Cabinet lauds swift arrests after recent violent crimes

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By Robert A. Emmanuel

[email protected]

The Cabinet has praised the efforts of the public and law enforcement in working together in a bid to solve some of the high profile criminal cases in Antigua and Barbuda in the last month.

The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst made those comments at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

“We believe that this is the type of police work that deserves applause, those civilians who provided tips, helping the police to get to where these people were and arresting them,” he said.

According to police reports, five minors aged between 13 and 17 —some of whom reportedly attend the same school—have been arrested in connection with the rape of a 46-year-old woman.

Additionally, members of the public have assisted the police in the arrest of two suspects in connection with the Roti King robbery and shooting earlier this month, and with Monday’s murder of 26-year-old Roudi Shmali.

However, while the government commends the response, addressing the root of youth violence remains front and centre.

The Cabinet said it had noted a proliferation of illegal firearms in the country and has called on the police to increase vigilance at the airport and seaports.

“We have done some other kinds of improvements in the system of monitoring ports and airports and we had this meeting last week with the top brass of the defence force, police force, ONDCP and prison where it was agreed that more [personnel] is necessary,” he said.

“We know that the government must address it if we are to succeed in quelling the disturbances that affect the peace of Antigua and Barbuda,” he said.

Meanwhile, the rise in criminal activity by the nation’s youth has disturbed the public with many calling for parents whose children engage in such activity to be held accountable.

However, the Chief of Staff said that could be unfair.

“We don’t have any laws for the behaviours of their young charges, and, in some instances, that would be unfair; some of the parents have just lost control and some of them are single mothers who do not have [time] to them to bring some discipline to these young men,” he said.

He said that the government has put in place policies to assist struggling parents with delinquent youths.

“We have developed a whole string of assistance to try to prevent those youngsters from being put into custody and the Ministry of Social Transformation have worked out many programmes to ensure that these young men are properly guided.

“We would just encourage those mothers who are having difficulties with their young sons to get to the ministry and the appropriate programme can be organised,” Hurst added.

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