Citizens For Justice recently held a meeting to establish a plan of action to curtail the large number of murders that have become far too prevalent in the Bahamas. The country is fast becoming one of the most violent nations on earth with our murder rate far exceeding that of countries with much larger populations.
A number of pastors and community leaders came up with what is believed to be an effective action plan to reduce murders and combat crime and antisocial behaviour. One of the key strategies is for churches, community organizations and other stakeholders to unite in addressing the vexing problem of cold blooded murders, injustice and related social ills.
Some of the leaders that participated in the strategic meeting were: Bishop Walter S. Hanchell, Dr. Jay Simms, Apostle Raymond Wells, Dr. Marilyn Simmons-Bowe, Bishop James Darling, Dr. Arsinieo Butler and Denver Pratt. One of the key strategies is to unite all stakeholders including the leaders of churches, community organizations, youth groups and the business community in a concerted effort to reduce the scourge of crime and violence that have plagued us for so long. Persons in attendance were invited to join the efforts of the Coalition Against Discrimination Violence Oppression and Crime (CADVOC), which was organized in May 2013 to unite stakeholders in addressing the vexing problems of crime, injustice and related social ills. CADVOC is recruiting leaders and concerned citizens from throughout the Bahamas to join in this fight to save and restore our nation.
A seven point Action Plan has been approved for implementation early in January 2014 and comprises the following:
1. BOOTS-ON-THE-GROUND COMMUNITY WALKABOUTS These will focus on crime hotspots. We will dialogue with the community and listen to their concerns in an effort to address them. Members will carry a message of hope.
2. ANTI-VIOLENCE SPEECH AND ART CONTEST All segments of society will be invited to participate but emphasis will be placed on our youth and in particular school children. The business community will be asked to provide prizes for the winners and runners-up.
3. AN EMOTIONAL EMPOWERMENT SEMINAR This will be conducted and organized by participating churches and by a professional in this field. Communities will be educated on how to deal with their emotions, particularly where there is anger or conflict.
4. ADOPT-A-FAMILY Churches nationwide will be called upon to adopt a challenged family residing in their neighbourhood or a dysfunctional family living in our inner-city. Participating churches will focus on meeting the needs of the families they have adopted and will attempt to resolve all conflicts. They will also monitor their progress.
5. SECOND CHANCE ENTREPEUNEURS This programme is designed specifically for ex-offenders. It will train and equip them to start their own businesses in our very unforgiving society. This is vital because when a man cannot find a job to feed and care for himself and his family, he may go in survival mode and may return to criminal activity.
6. YOUTH MENTORSHIP This mentorship programme for at-risk youth offers hope and direction through training and development. The target age is from 14 to 25 and requires weekly interaction between volunteer mentors and the young persons they seek to impact. Mentors will be vetted and must be of the same sex. They will implement a structured programme focused on character development, leadership training, educational opportunities and spiritual awareness.
7. JOB CREATION AND EMPOWERMENT A pivotal area of crime reduction is the creation of jobs and the financial empowerment of the masses. We will support the efforts of the government and the private sector in their efforts to reduce the high rate of unemployment. Additionally, plans are underway to create a fund that will be made available to assist in the development of small businesses.
Bishop Walter S. Hanchell, Chairman of Citizens For Justice said “Other factors must be addressed to break the back of crime. The effects of illegal immigration and our broken justice system have been devastating. We commend the Department of Immigration for its recent surprise raids on suspected illegals and wish that such raids would continue throughout New Providence particularly in densely populated inner city communities.
With over 100 murders a year and thousands of major crimes before the courts, the wheels of justice are moving too slowly and it appears that many people are taking the law into their own hands. We do not support vigilante justice demand that legislators correct this problem by resuming capital punishment, abolishing the Privy Council and increasing the penalties for all serious crime. The small number of criminals we had thirty years ago has mushroomed into thousands of hardened criminals who now terrorize our once peaceful nation and have threatened our national security.
Unless the government of the Bahamas take the bull by the horns and wage war against criminals, murders and other serious crimes will continue to plague us. The government must find the resources to support crime-fighting initiatives. Until we deal with poverty, unemployment and our failed educational system, crime will continue to be with us. Our political leaders are still in denial while most of our religious leaders do little to address crime. Bahamians need to be empowered.
Foreigners seem to have a clear advantage over citizens of the Bahamas. Foreign consultants continue to advise the government and are paid hefty sums, while qualified Bahamians are ignored. BEC, like BTC and Cable Bahamas, has been offered to foreign companies for sale while Bahamians have again been denied.
Our tourism product has been threatened by the crime wave as tourists are now being warned of the dangers they may encounter in New Providence with the increase in tourist robberies. We must all now act. Everything is at risk.
Citizens For Justice