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Proof of the pudding

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11.APR.08

“…The political will to implement common decisions taken is the challenge…”(Hon. Patrick Manning, Prime Minister, Trinidad and Tobago, at the opening of the CARICOM Crime Summit)

Last weekend, CARICOM Heads of State and Government concluded a special Summit on Crime with an impressive array of agreements.{{more}} The Summit itself was a response to widespread concerns by the region’s citizens that the prevalence of crime, violent crime in particular, was escalating beyond control and that governments seemed ill-equipped or ill-prepared to deal with this alarming development. The negative effects on all areas of economic and social life are already clearly evident.

In response, the CARICOM leaders emerged from their meeting promising, among other things:

  • Joint actions against murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking and the prevalence of violent gangs.
  • The signing of a Maritime Airspace and Security Agreement within three months.
  • The re-establishment of regional institutions and mechanisms used to secure the Caribbean during last year’s Cricket World Cup.
  • Common wire-tapping legislation “under controlled circumstances”.
  • The carrying out of the death penalty on persons so sentenced, notwithstanding whatever is said by European countries and the United Nations, according to media quotes of Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

For the citizens of the Caribbean, crime is not a political issue; it is a real problem, bedeviling their very lives. They are not, therefore, easily comforted by grand pronouncements. Many of these have been made before; all too few have been brought to fruition. Our leaders have a mandate to deal with the perpetrators of crime and violence in the region; they need to act on it. All too often these Summit Agreements are left to collect dust whilst the drug traffickers, kidnappers and murderers act with impunity.

Prime Minister Manning is perfectly right in identifying the challenge as one of “political will”. For thereupon lies the fate of the Port of Spain Declaration and the livelihood and security of the region’s peoples. No more talk of action, just show us, for the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

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