Global security groups 'surprised' at rapid growth
By Tony Johnson, Express TT
C0orrection: In the second table the figures are 1000s/kidnap.
International kidnapping figures have put Trinidad and Tobago second only to Colombia, with this country now appearing on the radar screens of global anti-kidnap agencies.
In 2002, conservative figures developed for the insurance industry about world kidnapping for ransom shown (shown in table below), put the United States and the Caribbean together and, with only 19 confirmed kidnappings in total, at the bottom of the global scale.
But there have been 43 kidnaps for ransom in Trinidad so far in 2003. This increase, with an estimate by year-end of over 50, has rocketed Trinidad into the headlines and into second place in the world behind Colombia. It appears that based on population sizes Trinidad is now number two in the world for kidnaps for ransom, followed by Venezuela and Mexico.
A Lloyds official also confirmed the figures quoted.
An expert at Kroll, a worldwide consulting group on kidnap and other crimes, confirmed to the Sunday Express that the kidnappings in Trinidad were on the radar screen of global anti-kidnap organisations and that the rapid growth of kidnapping for ransom this year, and the lack of success in halting such crimes, were being closely monitored.
The Kroll spokesman noted that the organisation was "surprised at the rapid growth of kidnapping in Trinidad in the last 12 months". He was aware of the latest incidents and well-informed on the various initiatives taken to try and stem the tide.
In Colombia, the kidnap capital of the world, kidnap has become endemic and the fight is being led by a former kidnap victim, Fransisco Santos Calderon, who was abducted while Editor of the leading newspaper in Colombia. Now Vice President of Colombia with a mission to stop kidnapping, he is attempting to bring together experts and specialists from the global community to help with the fight. In an open letter to the people of Colombia on his release, Fransisco said: "I know what you think of the civil employees who, surrounded by escorts and knowing that they are protected, speak flowery or promise, in vain, to solve your problem. I know what is to feel the impotence of kidnapping. I know what it is not to know to whom to blame...... I want you to know that I understand what you think of a society that is not affected when they kidnap small children or even an old blind person. Yes, this is an ill society, very ill, because no longer does it hurt when our freedom is taken away!"
In Trinidad no such figure, with first-hand experience of kidnapping, has emerged as a leader or spokesperson for the victims, and concern has been expressed that government ministers, who have armed guards, do not appreciate the plight of the people.
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