Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders leaders ended a two-day regional symposium on violence as a public health issue, declaring war on guns to combat the illegal trade which they said “provides the weapons that contribute significantly to crime and violence in our region”. (Photo: CARICOM today)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (CMC) – Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders ended a two-day regional symposium on violence as a public health issue, declaring war on guns to combat the illegal trade which they said “provides the weapons that contribute significantly to crime and violence in our region”
In addition, the delegates attending the symposium including academics, crime experts, police commissioners and religious and non-government organisations, said that they are alarmed by the epidemic of crime and violence in the Caribbean.
They said it is being fuelled by illegal guns and organised criminal gangs that pose a “threat to our democracy and the stability of our societies.”
In the Declaration titled “War on Guns”, the regional leaders said they were also calling on the United States to joining the Caribbean in “our war on guns and urgently adopt and take action to stop the illegal exportation of firearms and ammunition into the Caribbean.”
“We lament the disproportionate share of our national budges that we are compelled to allocate to measures to address crime, violence and national security as well as mental health and other health-related challenges that directly result from the illegal exportation of guns to our shores,” the Caricom leaders said.
“We underscore our commitment to utilise all human, financial and other resources to rid our region of the scourge of illicit weapons, the regional leaders said in their Declaration, adding “we reiterate that the Caribbean must be a zone of peace, which will allow us to achieve our goal of a secure, stable and prosperous community for all our citizens”.
Speaking at a news conference, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley told reporters that the Caricom leaders had also agreed to implement a ban on assault rifles.
He said during the symposium, one of the experts had outlined that the production and sale of handguns in the United States “in recent times saw these heavier, more lethal and destructive assault weapons that are designed for military use, for maximum destruction, those weapons are now weapons of choice and the production levels are higher than the…handguns.
“Those weapons have begun to appear in our country. They are now commonly in the hands of criminals who get them through the illegal trade, but they are also being licensed by the state and put in the hands of civilians,” Rowley said.
“We are saying that we do not require those weapons within our societies…because of their outcome in the presence of the societies. So we can continue to provide a certain amount of protection with…handguns…and we are saying that having the volume of those guns in our communities on a scale where easily available assault weapons can carry with it what we are seeing elsewhere, has serious destructive outcomes,” he added.
The regional leaders have agreed to stand with Mexico on its legal action against US gun manufacturers and retailers and establish an entity under the Caricom Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to assist in the containment of corruption and financial crimes, including money laundering and cybercrimes, through greater collaboration to harmonise related legislation and operational processes
They have also noted the cost associated with the crime epidemic on the region’s social, economic and health systems, saying that they are “determined to ensure that our people of the Caribbean can exist in an environment of peace and safety”.