By Rashaed Esson
#TrinidadandTobago, April 21, 2023 – Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica at the CARICOM Regional Symposium on crime said there is a “huge deficit presently in the architecture of our state, to treat with Crime and Violence, from a legislative point of view, from a law enforcement point of view and from a social intervention point of view.
During the panel discussion, he explained that the state must address how it will go about reformation to deal with the evolving problem of Crime and Violence to which he identified two “new accelerants,” the easy access to lethal weapons for citizens, particularly guns, and the evolution of social media; “the dissemination of information, that could influence or give insight to the use of violence.”
Holness stated that the epidemic of Crime and Violence has been exacerbated by the uncontrolled influx of illegal firearms, “small arms and light weapons.”
He hinted at the irony of how easy it is for criminals to obtain illegal guns despite the fact that they are not manufactured in our region.
For reference, statistics from Jamaica can be used. He revealed that in the last 10 decades, a total of 8,036 guns were seized and 12,641 Jamaican citizens were killed by illegal firearms.
Additionally, in his speech, the Jamaican Prime Minister highlighted that the last few decades have seen a rise in crime and the use of fatal weapons, further stating that the nature of violence has changed for which the region’s Law Enforcement, Justice System, Public Health Systems and Education and Social Intervention Systems are not prepared to handle, hinting to the lack of agility in the system to handle Crime.
During his address, leader of the largest English speaking country in the Caribbean repeatedly characterised Crime and Violence as threats to the Caribbean state, undermining its ability to deliver services as well as weakening citizens’ confidence in it for protection.
Not only that, he points to the fact that it threatens the region’s brand for tourism, “a safe place to visit.”
It is for these reasons and more importantly the continuous loss of lives of Caribbean people why Holness, who became Jamaica’s youngest elected prime minister in 2016, urged the region to make the necessary changes.
The Caribbean jurisprudence as he stated, was not designed to deal with Crime of this nature and magnitude and so legislative reform is required. He says the region is trapped in an “inherited archaic” system from which a break is needed in order to create our own laws to deal with our own problems.
And, he strongly expressed that there needs to be political consensus in the region on how to address Crime and Violence, separate from the competitive political space, to aid in long-term solutions.
He further maintained that the war on guns must be as strong as the war on drugs if the region is going to see progress.
In addition to that, he says the region should invest more time into preventing illegal substances from getting to other countries and not enough time on preventing guns from coming into “our countries.”
Prime Minister Holness also called on the region to put their “money where our threats lie,” and that the Governments should consider increasing investments on National Security.
Important points were also made regarding the reform of the education system and social services and to put more focus on Caribbean young males, according to Public Health evidence, as males are more prone to be involved in violence and make up most of the Criminal population according to statistics (90 percent of young males are perpetrators and victims).
To this, Holness expressed that something is wrong with the socialization of Caribbean males to which Public policy must fashion an urgent response.
Ahead of the Jamaican Prime Minister’s presentation at the Regional Symposium: Violence as a Public Health Issue – The Crime Challenge held at the Hyatt Regency, Trinidad was an opening session statement by his Commission of Police, Antony Anderson of Jamaica.
CARPHA Remembers Former PAHO Director Emeritus – Dr. Carissa Etienne as a “Tireless Advocate for Regional Solidarity”
Port of Spain, Trinidad. 01 December, 2023: It is with profound sadness and shock that I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends, people of Dominica, the Caribbean Community and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the untimely passing of PAHO Director Emeritus, Dr. Carissa Etienne.
Dr. Etienne’s contributions to public health in the Americas were not only significant, but also transformative. Her leadership and unwavering commitment to our Caribbean Community’s collective pursuit of healthier people, healthier spaces and a healthier Caribbean were a source of inspiration to many. Dr. Etienne was a tireless advocate for The Americas’ regional solidarity, for she knew that was the only way to address the glaring inequalities that exist here.
She was the Director at PAHO for most of the life of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and under her leadership, CARPHA graduated from the PAHO Biennial Work Programme (BWP) arrangement to having framework agreements.
PAHO funded many of the programmes that are difficult to attract support, like the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) and the Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), which are important services for the Region to ensure the quality of medicines. Under Dr. Etienne’s leadership, PAHO also funded non-communicable disease interventions, another area that does not attract large pots of funding, although the number one cause of deaths in the Caribbean region.
During the Pandemic, CARPHA worked with PAHO to fund the downpayments to give 12 Member States access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to the tune of US$2.6 million.
Dr. Etienne will be remembered as a true Caribbean lady who worked with great dedication and focus throughout the horrible COVID-19 period and right up to her last working day at PAHO.
During this challenging time, we pray that God will give strength to Dr. Etienne’s family, friends, and colleagues. CARPHA cherishes the memories of her remarkable contributions to the well-being of individuals and communities throughout the Americas, but especially the Caribbean.
The CARPHA Executive Management and staff stand in solidarity with our Caribbean Community as we mourn the loss of a visionary leader.
Dr. Joy St. John
Executive Director, CARPHA
CANARI outlines climate priorities ahead of Cop28
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) informed that the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, in preparation for the upcoming annual COP28 in 2023, launched its “Caribbean Climate Justice and Resilience Agenda,” outlining the priorities for climate justice and resilience in vulnerable Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).
In a press release, CANARI highlighted that the agenda recognizes the major threat of climate change to the region as well as aims to louden the voices of the at-risk groups “on the frontlines of the climate crisis and catalyze actions for climate justice and local resilience in the Caribbean SIDS.”
The priorities stated under the agenda are:
- Curbing emissions to limit global temperature
increase to 1.5 ̊C
- Scaling up locally-led solutions for adaptation and
loss and damage
- Improving access to and delivery of climate finance
for frontline communities, small and micro enterprises, and civil society organizations as part of a ‘whole of society’ approach
- Scaling up just, nature-based solutions for resilience
- Supporting a just transition for pro-poor, inclusive,
sustainable and resilient development
- Promoting gender equity and social inclusion
approaches to climate action
- Promoting youth and intergenerational equity as
core to the climate response
- Integrating a rights-based and earth-centered
approach in addressing all these priorities and ensuring climate justice
The at-risk groups referred to in the release include small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, rural women producers, income-poor people, elderly and disabled people, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, migrants, and LGBTQIA+ people.
Being cognizant of the severity of the effects of climate change on the Caribbean, CANARI referred to the fact that the very existence of the region is on the line.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and global temperature exceeds 1.5 ̊C, the impacts of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, rainfall variability, ocean acidification, and other changes threaten the very existence of our way of life in the Caribbean and other SIDS that have contributed the least to global emissions.”
CARICOM Sec Gen speaks on Gender Based Violence
“Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls (VAWG). It is an investment in our shared future,” were the words of Dr. Carla N. Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General, as she reiterated the need for solutions against VAWG.
She called attention to VAWG as she gave a speech surrounding the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Barnett expresses the well-known fact that VAWG is one of the most prevalent issues affecting all corners of society.
“VAWG remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds,” she maintained, as she continued to point out the sad reality that this is still a major issue despite regional and global policies.
“Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat VAWG, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to ending VAWG.”
The Secretary-General highlighted statistics for VAWG, bringing attention to how serious and embedded this issue is in society.
She said that globally, 736 million women—nearly one in three—have experienced violence—physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or even both.
For the Caribbean region, she said surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 inform us that one in two women experience intimate partner violence, which is higher than the global average.
In continuation, Barnett expressed that the campaign calls everyone to action against VAWG, including “development partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media.” Also, world governments are being asked to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.
Ending her address, the Secretary-General urged everyone to wear the color orange for the duration of the campaign, as well as on the 25th of each month, “as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.”
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