St Kitts gov’t denies paying criminals in order to keep peace

The St Kitts-Nevis government has denied paying money to rival gangs and criminals in a bid to ensure peace and stability in the twin-island Federation.

“We have this calm in the society and persons should be commending all persons wherever they are from for this calm. This is the peace dividend we have been talking about and we are now having it and we are happy about it,” Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris told a news conference.

Last month, Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for the Crime Directorate, Andre Mitchell, said that there had been a significant reduction in major crimes, when compared to the same period last year.

He said there had been a 42 per cent decline in St Kitts and a 21 per cent reduction in Nevis.

Prime Minister Harris said that his administration would remain supportive of the efforts by individuals or organisations dedicated to preserving the “peace and prosperity of St Kitts and Nevis and to help others who would have gone astray or who are inclined to go astray…”

Harris dismissed suggestions that payments were being made to criminals in order to ensure peace, accusing persons peddling such reports of having “a hidden agenda”.

He insisted that his government is not involved in any quid pro quo arrangement.

“What this government is committed to do, and we have said that, is to help those who have come out of prison [and] who are looking for a fresh start, we will help them to get a fresh start.

“We will invite the private sector to hire them; we will say to people in our communities ‘give them a chance to rehabilitate, give them a chance to earn their living because if you continue to punish them, having served the time, then you are restricting their options to be on the good and peaceful path,” Harris told reporters.