Regional cooperation a must in combating rising violence and crime
September 15, 2023
Regional cooperation a must in combating rising violence and crime

The media, social as well as traditional, are replete with reports of violent murders here and in other countries across the region. The latest incidents of what can only be called assassinations occurred over the last week with the victims both being Vincentian men, well known to the police. While one of the murders was committed in Grenada, there are reports that the other man, who was killed in Sion Hill over the weekend had been deported from Grenada.

This has led the leadership of the Grenada Police Force to have to address publicly expressed fears in that country about possible cross-border involvement in such high-profile crimes. These are concerns shared here in St Vincent and the Grenadines. They are based both on the obvious connections between criminal elements in the region and beyond, as well as the relatively easy access between the Caribbean islands using illegal means. This has been a boon for illegal trafficking of drugs in the region.

That same accessibility forms the basis of fears that some of these assassinations may well be carried out by hired killers flitting between the islands with impunity. As yet there has been no evidence of this but even as a preventative measure it calls for heightened regional cooperation among regional crime-fighting entities. We simply cannot afford to go on like this.

The ease of carrying out public but illegal executions on persons, whether they have criminal records or not, is simply a situation which we cannot and must not allow to continue. Criminals cannot be allowed room to carry out such murderous activities in public with impunity. Our societies cannot continue to appear helpless in the face of these threats to law and order, the safety of citizens and the undermining of social stability.

The ease of carrying out such deadly and murderous operations in public is already burdening us with reputations of being on the road to such lawless situations as exist in parts of Mexico and Colombia for instance, joining the twin-state of Trinidad and Tobago in such an unenviable reputation. But it also indicates signs of sophisticated planning among criminal elements.

Two worrying situations have emerged recently in Trinidad.

There, police are investigating reports of the use of modern technology by criminal elements to begin to manufacture weapons right there, circumventing any measures to curtail illegal importation from abroad. The other is the arrest of a local (Trinidadian) businessman after a quantity of the deadly methamphetamine drugs was found on his property, believed to have been manufactured locally. This drug is considered internationally to be one of the most dangerous in use.

All of these add up to a situation which makes it difficult for any one country to handle by itself. We cannot over emphasize the urgency of the situation without causing alarm. To compound it all, think of the relatives of those killed; children in school who have to live with the social stigma, perhaps for life, the young mothers of those children etc. Are our schools equipped to handle such situations?

We need to up our game.