Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is expressing optimism that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders meeting in Haiti this week will agree measures to address the underlying causes of crime and violence plaguing the region.
Stuart, who has joined leaders of the 15-member grouping for the 29th intercessional meeting in Port au Prince, said they intended “to get to the bottom of some of the issues that are spawning the level of violence that we are seeing across the Caribbean today”, according to the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) in a release today.
The BGIS quoted Stuart as stating that the Caribbean had been witnessing a deterioration of the state of its societies due to crime and violence, and promising that the issue would take centre stage at the summit.
“At the regional level, crime and violence has become a serious issue for us. It’s actually threatening the stability of our societies and, therefore, not without significance, the distinguished Prime Minister of Jamaica [Andrew Holness] requested at the last Heads of Government meeting in Grenada, that rather than just discussing the issue of regional security, that we should also discuss the issue of crime and violence since that was a pressing issue for him in Jamaica from day to day. And, therefore, that is going to be an important agenda item at this meeting,” it quoted him as saying.
It said the Prime Minister remained optimistic that regional leaders would come to a consensus on adopting measures “to counteract these tendencies and to create a more peaceful civilization for our people”.
Stuart described the February 26 to 28 meeting as vital to Barbados role in advancing regional integration.
“The state of the regional integration movement is always a matter of importance to Barbados given our very deep commitment to this movement. As one of the founding members of it, we are always interested in ensuring that . . . there are tendencies towards consolidation in CARICOM. So, the overarching concern of Barbados is that the regional integration movement be strengthened,” the BGIS quoted him as saying.
He said the impact of the global economy over the past decade had forced CARICOM member countries to be inward looking, pushing regional matters off the priority list.
Stuart made reference to a review of CARICOM and the Single Market and Economy conducted by Jamaica to determine whether these arrangements were working in such a way that justify Kingston’s continued involvement in the regional body.
The Prime Minister said the report was receiving the attention of the leaders, noting that they should have some preliminary indications as to what actions needed to be taken “to strengthen the movement to ensure that it meets the expectations of member states of CARICOM”, according to the BGIS.