Our Readers' Opinions
February 21, 2014
Murder rates threatening Caribbean development

Concern and even worry is mounting in tiny St Vincent and the Grenadines about the prevalence of mounting crime. Armed robbery in broad daylight is taking place, frightening citizens and business houses alike. One particularly worrying aspect is brazen murder.{{more}}

Reports this week are that this country has already chalked up its fourth murder for the year. This may seem minimal, but it is a worrying issue for a small country like ours. With a population of just about 110,000 and only six weeks into the new year, this is hardly comforting.

We are not alone however, where the rest of the region is concerned. Every day, just south of us, the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is confronted with horrifying tales of murder, taking toll especially among young men. Over 70 murders have been committed thus far in that country. At the other, northern end of the Caribbean archipelago, Jamaica exhibits a similar pattern, with the beheading of a young woman on Valentine’s Day, the latest chilling story.

The United Nations’ Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has published statistics showing that at a regional level, the Caribbean and Central America have some of the highest crime rates in the world. The figures for 2012 show Jamaica leading the region in this notorious field with a rate of 40.9 murders per 100,000 people, followed by Trinidad and Tobago and tiny St Kitts/Nevis. Our country (22.9), and Dominica are just behind St Lucia (25.2), with Barbados bottom of the list.

It is interesting to note that much maligned Cuba is listed as having only five murders per 100,000 persons!

Murder and violent crime are not only threats to social stability and personal security, they help to undermine social and economic development. Is this the direction in which the Caribbean is heading?

Surely, it is a most unwelcome SIGN OF THE TIMES.