In his mid-year budget presentation, The Hon. Damian Gomez, Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, told Parliamentarians that the remedy to the rate of criminal activity is in the Bahamian people.
“We must develop a low tolerance for criminal activity. We must report criminal activity. We must provide witness evidence when crimes occur and we must approach this matter of crime with the attitude that good men will not stand by while a few bad apples seek to spoil the barrel,” said Minister Gomez.
He addressed the topic of Crime and the Justice System during his contribution in the House of Assembly on February 18. He said reducing the rate of criminal activity requires that the topic is approached from alternative perspectives. “Too often we seek to solve the problem at the door of the courts when the frustrations which crime bring have reached their boiling point. It is too late if it is brought to the steps of the court. The problem is magnified and there is little room for rehabilitation. At that point due process cannot solve crime,” he said.
He suggested that mentors, teachers, parents and the community are needed to help in the prevention efforts of crime: “Every time we tune into the news in our country we see another example of what it means to be too late. Every time we open the obituary pages we see examples of a message being too late. When will we begin to consolidate our efforts – government and community towards bringing consciousness to the confused and misled individuals of our community? We have to remember that this is their Bahamas as well. We should remind them that they have a part to play in the development as well. It goes beyond just sitting down and having a talk with them. We must also set an example for what we expect in our communities. We must celebrate those who do things the right way and we must teach the young how to stand up for each other rather and striking each other. We must all take responsibility,” he said.
Minister Gomez described crime and criminal behavior as a “culture” and “mentality” that can only be defeated with a stronger “culture” and “mentality”. “A culture of the respect for the rule of law is what must prevail,” he said. “You can’t expect a man or woman to be disciplined if he or she is not taught discipline. It must be in his mind that crime does not pay. That is what we the Government is doing through programmes such as Swift Justice, but there must also be an alternative dominant culture that says if you do things the right way there is a promising future for you.” He suggested that crime cannot decrease until citizens are taught to respect their communities, family and friends.