United Nations Development Program’s report on Citizen Security released in February 2012 received a high level of circulation throughout the world for obvious reasons. The Human Development Report analyzed seven Dutch and English speaking Caribbean islands (Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, Guyana and Surinam) and highlighted crime challenges faced not only in the mentioned islands but throughout the region.
Nine months later the report remains very much relevant. Discussions resumed on November 6-9 , 2012 at the United Nations House in Barbados as part of a training workshop organized for Caribbean media and reporters took the opportunity to take apart the comprehensive findings not for the first time.
Speaking to the STAR Wesley Gibbings, panelist and president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) said the workshop had been designed to further expose regional journalist to the findings of the report presented by the UNDP.
“It’s an important exercise for journalists because it exposes us to empirical research on one of the most important news items of the day, crime and violence,” Gibbings put forth. “I think it has brought a lot of science to the fore. The survey team that went into the Caribbean, seven Caribbean States surveying perception and also putting criminal statistics together, I think they did some very impressive work. They focused on the more important issues of the day.”
“It’s a very comprehensive study,” Gibbings added. “It’s the first of its kind and it addresses the whole issue of citizen security from a standpoint of a wide variety of issues. It’s able to tell you for instance, the level of confidence in the police in the countries that were surveyed. The report provides trends with respect to crime and it also attempts to measure the extent to which Caribbean people are victimized and affected by all categories of crime.”
Some of the main messages of the report revolve around how violent cultures and high levels of violence can be successfully turned around (with the right mix of policies), respecting the rights of people and getting them involved as active agents and co-producers of their own security in order to promote effective security efforts, social crime prevention (social justice orientation), empowering young people and creating opportunities.
The intensified awareness campaign continues and in that respect resident representative of UNDP Barbados Michelle Gyles-McDonnough addressed participants: “We’re trying to do things better, not do things that don’t work. We had a massive launch when the report was introduced. Some countries took it up more than others… Jamaica, Surinam, Trinidad, things were done.”
“You have an event and there’s a flurry but the question is how does one fill in the gaps between the flurry? How to yield the rate of return anticipated. What is wrong? What is the next step? That is where we need your help.”
At the end of workshop day two ACM’s president expressed satisfaction with the proceedings.
“There has been a very strong interaction between the journalists,” he related. “We’re finding that across the region there are very few differences one can discern between the journalistic approaches throughout the region on this particular issue. I find there’s a lot of concern by journalists and I think they’re anxious to get it right and tell the story in a much better way than we have in the past. The feedback at the end of the day in terms of what all of this would mean for the everyday work of journalists is how it would influence their approaches to stories, how they contextualize and frame stories and how they put language to use.”
The training workshop concludes on Friday, November 9.