Opinion: A crime free St. Maarten

POSTED: 09/20/11 11:53 AM

Our government has a vision. We discovered this on page 22 of the governing program which is aptly called A Foundation of Hope for Our Country. We discussed that title last week (see Hope does not exist, Today, September 15, page 7) so there is no need to go into that again. But the vision is interesting. In the second paragraph on page 22, in the chapter Safety and Security, our government states – boldly, we’d like to add – “The efforts to enhance the citizens’ personal safety and security continue with the vision of government for a crime free St. Maarten.”
Don’t break out the champagne yet, because as much as we admire the ambition that oozes from this statement, we’re pretty confident that this is a promise our government – or any government – is unable to fulfill.
Jason Lista calculated recently that the murder rate in St. Maarten is 32.4 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Compare Infobase Limited, a company that produces maps about, say, the top ten religious countries, and the top ten of the most populated countries, also produced a murder rate top ten map. In this case: the lowers murder rates in the world.
This is how we learned that Iceland is a place where getting murdered is not possible, because the murder rate is zero: 0.00. Remarkably, among the other countries with low murder rates are five on the African continent. Even the number ten, Oman, has a murder rate below 1 per 100,000,
This is the top ten: Iceland 0.00, Senegal 0.33, Burkino Faso 0.38, Cameroon 0.38, Finland, Gambia, Mali and Saudi Arabia all 0.71, Mauritania 0.76 and Oman 0.91.
Another ranking, the Global Peace Index, shows that Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world, followed by New-Zealand, Japan and Denmark. The Netherlands ranks 25, the United States 82. The Netherlands Antilles is not listed. In the region, Cuba seems to be the most peaceful place (ranked 67); other countries are further behind, like Trinidad and Tobago (79), Guyana (88), Dominican Republic (91), Jamaica (106) and Haiti (113).
While St. Maarten has its eyes on how things are going in Cuba for developments in sports and education, this is not the place to go to for ideas about creating a peaceful country. The last known homicide rate for Cuba dates back to 2004 and stands at 6 per 100,000 –more than five times better than the situation in St. Maarten, but crime free it is not.
And by the way, Iceland is of course not free of crime either. The San Diego State University compared rates for other crimes between Iceland, Japan and the United States. All numbers are rated as per 100,000 inhabitants. Rape: Iceland 14.53, Japan 1.48, US 34.4; robbery: Iceland 19.62, Japan 2.71, US 165.2; aggravated assault: Iceland 18.16, Japan 15.40, US 360.5; burglary: Iceland 761.09, Japan 187.93, US 862; larceny (theft): Iceland 1,951.58, Japan 1,198.13, US 2,728.1. The murder rate in Japan is 1.1, in the US 6.3, and in St. Maarten 32.4.
For all indexes combined Iceland scored 2,764.98, Japan 1,709.88, US 4,615.5.
For the murder rate alone St. Maarten is a long long way from becoming a crime free country. If even the most peaceful country in the world, Iceland, records close to 2,765 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, and if Japan records more than 1,700, what plans does our government have in place to beat those records?
We note that another ambition is to bring the police force up to minimum strength in the next three years. We understand that currently the force operates at 30 percent below minimum strength. We also learn from the governing program that it will be “impossible” for at least the next year to year and a half “to permanently fill all critical functions.”
The vision of a crime free St. Maarten is, that may be clear, a false promise, but this should not stop the authorities from making at least an honest effort to get a grip on the situation.

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