Government moving to tighten legislation to deal with gun-related crimes

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, (CMC) — Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has signalled his intention to table legislation to deal with the escalation of criminal activities in Grenada, particularly gun-related crimes.

He told a news conference Tuesday that while, for the most part, crime in Grenada “has been trending downwards”, gun-related crimes are increasing.

“In total we have 18 homicides for the year. Many of them are gun related and, as I have said repeatedly, firearms are lethal, they are meant to kill. And, I daresay, perhaps in some of these instances were firearms not involved, some of the victims may very well have survived.

“We intend to take a very robust response to this and the Cabinet intends to pilot legislation to amend the Firearms Act to introduce far more significant penalties for persons found in unlawful possession of a firearm,” said Mitchell, a lawyer.

He said the ceremonial opening of the new parliamentary term will be next week, “and we certainly intend to file the necessary legislation before we go on the Christmas break…so that it could be enacted into law to signal our view that the possession of unlawful firearms, the use of unlawful firearms, the trading in unlawful firearms, will not be something that will be tolerated”.

Mitchell said in addition, the Government has appointed a National Security Advisory Council that it intends to have constituted, “and the first order of business it will be mandated to do is to carry out a series of national consultations —which we hope to commence in October”.

He said the consultations will allow for a comprehensive review of national security as well as the implementation of programmes that treat with ensuring “as a nation we do not do violence as a means of conducting ourselves or as a means of resolving our disputes”.

“We intend to back this up by contracting with a specialist in the area of behavioural science,” Mitchell said as he added, “because one of the clear things that’s obvious is: About the acts of violence, oftentimes the perpetrators and the victims know each other.”

Mitchell said that the Government will also be constituting a project team to advise it on the implementation of CCTV cameras at significant public areas on the island.

He said the Government is already in possession of the cameras and his Administration will adopt a deliberate policy of investing more in the coast guard.

“We certainly recognise that we do not produce firearms in Grenada and they are clearly coming into Grenada from outside of Grenada. We continue to work with our partners in the region, and North America in particular, to address how we can stymie the flow of firearms into Grenada and into the region.

“Once they get into the region then we too are vulnerable for the risk of it getting into Grenada. And in many instances the firearm trade is tied with the narcotics trade, and it is also a significant challenge for us because while we help many of our partners to stem the flow of narcotics to the north, we need to make sure that they are working assiduously with us to stem the flow of arms to the south and into our respective countries,” Mitchell told reporters.

Last Tuesday Grenada police said they were not ruling out the possibility of cross-border criminal activities after a 51-year-old St Vincent and the Grenadines national was fatally shot as he sat in his vehicle.

The newly appointed head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Superintendent Esau Pierre, told a news conference with regards to the murder of Dexter Chance, “that because Grenada has porous borders one can never eliminate the possibilities and movement of persons connected to the underworld — and as such we will always up our guard…with respect to cross-border criminality.

“With respect to this particular case, we continue our investigations and we will determine where the assailants originated from, but our investigations will reveal the information subsequent. But, I cannot at this stage venture to say whether it is local or regional but it is a concern for us where the criminality is imported and — like the firearms — firearms are imported.”