PLP: arrest and acquittal of tourist ‘no beach’ violators bad for Bahamas Tourism
The country’s reputation could take a massive hit in the aftermath of the arrest and subsequent acquittal of three American women who were in the country on vacation.
25 year old Ikrame Kanane, 21 year old Rana Kenawy, and 18 year old Mariam Mohamed Hassan of Boston, Massachusettes, had travelled to Nassau with hopes of spending their time enjoying the beaches, only to find that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis had ordered them closed ahead of the Independence holiday weekend. A video of the trio defying the law and climbing a fence on Paradise Island to access Cabbage Beach went viral.
At their arraignment before Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes, the women claimed police officers had given them permission to climb the fence. They alleged two officers told them “we will turn our backs.”
Following news of their acquittal, Senator Fred Mitchell, Chairman of the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party, said the matter was a major embarrassment for the government and its result proved it was a colossal waste of time and resources of both the police and the courts. He said the matter would not bode well for the country’s reputation, noting that the women were escorted to court in handcuffs by police.
“We note the decision of the police to place handcuffs on the persons charged. We have made the point before that the use of these and other restraints when there appears to be no violence or record of flight seems over the top and may be unconstitutional,” Mitchell noted in a statement.
He added that in the case of the visiting women it made for a terrible image for tourism in The Bahamas and that the trial would attract international attention.
“This incident will do more harm than good to the country’s tourism product and brand,” he continued, “not to mention our international reputation.
The PLP Chairman placed the blame at the feet of the Prime Minister and what he said was a nonsensical beach order closure.
“So nonsensical are some of these Emergency Orders by the so-called Competent Authority that the government is challenged and hard pressed to get the law enforcement officers to enforce some of them or to understand what they are,” he said.