ST. KITTS – PM welcomes gang leaders handing over illegal guns


The St. Kitts-Nevis government says it is encouraged by the decision by gang members to voluntarily hand over as many as 30 illegal weapons adding that the move augurs well for the peace and security in the twin island Federation.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said that the Cabinet had met in a special session earlier this week to receive a report from the acting Police Commissioner, Hilory Brandy and his assistant, McCarta Browne and commended the law enforcement authorities for “this historic development”.

“It is instructive that gang members volunteered to give up their weapons as a sign of their commitment to peace. This is a very good move. And we encouraged them to bring forward all guns in their possession,” Harris said, adding that “every illegal firearm recovered by our law enforcement represents one less dangerous weapon available to injure and kill our people.

“With these 30 guns, the total firearms now taken from the streets total forty-three. These 43 guns represent a significant number but more than this, they represent a significant removal of weapons which could be used to injure, harm and kill our people,” he added.

Harris said his coalition government believes that the loss of one life is one life too many and remains committed to do all that it can to contain, reduce and eventually eradicate gang related homicides which have been the principal cause of violent deaths in the Federation.

“There is no magic wand. And the culture that provided fertile ground for gang development will take time to be effectively reordered for the better. Our Country is too small, too limited in its manpower resources to lose persons, particularly our young, in the prime of their lives to gang related violence. We have since 1995 been paying too great a price in the blood of our people. “

He said the government has been working to restructure and reinvigorate the society to ensure that every citizen and resident can play a constructive role in nation building.

Harris said that the government has spent a significant amount of funds in a bid to deal with the criminal activities here and according to official figures up until August 12 this year as compared to the same period last year “we have experienced a significant 28 per cent reduction in major crimes and a 25 per cent reduction in homicides in our Federation. “

Harris promised that the government would continue to invest in social programmes for young people, providing them with mentorship support in an environment that builds favourable perceptions of law enforcement and promotes the need for them to support law and order and be role models for their family, community and wider society.

He said also the young people would be encouraged to leave gangs and would also establish “a more targeted programme to help victims of violence generally and of gang related violence/homicide in particular”.

He said Cabinet has recently approved a new initiative as had been proposed by the Ministry of National Security as the structure for encouraging and assisting gang members to exit gangs.

He said the idea of the programme is that in order to eradicate social diseases like crime, many relevant systems and critical persons have to be involved. The intention is to build community teams in different geographical areas around St. Kitts and Nevis.

“We aim to create a well-adjusted society where all feel a part and are constructively prepared and engaged to do positive things in support of nation building. We hope overtime, the sooner the better, that gang culture and all the negative attendants will become elements of the past,” Harris said.

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