BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – PRIME MINISTER Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris has commended the Armed Forces for keeping violence to a minimal level during the 2019 J’Ouvert activities that ended at midday on Thursday (Dec. 26).
Dr. Harris made that commendation during last Friday’s sitting of the National Assembly, where the Team Unity Government moved to pass a critical piece of legislation.
During his presentation, Dr. Harris, who holds the portfolio of National Security Minister, said that despite the hectic and challenging Christmas/Carnival season, the Armed Forces had responded to the call “with enthusiasm and professionalism to the increased demands on their time”.
“They work long hours doubling up given the exigencies of the occasion. This year we have seen the results of the active leadership of our High Command being very visible and engaged, securing the peace at all major events from VAT Day to J’Ouvert, yesterday.”
The commendation came amidst a decrease in the number of persons arrested during this year’s J’Ouvert activities, according to the numbers presented by Commissioner of Police Hilroy Brandy to the Prime Minister.
“We thank God that there were no gun-related incidents reported by the police in particular and few transgressions of the law, or other criminal incidents in general. In 2018, police made 64 arrests arising out of J’Ouvert events. This year they arrested 14 for misconduct and were released after J’Ouvert.
“The JNF Hospital, which is usually stretched and stressed when there is any negative fallout from J’Ouvert, had fewer J’Ouvert-related incidents to treat with. In 2018, the JNF Hospital recorded 19 incidents associated with J’Ouvert morning jamming,” Dr. Harris explained.
According to the National Security Minister, in 2018 there were at least three gunshot wound cases, three persons reported that they were ran over by tractor(s) and two police officers were injured.
In 2019, however, only one person was reportedly ran over by a tractor, while two persons were treated for knife-related injuries.
Dr. Harris called on celebrants to be moderate in alcohol consumtion during the remaining activities of the season.
“We appeal for moderation or avoidance of alcohol and more disciplined behaviour in what we consume for the rest of the season. Avoidance of excess drinking represents a better approach to healthy living. Five persons were treated for dehydration at the JNF Hospital yesterday. We would encourage all citizens and residents to have regular intake of water.”
He encouraged the young men of the Federation to find alternative pathways of peace and lawful and legitimate engagement to solve their differences.
“Too many lives have been lost!” PM Harris exclaimed. “We have shown that it does not have to be this way. The lives we are saving are precious lives to be put in service to God and mankind.”