13 killed in 22

The content originally appeared on: Sun Dominica

National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmore is “troubled” by an increase in gun-related violence

The status of Dominica as a peaceful and loving Nature Island some argue is under challenge.

This is as the country is reeling from more gun-related deaths and 12 homicides for the year.

At the start of the year, Police Chief Daniel Carbon boasted of a 40% reduction in Dominica’s homicide rate in 2021 as compared to 2020.

Carbon reported nine murders in 2021 compared to 15 in 2020, eight of which he said were solved by the police.

However, seven months into the year 2022, Dominica’s homicide rate has nearly doubled that of the previous year, an occurrence which many, including Minister of National Security, Rayburn Blackmore says is troubling.

According to Blackmore, the citizenship report of 2022 named the Commonwealth of Dominica, as the third safest country in Latin America and the Caribbean and the 31st safest place in the world. However, he stated, the recent upsurge of firearm offenses, if not immediately stemmed, will not only negatively impact Dominica’s Global Peace Index, but seriously undermine the social and economic fabric of the country.

“We are in the month of July, and so far have recorded 10 shooting incidents, eight of which have been fatalities, seven of which have been deemed as murder,” Blackmore said. “Brothers and sisters, this is a serious threat to national security. This threat has to be confronted.”

For the year thus far, 35 illegal firearms have been recovered by the police compared to 25 seized in 2021.

According to Blackmore, his ministry shall continue to provide the police force with the support needed to swiftly respond and adopt a zero tolerance level for the use of firearms to commit offenses.

Criminologist and sociologist Dr. Peter K. B. St. Jean has also warned of the impact of the rising crime rate in Dominica.

From his assessment of crime in Dominica, Dr. St Jean explained that most homicides as of late are linked to killings from five to 10 years ago.

“So what happens is that, for every murder that happens, there is a .5 to 2.5 probability that other murders may be related in the future to just one murder, and depending on how sensational that murder is, there is a higher probability that someone could die within a very short time,” he stated. “What that means is that for every two murders that happen, you are going to have between one and five new murderers within seven to 10 years.”

He further posited that the economic state of a country also contributes to its crime rate and as such encouraged the government to restore citizens’ independence and reduce the need to rely on government officials as much as possible, and earn independent legal income through effective networking.

The Dominican born further appealed to the government to adopt his 2011 Peaceful Dominica Initiative which was submitted to the government to curb violence on the island.
Meanwhile, social activist and environmentalist, Atherton ‘Athie’ Mart?n averred that a community approach is needed to curtailing crime as a collaboration between the police and the community can identify and solve community problems.

“The problem started when we stopped paying attention to each other when we stopped cherishing love and we replaced that with cherishing wealth, cherishing the money, the big house, cherishing the big job, even when we knew we were not deserving, we still cherished and we stopped caring,” Mart?n said. “When you stop caring, it becomes easier to wield a cutlass, a stone or a gun, instead of using words and thoughts, in a conversation, in a narrative that gets to a more permanent solution.”