With violent crime spiraling out of control in several countries across the region, leaders of CARICOM have agreed to collectively tackle this matter as a public health crisis.
This revelation was made by Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley to reporters this morning on the sidelines of the 31st CARICOM Inter-Sessional Meeting.
In the opening session of the summit, the issue of crime was one of the major areas highlighted for collaboration by chairman of CARICOM, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley. This morning Rowley confirmed to members of the media that consensus was achieved in this regard.
“As a matter of fact, one of the decisions we have taken, which was a continuation of our discussions at the last meeting, was the treating of crime and violence as a public health issue. We have agreed that there will be a number of responses along that line,” said Rowley.
However, the Trinidad and Tobago leader made it clear that the joint response from CARICOM would not be a reactive one but rather would be utilizing proactive measures to battle the scourge.
“We have to get to the root cause of this upsurge. The experts are telling us that given the effects of this kind of behaviour, it is now a public health issue and ought to be looked at in that context,” he explained.
During her remarks yesterday, Mottley called on regional states to come together to formulate collective solutions to a wide range of common problems.
Last year, 49 murders were committed in Barbados, the highest number of homicides in the history of the country. For that same year, Trinidad and Tobago recorded 522 murders, while Jamaica recorded 1326.
“This is a critical moment for us as a community to understand that whether the challenges be with respect to NCDs [non-communicable diseases] . . . or whether the challenge be the more talked about and definite existential crisis of climate change affecting us . . . or whether it is violence that has genuinely become a public health disorder . . . or whether it is the challenges to our fiscal sovereignty, or whether it is the challenges of multilateralism that are taking and making aim at the integrity of our freedom of association as small groupings, we have to determine how best to confront these challenges,” she said.
Mottley insisted that there was strength in unity, adding that “whether it is at the level of countries or it is at the level of homes and communities, being kith and kin must stand for something”