From left: Guyana’s Second Vice President and Minister for Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan and CARICOM Secretariat Programme Manager, Crime and Security, Sherwin Stephenson.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana--Evidence-based policy decisions and a multi-sectoral approach to address youth crime particularly in schools were underscored by Guyana’s Second Vice President and Minister for Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, when he addressed the official opening of the crime and violence prevention mitigation training in Georgetown, Guyana, on August 8.
The consultation is an activity of the Crime and Violence Project component of the Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States-European Union CARIFORUM-EU Crime and Security Programme under the Tenth European Development Fund. This programme’s approach to tackling crime and security focuses on drug demand and supply reduction, crime prevention and social development, and capacity-building of law enforcement and security agencies.
Setting the context for his remarks, Minister Ramjattan reiterated the concern of CARICOM Heads of Government at their 28th Intersessional Meeting in Guyana in 2017 and their resolve “to increase focus on the social determinants of crime.” He alluded to the 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting in Haiti in 2018 and to the decision of Heads of Government “to strengthen the relevant inter-sectoral systems at the national and regional levels to ensure efficient collaboration in planning and execution of relevant programmes to address the multifaceted issues with regard to crime and violence.”
Referring to the various perspectives on the causes of crime and its facilitating factors, including individual and systemic, he cited the World Bank (2007) Report Crime, Violence and Development: Trends, Costs and Policy Options in the Caribbean. He singled out issues such as the high rates of crime and violence and the short- and long-term direct effects on human welfare and the society’s economic growth and social development, respectively, and called for interventions to be given the highest priority.
“Violence related to gangs and organised crime constitutes an immediate and significant threat to the community and should be given the highest priority for development of the requisite interventions,” he said.
He added, “It is clear that the multi-dimensional nature and impact of drug use on the economy, families, health and well-being, safety and security of the citizens necessitate the engagement of a number of sectors: health, education, justice and social welfare to effectively address problems associated with the use [of – Ed.] and addiction [to] illicit drugs and alcohol, particularly in schools.”
The minister referred to the rapid research assessments on crime prevention in schools which were done in Guyana earlier in the year, and reminded the gathering of mostly officials in the education sector, that the overall “Action Plan and the type and design of the crime and violence prevention and mitigation training to be subsequently undertaken” … will be conducted in support of the findings of the assessments. He noted that “comprehensive policies and programmes” are needed to promote pro-social, non-sexual and physically non-violent environments in classrooms and throughout schools.
As he expressed his gratitude to the EU, CARICOM Secretariat and “all young school children who were surveyed,” the minister said the evidence-based approach “will inform our policy decisions to minimise crime and violence in our schools,” which he described as “greatest institutional asset for our future.”
The two-day consultation in Guyana is the fifth of five. Similar ones were held in Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Suriname.