Regional Workshop on Citizen Security in the Caribbean Convenes in St. Kitts

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 16 2017 (SKNIS): As safety and security continue to play a significant role in the Eastern Caribbean, a two-day workshop for the project entitled “CARISECURE – Strengthening Evidenced Based Decision Making for Citizen Security in the Caribbean”, is currently being held in St. Kitts aimed at addressing a number of pertinent issues.

The workshop, which runs from January 16 -17, is held at the Ocean Terrace Inn and is organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., Attorney General, said that St. Kitts and Nevis is indeed grateful to UNDP and USAID for such an initiative and described the workshop as extremely important to the Federation as it is faced with obstacles to development.

“We here in St. Kitts and Nevis face a number of developmental challenges. While St. Kitts and Nevis has done better than most of the other countries in terms of its recent economic growth and per capita income over the past few years, there is much still to be done,” said the attorney general. “But whatever progress we may make may well be threatened if we don’t get control of a lot of the ills that plague us at this moment. We know that we have high homicide rates here, as in the wider region, which can impede any progress we may have made in, and progress towards, sustained growth and development.”

Attorney General Byron reflected on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Study on homicides for 2014, which reveals that five Caribbean countries were among the top 20 countries worldwide with the highest rates of homicides per capita, with St. Kitts and Nevis included in the five.

“So, it is a matter of great concern for us as a people because not only does it lead to a reputation that is not good for our country, but it can impact us as we move forward in terms of the economy and how we develop as we go forward,” he said. “We often refer to a number of factors that can affect us in relation to our crime situation. A lot of this has been anecdotal, maybe too much so, why this particular workshop is of such extreme importance.”

He stated that high end unemployment among youth, and the fact that the Federation’s young men and women are at higher risk of engaging in high risk behaviours such as gang affiliation, criminal activities, which include robberies, drug trafficking and other violent activities, are all factors that can affect a country in relation to crime.

“We are told by researchers that homicide rates are largely attributed to intimate partner violence, gang related youth violence and the availability of illegal fire arms,” he said, while adding that street gangs in places such as Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean contribute towards growing insecurity among young people.

He referred to a recent study carried out by the Regional Security System (RSS) with headquarters in Barbados, in which they found there are more than 100 street gangs in the sub-region with 1578 street gang members. The study reveals that the gang members are typically between the ages of 12-24, with the youngest being nine years old in some countries.

The goal of the CARISECURE project is to improve youth crime and violence policy-making and programming in the South and Eastern Caribbean through the use of quality, comparable and reliable national citizen security information.

Through the work of CARISECURE, it is expected that by 2020, target countries will be using evidence-based decision making to develop and approve policies and programmes supported with national budgetary allocations, which effectively target youth crime and violence risk factors, thereby contributing to the reduction of youth involvement in crime and violence.

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