The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has called for a regional summit to tackle issues related to crime and violence, which are now being described as “public health disorders”.
Chair of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, said this was one of the outcomes of the two-day 31st Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM, which concluded with a press conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday night.
And, it is expected that Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and Lead Prime Minister of Security, Dr. Keith Rowley, will host the summit in the twin island state before the upcoming Heads of Government meeting in July.
“The message from Heads of Government is that this is an urgent matter with which we want to have a meeting within the next few months …,” Ms. Mottley said.
She explained that the conversation could not simply take place at the level of government or law enforcement, but must encompass a national and regional action plan.
Ms. Mottley said that plan would include partners from faith-based organizations, artists, sports people, teachers, the Caribbean Public Health Organization, and members of the private sector, in order to have full and frank discussions about how the region must chart the way forward.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the source of the problem went beyond how to solve murders. “We are talking about how you resolve violence and conflict within our families, within our communities, within our countries. To that extent, we recognize that there are some insidious things happening,” she charged.
Ms. Mottley also noted that new drug cocktails were also posing a threat to children, some as young as 11 and 12 years old, and once taken, they alter their natural states.
However, she told those present that this was not the first time Barbados or the region faced such a dilemma, as similar issues were experienced in the early to mid-80s.
“We have to work together across the region; first with the parents so that the parents can recognize what are the threats to their children’s stability and do something about it,” she said.
It is on that premise that the CARICOM Chair insisted that the summit should be held, as there was a need for a multidisciplinary approach to the issue.
“We need to bring everybody together to set a common mission. Once we set that common mission, then each work their part to pursue and achieve that mission. Therefore, it cannot be government alone, but all of the regional multi-stake partners and civil society,” Prime Minister Mottley emphasized.