By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie yesterday charged that the government will have to take radical action to positively impact the nation’s crime problem.
Young men engaged in criminal activity are also victims, said Mr Christie, who pegged the Urban Renewal programme as a vital component to the anti-crime strategy.
During his contribution to the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Christie said: “There are young men who want to do good, they are as much victims as they inflict violence among others.
“We have to believe, we have to believe in the overriding and over arching knowledge that these young men can be saved.”
He said: “We need to take some radical action to remove these young men who have no jobs from the streets by giving them an alternative, we have to be determined to do this.
“To some degree there may have to be some mandatory provision, some compulsion, as we make an effort to solve the problems facing this nation.
He added: “We have to be bound to the recognition that there is action that we’re going to have to take, that we must be resolved in our determination. Even if it means taking $20 million, $30 million and saying to the international agencies we are going to have to move off course, because unless we do so we are not going to be able to save a generation of young men in particular who kill and are killed.”
Mr Christie added that he received a written letter of intent to cooperate on crime from leader of the Opposition Dr Hubert Minnis.
“The safety of our homes and streets,” said Mr Christie, “is everybody’s business. We call upon all Bahamians, all persons within our borders and Her Majesty’s loyal opposition to join us in these efforts to restore safety and rebuild respect for our laws and legal system.”
Charging that his government was prepared to shoulder all responsibility for the nation’s crime problems, Mr Christie also announced his government’s plans to appoint up to 20 new Supreme Court judges.
“Commencing September 2013, for 12 months, in the first instance,” he said, “we will provide the resources to enable the courts to increase the number of criminal trials that can be conducted simultaneously. It is our hope that the courts will be in a position to conduct as many as 10 criminal trials at the same time.”
Mr Christie lauded the results of the Swift Justice programme; however he acknowledged public concern over lengthy trials for serious crimes.
“Citizens are especially concerned,” he said, “that persons who have committed serious crimes whilst on bail continue to commit serious crime and have become recidivists. This too cannot be tolerated.”
And he added: “We believe that in a country as small as ours, serious crime should be tried within 12 months. And we believe that any assault or threat upon persons concerned with the administration of justice, such as a judge, should be tried within six months.”
In response to concerns over the limited number of defence counsel, Mr Christie said the government was in talks with the Eugene Dupuch Law School to subvent the engagement of full time counsel from their legal aid division.