“Gun Violence and the Caribbean Region” by Felicia Browne
Human Rights and Peace Ambassador for the region, St Lucian Felicia Browne, has cited the urgent need for new initiatives against gun violence.
“When women and youth are fatally shot with such brutality, it raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of our crime-related policies. No citizen can feel safe within areas which are ridden with crime and other gang-related activities,” Browne said in a press statement.
According to Browne, although many Caribbean countries have enacted laws to curb the levels of gun violence, rates of gun-related violence continue to rise.
“The lack of crime prevention programs and interventions have left the most vulnerable – women, children and young men – at high risk for violent crimes,” she observed.
She felt that having greater police presence on known violent street corners is only a small part of the solution, and can actually aggravate the problem if police are not properly trained and physiologically stable.
She recalled that on April 2, 2013 some countries like Barbados signed the landmark United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which regulates international trade in conventional arms, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships.
Browne observed that the treaty will foster peace and security by putting a stop to destabilising arms flows to conflict regions.
However, she said it is of grave concern that many Caribbean countries have not signed the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, a diplomatic initiative aimed at addressing the interrelations between armed violence and development.
“This initiative provides technical assistance to member states to manage gun control and violence and helps prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. It will also help keep warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools,” Browne asserted.
The Human Rights and Peace Ambassador for the region observed that such international initiatives can become instrumental in setting effective policies for gun violence and gun control within small nations.
“Our regional states should sign on to all of these, as they can resources and personnel currently not available through existing programs. Gun violence is a serious harm against human life and freedom,” Browne noted, adding “We should do everything in our power to ensure that such the lives of our citizens are protected.”