Friday, December 15, 2017

No real progress in fighting cases of crime, corruption

 Once again, crime is in deadly focus; once again, we have the slew of poorly thought-out, knee-jerk “solutions” such as hanging, one-strike, precepting the Army and so on being promoted as the way forward. Seems as though we haven’t learned from the SoE (state of emergency) that these steps alone bring no lasting benefit. 

We then have the customary use of “statistics”, meant to illustrate the progress being made, progress that we, of course, remain totally unconvinced of. And just in case that doesn’t work, we have ideas such as “criminals killing criminals” and the need to “bleed to heal” being touted. Judging by the amount of blood that has been shed over the past decade, we should be living in paradise by now. As if that isn’t enough, you have cut prices of flour and rice to grab our attention. 

In the midst of all, the causal factors behind a lot of our criminal activity remain largely unaddressed. The primary underlying cause is international organised crime, especially drug, weapons and human trafficking and their accompanying offences, such as money laundering, corruption of legal and law enforcement bodies and destruction of communities. 

What action has been taken to deepen co-operation with international agencies? It seems we can’t even have adequate co-operation between our local agencies. What is being done to secure our porous borders? Has any tangible action been taken in relation to money laundering? The key to reducing crime is taking the money out of it. 

Another way to reduce money in the hands of the underworld is to legalise certain activities and put proper controls in place. Why not take a serious look at legalising certain drugs, updating our immigration policies to encourage the people we need to come and keep the ones we don’t want out, and, of course, revamping our legal and penal systems to place a greater focus on restorative justice. 

Running a close second to international organised crime is corruption, a most insid­ious activity that seems to become more entrenched with each successive administration. Corruption and wastage take away resources and focus that should be used to develop the country’s infrastructure, to educate our people and to build our international profile. 

Recently, we have seen senior administration personnel partying hard with persons accused of serious financial crimes. Would they consort freely with persons accused of robbery, rape and murder? The fact that this has occurred in the shadow of the Section 34 debacle is a slap in the face of the populace. This would probably be listed as yet another “misstep”, but what is the number of missteps that equates to incompetence. 

The lack of real economic development across too many areas in this rich country is another significant causal factor of crime. And no, being the second or third-richest country in the Caribbean isn’t outstanding economic development. With our natural resources, geographical position and human resources, it’s almost a shame. That’s like 

Usain Bolt coming second in an under-15 race. 

Various governments haven’t even put in place anti-crime measures such as compu­terisation of the Licensing Office, providing police with needed tools and technology, streamlining the Police Service, empowering communities and ensuring an efficient and well-funded judiciary. 

Lots of gun talk, chest-thumping and little to no real progress on the anti-crime front. We deserve and must demand better.

M Walcott

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