PM Harris’ move to increase penalties for gun crimes does little to change perception government lacks seriousness
By: E. Williams
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JUNE 12th 2017 – Two St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party parliamentarians say increasing the maximum penalty for incarceration for non-capital gun crimes from 10 years to 15 years will not alone solve the Federation’s growing crime problem.
Stating he has no serious objection to the Firearms Amendment Bill 2017 that proposes an increase in penalties for criminals convicted of offences, Sen. Nigel Carty expressed the view that the Team Unity Government brought the legislation as the linchpin of its crime reduction strategy.
West Basseterre MP, Hon. Konris Maynard accused Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr, the Hon. Timothy Harris of being silent on the murders in St. Kitts and Nevis, while expressing sympathy on the recent terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom.
“Dealing with the issue of crime can hardly ever be dealt with solely as a matter of increasing penalties,” said Sen. Carty during Tuesday’s sitting of the National Assembly.
“I’m not against that. Put it to 20 years, 15 years, if you want to bring it from 20 to 15, it’s okay; wherever you want to go, you go. You could put it to 30, you could put it to 100, it really doesn’t matter, because in my view and as the studies have revealed, that in and of itself will not lead an abating of crime in the country,” Carty, a former Minister of Education and Information told legislators and the Nation.
Photo 2 – Hon. Konris Maynard
He said the amendment to increase the punitive measures for gun crimes in St. Kitts and Nevis is valid, but suggested that the Minister of National Security and his Cabinet must be serious on its strategy in reducing crime.
“Let’s deal with what we think ought to be done, ought to be pursued seriously in an attempt to bring back down the crime. We see it increasing. We hear police taking more guns off the streets but that’s just an indication of how many guns there really are coming through Customs, coming through our ports and close relatives of members on that side [government benches], and those who support them are being caught in all kinds of things with guns, whether it’s at Conaree or coming through the port, as though there’s an embodiment because they are in office – bring the guns in,” said Carty, in reference to a nephew of Prime Minister who was recently arrested and charged.
Mr. Carty appealed to the Government to get very serious about the issue of crime fighting that is plaguing the nation.
“I am very happy that those who are on that side have now come to recognize that crime is everybody’s business. Seeing about the control and abatement and reduction of crime is everybody’s business,” he said in reference to Prime Minister Harris and his ministers, who while in opposition politicised crime.
Suggesting that it was just a show by National Security Minister Harris to blunt the public outrage following the recent murders – 4 in 5 days and 14 for 2017, West Basseterre Labour MP, Hon. Konris Maynard said the proposed amendments are not enough to deter gun crimes.
He slammed Prime Minister Harris for not making a public comment or statement on the recent murders while he expressed sympathy on the recent terrorist attacks in England in a statement in the lawmaking body and on twitter.
“A whole national address was arranged… shortly before that we had the killing of a young businessman, gunned down in his vehicle. We had a teenager gone missing and as far as I know is still missing. From then to now we’ve had four, five, maybe even six other murders and as the Member for #2 said, absolutely nothing from the gentleman responsible for national security.
“In this parliament in the last sitting the Prime Minister rightly mentioned the killings that happened in Manchester, but nothing for the killings and the heartbreak and the agony of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. And because he has faced severe criticism for his missing in action approach to crime we have a bill to increase firearms sentence from ten years to fifteen years. This is not enough.”
“The perception in the public sphere is that the government is not at all serious about its attempt to lead in the fight against crime, and having a parliament sitting to do what is a small portion of crime-fighting so that you can wave it up in a press conference to say look we have done this, we have done that,… much like we have had bills for show appearing in this House. The government doesn’t appear to be serious and this bill does nothing to change that perception,” said Maynard.