National Security Adviser says no monies being paid to gang members

Basseterre, St. Kitts, 12th July, 2019 (MyVueNews.com) – For months now the rumours have been making the rounds, claiming that the government has been “paying off” members of gangs to stem the violent crimes that have rocked the nation.

However, in a release shared by the government information service, it stated that the Retired Major General Stewart Saunders, National Security Adviser in St. Kitts and Nevis, has dismissed the notion that the government is paying monies to gang members as a way of promoting peace in the Federation.

Saunders is quoted as saying that “Nothing could be further from the truth. That is totally false, and it is extremely unfortunate, especially having regard… to the whole question of the collective approach.”

Major General Saunders stated that the idea of promoting peace in St. Kitts and Nevis was a decision made solely by the gang members themselves.

“Something very strange happened. The gangs themselves started indicating that they wanted to put an end to violence among themselves and their communities,” Saunders is quoted in the release as saying.

The Security adviser explained that it was the gang members who cited homicides, trauma, the attraction of youth to gun culture and generally the negative impact that it was creating on the wider society and themselves, that influenced their decision.

“So, it was the gangs, the at-risk persons in our communities who initiated the (peace initiative),” said the National Security Adviser. “I am not aware of anywhere else in the Caribbean where this has occurred.”

Major General Saunders said “a situation like that, which is a most unusual situation which was brought to my attention – unusual in the sense that I had never before heard nor experienced such a request coming from the at-risk and marginalized groups in the society.

“I say it is unfortunate, as they (rumour mongers) seem to be geared to serve motives other than that which could be construed as good for the Federation and its citizens,” said Major General Saunders, during his appearance on ‘Working for You’ on July 10.

“I think that the sooner we get out of that and get behind a programme which has the capacity to create the behavioural challenges that are necessary in the society, the better.”

The National Security Adviser said that the statements are just rumours that have become a challenge.

“I look at those in the work that we are doing as some of the challenges that we are coming across and there have been numerous challenges of that nature to date. The majority of course are rumours… that government is paying money for gangs or facilitating gang members with loans obtained from the engagement process,” he said.

Major General Saunders reiterated that the idea of promoting peace in St. Kitts and Nevis was a decision made solely by the gang members themselves.