Enhancing Security in Saint Lucia and Sister Islands

Members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force have been persistent in their quest to rid the country of illegal guns. Week after week, or so it seems, we report on them seizing guns and ammunition. And the guns are not toy guns, but high caliber firearms that can cause death and destruction in seconds.

It also seems that for every step Law enforcement takes in curbing the influx of illegal firearms it is forced to take two steps back due to the sheer number of guns smuggled into St Lucia.

We know that Saint Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean region face significant challenges relating to the illegal trading in small arms, light weapons, (semi -automatic) and ammunition, which pose a serious threat to the security, stability, and development of Saint Lucia and its sister islands.

There is no doubt that the guns seized by police were smuggled into Saint Lucia therefore it is in our best interest to stamp out the smuggling, a crucial factor in the safety and well-being of Saint Lucians.

But this is easier said than done and unless we fully understand the magnitude of the problem facing us we will be unable to defeat it.

Remember that our borders are porous and we are short of the manpower and necessary equipment to properly monitor them.

We admit, our border controls are not as strong as they should be despite efforts by the Government to strengthen them. Suffice to say, we are still beset with insufficient resources, technology, and coordination which hinder effective border management.

We do not rule out corruption as a hindrance to effective border control as well. By corruption we mean official/s colluding with smugglers, allowing weapons to pass undetected.

The high levels of gun violence in the country, during the past few months, can be directly attributed to the surge of illegal arms entering the country.

Therefore, it is necessary for us to seek the cooperation of sister islands in the region and that of our powerful neighbour – the United States of America.

We have seen first-hand how fragmented efforts limit success, hence the reason why we are calling for full cooperation from regional bodies, individual countries and the USA in fighting crime and smashing the illegal trade in arms (smuggling) taking place in Caribbean waters.

We agree with those calling for the harmonisation of legislation dealing with arms smuggling and gun crimes in all countries of the Caribbean.

We hope that here in Saint Lucia the system we have is robust enough to mark and trace weapons, which would aid in investigations and accountability.

We need to invest in surveillance equipment, scanners, and biometric systems at our border crossings.

We are pleased with the transparency measures taken by the police force to date in publishing data on seizures, investigations, and prosecutions, and the assurance of protection given to whistle blowers (informers) reporting gun smuggling, gun crimes and other gun related and violent crimes.

This type of encouragement is needed if we want to seriously eliminate gun-related crime in the country.

While we could list a whole gamut of measures government can embark on that would significantly help reduce guns entering the country, we won’t because we are aware that these measures are known to the government and the police.

However, we want to impress on government the need to engage communities in violence prevention and disarmament initiatives and to empower the youth through education, vocational training, and alternatives to criminal activity.

Stopping gun crime is a job Saint Lucia will need help in, hence the need to seek technical and financial support from international organizations and donor countries, not forgetting the involvement of NGOs in awareness campaigns, advocacy, and monitoring.

Let us not forget, to eradicate gun smuggling and curtail gun violence on our streets, a holistic approach is required. Saint Lucia and other sister islands must collaborate, invest in technology, and address both supply and demand factors of illegal guns in the country. By implementing these strategies, Saint Lucia and the region can enhance security, reduce violence, and promote sustainable development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend