Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
CariSECURE Citizen Security Conference
September 1, 2021
- John Walcott, CariSECURE’s team lead,
- Jairo Valverde Bermudez, UNDP Guyana Resident Representative
- Government partners, representatives, and officials,
- International and regional partners,
- Conference participants,
- Members of the media,
- Ladies and gentlemen,
Greetings on behalf of the United States, your long-standing partner, neighbor, and friend to the Caribbean. It is my pleasure to speak with you today as we embark on a very important topic, that touches many communities and families, and that is youth crime and violence. While the causes of youth crime and violence may differ from nation to nation, it is clear that the effects can negatively impact the youth, their families and their communities for years after the crimes have been committed. Therefore, I am extraordinarily proud that United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has embarked on this program, CariSECURE, to increase the institutional and technical capacity of regional bodies, select national government systems, and community stakeholders to reduce risk factors that drive youth crime, violence, and victimization. The Project is one of three components under the broader USAID Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Project.
Sound practice tell us that for any crime and violence policy or strategy to be effective, it needs to be informed by reliable and timely data. USAID, through its CariSECURE project, has been working closely with Caribbean government partners over the past four years to institutionalize data-driven decisions. To date, more than US$9 million has been invested through CariSECURE to strengthen official crime data systems within police forces in seven Eastern and Caribbean countries.
However, for a crime to form part of the official statistics, it must be reported to the relevant law enforcement authorities. If not, that unreported crime goes undetected, unchallenged, and the offenders remain unidentified. This unreported crime is known as the “dark figure of crime” and the subject of this seminar.
I am sure many of you here today that work hard to address crime and violence can appreciate why this is such an important data gap to close. One can also appreciate that filling this data gap is a very costly exercise for countries, making it difficult to do on an ongoing basis. To assist countries with this challenge, CariSECURE has supported the implementation of two national surveys that provided a body of new data on unreported crime that countries did not have previously.
In St. Lucia, CariSECURE collaborated with the government to implement a national crime victimization survey. The findings assisted the government with understanding the phenomenon of criminal victimization affecting its citizens and the perception of public security. It also helped to quantify the cost of crime and measure the performance of the authorities as well as underreporting of crime.
Here in Guyana, USAID collaborated with a number of other donors and partners to support the Women’s Health and Life Experiences National Survey. I am pleased to note that the findings from this survey were used by UNWomen to inform their Spotlight Campaign in Guyana.
I am also pleased to note that Guyana is moving to roll out the CariSECURE Police Reporting Management Information System across its many police stations. Reporting crimes is so important, but it doesn’t always happen. There has actually been significant research done about why people do not report crime. The reasons can include lack of confidence in the judicial system, a fear of not being believed, perceptions of police, among others. Research also tells us that non-reporting can negatively impact the effectiveness of the criminal justice system and have an impact on victims and communities. Understanding the nature and reasons why crime goes unreported is critical for any country, and its success at fighting crime.
There is no doubt that subject matter of this seminar is difficult, but it is so important to discuss these issues together. It is my hope that your active participation in this seminar will lead to insightful and productive conversations and, more importantly, concrete solutions that will inform country responses and improve your success at fighting the dark figure of crime.