Pm Convenes Crime Consultation

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By Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter
(Frigate Bay, St. Kitts)”A National Consultation to address escalating crime in St. Kitts and Nevis was convened by Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, at the St. Marriott Resort on December 12. The consultation comes on the heels of a comprehensive study of the root causes of crime arising from gang violence that was presented to the Douglas Administration by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Ministry of National Security invited stakeholders including non-governmental organizations, the church, the private sector and all the political parties to join together in discussing what needs to be done to curb violence in the society so that citizens and visitors of the Federation can feel a sense of security.”” The event was attended by Kittitian-born International Criminologist, Dr. Lionel C.M. “Woosey” von Frederick Rawlins, who is the founder of The Von Frederick Group, a Sacramento, California, based counter-terrorism and criminological organization. Dr. Rawlins has extensive experience as a professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Sociology, Ethnic Studies, Physics, Chemistry and History. He currently works for the U.S. government in intelligence. Federal Bureau of Investigation representative, Mr. Mark Mershon, was also at the Consultation. Mr. Mershon indicated that he would be working with the Federal Government starting next year. Political leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Hon. Vance Amory; political leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), Mr. Lindsay Grant; political leader of the United National Empowerment Party (UNEP), Dr. Henry Browne and the General Secretaries of the Nevis Reformation Party; Leader of the Opposition and Parliamentary Representative for Nevis 9, Hon. Mark Brantley, were in attendance. Premier of Nevis, Hon. Joseph Parry, who gave opening remarks at the consultation, said that it is the first time in Nevis that there were so many murders. Nevis has had five murders for the year. “I can only assume that in the minds of some, human life is not important,” he said. “I wish to state that our economies are almost totally dependent on tourism. Some people do not care about doing damage to the economy,” Mr. Parry said. He said that there is a breakdown in the traditional values of hard work, honesty, decency and respect. Parents are not spending enough time with their children because of holding more than one job, he said. “We need to get the guns, gangs, and drugs off the streets,” Mr. Parry said. “The time for talk is over, immediate action is needed that signals that the government and law enforcement agencies are serious,” Mr. Parry said to thunderous applause. “If we are serious about crime, we will have to find the money.” Mr. Parry also highlighted the need for counseling of our young people. Prime Minister Douglas in his remarks underscored the need to address the root causes of crime. “This consultation is about who and what we have come to as a people,” he said. “We need to look at the root causes of violence”we simply cannot just focus on the weapons of violence,” Dr. Douglas said. “We need to root out this virus, this pathogen that is causing this problem.” The Federation has recorded an unprecedented 23 murders for the year and crime is mounting in the face of frustration and fear among citizens. Crime is a product of the society and sound parenting is extremely important, Dr. Douglas said. “It is not the guns and drugs that are [solely] our problems, it is the damaged minds, souls and psyche,” he said. Commissioner of Police, Mr. Austin Williams, assured the citizens that the security forces have some robust security plans in place for Christmas and Carnival. “We have a zero tolerance policy toward crime. Tough times call for tough measures,” he said. “It is time to be relentless in dismantling criminal elements in society.” The Commissioner made a plea for all stakeholders to hold the reigns again in working towards the eradication of crime. “We not only sell sea, sun and sand but our safety and security as well,” he said. “We must move swiftly to arrest this dilemma of crime.” Although crime has reduced in some areas, we are seeing an increase in anti-social behavior and violent crimes, the Commissioner said. The FBI expert, Mr. Mershon, who has had a 34-year career with the FBI, said the problem of crime is complex and one that is being experienced in all parts of the world. Dr. Lionel Rawlins said that the situation of gang involvement and violence in our Federation is grave and that we have a lot of work to do. Gang life is fuelled by immediate economic gratification, he said. “The time is now to deal with crime,” he said. “Those who hide the criminals are worse than the criminals themselves.” After the opening ceremony, stakeholders in attendance were put into groups to brainstorm ways of addressing the culture of violence.

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