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An open letter about crime and violence

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Fri, Oct 24, 2014

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York Inc

As our blessed homeland, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), commemorates its 35th Anniversary of Independence, we acknowledge the strides and gains we have made as a people to secure our sovereignty. Yet we acknowledge that our quest for independence has not always been without social, economic and political challenges, which have at times tested our resolve as a people.{{more}} Notwithstanding, our resilience has always brought us through and will continue to give us moments for which we can be justly proud. As our anthem asserts, “What e’er the future brings, our faith will see us through.”

It is in this spirit of solidarity with Vincentians at home and abroad, that the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York Inc (SVGDCNY), an organization consisting of concerned Vincentians with a keen interest in the well-being of our beloved, “Hairouna” – Home of the Blessed, raises its concern about recent news items coming out of SVG about the situation of crime and violence. We are deeply concerned about the impact of crime and violence, especially on children, women, the elderly, disabled, farmers, workers, and families. We are concerned about the negative perception being created by the continuing vexations of crime and violence, which has the potential to undermine the progress we have made as a society. As an organization, we are dedicated to promoting the best interests of our nation and the fundamental rights of all Vincentians to live and thrive in a safe society. We, therefore, acknowledge a greater need to address the issues that affect the perception and reality of public safety and security and we affirm our interest in maintaining a safe SVG.

To this end, we have already forged a partnership with the anti-violence organization, LOVINSVG in SVG, to promote anti-violence values. We will continue to seek opportunities to collaborate with other institutions and individuals to pursue strategies to address the scourge of crime and violence. We encourage others to also forge meaningful alliances in this fight for our nation’s soul. Certainly, we can agree that there is much inaction for which we all are guilty and it is only with an all-hands-on-deck approach that we will make any meaningful impact and ensure that we can proudly sing “may peace reign from shore to shore, and God bless and keep us true.” We make an impassioned call for a collective sense of responsibility and action. Our government, political parties, churches, schools, civil society and community organizations, media, artistes and families, including those in the diaspora, must all shoulder the blame and must collaboratively work on strategies to maintain peace in our nation.

The Government is uniquely positioned to take the lead and it has a great reponsibility to strengthen its focus on reducing homicides, robberies, crimes associated with a frightening drug and gun culture, and rape, particularly statutory rape. The public in SVG is ready for national collective action against crime and violence. In addition, the diaspora is ready to support national anti-violence initiatives.

We encourage the Government to move with bolder action now to involve all stakeholders in government, political parties, media, schools, civil society, community organizations in SVG and the public at large, including Vincentians in the diaspora, as equal partners in meaningful dialogue and action to finally arrest the issues of crime and violence. The SVGDCNY calls on the Government to popularize its public security plans for the protection of all Vincentians, using town hall meetings at the national, community and diaspora levels.

We also recommend a package of initiatives that will help in more effectively dealing with crime and violence in the country. These initiatives include:

o Frequent popular consultations in parliament, specifically convened to look at the situation of crime and violence in SVG;

o A national review of the causes, consequences and solutions of crime and violence in SVG and popularizing these findings with the intention of generating more anti-crime and violence activities within the Vincentian society at home and abroad;

o Making the effort to halt crime and violence in SVG an integral part of the reparations campaign. The brutal history of slavery and the colonial period must not be divorced from modern day manifestations of crime and violence, which are symptomatic of systemic economic underdevelopment and psychological damage. Hence, any call for reparations must address issues of crime and violence.

We implore the Government and all Vincentians to give urgent attention to our concerns and recommendations and we stand ready to mobilize the diaspora to effectively address the issues of crime and violence in SVG. Public safety is everyone’s business and our future prosperity as a nation depends on our ability to act decisively now. May we all have a safe and happy 35th Anniversary of Independence.

For more information, the committee may be contacted at svgdiaspora@gmail.com

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