation patrols and other intelligence-led strategies to counter criminal activity,” the minister said.

“…As we look at the issues facing this country, we must recognise that we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we must also be thankful. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Republic of Haiti in an official capacity. Seeing Haiti up close really buttresses the view that we must be thankful. Our issues and problems are not insurmountable. Once we are determined, I believe we have all the factors to make this land the most prosperous, successful and peaceful in the world.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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