What a start to 2024!
Dr. Fraser- Point of View
February 16, 2024
What a start to 2024!

My column this week was to be about something else, but as I sat before my computer, I got news about a murder in Camden Park. At this moment there appears not to be a lot of information available except that a woman was chopped to death.

This is the seventh death for the year, meaning seven in six weeks. This followed the death of a one-year-old child, incidentally the second baby to have been murdered in less than a year. Some people will prefer that one should not write about such matters for it shows up a side of the country that we will rather keep hidden from outsiders. But that is not the issue. It is about getting persons to analyse what is happening with a view to finding answers. Fortunately for us this spate of murders has not touched areas frequented by visitors and tourists. I say fortunately for one can expect in the event that such areas are touched, to have warnings particularly from the US advising their people not to visit SVG. This could therefore impact on the tourist industry which we are trying desperately to develop. But my concern is not necessarily about the impact on visitors to the country but on the country itself. And having made that point, the US should be the last to issue such warnings given the state of killings and generally, affairs in that country. But that is their business. We have to be concerned about the state of things at home and the impact on people and the society generally.

I say all of this given the news that last year we had the most murders per 100,000 population than other country in the region and one is hoping that this year we would see a decline especially after efforts by the Police with their Town Hall meetings and their ‘Walk Abouts’. It is still early in the year but the way we have started out is really alarming. Maybe potential criminals are not among those attending these meetings. But who is a potential criminal? I am not sure that anyone has an answer to this except perhaps to point to mental health cases, persons partaking of certain types of drugs, members of gangs and those whom some refer to as hooligans. A “Gun Amnesty” is scheduled to come on stream at the beginning of March and I welcome this because this matter has to be tackled on all fronts. I say so knowing that the victim in Campden Park today was chopped to death and the one-year-old baby girl had her throat slit. One report I saw alleged that the person who committed the crime described the baby as a demon child or the daughter of a demon.

While we can list what we consider possible causes of crime, we have to admit that we have a societal problem that has to be tackled on all fronts and by all concerned persons. We have to get rid of this nonsense of the Prime Minister not talking to the Leader of the Opposition. All hands need to be on deck. Steps to be taken have to be both short and long term. The matter of Conflict Resolution has to be high on the agenda, for more often than not once there is a conflict the result is violence and the use of anything nearby that can cause harm. We have to get to the schools and to the churches and in places where people meet.

One of the issues that has not as yet featured in the discussions or the reactions of people to the murders that have taken hold of this country is the fact that there are a number of persons who had been shot or been attacked with some other instrument of destruction actually survived and were not killed, impacting therefore on numbers. Additionally, we have seen videos circulated on social media about quarrels which have turned into fights. Increasingly looking at some of these, one gets the impression that some people no longer fear the police. This is obvious from an incident in Choppins where someone who was arrested was pulled away from the police. There are other examples that one can point to. One has to congratulate the police in those cases for having exercised restraint. There has been criticism about the extraordinarily long time between when a crime is committed, and charges being laid. The Police have explained this, but we have to be careful that people do not begin to take justice into their own hands. The angry mob outside the police station in Rose Hall with the death of the baby, points to this.

While speaking of long-term solutions I was able to briefly look at a document produced by the NDP some time ago entitled The Social and Spiritual Redemption Charter. There are some things with which I do not necessarily agree, but some with which I do. Let us not see this in stark political terms but as a document that could be a contribution to the debate, amended and perhaps become a public document along with contributions by others. All ideas are needed. This matter about which I write is serious and can get completely out of hand. We have to act now!

 

  • Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian