Andrea___Bharatt__use

KILLED: Andrea Bharatt, 23, who was kidnapped and murdered in January.

Police say there has not been an increase in abductions or kidnappings in 2021.

But the fear of this, and other violent crimes, continues to resonate around the country.

The Sunday Express was told that there have been more than a dozen reports of abductions and attempted kidnappings over the past seven weeks.

However, police explained that under the Kidnapping Act (11.26) the definition of kidnapping would include any report where a person was detained without his/her consent even if it was for a temporary period, like during a robbery.

“The way the law defines kidnapping, it becomes a bit problematic from a statistical point of view. If you’re in a vehicle, and someone takes you to another location where you did not want to go, that is technically a kidnapping. That’s the danger of pulling statistics without context. “People live in a world where they can get almost anything they want on their phones. So when they see every day a kidnapping in the news...it’s not these persons have been taken, are still missing, and that a ransom was demanded. Many of these are just robberies. But the legislative body in their decision-making process added a severity for this type of actions to hopefully limit it,” the Sunday Express was told by a senior police officer yesterday.

In 2020 there were 84 kidnappings for the year, down from 148 such reports in the previous year. In 2018 there were 133 reports and in 2017 there were 102 reports.

Similarly, there were only six kidnappings for ransom in 2020.

In 2019, there were almost four times as many reports (22 incidents).

The Kidnapping Act at Section 3 states: “A person who for ransom, reward, or any similar consideration, unlawfully leads, takes, entices away, abducts, seizes or detains any person without his consent or with his consent obtained by fraud or duress and without lawful excuse, such that the person is held, confined, restricted, imprisoned or prevented from returning to his normal place of abode or sent or taken out of Trinidad and Tobago, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for not less than the remainder of his natural life.”

Kidnappings

On Friday a 17-year-old told police that he was forced to jump out of a moving vehicle after he was abducted in Enterprise while walking to a nearby savannah to exercise.

On Thursday, three men were held for attempting to abduct two women along Wrightson Road in Port of Spain. The women fought back against their attackers and the suspects on noticing the attention their actions were getting, drove off without the victims.

However, the suspects were held by officers of the Inter Agency Task Force along Laventille Road, Laventille.

That same evening, police received a report of an attempted kidnapping, this time in the Cunupia area. A woman told police she was waiting for a taxi along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway when a car stopped.

Two men exited the vehicle and attempted to pull her into the car.

Motorists saw what was going on, blew their horns, and the suspects fled, taking only the woman’s handbag.

February 14: a 26-year-old woman stabbed a man who attempted to abduct her. The woman entered a taxi in Arima, and requested to be dropped in Cumuto. However, the driver turned off onto Aripo Road. Her demands to be let out of the car were ignored and the woman pulled out a knife and slashed the driver across the left side of his face. She exited the vehicle and at the same time, another motorist was passing and observed the commotion.

The suspect fled the scene.

January 29: Andrea Bharatt, 23, a University of the West Indies graduate, entered a taxi after work at the Arima Magistrates’ Court. She never arrived home. On February 3, her body was found down a precipice off the road in the Heights of Aripo. One man has been charged with her murder, while two others died while in police custody. Post mortems have shown that they both died as a result of blunt force trauma.

November 29, 2020: Ashanti Riley, 18, entered a taxi in San Juan to go to her grandmother’s house. She never arrived. Five days later her body was found in a forested area off Upper La Canoa, Santa Cruz. A man has been charged with her murder.

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