On Wednesday, October 10th, Attorney General, Hon. Wilfred Elrington was at the ITVET building in San Ignacio where he met with residents of the Cayo area to discuss the crime situation in that district. Accompanying the AG was the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of National Security, Col. George Lovell.
Minister Elrington's visit was as a result of an earlier meeting which was held between the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow and a newly formed group, the Solidarity Movement for Justice and Peace, on Monday October 8th. In that meeting which lasted an hour, the Prime Minister expressed his great concern over the growing crime problem and decided on asking the Attorney General to attend the meeting since he was the one responsible for the justice system.
The overarching sentiment by the gathering, which packed the room, was that the Director of Public Prosecutions be replaced and that a forensic laboratory be put in place as soon as possible. On the question of the DPP, Elrington explained that she was one of the best prosecutors and legal minds in the country and she can only work with what evidence is given to her. People cannot be convicted unless there is evidence, he noted, and added that the entire community can contribute much for that to take place.
On the question of the forensic laboratory, he said that the Government is limited by the availability of financial resources. To this, one young woman in attendance pointed out that the Cayo community (and the entire nation for that matter) would be willing to contribute to the forensic laboratory through a telethon. Another resident suggested that the bridge that is being proposed to be built in Cayo be put on hold and the finances used for the lab. This is not possible however, as the finances secured from the international lending agency has earmarked the money, specifically for that project and it cannot be diverted.)
And while there was healthy discussion and Minister Elrington was candid about solutions to the crime problem, asked for collective action be taken to solve it, the suggestion could not go down with a grain of salt. He explained that the judicial system too is one where the right thing needs to be done cost it what it may. He pointed out that the laws are in place but enforcement is what is lacking.
In the end, the suggestions did not go down too well with those gathered and they decided to walk out as the Minister was making his closing remarks maintaining that the solution to the problems of crime is one that takes a united approach where neighbors look out for one another and assist in raising children.
Even so, the Cayo community remains adamant at finding solutions and have a business closedown planned for Thursday, October 11th. The groundswell of having had enough, which is being demonstrated in the Cayo district, is commendable but the solution to the problem is one that will take a collective effort.