By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
MINISTER of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage yesterday outlined how the Christie administration would use a $20m loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to fight crime.
The loan will fund the Citizen Security and Justice Programme.
The initiative will use $4.8m to produce non-violent conflict resolution programmes in the country. This includes training people to address societal norms that promote the acceptance of violence.
The programme will also use $4m to address unemployment among at-risk youths between the ages of 15 to 29.
Specifically, efforts will be made to develop the “soft skills” of at-risk youth by teaching them teamwork and how to accept responsibility while also providing 1,000 of them with remedial education.
Another 1,600 at-risk youth will be given “comprehensive demand-driven training for employment with special emphasis in the hospitality and retail sectors.”
Dr Nottage told the House of Assembly that $5.6 million from the loan would also be used to strengthen the justice system to ensure that people are prosecuted and sentenced in a timely manner.
This will be done by, among other things, creating and integrating electronic systems for case management, digital recording and scheduling.
He said $3.2 million from the loan would be used to “improve the effectiveness of the Department of Correctional Services and Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services to reduce offender recidivism,” Dr Nottage said.
Last night, Dr Andre Rollins, shadow minister of national security, said the Free National Movement (FNM) urges the government “to move with haste in advancing an aggressive multipronged strategy to address violent crime.”
He added: “Our nation’s violent crime problem, although primarily confined to New Providence, has reached epidemic proportions, with homicide the leading cause of death of Bahamian males, and the nation’s rate of homicide rivalling rates found in areas of armed conflict.
“This public health crisis is being fuelled by a decline in public civility, personal discipline and mutual respect, coupled with the absence of economic opportunities, the erosion of family values and the lack of respect for the rule of law. All of these factors are significant contributors to the growing gang culture and moral decadence now wreaking havoc in our schools and on the streets of our capital city. Our once tranquil capital is being consumed by this growing culture of violence and decay.”
He said the FNM is advocating for a national youth development programme, however he said if one is implemented it should be subject to vigorous oversight.
Meanwhile, days after announcing that the government has sought help from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to fight crime, Dr Nottage declined to give details about what role the FBI will play to help the country in the fight against crime when asked outside the House of Assembly.
He only said that an FBI task force will speak to a wide group of national security officials to review the country’s crime policy and aid policymakers.
Dr Nottage also said more police are needed in troubled communities to fight crime.
“I would like to see more policemen in all of the hotspot areas,” he said. “That is an essential part of saturation patrol. I expect that we will see more of that, more in these communities than has been the case.”
As for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) legislation which he promised to bring to Parliament more than a year ago, he said a draft of the legislation has been on his “desk for awhile.”
Asked if he would bring the legislation to Parliament next month, the leader of government business in the House said: “If I could do it, yeah.”