(CMC) – Caribbean Community (Caricom) chairman Dr Keith Rowley has stressed the importance of addressing crime and violence in the region “as a public health issue”, even as countries focus their attention on dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To do this, he said, a planned high-level summit of member states and regional multi-sectoral partners which he, as lead Caricom head with responsibility for security, had committed to hosting, must be convened.
That summit had been scheduled for April last year, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister said on Wednesday that it is crucial for it to be convened soon.
“Although our attention has been appropriately focused on securing the health and socioeconomic well-being of our people and the community’s post-COVID recovery, we must remain committed to addressing crime and violence as a public health issue in our region,” he said as he addressed the opening ceremony of the 32nd Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, which is being held virtually.
“Across the globe, we have seen how shutdowns have contributed to an increase in cases of domestic violence. Additionally, in the region, we continue to witness unconscionable acts of violence against the women and children of our community.”
Rowley also identified a “deepening sense of insecurity triggered by the scourge of illicit trafficking in goods and persons in our region” as another issue of concern.
He said such threats to law enforcement and security, specifically the illicit trafficking in persons, have been particularly disconcerting as Caricom continues its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These illicit activities and their violent spill-over effects further intensify citizen insecurity throughout our region,” he said.
“We have acknowledged that to address these challenges, it is insufficient to rely on law enforcement alone and that a multi-disciplinary approach which engages various sectors of our community must be adopted.