News Americas, CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Thurs. May 7, 2015: In the current circumstance, it is not a matter of whether citizens hyperventilate over criminal activities and personal security matters, resulting from a series of inadequacies and governance failures in Saint Lucia.
The picture is one that reflects a deep threat and ongoing deterioration that must be fixed with a more acute sense of urgency.
Community advocates will argue the role of government and its primary task. However, I will submit that it is to make the most of the land, labour, raw materials, infrastructure and social amenities within its jurisdiction. Upon which it depends to understand information and in this case, intelligence and national security matters!
Back in 2012, I penned the article Helen of the Wild, Wild West stating that the Human Development Report (UNDP) chronicles Saint Lucia as the number one island in the Caribbean for youth crime and number three as the murder capital, behind Jamaica and Trinidad.
“Such complex problems like gang violence, crime, criminal and social justice issues; trafficking in drugs, firearms and persons, Caribbean deportees and domestic violence, sparkle like shards of glass in the sunlight, harboring major threats to national development and the economic life of the Caribbean region.
“It is death by misadventure and economic chaos, when Saint Lucian manufacturers, farmers and the tourism sectors are struggling to meet basic benchmark needs. When youth on youth crime and violence continue unabated, this is a sure sign of the carnivorous nature of man in the thrust to remain on top of the food chain by claiming their turf… it is very practical that the keepers of peace and the proponents of the electable mafias watch in silence, as society rapidly disintegrates.” ~ Helen of the Wild, Wild West.
National security is the single most important responsibility of the state. It is the core development goal to aid dynamism, provide peace and freedom, towards a better quality of life.
The cloud of uncertainty above the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) on the IMPACS matter is of major concern that may serve to distract, deceive or cause further division. And it is for this reason that the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government must act within due process, as the rule of law commands, and close the door on further speculation.
Organized crime depends on the facilitators of criminality within key sectors to help them secure and conceal their assets. The wide range of inequality, poverty, inflation, social exclusion and marginalization, unemployment, human trafficking, the drug trade, inadequacies and system failures is par for the course.
Data indicate that the Caribbean has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, recording 30 deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants, compared to a world average of five. Saint Lucia surpasses these averages on a consistent basis. As I write, six homicides were recorded in the period of one week, compounded with weekly armed robberies, violent stabbings and sporadic gunplay keeps the nation on edge.
Time has elapsed for an atmosphere to speculate on information and advice on how the SLP government intends to “step” or” leap” and develop Saint Lucia, with 25% unemployment, 85% GDP, US$1 billion in public debt and growing daily, 60% illiteracy, 40% percentage youth unemployment, in addition to the complex problems of gang violence, crime, criminal and social justice issues; trafficking in drugs, firearms and persons; Caribbean deportees; and domestic violence.
Mindful of the readiness required to adopt global norms built on common interest, mutual respect and in accordance with the great theologian Hans Kung’s Principle of Humanity that “bids us to respect one another through a renewed and heightened appreciation of our common fate as human beings and our common hope for dignity, solidarity, and sustainability,” the cumulative effect in the local scenario is unhelpful to change matters of economic performance and social abandonment.
The irony is staggering, as the inflexible truth makes the diagnosis that the country is drifting and in danger of complete dysfunction, at the hands of the SLP government. Further, the arrogance of Sen. Hon. Victor Phillip La Corbiniere, minster for home affairs and national security, on complex issues, is likewise counterproductive to enact functional solutions, to curtail constant turbulence in law and order.
On the other hand, advocates for real reform are ignored on numerous occasions to the detriment of society. I point to measures posted on the Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM) website, plus sixteen policy positions and six law enforcement and anti-crime measures proposed by the LPM in an open letter to Dr Kenny Anthony, prime minister of Saint Lucia, on January 24, 2014.
To date, this letter is unanswered, while Saint Lucia is paying a heavy price at the hands of lousy policymakers, bad legislation and pathetic political action.
For its part, the ministry of home affairs and national security, and the ministry of legal affairs will need a major shakeup to improve national security and rebalance the justice system, including fair and equal access to the courts.
Matters of transformation, oversight, a robust plan for security management established on the rule of law, the observance of human rights, will require an increased effort by the RSLPF to strengthen technical capacity, proactive protection, at the level of 21st century transparent policing, to regain linkages and the trust of the wider community for long-term progress.
This is vital to improve economic viability, confidence in nation building and thereby reduce evolving threats, high rates of homicide and violent crime.
The intense calls to overhaul the RSLPF are greater than before. This is not in keeping with the status quo per se, but more towards external protocol, surveillance, operations and intelligence, whereby a more diverse force of officers, civilians, data and technology come together. The combination is on one hand global interconnectivity, with the ability to act quickly and effectively, a greater chance to achieve timely results and the import of trust that has long gone out the window.
Without trust, there is little chance to fight the ravages of crime, poverty, hopelessness, and confiscate the proceeds of crime.
There can be no doubt that the RSLPF will have to win the respect of activists and retake the streets and communities with a more comprehensive policing approach that is inclusive of diplomacy, development and education. Cooperation and communication with the youth, educational institutions, media, the private sector, NGOs, civil society and the wider community must be given priority to prevent and reduce the rate of public disorder, crime and recidivism.
The portrait that exists of the RSLPF is a generalized stigmatization that will not disappear overnight, without taking into account a far more inward look to acknowledge inadequacies, system failures, civilian oversight and public accountability.
Corrective measures will have to be made forthwith towards a clean slate. However, this calls for bold and courageous leadership in a new culture of zero tolerance for criminality, extortion, misconduct and corruption: while progressive policymakers enact legal reforms and table new legislation.
There is no greater challenge than relationship building, also dealing with corrosive issues of change from within, while simultaneously dealing with the SLP government that is incompetent to salvage the damage done to the RSLPF and the country by extension.
However, whether voluntary or involuntary, the open exploration to transform the top-brass of the RSLPF seems predicated on the need for policy implementation and cooperation, strong leadership and unrestrained ability to maneuver within the ambits of local, regional and international law, with sufficient trust and gravitas beyond national borders.
Upon discovery, the logical priority seems the application of a high level of visionary leadership to return confidence, take moral and practical ownership, to bring an end to the general deterioration of conditions that is taking its toll on life fulfillment in the country.
In any attempt, to determine future scenarios, Hans Kung identifies several ethical themes with universal standings that are applicable in the present circumstances, such as: “the importance of respect and tolerance for others; the right to life and its development; sustainable treatment of the natural environment; the rule of law; distributive justice and solidarity; the essential values of truthfulness, honesty, and reliability; and the core value of mutual esteem.”
The unseemly mess associated with national insecurity may have been avoided, had it not been an overreaction to endorse bad advice, awkward policy goals, unsound ideology from elected and selected representatives, and abstract concepts of law and order that are more often suitable for political posturing than making the streets safe and keeping the peace island-wide.
Our streets must not be places of “duck and cover” but thoroughfares of good and meaningful transactions. We must be indefatigable in our efforts for Saint Lucia to become a place of peace. ~ Her Excellency Dame Calliopa Perlette Louisy
Notwithstanding the complexity of recent developments, it is important to come together and invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow. The ability to make decisions quickly and effectively is now more vital than ever to protect Saint Lucia for decades to come.
Editor’s Note: Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) www.lpmstlucia.com critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at [email protected]