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Opinion
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Commentary: Grenada's escalation in crime and lawlessness is unfortunate
Published on August 8, 2012Email To Friend    Print Version

By Ian Francis

Like Prime Minister Thomas, I am obligated to extend my sympathy to the families of loved ones who recently faced the wrath of death through domestic violence and other criminal misconduct. The events over the last week have certainly left a scar on the administration, as these heinous crimes were committed during its existence.

ian_francis.jpg
Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached at ianf505@gmail.com
At the same time, care and caution should be exercised when our hands are lifted to point our fingers, accusing various individuals for the cause of these events. We have got to be careful as I do not think for one moment that Prime Minister Thomas and his Commissioner of Police should be fingered out.

Thomas in his capacity as prime minister and minister for national security did the correct thing by going on air to address the nation about the alarming crime situation. While Thomas’s initiative is commended, he seems to have fallen short on some of the new initiatives he announced and that require an urgent return to the drawing board. His suggestions for national day of prayer, bringing together faith communities and non-governmental organizations, clearly demonstrate Thomas’s ineptness and lack of vision in providing effective leadership to address crime and lawlessness in Grenada.

The reality of the crime situation in Grenada is for Thomas and his national security team to accept the fact that the national security infrastructure in the state is broken and in dire need of repair. By accepting and understanding the broken nature of the national security structure, it is essential for him to also understand that the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) should not be relied upon as the mechanism to address the current episode. His government is required and obligated to look at other strategies that would yield positive results for the nation.

Over the last few months, I have offered many opinions and commentaries about Caribbean national security issues in this medium. The government of Grenada, like many other regional governments, has unfortunately become willing partners in crime collaborative initiatives with Washington through CBSI whose only crime prevention priority in the Caribbean is drug interdiction. Given the region’s blind and embarrassing collaborative security commitments to Washington, observers have noticed the relentless approach to capacity building initiatives in the local coast guard with resources from Washington.

There is no argument about Washington’s obsession with drug interdiction and their assistance to the Coast Guard. However, Thomas and his regional colleagues are obligated to tell Washington that there are other pressing national security issues to be addressed. Unfortunately, these leaders have remained silent and helpless, while crime and lawlessness rages in their jurisdiction.

Thomas, in his radio broadcast a few nights ago identified the faith and NGO communities as two new crime partners. With no disrespect to these partners, I, like many other concerned nationals, are asking what can they do in the current situation. It is very doubtful that prayers, miracles, candlelight vigils and NGOs’ search for the next dollar will not address the national security situation in Grenada.

It is recognized that Thomas is enjoying his last few months as prime minister. However, as minister of national security, he can commence the process of totally re-organizing the national security and certain parts of the judiciary. If Thomas fails to move in a very swift manner, Grenada will continue to have growing national security problems. So here are my suggestions to Thomas and his fading government:

• Immediately terminate the services of his national security adviser. Greater skills and global affairs experience is needed for this position.
• Restructure the intelligence services. Rename the Special Branch and give them an expanded mandate with capable and visionary staff whose work should extend beyond peeping and snooping on NDC mutineers and the leader of the opposition.
• Establish a Criminal Intelligence Unit that will be decentralized and expected to play a critical role in criminal intelligence gathering and analysis at the district level.
• Establish and sustain an effective electronic communication system that cannot be hacked easily or infiltrated by sophisticated criminals.
• Re-tool the Criminal Records Office
• Increase plain clothes patrol and give greater mobility to officers. Ensure that vehicles are properly maintained.
• Consultations with crooked defence lawyers who use the magistracy to stall preliminary and other hearings. Defence lawyers must understand that they should be an integral and participatory stakeholder in national security.
• Restructuring of the magistracy to deal more timely with offenders and law breakers.
• Restructuring of the prosecutorial resources in the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions Office.
• Restructuring of the justice of peace system to expand their role in adjudicating petty cases so magistrates can be freed up to deal with more serious cases.
• Pressure the Homeland Security to provide additional financial resources for national security infrastructure re-building.
• Access training opportunities for national security personnel based on the nation’s need and not what is perceived or formulated in a foreign capital whose only interest is to advance their interest.

Let me conclude by re-iterating that draconian legislation is not a deterrent to crime but rather an alley for human rights abuses. The re-instatement of the death penalty is not the answer and is considered to be extremely inhumane. Therefore, if Thomas and his cohorts are really interested in national security issues, they must understand that success in crime prevention and detection must be supported by a strong criminal intelligence gathering mechanism; respect of individual rights and stop relying on prayers, candlelight vigils, the weak and struggling NGO sector. Effective security planning strategies are required and the engagement of broader societal participation is required.

I rest my case with Prime Minister Thomas.
 
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Comments:

leslie stewartt:

Ian it appears that you have an obsession with the Hon Prime Minister. One man can't solve the problem of Crime and Violence. Even a well equipped police force like the US security forces can't stop all the crimes and violence taking place in that Country. What we need in Grenada is for the entire community to fight crime. We need a drastic change in attitude and the way we value and respect each other. In other words we need a cultural change. The Prime Minister have been trying his best to promote good values. There will always be crime and violence dating back from the days when cain killed his brother abel. Lets all support the RGPF. They are doing their best given the limited resources available to them.

Helen Grenade:

I still hear people talk about the 1980s Murders of so many of our beloved Grenadian brothers and sisters. Those responsible for those Brutal Murders served some Prison time.

These Cold Blooded Assassins should have never seen the light of day. That was a tragedy. If that was true, then people have learned nothing from what happened then.

So far nothing haave changed.

That's what I thought of when I heard that Three persons was murdered in one week in Grenada.

How could someone do that to another human being. that's what I do not understand. None of this makes any sense to me and all Clear thinking Grenadians.

All I know is we're always going to have thses EVIL People doing Evil Things.

The Time is Right to bring back the DEATH PENALTY in Grenada. There is an APPETITE for it here.

Too many DETERMINED Criminals and NUT JOBS who are out there are getting away with murders. This is a sad state of affairs then, that we in Grenada have finally come to.

We should leave no stone unturned and recognize that we have no greater Mission as a country than keeping our young people safe. It is time we send those EVIL DEVILS back to HELL.

As a Nation, we have to Rise up and demand the "REINSTATEMENT of the DEATH PENALTY".

This Tool of Death and Punishment for those who takes away innocent Lives is the only solution for this problem we are having here.

If the Politicians Stand and Demand it, we will hopefully not have any more Beheading. Are we Al Quaida? What is happening in Grenada, we have become a Complete Mess.

In the Utter Absence of Leadership in Grenada, a System that Abets those bent on Carnage will stay the same.

Android:

I agree with you Helen Grenade. This time you are indeed correct and on target. We need to rid Grenada of these CRIMINALS. Animals behave better than they do. We need to go to a referendum and get the people's consent, and bring back hanging. I fully support this measure. It's about time.

Helen Grenade:

Android, I am beginning to believe that you are correct with a lot of things. And I hope you will support my article on the "Reinstatement of the Death Penalty in Grenada"


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