Categorized | National News

Guns, Gangs and Violence

While there has been an increase in incidents of gun related deaths in The Bahamas, there is an
emphasis to combat the surge of guns, gangs and violence in the Caribbean region.
During the recent Organization of American States (OAS) Special Meeting of the Permanent
Council, Trinidad and Tobago’s Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Reginald Armour
expressed his concerns on the challenges of guns, gangs and violence in the Caribbean. He noted
that data paints a grim picture of the reality facing the region. For example, just this week, The
Bahamas recorded its 81st murder for the year after a 29-year-old male was gunned down in the
Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza on Monday. The victim was also out on bail for attempted murder
and was shot earlier this year.
“An average of 40 percent of our Caribbean population identifies crime and security-related issues
as the overarching problem facing our countries, more so than poverty or inequality,” Armour said.
Data also indicates that crime is fueled and sustained by the illicit flow of guns, not manufactured
in the Caribbean, but traced to the United States.
As a result, Armour explained that regional governments are forced to spend millions of dollars
on national security which could otherwise be allocated to other critical needs, such as healthcare
and education.
“Gang violence affects our foreign direct investment, trade and tourism, a known dominant
economic activity of our islands. Murder rates, combined with overwhelming illegal firearms
possession, paint a dismal picture to the international community resulting in adverse travel
advisories,” Armour said.
“Our region, like the OAS, acknowledges the need to strengthen our respective criminal justice
systems. Equally, regional and national maritime security strategies, joint inter and intra-regional
task forces and operational centers are critical.”
He noted that Caribbean leaders have embarked on significant cooperation in this regard.
In November 2022, in partnership with United States’ law enforcement agencies, CARICOM
IMPACS launched the CAR/COM Crime Gun Intelligence Unit, with its headquarters in Port of
Spain, Trinidad to provide intelligence analysis on illicit firearms and ammunition and assist
CARICOM Member States in investigating and prosecuting firearm related crimes by utilizing
modern intelligence tools and technology and facilitate collaboration and cooperation among
regional and international law enforcement agencies.
In addition, there are bi-lateral mutual legal assistance and extradition treaty and related schemes
between Trinidad and Tobago and OAS member states.
However, Armour emphasized that there is greater need to strengthen treaty frameworks within
the OAS Member State Community to enhance this cooperation in both extradition and mutual
legal assistance matters.

This is necessary, according to Armour, because “the problem of firearms and gang related
activities exists across the hemisphere of the Americas.”
In Jamaica, approximately 70 percent of the violence is related to criminal organizations. In
Trinidad and Tobago, the combination of firearms and the fragmentation of competing gangs has
increased the murder rate, with 614 homicides recorded in 2022, according to Armour.
He also shared recommendations for a conjoined regional fight to overcome the challenge of guns,
gangs and violence as the Caribbean Community continues to explore the need for regional law
enforcement co-operation.
“We must adopt collective strategies to address these challenges along key thematic areas of
prevention, intervention and suppression. Evidence-based initiatives, multi-agency intervention,
technological support and comprehensive communication strategies are required,” Armour said.
“We must commit to open, constructive dialogue aimed at formulating and implementing unified
strategies. This pressing issue transcends borders and demands a collaborative, multi-faceted
“By pooling our resources, expertise, and experiences, we can develop comprehensive solutions
that not only target the symptoms, but also address the root causes of gang violence.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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