Premier Speaks About Gangs and Drugs
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
December 14, 2008 (CUOPM)
Premier of Nevis, Hon. Joseph Parry said Friday that while the deaths of some of the five persons who were murdered in Nevis this year, are drug or gang related, he is frightened by the meaningless deaths of two individuals who were murdered “for God knows what.”
“I can only assume that human life has lost its value in the minds of certain persons in our society. If that is so that is deadly dangerous. It is deadly dangerous because it means that anybody can be wiped out at any time,” said Premier at the opening session of a National Consultation on Crime.
He said: “The criminals are not interested in political parties, are not interested in ministers of government, they are not interested in your role or rank in society. They indulge in themselves and they are satisfied in whatever they wish to satisfy.”
Premier Parry said that the economy of Nevis is nearly totally dependent on tourism and “every one of us in every village in every part of Nevis and in every part of St. Kitts and Nevis, I would want to assume, we would understand the need to survive.”
“The need to have jobs, the need to have an income and the need to have money in the treasury, the need to be able to send our children to school, the need to own homes, the need to be able to have a recreation. It just seems to me that in spite of all this, some people do not care. They do not care if they do damage to the economy and they can destroy the country, I do not know if they are aware, but I do believe that we would have to make them aware. It just seems that nothing matters,” he said.
The Nevis Premier pointed to traditional values of hard work, honesty, decency and respect for each other on both St. Kitts and on Nevis.
“There are many Nevisians who have moved to St. Kitts to live and you have first and second generation Kittitians. There are many Kittitians who have moved to Nevis to live and so the values are the same. And our traditional values have been hard work, honesty, decency, and respect for each other. Somehow it seems to me that these values have not been communicated to the next generations, to the younger generations and there you have now a new set of values that maybe totally different to the values that we hold so dear to us,” he opined.
The Nevis Premier said there was much work to do. “It is not a matter of politics. It is a matter of all the stakeholders in our society coming to one common understanding and doing what is necessary to halt the problem that we face at the moment,” he said.
Mr. Parry noted that in the old days certain killings were emotional and had to do with families.
“Now we have the emergence of gangs, the emergence of gangs on the island of Nevis and I am sure of the emergence of gangs on the island of St. Kitts. Sometimes it confuses me because I am not sure why they have gangs or what these gangs do. When you speak to young people someone people say to us they need an identity, they do not find this identity at home, they do not find it among their families but they find it in being a gang member. They claim that they are a part of a family,” he said, adding:
“Maybe that is a message to us, maybe something has gone wrong, and maybe perhaps in our efforts to develop our country economically, we have left something out, something socially. Perhaps in our efforts to have two jobs, we have failed to be parents; we have failed to spend time with our children, and helping them with their home work and giving them directions.”
He referred to the problem of drugs and its relationship to guns and called for a regional approach to deal with these scourge.
“We also have the problem of drugs, the growing problem of drugs and that frightens me, because wherever you have drugs, you have guns and you have killings. It is my understanding that these little islands are now being used as transshipment points for drugs, moving from one part of this part of the hemisphere into a another part of this part of the hemisphere, but wherever drugs pass they leave a stain.”
“They leave a mark and they leave destruction behind and so together the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis must work to stamp out this movement that is passing through our islands, but more than that, it seems to me that we have to work with the region, because it is not Nevis alone, it is not St. Kitts alone that is having this problem. This problem manifests itself in Antigua, in the Windward Islands, in Trinidad and Tobago, in Barbados, Jamaica, in the Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, Anguilla, wherever we go and so it seems to me that as a region, we have a problem that we must tackle and that we must tackle together if we are going to solve the problem. We cannot solve it in Nevis alone,” said the Nevis Premier.
“I am concerned too about the emergence of guns. Fortunately for us up to now, many of the persons who are using guns are not using them well but the day they learn to use them well, the numbers can climb and so we need to get the guns out of their hands. We need to get the guns off the streets. We need to take serious action now,” said Mr. Parry.
“We must have an approach now that deals with problems that are facing us among people of a particular age, between 15 to 35 years and these problems cannot be dealt with by training and counseling alone. We have to have immediate action, serious action. They must get a signal that the governments are serious, that the politicians are serious, that the police are serious, that we are all serious and that we mean business. We must demand respect from them immediately and if they do not give it, we must take it,” Premier Parry suggested.