Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders at a just-ended crime symposium in Trinidad and Tobago have agreed to ban assault weapons.
In an end-of-symposium declaration, the leaders announced the agreement to ban assault weapons in the Region, except for security forces and sporting competitions.
They also agreed to stand with Mexico in its legal action against US gun manufacturers and retailers.
In addition, the leaders expressed deep concern at the high rate of illegal exportation of guns from the United States of America to the Caribbean Region.
“Recalling the Region’s strong and enduring investments to support the United States in its ‘War on Drugs’, and, given our observation that the gun has become the new drug, as articulated in our separate 18 April 2023 Declaration, we call on the United States of America to reciprocate and join the Caribbean in its ‘War on Guns’,” their end-of-symposium declaration stated.
In addition, the CARICOM Heads acknowledged the concerns of the people of the Region, that there is a tilting of the balance between the rights of the individual and the public safety interests of the whole of society, which is having a debilitating effect on the rights of the community to live in peaceful societies, particularly given the trend for persons on murder charges to be granted bail.
And they expressed conviction about the multi-faceted nature of violent crime and its pervasive effects.
The declaration said the situation required a robust regional response incorporating a public health approach, which is an all-of-society strategy including family, church, academia, cultural and sports personalities, minority political parties, and wider civil society.
The leaders said they have agreed to strengthen the development of security as a fourth pillar of Caricom “so that collectively, we can better address the extra-territorial threats to citizen security; including strengthening the capacity of the community’s security and justice agencies to adopt and implement a public health approach”.
They also agreed to undertake a comprehensive overhaul of the criminal justice system to address criminal terrorists, focussing on proactive management of prosecutions, sentencing, and the diversion of young people at risk.