Fellow Citizens and Residents
Our Federation has been shaken by the recent upsurge in gun violence, from reports, a majority of which are linked to gang related violent crimes, highly concentrated in the Central Basseterre community.
As Prime Minister, and on behalf of your Government, I express my sincere regrets and deepest condolences to the families of those who have succumbed to violent crimes and who are in bereavement at this time. I also share the concerns of our communities and the nation, as a whole.
Each life is precious! Every endeavor should be made to preserve life and maintain the safety of our people.
Crime reduction requires the input and efforts of all of us. I therefore appeal to the general public to cooperate with the security forces.
Immediately, the security forces will implement the following:
- increased security presence in our communities through various methods
- further engagement of regional and international security experts to work along with our forces
- strengthening of the intelligence capabilities of the security forces
- expansion of the CCTV infrastructure island-wide
- enhancement of evidence gathering capabilities to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice
The High Command of the Police Force will hold a press conference tomorrow to give more detail on these initiatives to the general public.
The Cabinet has also agreed to table legislation in the National Assembly to increase the penalty for illegal firearms offences from 15 to 25 years in prison.
I reassure you that our security forces will be unrelenting in working collaboratively in their obligation to preserve law and order in our Federation. Our streets must remain safe so that the law-abiding citizens and residents of our Federation can enjoy their peace and tranquillity.
Your Government believes in providing a second chance to our citizens and residents who have fallen afoul of the law. However, it cannot be a second opportunity to repeat criminal activity.
The present upsurge in criminal activity is a natural and direct result of the monetization of crime management. Similar methods were tried and failed in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Haiti and El Salvador, for example. In every occasion it resulted in what we are seeing right now in our Federation.
Contrary to the propaganda peddled in social media by irresponsible naysayers, the Labour Party Administration did not stop the Peace Programme!
However, your Government, on taking office, began and continues to be committed to the reformation of the Programme with rehabilitation at its core.
I therefore appeal to the young men and women to move forward as law-abiding citizens with respect for the rights and livelihoods of others.
I have commissioned The National Security Task Force to take the lead on a behavior changing initiative, “Crime and Violence as a Public Health Issue”. This is a more scientific, sustainable and holistic approach to crime fighting, which includes dealing with the issue of violence from a public health perspective.
This multi-pronged approach is built on several pillars that draw on the knowledge and expertise of stakeholders from multiple disciplines to implement a plan of action designed to sustain a culture of non-violence throughout the Federation.
Our country wraps our arms around all the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence, whether recent or in the distant past. But our thoughts and prayers are not enough. They are not enough to erase the grief; they are not enough to subdue the anger; they are not enough to prevent such acts from happening again.
We have to work together at all levels of governance; as well as throughout all communities and households, to do more to stop the destruction of human lives in our beautiful twin-island nation. And we will succeed together!
Once again, I urge all of us to bring about the positive change we want to see in our country.
May God bless the memories of those who recently lost their lives.
May God give comfort their families as they navigate this trying time.
And May God bless our beloved Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis and keep us safe