Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says it is painful and sobering that despite our immense progress in material and non-material terms, a small number of persons, mainly young males who are wholly unrepresentative of our nation’s young male population, have chosen a life of crime, especially violent crime.
He said they have chosen to invest in low-end but dangerous gun violence and have become “armed entrepreneurs”, living illegally off the fat of the land, making absolutely no contribution to the country’s development, sucking from it, and preying on innocent law-abiding people of all walks of life.
“Some persons who should know better make excuses for these persons and their criminal conduct; sometimes these ridiculous excuses come close to bizarre justification”.
He said the simple fact is that neither the society nor the economy commits violent crime; it is the individual; that is where the responsibility lies.
There is absolutely no reason for any person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be violent toward another or to rob anyone, Gonsalves said.
“There are enough opportunities and support systems for anyone who considers himself or herself disadvantaged”.
“Sensible people do not buy into this so-called “disadvantaged thesis” as the cause of crimes”.
Gonsalves said it is important to note that most of the violent criminals are not truly disadvantaged; they are greedy and covetous; they refuse to work; and they take some selfish pleasure in using violence against other persons.
“We must seek to rehabilitate them even as the legal system addresses the appropriate punishments”.
He says it continues to be the policy of this government to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. The coercive and other apparatuses of the state are doing their jobs.
But this venture demands the practical support of all: the family, the school, the community group, the church, and the media.
“What we do not need are cynical political operatives and some less-than-thoughtful radio hosts who tilt at the proverbial windmills and make absurd excuses for the violent criminal, but who at the same time traduce unfairly the solid and risky anti-crime efforts of the Police”
Gonsalves says fighting crime and criminals in a liberal democracy is not always easy but our liberal and democratic values must always be maintained in this fight against violent criminals.
To be sure, the tiny band of criminals will never win. On this fundamental matter the government and people are ever more determined to constrain and defeat crime and criminals, he stated.