THE EDITOR: At the 19th Special Meeting of the Caricom Heads of Government on security, as lead head on crime and security, Prime Minister Rowley said, “The future of the Caribbean Community will be determined by our ability to more effectively and efficiently respond to and anticipate threats to our region’s enduring interests.”
Bringing the discussion close to home, with increased crime, how do we as a nation address the problem of small arms and light weapons (guns)?
These weapons are used to destroy life and impede the social-economic development of countries. Their illicit flow undermines security and the rule of law. They can fuel and prolong armed violence and support illegal activities by violent groups. Today in TT the ease of accessibility of guns accounts for violent and conflict-related deaths.
Illegal firearms enter Caribbean countries via legitimate routes and in most cases the same routes used for drug trafficking. People have become innovative in the ways guns enter the country, and they include but are not limited to: clothing, appliances, barrels, car parts, commercial boats, commercial trade, containers, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, fishing boats, food items, go-fast boats (through porous borders), toys, vehicle tyres, vehicles, water heaters, and paint.
Most Caribbean countries have legislation in place that governs the acquisition, use, sale and disposal of small arms and ammunition. However, the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs has urged them to strengthen their legislative framework by updating legislation that directly relates to the trafficking, marking/tracing of, and maintaining statistics pertaining to, small arms and ammunition.
Recently Minster of National Security Stuart Young stated that it was estimated there were 9,000 illegal firearms in TT.
At a recent conference on national security issues he announced that three-suite legislation aimed at tackling gun-related criminal activity will soon be introduced in Parliament. However, the legislation will need a special majority, so he urged the Opposition to fully support it.
Young stressed the importance of the bill by pointing out that legislation will assist in curbing crime and remove the fear which has been thrust upon citizens.
ROSSANA GLASGOW via e-mail