We can’t leave it up to criminals to take out criminals – Dr Friday
New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Dr Godwin Friday says that while crime and the causes of crime are complex and difficult problems, we cannot throw our hands up and let mayhem reign in our streets.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Democrat House in Richmond Hill, Dr Friday said that in his opinion, the government is not doing enough to fight crime in the country.
He said that preventative measures, like making sure young people are properly educated and ensuring that jobs are available, are not being taken seriously by the government, and as a result, crime is out of control here.
“I am alarmed at the spate of recent killings we have had in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2018. We have had now 16 killings in SVG for 2018. While that number in itself is alarming, as a reminder, in 2003, there were only 11 murders in SVG, the recent spate of four killings in one week has created even greater alarm,” Dr Friday told reporters at Democrat House.
He said the seemingly endless reports of killings and serious assaults are creating feelings of fear and insecurity among ordinary people in the country and the government must take responsibility.
Providing statistics, Dr Friday said that the years 2016 and 2017 were record-breaking years for homicides here.
He said that last year we recorded 40 homicides, a record for SVG, and he is hoping that this record-breaking trend does not continue, but what is happening is not very encouraging.
The Opposition Leader also stressed that comments made, stating that only criminals and persons involved in illegal activities are being killed, are irresponsible.
“…there is a tendency within the present government to treat certain reports of gunshot killings as a special type of criminal activity spawned by gangs or individuals caught up in retaliatory frenzy, with the view that we, the rest of society, need not concern ourselves too much with them.
“That approach says, that if we, the law-abiding people, walk on our side of the road, we will be safe from the violence and need not fear for our lives. That is foolish thinking. Just ask Carlyle Douglas of NICE Radio fame, who was in his house, standing on his porch, on the night of Wednesday, July 18, when he was shot in the groin area and had to be hospitalized,” said Dr Friday.
He said that in his opinion, “crime is crime, violence is violence and no matter the source and the identity of the people involved, we cannot leave it up to the criminals, so-called, to clean up the streets by wiping out one another.”
The Opposition Leader said that if we are to let criminals take care of criminals, that can be described as chaos and anarchy, and that approach is familiar in larger more violent societies, such as areas of Mexico and Venezuela, where the government has lost control of the streets and criminal gangs fill the breach.
“I call on the Government, particularly the Minister of National Security, to be proactive in fighting crime and violence in the country and to live up to its campaign promise to be tough on crime and the causes of crime,” said Dr Friday, stressing that in his opinion, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government, after 17 years in office has failed to be tough on crime.
“Instead they have been soft on crime and the causes of crime, soft on corruption, soft on job creation for young people, soft on combatting sexual crimes and violence against young girls, soft on equipping the police properly to fight crime, they have been soft on prosecuting their supporters accused of committing offences. You all remember soap powder and white cement?” commented Dr Friday.
The NDP headman said that government’s first priority is to provide security for the people and without security, investment is not possible, and the country cannot develop and prosper.
“We all have a role to play and we cannot achieve this by merely locking ourselves in our homes at sunset and passing the night indoors as if riding out a storm. This storm does not pass if we let it alone, it grows stronger and stronger, until even our homes are not safe anymore. Instead, we must seek to understand the problem at its root and deal with the causes of crime before the situation gets completely beyond our control,” said Dr Friday.
Dr Friday, a lawyer, said that there is a causal connection between economic hardship and an increase in crime, so clearly, one of the ways of addressing the crime problem is by growing the economy and creating jobs and general hope for people, especially young people.
“An unemployment rate among the youth in this country, according to the IMF, is 46 per cent, is simply intolerable. It is a breeding ground for crime. We must do more to create jobs for our people. We must create in this country an enabling environment for investment and growth. The ULP government has failed woefully in this very important obligation,” said Dr Friday.