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Friday, December 24, 2010


 By Honourable Dr. Robert K. Lewis – Parliamentary Representative for Castries South
SLP Spokesman on Crime & National Security
December 22, 2010

This Government has not approached the crime problem in any logical, rational, structured, systematic or strategic way. All we get are knee-jerk reactions when the levels of violence and murder increase. That is not how you fight crime or any societal problem. Where is the vision? Where is the strategy? Where is the plan? Where are the resources? Where is the commitment? Where is the LEADERSHIP?

There is no vision in peace and love football which ends up in war! There is no strategy in high level government officials meeting with gang leaders at the SSU headquarters, and not coming out with a plan to end the war between rival gangs in our country. There is no plan in firing a Police Commissioner only to put his deputies in charge without providing the requisite resources and enabling systems. Adequate resources have not been allocated in fighting the root causes of crime! Where is the commitment to fighting crime by this Government when the Cabinet Task Force on Crime has never reported to the Saint Lucian people on its plans and successes to date?  Where is the leadership in the fight against crime when our Prime Minister, faced with a murder in his own constituency office, can tell the world, so vociferously “NO ONE IS SAFE IN SAINT LUCIA.”

Finally, in speaking about this reckless abandonment of government’s obligation to demonstrate that it is pursuing the criminals, the Prime Minister cannot escape blame for the continuing incompetence of Minister of National Security in coming to grips with his portfolio. For it is, indeed,  the height of recklessness for Mr King to allow Minister Mayers, a nominated and not elected member of Parliament, to spend most of his time campaigning in the constituency of Castries East, begging the citizens for their vote.

If Mr Mayers wishes to proceed on his election campaign, the Prime Minister has a duty to us, the citizens, to relieve him of his functions as Minister responsible for dealing with crime, the issue of greatest concern to Saint Lucians , and give the job to someone who can do the work. 

There is grave concern in and out of Saint Lucia about the crime situation and everyone, from entrepreneurs to representatives of external agencies and governments, is hoping for a solution. The Labour Party is preparing to be part of that solution.  Saint Lucians have lost confidence in the Stephenson King Government which has demonstrated serious double standards and a glaring lack of leadership on the issue of crime. We all must be gravely concerned at the unprecedented manner in which Saint Lucia’s international reputation for law enforcement in accordance with standard international practices is being damaged.

If the Government is serious about fighting the crime menace, it needs to abandon the cosmetics and go to the heart of the problem. The so called Cabinet Task Force which serves no useful purpose must be immediately replaced by a bipartisan Select Committee of Parliament on Crime. The Saint Lucia Labour Party is willing to make members available to serve on the Select Committee. However, that Committee must have the necessary powers to subpoena information and make binding recommendations to the Government.

The Government must also show its commitment to crime fighting by releasing to the public the Report on the Prison break out in August 2010. If the people are to be partners in fighting crime, they need to know why failures in the national security system occurred and what has been done to correct those failures. They also need to trust law enforcement personnel and this would require the purging of our security forces of political plants and corrupt officers. We are aware and concerned that since the changes in the leadership of the Police Force some months ago, the intelligence arm of the Police force has been compromised and certain co-operative foreign governments have lost confidence in our Government’s commitment to fight cross-border crime like drugs and money laundering.

The record number of murders, most of them gun related, is symptomatic of the prevalence of illegal firearms on our streets. Yet firearms surrender was not included in previous initiatives such as the Peace and Love initiative which was aimed at reducing violence and murder. We need a serious gun amnesty and a cash for guns programme similar to the ones initiated during the tenure of the Labour administration and which were very successful in reducing the number of illegal firearms in the country. This Government has not shown much commitment on fighting the crime scourge. Getting guns off the streets is one of the measures in successfully reducing the crime rate in this country. And this Government has done nothing substantial in reducing the flow of guns on our streets.

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