Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves
News
December 23, 2022
Many homicides connected to cocaine trade says PM

Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves believes that there is a relatively small group of people killing one another in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Gonsalves has also expressed the view that “a lot” of the homicides are connected to the cocaine trade.

The Prime Minister made these comments during a call to the Issue at Hand programme on Sunday, December 18.

During the call, he spoke about the local crime situation and also touched on other issues.

Stating that every possible tool has to be used in the fight against crime, Gonsalves pointed out that the government got no support from the opposition New Democratic Party, when it wanted to introduce electronic surveillance to monitor suspects of criminal activities.

He explained that this surveillance would have had to be mandated by a judge of the high court.

This method of helping with the gathering of intelligence is still not available in SVG.

“It must be admitted that even in some countries which have the tool…the serious crime rate, including homicide, is still high.”

“But it probably would have been higher, if they didn’t have that tool,”Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security said.

Apart from the absence of this tool,and the unconstitutional nature of a mandatory death sentence, people are not easily deterred from committing murders.

Gonsalves said in the absence of the death penalty, murder cases usually end up with convicts “getting a term of years, regardless of how gruesome the murder may be.”

“They feel that if they end up getting 20-25 or 30 years, and they are 20 years old, they going to still come out and be able to live a life,”he noted.

The Prime Minister reminded listeners that in prison, one year is equal to only eight months.

“Maybe in our context, that if the death penalty was available, in practical terms, maybe we may have less shootings.

“There are some people who are fully convinced of that, and some say absolutely not, and there are others who say… its something for consideration”.

Gonsalves, recalled that in the attempt at Constitutional Reform in St Vincent and the Grenadines, there was a provision to allow for the death penalty to be available for all types of murders, except those classified as crimes of passion.

The referendum on constitutional reform in 2009 did not gain the majority two-thirds of votes needed for it to effect the change to the constitution.

As it relates to homicides locally, Gonsalves said its a relatively small group of people who are killing one another.

“And its connected, a lot of it is connected to the business of cocaine trade, and other spin offs with retaliation and all the rest of it.”

The Prime Minister indicated that governments could be tough on crime and on the causes of crime, but they do not have a “magic bullet” to halt criminal activities.

He further said that the upcoming National Budget would see an increase in the allocation for the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, moving from $38,000 to $41,000.

Explaining that the fight against crime is everybody’s business, Gonsalves called on families, parents, schools and churches to all do their part to put a dent in the crime situation.

The National Security Minister said a “total society approach” is needed to fight crime in SVG.