Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has reiterated the vocal and frequent call of the Parliamentary Opposition on society and government to recognize that the matter of crime is seriously affecting the people and the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis to the point where it is a crisis.
“We have also indicated there is need for a non-partisan National Conversation on Crime whether by the creation of a Crime Commission or otherwise to look at the root causes of crime, analyze and recommend solutions to this problem, especially when in recent times two police sergeants, a female soldier and the son of a government minister and many others have fallen victims,” said Dr. Douglas on Friday.
“We had been very clear in the call on civil society, political parties, government and Opposition members and our citizens to get together to pursue this as a matter of national urgency,” said Dr. Douglas, who endorsed earlier comments made by the Labour Member for St Christopher 2, Hon Marcella Liburd in reference to statement issued on Tuesday by the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
“The CIC is not an agency of National Security. It’s not responsible for fighting crime and that’s why the Parliamentary Opposition and the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party welcome the Chamber’s statement on crime,” said Dr. Douglas, who pointed out that the Chamber’s proposal to establish a multi-stakeholder high level Committee on Crime would include a wide cross-section of civil society representatives, all political parties and youth representatives who would come together to share ideas and make recommendations about how to effectively curb crime.
“Over the last several months the Labour Party has led the charge in calling for a new strategy on crime to be devised through national consultations that would comprise all stakeholders in government, Opposition, the media, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector. In recognizing that crime is fundamentally a social problem the Labour Party has emphasized the need for a crime policy that would not only include strategies to maintain law and order and punish criminal activity, but also strategies to prevent crime from happening in the first place,” the Labour Party said.
The SKNLP said it was “in firm agreement with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce that if our society is to prevent crime, we must take a second look at how we are raising and educating our children, the kinds of adults whom we model to our children and, at the policy level, the kind of support we as leaders and legislators provide to strengthen families and enhance the quality of family life.”
“To this end, we have entreated civil society, including our churches, the media and the business community to become more involved in rousing anew a national consciousness that repudiates anti-social behaviour,” said the SKNLP statement.
It added that the Labour Party has also firmly maintained that given the multidimensional nature of crime, a new public policy on crime must be holistic, coherent and coordinated across all institutions in the criminal justice system from policing, to the courts, to the prisons.
“It must take a whole-of-society and whole-of- government approach that would encourage information sharing, networking and collaboration among all key entities and agencies that play a role in crime prevention. It must be tough as well as intelligent. It must empower the police and it must empower the people. It must punish criminality as well as rehabilitate. It must consider the needs of the countless victims who have been traumatized by crime. It must also address the nexus between crime and other factors such as economics,” the SKNLP said.
It further noted that given the current environment of fear, apprehension and insecurity enshrouding St. Kitts and Nevis, the time for action is now.
“The people of St. Kitts and Nevis deserve no less. The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is pleased that the Chamber has responded to the clarion call and looks forward to our meaningful participation in this important national exercise,” the SKNLP said.