It was very disturbing to read in THE VINCENTIAN newspaper of 23rd July 2021, in an article titled ‘Too many guns in the town’, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne talking about a high level of gun-related crime. Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne said it was upsetting ‘to see the number of persons who come before the Court on an almost day to day basis, to be arraigned or to answer charges for possession of firearms and ammunition’.
For a long time, crime has been high and virtually out of control in SVG. The year 2017 was a very bad year for violent crime for Vincentians under the incompetent ULP regime, with murders reaching a record high of 42. At that time, SVG had the fourth highest murder rate per capita in the world.
The long-term inability of the ULP regime to competently manage SVG’s public finances so as to create a strong economy and mass employment, has dragged our country down to this devastating situation. The murder rate in SVG has risen sharply under the ULP regime and if left unattended can easily escalate into a national crisis.
SVG’s border is far from secure, as it seems people desiring a firearm seem to have little trouble getting one.
As long ago as 2006, SVG Green Party warned that if the ULP regime didn’t change their harsh policies, then, in metaphorical language, ‘blood would run in SVG’. They haven’t changed and blood has been spilled as per the homicides here.
The ULP regime’s economic incompetence has increased poverty in SVG. Increased poverty has led to an upsurge in violent crime. Far too often we hear about murder or other violent incidents in our country.
There is so much violence in our neighbourhoods that even a judge had to speak out saying he was fed up with all the cases of “choppings” being brought before him.
According to SVG Green Party Leader Ivan O’Neal BSc (Hons.), MSc, MBA, the long-term lack of investment in education has also contributed to the high murder rate. The ULP regime has systematically cut the amount of money spent on education and the ULP regime’s failure to educate our people, has resulted in fewer people being able to get highly-paid jobs or to start their own business to support themselves financially.
According to the World Bank, high murder rates undermine economic growth and social development, and leave countries caught in a vicious circle; high murder rates cause lower economic growth, which causes insufficient economic and employment opportunity, which cause poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment, which in turn lead to high murder rates, which cause…etc.
To stop people turning to guns and crime, we need to create reasons for them to stay on the right side of the law. We need jobs urgently to reduce unemployment and reduce poverty.
Nearly half of the people in SVG live in poverty and more than one quarter of them are extremely poor. Poverty is closely linked to lack of income and to unemployment. We need to tax the super-rich foreigners of Mustique and Canouan to cater for the needs of our people.
We need to stop the daily procession of people appearing before the Court on firearms and ammunition charges.