The horrific news of a double homicide today in our beloved country tells us what many have known for some time, that crime, and particularly violent crime, is once again becoming a clear and present danger to the sustainable development of St. Kitts and Nevis. I join with all Kittitians and Nevisians in extending deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the latest victims of violence and those who have tragically succumbed in the past.
14 homicides already by June 2023 suggest that we are on a most dangerous and destabilizing path.
It has become customary that when faced with increased criminality in our society, the Opposition resorts immediately to attacking and blaming the government of the day. It is an approach which has yielded and continues to yield no benefit. Harsh lessons of the past should teach us that seeking to politicize crime does nothing but embolden the criminals while diverting critical attention away from finding solutions.
This is not to suggest that the Government should not take responsibility, for at the end of the day it is the Government which must implement the necessary policy prescriptions to solve this problem.
I believe however that at this stage in our development, 40 years on from our hard won independence, the time has come for all who truly love this country to set our differences aside and unite in the face of this scourge of crime and criminality. Crime is a social problem. The victims of crime are from our communities. They are our family and friends. The criminals are also from our communities. They too are our family and friends. We must therefore come together as a people and shoulder our shared responsibility to find solutions.
Crime has been politicized by us all for far too long. It is time now for us to exert that same energy in finding solutions.
I accordingly call on Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, to urgently convene a symposium of relevant stakeholders including but not limited to Government, the Church, the Chamber, the Security Forces, community groups and the Opposition both in St. Kitts and in Nevis and to adopt an all-of-society approach to tackling this problem once and for all. I believe that people of goodwill who truly love this country can find a place at the table of brotherhood to fashion workable solutions to this perennial problem. I am hopeful that from this symposium a working group can be formed, inclusive of the political Opposition, to engage in ongoing dialogue and follow up on policy initiatives to bring this problem to heel.
Crime is not a government problem. Crime is not an Opposition problem. Crime is not a political party problem. Crime is an all-of-society problem. If unchecked, it can derail all the progress we have made as a proud Nation and rend asunder our plans for shared prosperity and a sustainable future. We do not have the luxury of time or the energy for further finger-pointing and recrimination. It is now time for us to sit together and find solutions. In this regard, the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM)-led Opposition stands ready, willing, and able to engage and to assist fully for the benefit of our beloved country.