Wednesday, 27 February 2013 20:06
By press release
Antigua St. John's - Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer in an address to the nation last evening outlined the government’s initial plan to strengthen the nation’s response to gun crime.
In encouraging priorities and a sharing of responsibility in making conscious decisions, he urgently called on the nation to unite in the battle for Antigua and Barbuda.
The full speech is printed below:
Fellow Antiguans and Barbudans; Residents and Friends of Antigua and Barbuda:
Recent developments in Antigua and Barbuda involving the use of firearms are threatening to disrupt the established fact that we are a nation of law-abiding citizens and residents. Each one of us has come to cherish the peace and security for which our nation has become known.
In Antigua and Barbuda and other parts of the region, we have over the past few years been invaded by events of crime and violence that are alien to this part of the world. Over the past few months, we have seen a shocking and callous wave of crime and violence involving the use of illegal firearms.
I know that every law-abiding person in Antigua and Barbuda is concerned. Your government is also concerned.
I am deeply distressed by the recent brazen and utterly horrific gun crimes and the wanton killing of Ms. Susan Powell in broad daylight in our shopping centre.
I join with every law-abiding person in our nation in expressing sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of Susan Powell. I also pray for and call on everyone to pray for those affected by the recent events involving illegal firearms and also to pray for our nation.
I would hope that these recent wanton attacks and now murder of an innocent citizen are not being orchestrated by groups or elements within our society who are bent on creating chaos, insecurity and lawlessness in our society.
I say to those individuals, you will not succeed. Law-abiding citizens and residents of this country will not allow you to succeed.
What befell Susan Powell and other individuals who suffered at the hands of criminals bearing illegal firearms are tragic and regrettable incidents. These are shocking and outrageous occurrences that we all must not allow to be repeated in our twin island nation.
On Tuesday February 26, the Honourable Minister of National Security, Dr. the Hon. L. Errol Cort announced that all the necessary legal processes needed to give effect to the death penalty, which is still part of the Laws of Antigua and Barbuda, will be utilized.
The Honourable Minister of National Security Dr. Errol Cort and the Honourable Attorney General Justin Simon QC have the full backing of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda in this regard.
I wish to say to those who are criminally minded and those who are attempting to create lawlessness in our nation, that you will be caught. You will be brought to Justice and I guarantee you that the full force of the law will be brought to bear on you.
I can however assure you that no stone will be left unturned to hunt down and bring to justice those who are responsible for these recent senseless acts and other acts of crime that remain unsolved.
I can also assure you that no energies will be spared to tackle this seemingly growing trend.
The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda fully supports the Honourable Minister of National Security’s directive for the full recall of all members of the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.
I call on the leadership and members of the police force and army to demonstrate their commitment to rid our nation of crime and violence. The recent developments will test your resolve – you must not fail. We must not fail.
We need all hands on deck at this time to arrest this situation which threatens the survival of our economy.
Your government has already made gains in putting our nation’s economy on a path to full recovery and we must not allow acts of crime to jeopardize our growth and development.
I will not allow it. And you too, as law-abiding citizens must not allow this to happen.
As I speak to you today, the police and other investigators are carrying out extensive investigations to bring the perpetrators of the recent heinous crimes to justice.
The recent criminal activities are not attacks on any government or any political party. They are attacks on Antigua and Barbuda. They are attacks on every law-abiding citizen, resident and visitor to this country.
I call upon every citizen and resident to join your government in this fight against crime and violence. Be more vigilant. Report any suspicious activity to the police and be free to offer information to the authorities. Only if we combine our efforts can we truly overcome this problem.
These criminals are among us. I urge individuals who have information on any member of your community or even family, share that information with the authorities. You will not only be protecting yourselves but our nation.
Of equal importance to arresting the upsurge in criminal activity, is for us to take measures to protect ourselves.
Your government is fully supportive of those community groups and individuals who are taking steps to ensure their safety and security.
I wish to remind the public that a few months ago, government decided to waive the duty on the importation of CCTV Security Camera Surveillance Systems and burglar alarms for residential purposes for the next twelve months.
Government will also move to fast track its programme to erect CCTV surveillance systems at strategic points throughout our nation.
During this week, I will also contact our international partners and discuss the recent developments and request their assistance in providing technical and administrative resources to augment the capabilities of our police force.
I reiterate, your government will be relentless in our attack on crime.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda also supports and encourages any effort by the Church Community and other concerned civic bodies in the promotion and organization of any national mobilization efforts to stamp out and unify the nation in the fight against crime and violence in our society.
The use of illegal firearms to commit crimes across the country and crime in general must come to an end.
Your government will do all in its power to combat the recent escalating trend of crime and violence.
I urge you the members of our society with information to share it with the relevant authorities by calling the Criminal Investigations Department on 462-3914 or Crime Stoppers on 800 – 8477.
Every citizen and resident deserves to live in peace and security. Your government will ensure that this remains true for our nation.
As Chief Servant of this nation, I pledge my government’s commitment to ensuring that our nation remains safe and secure.
I once again express the sympathies of my family, the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda to those who have experienced acts of crime and violence. My prayers once again go out to the relatives and friends Susan Powell.
May God bless each and every one of us.
May God bless Antigua and Barbuda.