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Crime-hit St Lucia sends warning to criminals

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — Prime Minister Stephenson King has warned that his government would crack down hard on criminals in St Lucia as police confirm that at least three persons were killed over the weekend.

The police said that the killings occurred on Sunday as warring gangs engaged in drive by shootings.

The death toll for the year now stands at 15 and in his "State of the Nation" address on Sunday night, Prime Minister King acknowledged that "many of us live in fear, because criminal elements have preyed on the minds of our youth as they attempt to destabilize our country and create chaos where previously we enjoyed peace and tranquility.

"Our quality of life is therefore being undermined and our economic and social development, on which this government continues to work so hard to advance, is under threat.

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"Tonight, I wish to reiterate that this government will not allow our society and our way of life, to deteriorate to the extent that criminals feel they can operate with impunity. We must not, and will not allow criminal elements to dictate how we go about our daily lives, the things we do and the comfort of our families. We will not become prisoners in our own country," King said.

He promised citizens that the criminal elements "will not and cannot win" and that "they will be hunted down; they will be found; they will be prosecuted; they will be judged and will be made to pay the consequences for the crimes committed against our peace loving and law abiding people."

The prime minister outlined six basic elements of the crime strategy to guarantee the safety of the nation, adding that his administration will continue to enhance the capacity and capability of the police, both in terms of hardware, training and numbers.

King said that Israel has approved a request from the his government to provide assistance to the local police in intelligence gathering and handling human sources, operations and detective work, and technical surveillance and general surveillance.

In addition, the prime minister said that representation has also been made to the United States for additional training and logistics support.

"Government will strongly support the police, in a campaign to vigorously pursue and to directly confront and disable criminal elements, wherever they may be. Nowhere must be safe for them; and this campaign will be sustained for as long as is necessary," King said, adding that legislation could also be brought to Parliament to strengthen the work of the law enforcement officials.

"We will implement a programme of social reform and renewal targeting all areas, and particularly inner city communities and youth, and finally,

"We will engage in the widest possible consultative approach with all sectors of the society on strategies for confronting the crime and security challenges facing our country. This will include the convening of a Joint Session of Parliament which will be specifically geared to addressing crime and security," King said.

The prime minister said he had also received a proposal from the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Robert Rivas, proposing an "Action for Peace" programme.

He said he fully embraces the proposal and is looking "forward to working with the church and all other groups in the interest of removing this threat to our society.

"Indeed, the business of resolving the crime problem is everybody's business. From the individual, to the family, the schools, churches, to the business community, NGOs and civil society - we all must partner with government in our efforts to uproot and bring an end to this scourge. It is our responsibility and we must not fail in our resolve," the prime minister added.

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