Human Rights Advocate, Felicia Browne, has expressed alarm at the current spate of gun violence in Saint Lucia.
Browne has noted that young males are increasingly becoming victims of gun and gang-related violence.
She observed that out of 28 homicides for the year, 95% were males.
” This is critically alarming as males are becoming more vulnerable and susceptible to violent crimes within their communities. There is an urgent need to enact effective gun policies and community interventions that will work as deterrents against gun violence and access to illegal guns,” the Human Rights Advocate said in a statement.
Browne has appealed to civil society and youth organisations to focus their community projects on alleviating gun violence and gang activity amongst the youth.
According to her, the youth are asserting their powers through activities that are detrimental to their well-being, many of them are seeking guidance from the wrong individuals.
“Some of these young men and women believe that gangs are the only solutions to their problems. We must be able to craft alternatives. We as a society need to begin to face our realities and acknowledge that we have a problem with illegal guns on our streets. How can teenagers be caught with high-powered guns? Who are providing them with these deadly devices? As the gun violence The city increases , and citizens, in particular young males are fearful that their lives are at risk,” Browne observed.
Browne adds that gun violence is a human rights issue and government must do everything within its power to address this problem.
“Too many young people are dying while we fail to provide them with the tools for success. Too many of our young men are dying because we fail to provide opportunities that will obviate the need to become members of violent gangs. Our government needs to explore how we can decrease the level of gang recruitment of young people and punish individuals who are known to recruit young children in gang-related activities,” she asserted.
She stated that young men and women should be given opportunities to grow within their fullest potential through educational and entrepreneurship training.
“How can we expect young people to be motivated about life if there are no avenues for the enhancement of their future? Our young people need to able to trust their policy makers and believe that their lives will not be cut short by the errors and omissions of those in charge. They must be given equal opportunities to work and plan for their future without the fear of violence. We need to act and avoid the constant political rhetoric that has continued to fail our youth, including our young males,” Browne declared.