Trinidad and Tobago will host a regional symposium on crime in April as Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries continue to express concern over the escalating criminal activities in the region.
Bahamas Prime Minister Phillip Davis, speaking at a news conference on Friday night, following the conclusion of the 44th Caricom summit, told reporters that the issue had been discussed during the three-day event.
“Heads of government expressed deep concern at the current levels of violence being experienced in member states. We recognized that to adequately address crime and violence a holistic approach must be undertaken which addresses economic growth and prosperity, legislative, judicial, police and education reform,” Davis, who is also Caricom chairman, said.
“In this regard the meeting agreed to a symposium to be hosted by Trinidad and Tobago in April 2023 to consider crime, particularly violent crime as a public health concern,” he continued.
Prime Minister Davis said the issue of trafficking in arms will be a major talking point at the Port of Spain deliberations, given that Caribbean countries have been urging the United States to help curb the export of small arms to the region.
“A discussion on violence in the Caribbean cannot be disassociated from the fact that it is guns that generate most of these violent crimes, so guns will be an issue and yes that is a topic we all have taken to the doorsteps of the manufacturers of guns.
“For me, I have continually said to our neighbours in the north their right to bear arms does not equate to the right in trafficking in arms. You have the right to bear it, but we don’t believe you have a right to traffic it.”
Davis said that he had been advised that several new initiatives or legislation had been passed, adding “we have not seen the effect of it as yet…but we will be as part of the exercise [and]in the meetings we have discussed this issue of trafficking of guns.
“At the same time we have reached the point where it is believed that violent crime throughout the Caribbean, throughout the region, Bahamas no less than others, see this now as a public health issue,” Davis told reporters.
High unemployment rates, a lack of economic development and drug trafficking have made parts of the region susceptible to crime, violence, and gang activity.