Above: PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Photo Courtesy TGISL)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Trinidad is looking to step up its crime fight, with legislation aimed at dealing with the increasing problem of gun violence.
The country has an unfortunate geographic position between the major producers and consumers of illegal drugs, and that trade has a direct impact on the fabric of society, said Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
“There is no refuting that gun violence is fueled by criminals using illegal firearms,” Persad-Bissessar said. “The majority of crimes committed with guns, lethal or not, are committed by offenders using handguns obtained illegally through illicit underground purchasing, renting, leasing or theft.”
A total of 355 deaths in Trinidad in 2010 were firearm-related, she said.
According to the Prime Minister, the country’s Firearms (Amendment) Act of 2011 is part of a larger legislative package aimed at addressing crime and lawlessness in society.
The law calls for a 50 percent increase in existing firearm penalties, along with a “three-strike” provision, by which a person convicted for the third time for a firearm or ammunition-related offence is liable to imprisonment for life.
Persad-Bissessar was speaking at a ceremonial firearms destruction event at the Police Training College in St James yesterday.
The country has also accepted a Firearms Destruction and Stockpile Management Assistance Package from the United Nations Regional Center for Peace Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-LIREC).
That programme involves training for government officials in best practices for firearms management and destruction and support for the development of national firearms management plans.