DNO: Executive Director of the Regional Security System (RSS) Commodore Errington Shurland is expressing concerns over an increase in gun violence in Caribbean member states.
Speaking at the 40th RSS Council of Ministers’ meeting in Grenada on Wednesday, he said the matter is having a “deleterious” effect on some of these states.
“This violence is taking a rather heavy toll on our societies, not only in respect of loss of life but also with injuries and psychological trauma,” he stated.
To tackle the problem, Shurland is suggesting the application of “hard and soft responses through a whole of society approach.”
“Soft, through constant, positive messaging to our young people with the aid of social development programs that consistently target troubled youth and programs that address issues related to recidivism,” he stated.
Shurland said hard responses include the commitment to put in place the necessary infrastructure to secure borders and to prevent guns from entering the different islands and the region.
He pointed out it is also important for the region to address the issue of corruption in relation to gun violence.
“I say corruption because I believe the only way that these guns can get into our countries is through our borders and through individuals who facilitate such actions,” he remarked.
Shurland pointed that the RSS is looking forward to assist member states in diagnosing crime and security problems through the Regional Crime Observatory.
“We will continue to implement and assist with anti-corruption programs and we will continue to assist and enhance the border security framework through robust assessments and adjustments through the coordinated response model,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Grenada and Chairman of the RSS Council of Ministers, Dickon Mitchell, said the easy access to firearms is one of the greatest threats the region currently faces.
He stated that various criminal activities coming from the use of illegal firearms have far-reaching and negative impact on people and the society.
He pointed to recent events in St Lucia and also in Grenada which he said highlights the challenge the region faces in terms of gun violence.
“Even as we speak, the RSS has been deployed to assist the country of St Lucia to assist in restoring order and calm to a section of the country that has recently experienced a spike in gun-related criminal activity,” he stated.
He also pointed to an incident in Grenada which he said took place on Tuesday night where a person was shot execution style.
“I have the sad and unfortunate news of reporting that last night Grenada suffered a gun-related homicide with at least six shots being fired resulting in a fatality,” he said. “A preliminary indication may suggest that this was an execution-style hit and the perpetrator may not have been from Grenada.”
The RSS was formed in October 1982 out of a need for a collective response to security threats.
Presently, the RSS member states include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.