Statement by Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris
My Fellow Citizens and Residents,
It is my duty to address the nation regarding the recent increase in criminal activities which if left unchecked will undermine the wonderful socio-economic gains that the Team Unity Government has achieved over the past 4 years. The development, peace and progress of our beautiful Country must never be compromised by the actions of a few criminals.
My government conveys our sincere sympathies to all families who have lost loved ones as a result of gang-related violence since the beginning of the year.
At this time, there have been seven homicides. This level of depravity and gross disregard for life and property cannot – and will not – be tolerated by my government.
The Cabinet met with the High Command of our principal law enforcement agencies: the Police, Defence Force, and the Customs & Excise Department, accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, the National Security Advisor and the Financial Secretary on Tuesday and again on Thursday. We also met with representatives of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and will meet with other critical stakeholders over the course of the coming weeks.
Our security forces have advised the Cabinet of their plans to vigorously defend the peace and ensure the safety of all citizens and residents. In this regard, a number of security initiatives will be pursued on a long-term sustained basis.
We call on all citizens and residents to give their fullest cooperation to our law enforcement officers as they go about their special and general operations in our crime hotspots and all other areas of concerns. The core mandate of our law enforcement officers is that of finding the criminals and bringing them to justice.
Criminals must never find comfort or protection anywhere in St. Kitts and Nevis. Everyone, indeed our families, churches, businesses and political parties are being called upon to stand firmly with the security forces as they work to make us safe and prevent further loss of life and injury to persons and property.
I am not at liberty to make public every initiative in the Police’s vigorous response. However, I would advise that there will be some measure of inconvenience as Police hunt down the criminals in the pursuit of justice. Vehicle checkpoints will be par for the course. Persons should expect some delay at police checkpoints and cooperate readily with law enforcement. In anticipation of possible transportation delays, it is advised that commuters make earlier and better preparation to get to and from work.
In order to assist our law enforcement officers, we should better respond to the criminal challenge.
Those in association with known criminals of interest to the Police should provide information to the Police, and those who have information on any killing or violent act or criminal activity are encouraged to report same. This is not a time to protect criminals. Now is the time to turn them over to our law enforcement agencies.
The Cabinet has approved the recommendations from the High Command that:
(1) The training programme at the Police Training School be temporarily suspended, allowing the recruits, inspectors, corporals and other officers attached thereto to be reassigned to areas most in need of manpower support.
(2) Professional advice and support from abroad be sought as and when necessary by the High Command.
(3) Increased special operations to be commenced immediately. These would include: enhanced stop and searches, targeted raids, cordon and search operations and deployment of technological assets.
(4) Community outreach programmes and the build-out of our Explorer programmes continue apace.
(5) The Attorney General will determine what additional legislative responses can be effected in the very near future to give greater support to law enforcement agencies in their fight against crime.
(6) The Police High Command releases the names and photos of several persons of interest to them, and we encourage those with knowledge of the whereabouts of these persons to inform the Police soonest.
My Fellow Citizens and Residents, these are critical times. We cannot be uncertain about where we stand on the issue of law and order. The peace, prosperity and orderly development of our Country must be number one.
Let us therefore work together with our law enforcement officers to stamp out crime, in particular violent crimes. We must also work together earnestly to restore our land to a place where peace and safety beautifully abound.
May God Bless St Kitts and Nevis. May He forever keep us safe!
I Thank You!