Framing a Regional Response to Violent, Gun-Related Crimes

Heads of government of CARICOM did not mince their words at last Monday and Tuesday crime Symposium in Trinidad and Tobago. They all agreed that crime, especially violent crime, and in particular gun-related crimes, must be tackled collectively as each territory experiences the same volatile environment illegal guns and illegal drugs in a country can create.

The Heads of government seems to be singing from the same song sheet when each came to speak about the levels of violent and gun-related crimes in their respective country.

The Heads gave the impression that the time was past due for the Caribbean region to act as a collective group to eradicate gun-related crimes in their part of the world.

Jamaica’s Andrew Holness touched on that and went further, calling for the region to lobby the United States, in particular, to assist CARICOM member states in the war on guns in the same manner the region had and continues to assist the United States in the war on drugs.

Said Holness, in describing the present situation: “the greatest unfairness that we have diverted resources from other areas in which we could have spent it to fund and support a war on drugs…There seems to be no interest in stopping the other part of the trade, which are the guns.”

The prime minister made it clear that guns fuel crimes, are an accelerant and are needed to protect drugs which are transshipped through the borders of CARICOM member states.

Saint Lucia has been going through that experience for some time now, fighting to control an upsurge in serious, violent crime committed mostly with the gun. The statistics are mind boggling for a 238 square mile country with a population of approximately 180,000.

The island in 2016 recorded 30 homicides, which doubled in 2017 to 60. Four years later, in 2021, despite the policies and laws put in place to combat violent crime on the island, 74 homicides were recorded. There seems to be no end in sight to violent, gun related crimes in Saint Lucia for this year, as already the number of homicides stands at 28, an average of seven killings per month, or almost two per week, the majority of which have been fire-armed related involving young people both as victims and perpetrators.

Seeing that the region does not manufacture guns, it follows, ineluctably, that the guns are coming from outside the region, particularly from North America, as noted by the Heads of government of CARICOM. How then can the guns be stopped from entering the region?

“So collectively, as the leaders of CARICOM, we must raise our voice on this (entry of guns into the region). We must appeal to our friends in the North to increase their efforts to prevent the flow of guns into the region,” Holness said.

He also made the point that the nations of CARICOM should not negate their own responsibility in protecting their respective ports of entry.

We agree with Barbados’ Mia Mottley when she said that it would be an injustice if delegates left the Symposium without adopting decisions to be implemented across the region.

The unspoken theme ‘we are all in this together’, which reverberated throughout the two days of the Symposium, was brought home when Prime Minister Pierre reminded the other leaders that Saint Lucia had to call in the Regional Security System to help in quelling an escalated crime situation in Vieux Fort that featured violent gun-related crimes almost on a daily basis.

With the recognition that violence stalks the region and has tentacles in all the CARICOM member states, and the resolve by the leaders to do something about it, we feel hopeful that the Symposium was not another talk shop.

We expect, in due order, a comprehensive plan to tackle this scourge in all member states of CARICOM, and a willingness by member states to reach out and assist each other with strategies to reduce violent and gun-related crimes in each respective territory.


    What a load of wasted energy Mr. Chairman, all the fancy talking will not decrease crimes being committed by privileged youths of the Island, and all the fancy rambling with fancy wording will not deliver a positive action to the killings, the muggings, the trafficking of drugs, in my opinion, this is only good for nothing. I am wondering how many bad boys read the newspaper, and if some do the constant rambling of words just shut them off, we need action you need action.
    The happenings that are done in the community by certain people continue to flourish mainly because there are no checks and balances, the law meaning the police presence should be seen, in the bars, in the churches, at community events, everywhere there is a gathering of four or above, to nip it in the bud.
    Police should be heavily armed, the bigger the guns the more menacing they look, since they are the good guys, let them patrol and take it to the dens of thieves, take it to the countryside, to the beaches, and everywhere that seems to be a heaven for the criminals.
    It took a while but I see my point is being driven home, society has now realized the way to end this fiasco is to educate the parents, the fact that some parents do not have any education and they don’t need it to function, the Island can converse in their creole language and get by just fine thank you! They don’t read newspaper articles, all those rambling on paper by the people who should protect the Island is a failure to communicate.
    If you speak softly and carry a big steak chance are, you will get much more done in a short time, instead of traveling here and there listening to the same old song, all of them have their problem before you publicized their problem look firstly to your people, and the devastation of your nation.
    What is needed is a strong police presence in each community, get one if you don’t have one, and raise taxes its better to pay a little more than die lonely on the streets, some time ago you implemented vat, little did you know that a portion of vat should have included the security of the nation, it is not too late to biff up your police force, you cannot rely on others to foot your inner circle problems, go ahead this may be for you, food for thought.

    1. Unless everyone takes responsibility in controlling their neighbourhoods, teaching children right from wrong, and reporting drug selling and gun activity in their community, the crime will continue.
      People who know the criminals, who witness the crimes, who hear about the perpetrators, need to grow a backbone, gain self respect, be brave, and report the crimes.
      Stop turning away from the truth and become courageous citizens. Some day it will be your son or daughter who is killed in the crossfire of drug dealers with guns.

  2. @Dark Shadow:- I agree with all that you’ve said, but at the moment I must address the situation in St. Lucia which if not tackled now, destroy the system of crime as is, mainly driven by Drug peddling, will eventually destroy St. Lucia, its commerce, its Tourism Business, Investment, Development and system of Government. One thing I’ve always advocated and that is, ‘If you kill – you hang’ no if, but or maybe about it.
    A very strong message must be sent out to the killers in St. Lucia right now before its too late, otherwise crime can verily shut the Country down, resulting in mass poverty, the flight of Doctors and both Medical and other Professional bodies, unemployment due to the closing down of most big employers. So QUO VADIS ST. LUCIA?

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