By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said yesterday that such drastic measures as “infringing on civil liberties and limiting freedoms” have to be taken to get a hold on the “crippling crime problem in New Providence.”
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Turnquest said gangs should be labelled as terrorist organisations and tracked and destroyed in ways that “may make some people uncomfortable.”
His comments came one day after two men were killed within hours of each other in the capital, pushing the country’s murder count to 124 for the year, surpassing 2014’s year-end total of 123 murders. The country is on pace to smash the murder record held in 2011 during the Ingraham administration, which saw 127 homicides.
“We have to designate these gangs are terrorist organisations, treat them as such and go after them relentlessly to break them up. It may be time to infringe on civil liberties, limit some freedoms and restrict some liberties to fix the crime problem,” Mr Turnquest said when contacted for comment.
“It may mean doing random searches, questioning persons randomly or searching homes, but we must be serious about this and it won’t be solved with a roadblock. We have to show the criminal element that we are serious. I think in terms of the government’s performance, they have been lacking. There seems to be no communication between the minister of national security and the discipline forces. They have got to get together, get on the same page and have a strategic plan where everyone knows what the objectives are.”
Mr Turnquest also criticised State Minister for National Security Keith Bell for blaming the Free National Movement for the country’s crime problems.
During his Senate contribution on Monday, Mr Bell had said that criminal gangs grew under the FNM’s last term in office. He said that if the former government had “been responsive, a great deal of the violence that we are experiencing today could have been avoided.”
In response, Mr Turnquest said: “They (PLP government) have had three years to fix the problem and all they were doing was twiddling their fingers and passing the blame. Bell, in his diatribe, said criminal gangs flourished under the former administration, adding that the PLP is now left to ‘clean up the mess left by the FNM’s inaction and deal with today’s crime challenges’.
“Bell should remember that it was his government who made the issue of crime a main part of their campaign for the 2012 general elections. They said they had the answers to crime and that if they were elected they would solve, or at least reduce, the number of murders in the country,” Mr Turnquest said.
“Well, they got the chance, and for the past three years, crime, particularly murder, has increased under the PLP government. The murder rate is at a record high of 124 murders for the year and the year is not done yet. The FNM suggests that instead of Mr Bell taking time to cast blame on everyone else, he and the PLP should use that time more wisely and come up with some crime fighting methods that work.
“The time they spend looking back at the FNM government, another young man is being shot in the streets for no apparent reason,” he said.
The country’s latest murder victim, a 45-year-old father of seven, was shot multiple times before dying on the sidewalk of Tonique Williams Darling Highway on Wednesday around 11.30am.
Hours earlier, around 2.30am, a man, standing on Augusta Street, was shot dead.