Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 13, 2016 (SKNIS): The Deputy Prime Minister Honourable Shawn Richards, said violence is “one of the most complex challenges” confronting St. Kitts and Nevis, and it is vital that it be addressed directly by members of society.
His comments were made during an address on recent violent incidents in his hometown of Sandy Point, which is the area he represents in the National Assembly.
“There are no words which can take away the pain and bewilderment that we must all feel, but I want to take this opportunity to send my sincere regards to every family who has been affected by these incidents, by this mindless menace,” the Deputy Prime Minister said. “We cannot tolerate this rising level of violence in our society that tramples all our claims to civilization and humanity. We cannot casually accept reports of fights, stabbings, and shooting and homicides; this is not the Sandy Point I know. This is not how we are accustomed to living,” he added.
Honourable Richards said violence has an impact on every person in society.
“I am speaking as a member of the community, as a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis, but more importantly because violence hurts us all. It affects our parents, our families, but it is particularly devastating on our youth,” said the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Education and Youth.
He mentioned the fact that most of the violence is committed by young people towards their peers, and the role of the family and community members in providing guidance, mentorship and being role models is paramount.
“As for me, I pledge to do my part to ensure the safety of our communities. Indeed, it is my top priority,” Minister Richards said. “As the Minister of Youth, I can assure you that the Youth Empowerment Department is currently in the process of developing and implementing enhanced programmes to address youth violence and build capacity across communities. The focus will be on collaborations with, and support for, community based youth-serving organisations within all of our communities.”
The Department is currently expanding its database of existing and functional youth-focused organizations and deepening partnerships with public and private sector organizations. The Deputy Prime Minister added that he will continue to work diligently with the police and Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is the Minister of National Security, to ensure that the security forces continue to be equipped with the resources they need to protect communities.
The Ministry of National Security recently purchased six trained dogs to enhance the K-9 Unit and commissioned a more than EC $3 million Motorola digital radio system that now allows the agencies within the Ministry to communicate via roughly 700 radios over a wide area, for instance from Basseterre to Charlestown, and even up to 25 nautical miles offshore from anywhere around St. Kitts and Nevis, to assist Coast Guard operations.