A Collection of 2010 Crime and Safety Reports (Laos, Mexico, Indonesia, El Salvador, Sudan, Bahamas, Niger, Burkina Faso)

I think US Embassy Laos’ 2010 Crime and Safety Report deserves an award for Simple English and Straight-forward Reporting:

Laos 2010 Crime & Safety Report
East Asia / Pacific – Laos |23 Apr 2010

Crime Threats
Bag snatching, residential/guesthouse room thefts, and arrests by police to extort money are among the most common crimes in Laos.

Road Safety
Motorcycle riding is extremely dangerous.  Driving between cities at night is extremely dangerous due to night hazards (cars/animals, people in middle of road sleeping, blind turns and high cliffs in mountainous regions).

Industrial and Transportation Accidents
There are numerous reports of buses getting into accidents while transiting between cities. There have also been frequent (about once a year) plane crashes by Lao Airlines.  There is no railroad in Laos.

Civil Unrest
Civil unrest is illegal in Laos.

The only kidnappings are by police to extort money

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
There is no concept of “Rule of Law” within Laos.  It would be better to say that there is an environment where the population is expected to pay for the police’s protection and involvement.  If the police detain you, refusing to negotiate a settlement will most likely only cause more police involvement, which will cost you more in the long run. 

I don’t know about you, but after somebody threw a dangerous device at US ConGen Nuevo Laredo, we are tempted to give the following report the Most Understated Reporting Award:

Mexico 2010 Crime & Safety Report: Nuevo LaredoAmericas – Mexico | 20 Apr 2010

The security situation along the U.S.-Mexican border remains fluid and unpredictable. In contrast to the violence seen in the border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo has continued to show a drop in violent crimes in recent years. However, this is due in large part to one cartel maintaining a firm grip on organized crime within the city. While reports of violent crimes and kidnappings have considerably decreased from years past, the threat of violence remains. Visitors traveling in this area have been victims of armed robberies, sexual assaults, auto thefts, and kidnappings. Although there is no indication that U.S. citizens are being specifically targeted, they too have been victims of such crimes.

US Embassy Jakarta’s 2010 report is Most Enlightening in terms of the size of the AmCit communities in the country and their security precautions:

Indonesia 2010 Crime & Safety Report
East Asia / Pacific – Indonesia |19 Apr 2010

Crime can be a problem in Indonesia, particularly in major urban centers like Jakarta and Surabaya, but it did not significantly affect the American community in 2009.  This may be a result of the continued security awareness of many official and private American citizens due to the ongoing terrorism threat in Indonesia.  Most American businesses have active security briefing programs with full-time professional security officers familiar with the latest criminal trends.  Considering the size of the official and private American communities (current consular data show 23,000 American residents in Indonesia), there were few reports of crimes against Americans in 2009.

The Most Graphic and Number Intensive report goes to US Embassy San Salvador’s 2010 Crime Report. See Jesus Flores: The Hidden El Salvador for the most extensive photo essays on crime and security in the country.  I understand that the photographer is an EFM who was assigned to El Salvador a couple years back.  Here is his blog; which does not mention any connection to the official community. 

El Salvador 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Americas – El Salvador | 20 Apr 2010

El Salvador is considered one of the most violent countries in the world. The threat of violent crime within San Salvador, including the neighborhoods in which many U.S. citizens live and work, increases isolation and impinges upon recreational activities. Crimes of every nature occur throughout the country; unfortunately, daylight is not a deterrent for criminals.

A country of roughly 5.8 million people, El Salvador has street gangs totaling more than 25,000 members.  Violent, well-armed,street gangs continue to grow in El Salvador. Los Angeles’ 18th Street and the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, are the largest gangs in the country. Gangs concentrate on extortion, narcotics, arms trafficking, murder for hire, car jacking, and violent street crime. Gang members and other criminal elements roam freely, day and night, targeting affluent areas for burglaries. Gang members are quick to engage in violence, even when resistance is offered. Many gangs are now comprised of unemployed youth who do not hesitate to use deadly force when perpetrating crimes. The U.S. government is working with the government of El Salvador to combat the country’s gang problem.

 Due to lax customs enforcement and porous borders, weapons are readily available and easily obtained by criminals, gangs, and anyone else who wishes to obtain them. The number of illegal weapons on the streets is estimated at 400,000; including AK-47s and M-16 assault rifles, various handguns, grenades, and military grade weaponry. The number of weapons caches, with non-decommissioned weapons that survived the civil war, is unknown. Crimes committed by criminals armed with automatic weapons are routine.

Generally, U.S. interests and citizens are not specifically targeted  by criminals, but they are not exempt from crimes either. Most members of the U.S. private sector are able to conduct their daily activities without security-related incidents by following basic security precautions.
The homicide rate in El Salvador for 2009 was 37 percent higher than 2008. The total number of homicides nationwide in 2009 was 4,365. This represents an average of 12 homicides per day. Other statistics are based on crimes reported by victims and those statistics vary widely among El Salvadorian government agencies. Nevertheless, the overall crime reports received by the police in 2009 were eight percent higher than 2008.

We are somewhat familiar with Sudan from Facts Are Strictly Optional but we did not realized that it is also a “must carry laminated card with you at all times detailing a request to take you to a hospital with higher standards” place.

Sudan 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Sub-Saharan Africa – Sudan | 21 Apr 2010

Sudan is a country of contrasts pertaining to crime. North and central Sudan, including Khartoum, experience relatively low crime rates compared to capital cities in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. Embassy has almost no crime reports against Americans in north and central Sudan.  However, in Darfur carjacking of non-governmental organizations (NGO) and UN vehicles by militia groups was reported almost daily until many organizations discontinued use of pick-up trucks and four-by-four sport utility vehicles in late 2008. Most organizations now rent secondhand, sub-compact sedans or minivans from private owners.  Such vehicles cannot be converted into technical vehicles (jeeps or pick-up trucks with mounted machine guns,) and do not have significant resale value for rebel groups seeking income.  In Darfur, there were 51 NGO, UN, and UN contracted vehicles carjacked and 30 NGO compound invasions by armed perpetrators reported to the African Union/UN hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in 2009.
The U.S. Embassy Khartoum suggests you carry a laminated card with you at all times detailing a request to take you to a hospital with higher standards, listing your blood type and any medical issues in Arabic.

Bahamas is not so magical a place as paradise.  There have been reports of harassment and killings of persons based on sexual orientation:

Bahamas 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Americas – Bahamas |22 Apr 2010

The Bahamas is a renowned tourist destination with cruise line ports of call and numerous luxury resorts.  The over 700 Bahamian islands, which make up the archipelago, are roughly equivalent in size to California, and has a combined population of about 330,000. Only about 30 of the 700 islands have significant populations, and about two-thirds of all Bahamians live on the small island of New Providence, where the capital Nassau is located, and which is also the center of commerce.
There were 87 murders in the Bahamas in 2009, nearly all the victims were Bahamian. In late 2009, three separate groups of tourists were held at gunpoint and robbed at popular tourist sites in and near Nassau; each of these incidents occurred during daylight hours and involved groups of more than eight persons. Several other tourist groups were allegedly victims of armed robbery at more remote locations. U.S. Embassy Nassau has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as casinos, outside hotels, or cruise ships. In several incidents the victim had reportedly been drugged.

The Bahamas has the highest incidence of reported rape in the world according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime, violence, and development trends. Two American citizens were murdered in Nassau in 2009, both in residential areas.  Home break-ins, theft, and robbery are not confined to any specific part of the island. The upsurge in criminal activity has also led to incidents which, while not directed at tourists, could place innocent bystanders at risk. An altercation at a major resort resulted in the shooting of two security officers, while several daytime robberies in Nassau led to exchanges of gunfire on busy streets.

The embassy has not received reports of harassment or hate crimes motivated by race, religion, or citizenship. However, the embassy does receive frequent reports about discrimination and harassment of Haitians. There have been reports of harassment and killings of persons based on sexual orientation. In addition, women have reported incidents of verbal harassment and unwanted attention.

Niger gets a double whammy… not only is it a high crime country, it is also a high threat country for political violence.

Niger 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Sub-Saharan Africa – Niger |21 Apr 2010

Niger is designated as a high crime threat country by the U.S. Department of State. As a land-locked country in West Africa, Niger shares borders with seven countries. These borders amount to over 1,000,000 miles, a distance that is nearly impossible to closely monitor. Niger’s central location in West Africa and the vast Sahara Desert in the north makes the country an ideal transit point for criminals, weapons, migrants, contraband, and illegal drugs.

Niger is also designated by the U.S. Department of State as a high threat country for political violence.  Niger is currently in the midst of a political crisis. There have been four coup d’états in the country’s history since its independence in 1960. Up until this current political situation, there was a very good relationship between the United States and Niger. Due to the sanctions imposed by the U.S. Government, the current bilateral relation is tepid.  However, this has not translated into an anti-American sentiment among the general population.

Burkina Faso is also a high crime threat country and a transit point for all sorts of bad stuff. But one of our readers previously informed us that he/she had a great time in Burkina Faso, except for the dust storm.

Burkina Faso 2010 Crime & Safety Report
Sub-Saharan Africa – Burkina Faso | 21 Apr 2010

Burkina Faso is a land-locked country in the center of West Africa and is designated a high crime threat country by the U.S. Department of State. Due to its geographic location it is a transit point for criminals, weapons and illegal drugs. Home invasions and street crimes such as pick pocketing, purse snatching, backpack theft, and cell phone theft are pervasive in Ouagadougou and other cities throughout the country. Although daytime robberies have been reported, most street crimes are committed after dark and are often perpetrated by one or two individuals on motorbikes. Criminals in urban areas will normally carry a knife or other edged weapon in order to cut the strap on bags, purses or backpacks. In general, thieves do not directly threaten victims with their weapons, although recent thefts and attempted thefts have involved the use of knives in an aggressive manner. Two recent thefts involved the victims being stabbed resulting in minor injuries. Home invasions and residential thefts normally occur after dark and are usually not confrontational in nature. Thieves utilize stealth when entering residences and confrontation with occupants is typically avoided.

That’s it from the OSAC collection for now. I probably need not mention this, but in addition to the Post Reports, the Real Post Reports, and Google, the OSC reports is a good stop when checking out posts in your next bid list.