BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, CMC -Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas says the proliferation of small arms in the region was posing a serious threat to the stability of the Caribbean.
Dr. Douglas, who is also the chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping, said that the trafficking of small arms in the region will be a matter for discussion, adding that the use of guns in the settlement of disputes had become an “alarming issue” in recent years.
“This never, ever used to be the Caribbean way. But now, gang tensions, drug-related conflicts, and other forms of hostility are leading to this ugly and unacceptable conclusion. And so, CARICOM is taking this on frontally by pushing forward to break the illicit trade in small arms and weapons throughout the region,” the Prime Minister said during his weekly radio programme “Ask the Prime Minister”.
He warned that the efforts to deal with the trafficking in small arms in the region will not be simple or an easy matter.
“But we are resolute. And we are empowering both national and regional security forces with enhanced border patrol, forensic, and intelligence gathering tools to confront the organized crime elements that spread these deadly weapons,” Dr. Douglas said.
He said Caribbean governments were also moving to enact uniform legislation that would prevent criminal elements from being able to transfer illegal weapons from one CARICOM country to another.
“Whenever there is a shooting, and whenever there is a killing, if the gun was not licensed, that is clear evidence that some person or persons within the Federation colluded to bring that instrument of death into the country, and into the region, without the knowledge of the authorities,” said Dr. Douglas.
“These acts, along with the acts of those who grow drugs, or who import drugs into the region, undermine and undercut the positive efforts of the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Caribbean nationals who try so hard, day after day, and year after year, to stay on the straight and narrow.
“None of us in the Caribbean can afford to look the other way when someone we know is involved in these activities. As sure as the day is long, precisely those illegal weapons or those illegal narcotics that are not reported to the authorities will, in all likelihood, one day claim either the person who looked the other way, or someone that person holds dear,” said the Prime Minister.
He said CARICOM’s determination to confront the spread of illegal firearms throughout the region was a major focus of the recently held CARICOM summit here.
He said that Caribbean people had an obligation to ensure that all relevant information regarding illegal drugs and weapons is passed on to law enforcement officials.
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