Friday, June 13, 2014
St. Lucia government is moving to rid the streets of gangs that it said have been fuelling many violent encounters and serious crimes on the island, particularly among male youth.
National Security Minister Victor La Corbiniere says the Anti-Gang Act, which has now come into force, is one aspect of the strategy aimed at addressing gang activity and ensuring safe communities. The Act criminalizes gang related activity including gang membership, facilitating gang-related criminal activities, advising gangs, and recruiting for gangs. The law also establishes stiff penalties for gang activity; with most punishable by a fine of EC$100,000.00 (IEC$=37UScents) and up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted in a court and it is also an indictable offence if someone commits an offence for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a gang.
The Act makes an offence for a person to have a bullet proof vest, firearm, ammunition or any equipment, instrument, material or other device , whether lawfully obtained or not , with the intention that it may be used in committing an offence for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a gang .
The legislation also stipulates that the court may impose a more severe penalty on the convicted person, if certain factors or conditions existed in the commission of the offence.
So far some 14 people have been murdered here so far this year, with the majority being below the age of 30.