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UN rep: T&T has to address crime
United Nations’ resident co-ordinator Marcia de Castro says T&T has a lot to be proud of after 50 years of independence but a lot of the strides the country has made can be lost if crime is not addressed. “The premise is that with escalating levels of crime and violence, the tremendous gains that have been obtained on the human development in this region, most countries are at high levels of development or middle, will be lost,” she said.
“If not attended to and looked at with a critical lens, we could easily see a reverse in the patterns of development and growth that have been experienced.” De Castro spoke to the T&T Guardian about human rights with specific reference to gay rights, abortion, the death penalty and the 2012 Caribbean Human Development Report.
The report examined seven Caribbean countries—Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Suriname and T&T—and the increasing crime rate, as well as domestic violence, gender-based violence, confidence in the justice system and other issues.
On June 25, in conjunction with the Ministry of Planning, an atlas with the disaggregated data gathered from the report will be released. In 2011, T&T ranked 62nd in the category of high human development. De Castro, who has been the representative to T&T, Suriname, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten for the last five years and who is set to leave the country mid-July to assume duties in Mexico, highlighted the report’s recommendations for a shift in Caribbean countries from state security to citizen security.
According to the report, “this means changing the relationship between the state and citizen, responsive and accountable institutions, greater social integration and active citizens in co-production.” When asked if the 21st-century police initiative adopted by T&T will be effective in creating community collaboration in security, de Castro said although she is unaware of all of the initiatives, she thinks it is a very positive approach to dealing with the issues.
She said gay rights, abortion and the death penalty need to be discussed before they can be taken to referendum. “I think the key is how to frame the issue. It would not be good to have a discussion about the death penalty without a discussion about peace and development. A referendum is the end point of an effort that has to happen to gather views, to gather data, to gather evidence and to put the options out there.”
With specific reference to gay rights, de Castro said the UN does not view it any differently than interracial couples who were not allowed to marry 30 years ago. She said there is plenty of evidence to show that when people want to come together and form a family, they can do it very well.
The fact that they are of a different race, of a different faith, or happen to be of the same sex has not demonstrated that families and societies would be worse off in any way. She said the world is seeing a sea change on the issue of gay rights.
Similarly, de Castro believes that “a lot of countries have changed their legislation regarding abortion, the right to treatment, etc, not because we are in support of those particular set of rights but because of humanity, because of the compelling cause of having growing levels of people coming to the health system in need of help. It becomes a moral ethical choice of assisting people at risk.”
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