BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – WHILE describing the recently-concluded National Crime Reduction Symposium – of which he was a part – as a “useful effort”, former minister of Government G. A. Dwyer Astaphan is of the view that it lacked a critically-important component.
The symposium, which pulled together more than 100 stakeholders from various sections of society, saw the participants putting their heads together to devise strategic plans which – it is hoped – would be implemented to drive crime downward.
Speaking with SKNVibes, Astaphan noted that representatives of a particular section of society were missing from the activity.
“…I looked around the room and was hoping to see some of these marginalized young men and women in the room participating in the exercise. Again maybe some were there but I did not see any who I knew or was told were marginalized people; people who have been involved in the criminal justice system, even one or two or three residents of the prison. Because residents of the prison are allowed out on certain occasions, at art exhibitions, musical performances - because they have a band.
He expressed that individuals who would have gone through the system or who are in the system, should have been invited to participate in the solution-finding event.
“But I would have thought that some of the people who would have gone through the system and some of the young people who actually live this life - that in some many cases leads to antisocial and in fact criminal behaviour and violent crime – (that) their presence and their contribution would have provided sustenance, substance, for the conversation.”
The Operation Rescue co-founder told this publication that the absence of representatives of this group from the symposium might have been an oversight. Nonetheless, he added that in order for a comprehensive solution to be devised and subsequently implemented, and in order for the broadening of perspective to take place, all stakeholders should be involved.
“…They are an integral component, integral stakeholder in the conversation. But it seems to me they were not invited and I thought that that might have been an oversight.
“Everybody should be brought to the table; not just the church and…the police and so on… What about the others? What about the young people? You have to engage them.”