HOURS after Minister Lenard “Spider” Montoute spoke on Thursday about programmes and projects he hopes would deal with crime in St. Lucia, a robbery occurred in Sarrot that spiked the homicide rate to the highest ever recorded in the country’s recent history.
That incident, which police are investigating, has pushed homicide rate to an all-time high of 53, surpassing the 52 recorded in 2011 when the country was under a police operation called “Operation Restore Confidence”.
Police have yet to release the identity of the latest person killed. However, they said the incident involved an alleged armed robbery.
A police statement said that about 8:20 p.m. that day, officers from the Criminal Investigations Department responded to a report of robbery at San De Fay in Sarrot, Castries.
Upon arrival, officers received information about two masked men who fled the scene after allegedly attempting to rob another male at gunpoint.
About 1:15 a.m. yesterday, the body of an unidentified masked male was discovered about 10 feet from the main road in San de Fay. The body was transported to Victoria Hospital and pronounced dead by a medical practitioner. A post mortem examination is scheduled for a later date.
The spike in the homicide rate and crime in general has forced the government to call a symposium on crime scheduled for next Friday.
How effective this will be in at least curbing criminal activities in the country and, in particular, serious crimes like murder, rape, assaults, etc., remains to be seen. But National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, is adamant that something has to done quickly to deal with crime.
He told The VOICE that recommendations coming out of the symposium will not be placed on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.
Meanwhile Montoute, who is the Minister for Youth Development, Sports, Culture, Social Justice, Equity, Empowerment and Local Government, said he and Francis are looking at programmes and projects with a view to addressing the crime situation in the country.
Although he admitted to a spike in homicide, the Minister would not admit to an increase in crime in the country. Nevertheless, he said the crime situation is disconcerting and a major concern to government.
He explained that crime is multi-faceted and must be looked at from various angles, and that all must chip in to fight crime in the country — not just the government but non-governmental organizations, churches, civil society, and others.
“Crime is a societal problem. Not just the government can play a role,” Montoute said.
The Minister was at a press briefing when he spoke on the subject of crime, adding that government will not shirk its duties when it comes to dealing with crime but will need partners in the process.
His personal view on capital punishment is that it will not deter crime. However, if capital punishment is the law, then the law should be enforced. He says he feels comfortable the country could find other avenues to deal with perpetrators of crime other than the gallows.