BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MARCH 20TH, 2017 (PRESS SEC) — Chairman of the Regional Security System's (RSS) Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris is encouraging the international community to step up its efforts to assist the Caribbean in fighting organized crime and the drug trade, as well as curbing their corrosive effects on safety and security.
These effects include increasing levels of premature death and maiming from gun violence among young adult males. In the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), for instance, 70 percent of violent crimes are committed using small arms and light weapons.
"The security threats, which we face, are many and they include, of course, the increased level of criminality in our region that results from the use of small arms," the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis said Friday, March 17th, 2017 while presenting his opening remarks during the annual RSS Council of Ministers' Meeting at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.
The one-day meeting was held under Prime Minister Harris' chairmanship. Dr. Harris assumed the chairmanship of the RSS Council of Ministers with effect from April 1st, 2016 up until March 31st, 2017.
St. Kitts and Nevis' Prime Minister continued: "This has been a long, important concern, and one which I believe that our international partners and stakeholders must do more to assist us. For too long, we have been the victims of weapons, which we did not create, which we did not produce and for which we make no profits. I believe that the international community [and in particular] the producers of these weapons have to do a lot more than...in the past, if they are going to be genuine partners in the future."
Indeed, a joint report published exactly 10 years ago in March 2007 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Latin America and the Caribbean Region of the World Bank highlights the longstanding nature of the situation.
The joint report titled Crime, Violence, and Development: Trends, Costs, and Policy Options in the Caribbean states that, "Murder rates in the Caribbean – at 30 per 100,000 population annually – are higher than for any other region of the world and have risen in recent years for many of the region's countries."
Fast-forward 10 years to 2017, Chairman of the Regional Security System's (RSS) Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said last Friday that, "We have the challenges of drug trafficking and human trafficking, and these are issues that are requiring new skills and new competencies in law enforcement, and new resources."
To this end, Prime Minister Harris' administration in St. Kitts and Nevis has assigned approximately $72 million to the Ministry of National Security in 2017, the largest yearly budgetary allocation ever given to it.
This has resulted in more state-of-the-art resources, including training and equipment such as drones and Motorola radio handsets with GPS tracking capabilities, which are achieving positive results while boosting the morale and resolve of law enforcement officers.
Just last month on February 14th, a Forensic Awareness Course facilitated by Cellmark Forensics Services, a well-respected global authority on forensics, saw more than 20 officers in the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force participate in capacity-building exercises. The training focused on analyzing gun shot residue, as well as DNA and sexual assault evidence.
Two weeks prior on Wednesday, February 1st, the Honourable Prime Minister announced at his press conference that Mr. Narace Ramnarine of Trinidad and Tobago, who has 26 years of law enforcement experience in that country, is the new head of the Forensic Unit in the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis assured Mr. Ramnarine, who was in attendance, that, "Whatever resources you need, we will provide."