#Bahamas, October 7, 2017 – Nassau – During his Contribution in The House of Assembly on the Speech from The Throne, on October 4, 2017, Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames said, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, murder rates in the Caribbean are higher than in any other region of the world.
“The CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Regional Task Force on Crime and Security recently commissioned a report on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Caribbean,” Minister Dames said. “The Report noted that a major factor contributing to the surge of guns-related criminality in the region is the trafficking of narcotics, which has facilitated the availability of firearms.”
With that regional context in mind, Minister Dames said, stakeholders know that law enforcement partnerships, intelligence, drug interdiction and gun control must be the focus over the next five years.
He pointed out that, as delineated in the speech from the throne, the government is focused on making the nation safer through a number of strategic priorities, including the following: a Zero Tolerance approach to crime; the establishment of a Guns and Gangs Unit; the establishment of a DNA Lab; the detection of financial, commercial and cyber-crimes; and enhanced training across Law Enforcement Agencies.
Minister Dames added that other priorities include strengthening partnerships in regional, hemispheric and international organizations; the creation of Neighborhood Safety Programs; engaging members of The Bahamas’ religious and civic communities; increasing youth employability through the Citizen Security Project; anti-corruption legislation; establishing a National Intelligence Agency; and the creation of a Parole and Probation System.
He noted that the speech from the throne also articulated a number of ways in which the Government seeks to modernize the Parliamentary and elections processes of The Bahamas including the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission and Boundaries Commission, the introduction of term limits for Prime Ministers, and the introduction of a recall system for non-performing Members of Parliament.
“We are determined to deliver on these commitments; a promise we made to the Bahamian people prior to the May 10, 2017 General Elections,” Minister Dames said.
When speaking of the Zero Tolerance Approach, Minister Dames said that, since May 2017, the police had executed the new zero-tolerance approach with precision through aggressive anti-crime operations throughout the capital with a focus on crime hot-spots, prolific offenders, persons with firearms, gang members, persons in violation of their bail, drug peddlers, shutting down drug houses and persons in violation of the nation’s traffic laws.
“This new strategy is reaping positive results,” he stated. “Between May and September 2017, the police have arrested over 269 persons for an array of serious offences ranging from murder to robbery. They have seized over 125 illegal firearms, and 5,316 rounds of ammunition. In addition 9,381 fixed penalties (traffic tickets) were issued to drivers in violation of our traffic laws.
“The police have also ‘ramped up’ their drug interdiction efforts by executing over 140 anti-drug operations since May of this year. During this time period, over 10,332.15 pounds of marijuana and 1,428.87 pounds of cocaine have been seized.”
Drug Enforcement Officers, he added, had executed over 120 search warrants on suspected drug houses and have also searched over 1,186 persons. A total of 627 persons had been arrested for drug-related offenses, 528 of whom were subsequently charged and placed before the courts, Minister Dames noted.
“This clamp-down has resulted in many well-known drug houses, which were operating for far too long in our communities, to be finally shut down,” he said. “Despite these successes, there remains much work to be done.”
By: Eric Rose (BIS)
Photo caption: Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames speaks in the House of Assembly, on October 4, 2017.
(BIS Photo/Eric Rose)