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Sunday, October 21, 2012


The article from the Vincentian Newspaper published earlier this week highlights an interesting experimental innovation in the administration of justice in the Caribbean. Curfew instead of prison! But is it a strong enough deterrent for potential criminal behaviour? Or is it simply a desperate rear guard action in a society overwhelmed and overtaken by crime?

Youngsters are qualifying as criminals

Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle decided that “enough was enough” and “slammed his gavel down” on two young Vincentian criminals, condemning them to a 5-year curfew between the hours of 6:00pm and 5:00am. Indeed, his apparent intention was to send a strong “signal” to the youth in St. Vincent, especially when he said, “Too many of our youngsters are qualifying as criminals”.

While the sentencing by Justice Bruce-Lyle maybe equated to a subtle form of “house arrest”, it may also represent a smart and creative form of “imprisonment” which might well have relevance to our present day circumstances. It is one that perhaps our very own Magistrate Velon John might be inclined to test, especially after his "historic judgement" which ordered the  public flogging of a convict on the square a few years ago. But the question is: Will Justice Bruce-Lyle’s experiment work? Will it achieve its intended purpose?

Perhaps, it probably won’t work, especially in St. Lucia! Why? Most of our criminals seem to belong to a “coward” species who are afraid of the dark. They go for their “kill” in daring daylight using masks and guns. But Justice Bruce-Lyle experiment (or similar creative sentencing measures) may worth a try.

More challenges

As the two neighbouring islands struggle in their fight to "beef up" their national security, a new and extremely dangerous criminal angle is beginning to rear its ugly head on the body of water joining them. It is putting a dark cloud over the corridor between the two island neighbours and has raised serious concerns among some of our citizens. Unconfirmed reports suggest an "ongoing war"  between criminal elements from St. Lucia and Vincent over the use of large sums of counterfeit money. It is alleged that St. Lucians use counterfeit money as payment for their “drug debts” to Vincentians.

This development has led to curious questions: Where in St. Lucia is counterfeit money produced? And who are the members of that counterfeit ring? It shouldn’t be difficult for the police to figure that out and to begin closing in on the potential offenders before the problem assumes monstrous proportions!

Observers suggest that illegal underground trade between those two OECS sister territories has been going on for a long time now! Many believe that St. Vincent has now become a major source market for high grade cannabis cultivated in hills overlooking Sandy beach in the north of St. Vincent is also a depository for stolen goods and counterfeit money.

Intelligence sources suggest that the trade - which at one at one point also encompassed neighbouring Martinique - had a triangular configuration; but while our Marine Police and French Authorities have significantly scaled down on the magnitude and frequency of activities along the St. Lucia-Martinique channel and have also literally neutralised trade along the hypotenuse of the triangle, we have not been equally successful in the extremely lucrative corridor between St. Lucia and St. Vincent. It even seemed to have escaped US “state of the art” security surveillance equipment designed specifically for detection of those illegal activities. 

The Powerhouse got a comprehensive insight into the operations of “triangle” as far back as 4 years ago when a bold robber in broad daylight burglarized our premises in Castries. When he was subsequently caught by the brave “vigilantes for justice” from the neighbourhood and forced to divulge information, their nature of the operations his ring’s became “pellucidly clear”. We found out that our notebook computer and other electronic items which were stolen from our premises were temporarily stored at a hidden location in Ti Rocher (Castries) and subsequently “exported” to St. Vincent and exchanged for drugs.

The counterfeit dimension has added a dangerous layer; and it may be about to explode. Indeed, some collateral damage is now being reported, as there are reports of missing St. Lucians along the St. Vincent-St. Lucia corridor and it is attributed to the operations of the ring.

Drugs and terrorism

While I applaud the effort of Justice Bruce-Lyle, I am also of the opinion that we need to do more – a lot more before its too late. Counterfeiting and the drug trade are inextricably linked to terrorism and we need new multidisciplinary methodologies, new “counter-terrorism” measures to tackle those problems.  In fact, it may be the right time to redefine terrorism to include the illegal drug trade (and counterfeiting) for it is perhaps the worst terrorist problem confronting the human race, slowly but surely destroying us and the moral fabric of society.

Our current anti-drug and counterfeiting laws seem to be lagging behind and must be updated and strengthened. We may not have the capabilities to neutralize those illegal forces who by virtue of their involvement in the drug trade may have international terrorist ties but we can enlist support from the RSS, CIA and INTERPOL! IT’S TIME TO GET SERIOUS!

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