Prime Minister laments Guanapo murders in UN speech

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

The Prime Minister has lamented the murders of members of a family in the Heights of Guanapo, Arima, on Thursday morning. He did so while addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday evening.

With rumours of one of the victims later dying at hospital proving  untrue, Dr Rowley incorrectly said five had died, when up to press time, the figure was four deaths and five injuries.

Rowley said TT was committed to development, peace and security, but he lamented challenges and threats.

“One such threat is the proliferation and use of illegal firearms in our society, which, just like in other jurisdictions, bring untold suffering to many families and communities and the nation as a whole.

“Only today, Mr President, we experienced the loss of life of five members of one family, killed by an assailant with an assault weapon.”The PM said things have worsened largely because of the greater commercial availability of weapons and their trafficking from countries of manufacture into near-defenceless Caribbean territories.

“In a population of 1.4 million people, TT experienced over 600 murders last year, 90 per cent of which involved handguns and, increasingly, assault weapons.

“Within our best efforts and a huge consumption of our already scarce resources, we have seen over 400 violent firearms-driven killings already this year,” the Prime Minister said.

This crisis was shared by almost all Caribbean territories, he added.

TT, individually and within Caricom, has tried to address these challenges meaningfully and holistically.

“For this reason, earlier this year TT hosted the Caricom Regional Symposium to address crime and violence as a public health issue, as we felt it was incumbent to promote and encourage dialogue aimed at reducing violence and preventing crime in our society.”

He said TT remains committed to the Arms Trade Treaty and to working with regional and international partners, especially the US, to urgently stem the illicit trade of illegal firearms, “most of which are produced by gun manufacturers and promoters based in this country (US).”

Rowley acknowledged US support to TT and Caricom against a scourge threatening the safety, sense of security and existence of democratic states, mentioning Haiti.

Present were Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne, Planning Minister Pennelope Beckles, and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh. Chairing the session was TT-born UNGA president Dennis Francis.