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LEIDEN – Why do so many homicides occur on the Caribbean islands? And how can this number be lowered? With the help of a new database, researchers are hoping to find the answers to these questions. It could help the justice, and police departments on the islands to lower these numbers.

“The preliminary numbers show that the number of homicides are ten to twenty times higher than in the Netherlands. That number is huge in proportion to the population of the islands”, says researcher Marieke Liem, who is leading the research.

The database, which the University of Leiden will set up, is for all of the six islands within the Kingdom. The database will contain important information about the cases, victims, perpetrators, their criminal history, and their convictions. “The results of the research will be used on the islands, and in the Netherlands to investigate and prosecute the suspects”, according to Liem.

Less murders in a few years?
According to the researchers, this project is ‘essential’ if the Netherlands, and the islands wish to adapt their policies so as to lower the murder rates. “The justice, and police departments can only do so much with just the rough numbers”, so says Liem.

Gangs in the Netherlands
The researchers are curious about the relationship between the Netherlands, and Curaçao when it comes to murders. “With the database one could potentially see how the conflicts migrate. Additionally one could see if the murders that occur within the Dutch Caribbean community within the Netherlands are related to conflicts on the islands.”

Expectations are high at the Justice Department

The database is ‘a very positive development’, according to Attorney General Roger Bos. The top brass within the Public Prosecutor’s Office on Curaçao, Sint-Maarten and the three Caribbean municipalities expect to catch criminals faster with the use of the new database.

“A suspect who wishes to hide in the Netherlands will be exposed quicker due to the database” according to Bos. The Justice Department expects that the database will also help prevent the movement of criminals within the different parts of the Kingdom.

“The Justice Department in Curaçao will also develop additional insight in to areas that need to be focused on”, says Bos. The benefits? “Only when a comparison has been made can we say what the benefits are.”

Imported homicides?
There can also be another explanation for the high murder-rate on the islands, warns Liem. The so-called imported homicides out of neighboring countries such as Venezuela. “In some areas, and countries in Europe, such as Montenegro, criminals congregate to close deals. As a consequence, you see that a lot of hits occur in these places.”

Such a database already exists in the Netherlands, and it is very useful. “The Dutch police doesn’t have a single overview. You have to go to the Public Prosecutors Office, the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Council for the Judiciary, and seven other organizations to get a proper overview”, according to criminologist Marieke Liem.