A Commentary

Lesroy W. Williams

The new Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, was given a wake- up call, a poignant reminder, that gun-related crime in the Federation is on the increase with the 14th murder of the year taking place just three days after he announced to the Federation on August 8 in a radio and television address that “the issue of crime is an urgent priority that requires continuous attention at the highest policy level”.

Following the resignation of the Hon. G.A. Dwyer Astaphan as the Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour, on July 31, Dr. Douglas took on the portfolio of Minister of National Security among other portfolios.

The Prime Minister is now Mr. National Security, promising to curb the cancer of crime in our Federation. People are living in fear because of the hooliganism that is so rampant in this country.

Mr. National Security, people are disgusted with the present state of affairs and the increasing crime rate cannot be dealt with in an en passant manner.

Just recently, Mr. National Security at the National Consultation on the Economy held at the St. Kitts Marriott Hotel, you said that our nation is small and our economy is vulnerable. However, we cannot afford to allow crime to cripple our economy given its vulnerability.

The President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce is so disgusted with the present state of crime and its threat to the private sector that he made a passionate call for the Government to be more pro-active in the fight against crime in his address at the National Consultation on the economy. Rhetoric will no longer do; action is needed and needed fast.

Mr. Wilkin said so succinctly that national security must be a national priority at all times and must be demonstrated in what is invested in it. If national security is a priority, then more money must be pumped into the Police Force and other institutions of national security to be able to effectively ensure national security.

Ultimately national security is the responsibility of the Government. The Government must ensure that its airports and seaports are safe from the trafficking of drugs and ammunition. Where are the guns coming from? How are they getting into the country? Is there aiding and abetting by some in positions of power?

What is frightening in this twin-island state of St. Kitts –Nevis is that people are developing “the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” mentality that amounts to a conspiracy of silence on criminal matters. People are not talking, even though I am sure they know who the cold-blooded murderers and hardened criminals are.

There needs to be a better working relationship between the Police and the general public. The Police are trying to better their public relations and the public must build confidence in the Police. This means that the Police must up their game in terms of professional standards of operating.

It is understandable that crime will not simply go away with a “changing of the guard” but that all factors contributing to crime must be addressed starting with the family, the basic cell of society and institutions of secondary socializations like the school, church and other institutions.

There are those that say that development brings along crime with it but crime undermines development because investors will not want to invest in a crime-infested country and tourist want to go to a country where they feel safe.

At the end of the day, crime robs us of our most important resource and that is human resource.

Mr. National Security, it is a daunting task that requires drastic measures now. We are too small a nation to have such a high per capita crime rate. Do we go on singing the National Anthem with such beautiful words, “O’ Land of Beauty, Our country where peace abounds” when criminals and haters of peace threaten this land of beauty.

Action is needed Mr. Prime Minister, Minister of National Security and it is needed now!