Homicide rates in Central America and the Caribbean "near crisis

Ambassador Raymond Wolfe, Jamaica's representative

NARRATOR: The UN office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released its first Global Study on Homicide, which shows that young men, particularly in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Central and Southern Africa, are at greatest risk of falling victim to intentional homicide but that women are at greatest risk of murder owing to domestic violence.

According to the Study, there is evidence of rising homicide rates in Central America and the Caribbean, which are “near crisis point”.

The Study also establishes a clear link between crime and development: countries with wide income disparities are four times more likely to be afflicted by violent crime than more equitable societies. Conversely, economic growth seems to stem that tide, as the past 15 years in South America have shown.

The Study notes that high levels of crime are both a major cause and a result of poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment. Crime drives away business, erodes human capital and destabilizes society. And it pointed out that targeted actions are needed.

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov says “to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, crime prevention policies should be combined with economic and social development and democratic governance based on the rule of law.”

NARRATOR: Meanwhile, Jamaica's representative Ambassador RAYMOND WOLFE, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said crime and violence threatened the development agenda in the region. He said as a result, security is an issue of paramount importance to the region.

TAPE: Crime and security has become the fourth pillar of the Community, alongside trade and economic integration, foreign and community relations and functional cooperation. We have recognised that the preservation of our territorial integrity, as well as the protection of our citizens and their property through a comprehensive, multifaceted and integrated security policy, is fundamental to the sustained economic growth and social stability of each of our Member States. In relation to the 'world drug problem', CARICOM fully subscribes to the Political Declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly Special Session in 1998, on the establishment of coordination and cooperative mechanisms among countries and regions in addressing this problem. Accordingly, CARICOM has been developing its own systems to address critical security issues within the region, including the Community's Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) which was established for the development and management of the CARICOM Regional Action Agenda on Crime and Security issues.

NARRATOR: Ambassador Wolfe noted that CARICOM Heads of Government agreed on a Plan of Action in 2008 which defines the priorities in the region's fight against increasing trends of crime and violence in the Caribbean and embraces a range of issues. He said CARICOM continues to establish and promote measures designed to ensure the combating and elimination of these threats to national and regional security and have recognised the need to mobilize resources to counter these threats.

TAPE: All CARICOM Member States have experienced the devastating effects of drug abuse and addiction on all aspects of our development both nationally and regionally. The negative social and health impacts of drug use and addiction have been felt on the individual, family and community levels, most obvious in the loss of human capital due to death, disability or incarceration. In the economic sphere, the additional strain on health and security budgets and institutions as well as loss of revenue due to a decrease in tourism receipts, all have serious implications for sustaining developmental gains achieved over the past two to three decades. The drug trade drives crime in our region in a number of ways, including by creating local drug use problems, unwanted flows of illegal small arms and light weapons, corruption and undermining legitimate economic activity, including through money-laundering. Violence in our region is also aggravated as a result of organized crime. Additionally, the number of children and young people that continue to fall prey to these illegal activities continues to be alarming, and this is of grave concern to the region. These developments highlight the reasons for our growing concern about the impact of guns, drugs and crime on our youth.

NARRATOR: The Action Plan, which is to be implemented over the period 2009 to 2013, seeks to target, within the CARICOM Community: (i) At-risk groups engaging in violent behaviour and criminal activities; (ii) Those already exposed to high levels of violence and victimization; (iii) Groups in conflict with the law, in particular, children and youth; and (iv) Institutional responses to crime and violence from a prevention perspective.

TAPE: The situation in the Caribbean Community is daunting and no one State or region can independently and successfully conquer the multifaceted challenge of criminal activity and drug control. The transnational nature of the problem of organized crime requires cross-border collaboration at the bilateral, regional and international levels to combat illegal activity and tackle with equal vigour the supply, transit and demand sides of the international drug problem. For these reasons, CARICOM will continue to collaborate at the bilateral, regional and international levels and to advocate for more effective international measures to stem the flow of organised criminal activity within the Caribbean, as we seek to address this scourge which has cost us all substantially both socially and economically. Our future demands it and our people depend on it.

NARRATOR: Jamaica's Permanent representative to the United Nations Ambassador Raymond Wolfe.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 5’54″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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