BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - WITH the Federation holding its head in despair as a result of the unprecedented homicide rate, 27 murders in eight months, Member of Parliament (MP) on the Opposition Benches Shawn K. Richards has made a clarion call to the government to listen to the people of the land and heed their suggestions as possible solutions to the sickening escalation in gun-crime.
Only hours ago (Aug. 20), 20-year-old Lincoln Liburd was shot to death while in the bed of his Lime Kiln home, with police informing that the assailant(s) pointed their gun(s) through his window and shot him to the head, face and abdomen.
Extending condolences to the families of the victims of gun-crime and other affected, Richards said violent crime in the Federation is at “a critical stage” which, if left to continue spiralling out of control, “will precipitate a stage of crisis. It is fairly obvious to even the disinterested observer that some of our communities have degenerated into anarchy and barbarism. This is utterly unacceptable”:
Richards said the effects of the unimaginable crime rate are already being felt and continue to evoke emotions of desperateness and fear in the hearts of resident, not knowing what is lurking in their very communities or even their yards.
“Across SKN there are pervasive undertones of hopelessness, dread and menace as law-abiding Kittitians can no longer feel safe either in their homes or on the streets with good reason. Persons are being gunned down in the safety of their homes. Murders are taking place both during the day and in the night in public places. This morning a young man was slain in his mother’s home. Last Sunday morning we had a murder in the vicinity of Caribbean Cinemas. Quite often this is where movie goers wait to catch a bus or on transportation.
“One young man was gunned down in the road while he and others were on his way from a football game. We had a murder earlier in a play park, and also one in the vicinity of a community centre some time back, and one man shot after attending a candle-light vigil for another murder victim. Nowhere in this Federation is safe and even the places where we expect our youth to be safe and engage in wholesome activities are now becoming crime scenes. It is time to take back our homes, streets and public places from criminals and to protect our citizens.”
Dependent mainly on tourism, Richards expressed that the Federation’s crime-rate, if left unchecked, “…can affect our relations with the rest of the world. St. Kitts has a small open economy that is largely dependent on tourism, and therefore vulnerable to the qualms and caprice of tourists. Fear of crime is leading larger and larger numbers of tourists who visit our shores to cower in their cruise ships, or make only furtive trips to the Port. This is making the situation for our people worse as the profits from tourism dwindle, and hope diminishes with them.”
“There needs to be a systematic attempt to identify and address the fundamental issues that underlie criminal behaviour, a considered appraisal of what multiple causes and circumstances may lead to the forming of evil intent, a moral theory of the nature of violent crime and its relation to recent social history and the current dispensation. Only then can useful resolution be achieved.”
Minister of National Security Sam Condor in previous months outlined a 10-point crime-fighting initiative which is to be implemented within the Federation. And while Richards suggested that the full implementation of this would assist in curbing the unwanted crime surge, there are other underlying issues – including mind-sets - which must be addressed and changed.
“SKN is groaning in agony as an impotent administration whose limited ability to formulate any efficacious strategies to address the burgeoning crime has been neatly hamstrung by an ineffective and uncaring political administration. The Prime Minister has already informed us that these incidents are done by ‘lawless youths’, the sheer banality of such an idea is of course absurd. That is should not only be espoused by, but publicly expressed by a leader of a country is beyond belief and yet another regrettable instance of the trivialisation of aberrant behaviour. In order to reverse this situation, the government needs to accept that these are not random and isolated incidents but a part of an ominous pattern that is becoming entrenched in Kittitian society.
“One would have thought that our government would be interested in finding some remedy; this is not the time for jaunts abroad on holiday. It is time for all of us to come together and remedy the problem. Numerous suggestions have been offered to the government but they are not being acted upon. However, it is clear that the government’s attempt to act alone is not working. The mayhem taking place is clearly beyond their capacity.”