One regional financial institution is calling on Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states to come up with a targeted approach to effectively tackle the crime situation facing the region.
This suggestion has come from the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB’s) Director of Projects Daniel Best, who said underlying issues such as high youth unemployment and the drugs trade, should be placed high on the agendas of regional governments as areas to be addressed.
He was responding to questions during the CDB’s annual news conference at its Wildey, St Michael headquarters on Thursday.
“We recognize that crime and spikes in crime don’t occur overnight and we appreciate and support the government’s efforts across our region, providing law enforcement interventions, which in many cases may be punitive,” said BeSt
He said the CDB was keen on focusing on preventative measures and had therefore come up with a programme to help its borrowing member countries enhance citizen security.
“We work with the relevant stakeholders in our borrowing member countries and through this project we work with churches, community groups, the relevant ministries of social affairs in the countries and schools. So we tackle it from a perspective of education to start. We also provide psychosocial support and counseling in areas such as conflict resolution and anger management,” Best explained.
The programme has been fully implemented in the south of Belize, and the benefits are already being seen, said Best. Last year that country recorded over 140 murders.
Without disclosing specific countries, Best said the financial institution was currently in discussions with a number of regional governments “to continue to push this aspect of citizen security across our region”.
In the case of Barbados, the island started the year with an unusual number of gun-related deaths, which contributed to the nine murders recorded so far this year.
While opting not to single out any country, Best acknowledged that incidents of crime in the region tend to be gun-related.
“There has been a significant uptick in gun-related crime and what we have done with respect to this, we have provided funding to the Regional Security System for development of a regional security systems strategy and we have mobilized expertise from the Organization of American States as well the international monitoring organizations to support the RSS in developing a strategy,” he said.
“This underscores quite a salient point which is that collaboration and cooperation across our borrowing member countries will be important to stem transshipment of contraband into the countries which leads to these instances of crime and violence,” he cautioned.
Adding that the crime wave did not happen overnight, Best said the solutions needed to be sustainable and target the more vulnerable and “persons who tend to engage in maladaptive behaviours”.
With the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimating that approximately one in four youth in the region is unemployed, Best said this was a signal of the “mismatch between our education curricula and the job market”.
He said as a result, the CDB was focusing on helping member states focus more on technical and vocational education in order to “prepare many of our young people for the job market”.