Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre has told a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) forum that Saint Lucia is currently averaging two homicides a week.
Pierre, responsible for National Security, spoke at the Regional Symposium: Violence as a Public Health Issue – The Crime Challenge, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on Monday.
He said Saint Lucia’s experience demands urgent new approaches to its violent crime problem.
“Our homicide rate jumped from a total of 30 in 2016, to 60 in 2017, 74 in 2021, 76 in 2022, and to date 27 for 2023. The latest figure means that we are currently averaging two homicides per week,” Pierre disclosed.
He said most homicides were firearm-related and involved young people as victims and perpetrators.
“There must be a halt to this,” Pierre declared.
He stated that the violence’s scale and barbarity in Vieux Fort over one weekend were unparalleled in Saint Lucia’s history.
“What is particularly concerning about the situation is that while the homicides are gang-related, the perpetrators have seemingly targeted family members of their perceived foes, raising their criminality to a new and different level,” Pierre observed.
He explained that the crime was occurring in the context of various policies and laws in place to combat violent crime.
In this regard, the Castries East MP outlined several existing measures, including the Anti-Gang Act, the Firearms Act, and the Suppression of Escalated Crime (Police Powers) Act.
However, the Saint Lucia Prime Minister noted that the crime situation calls for more than a law enforcement response, but one that is comprehensive and multidimensional that will seek to find and eradicate the roots of ‘this cancerous violence’.
” While we continue to provide unprecedented resources to our police force, it has become clear that only a multi-disciplinary, proactive, and evidence-based approach can bring about a sustainable abatement of crime and anti-social behaviour in our country,” Pierre said.
In addition, he highlighted ‘the crucial matter’ of diverting young people away from crime.
And Pierre noted that his administration had implemented a ‘basket of initiatives’, including the Youth Economy, to drive this.
The Saint Lucia Prime Minister welcomed the regional Crime Symposium, explaining that his country is in the early stages of implementing social and crime suppression programmes that can provide an avenue for resolution of the crime situation.