UNDP report says crime biggest challenge to regional economies

UNDP report says crime biggest challenge to regional economies

Thursday, February 09, 2012

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Crime has become one of the main challenges threatening economies and livelihoods in Caribbean countries, but the right mix of policies and programmes can halt the problem, according to the Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 launched here yesterday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report, Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security, says that with the exception of Barbados and Suriname, homicide rates including gang-related killings have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean, while they have been falling or stabilising in other parts of the world.

Although murder rates are exceedingly high by world standards, the report says that Caribbean governments can reverse the trend, calling for regional governments to beef up public institutions to tackle crime and violence -- including the criminal justice system — while boosting preventive measures.

"Violence limits people's choices, threatens their physical integrity and disrupts their daily lives," said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the report's launch ceremony with Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Heraldo Munoz, UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

"This report stresses the need to rethink our approaches to tackling crime and violence and providing security on the ground. We need to follow approaches that are centred on citizen security and address the causes of this recent increase in violent crime, including social, economic and political exclusion," Clark said.

The new study recommends that Caribbean governments implement youth crime prevention through education, as well as provide employment opportunities that target the marginalised urban poor. A shift in focus is needed, it says, from a state protection approach to one that focuses on citizen security and participation, promoting law enforcement that is fair, accountable and more respectful of human rights.

The Caribbean Human Development Report reviews the current state of crime as well as national and regional policies and programmes to address the problem in seven English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean countries: Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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