REMARKS BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
5th March, 2021
Joint Press Conference
ADDRESSING MATTERS RELATING TO CRIME AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Good day and God's Blessings to all the people of the Virgin Islands.
I wish to thank everyone for being present this afternoon—His Excellency the Governor, and the Commissioner of Police both of whom you have heard already.
I also wish to thank the members of the Media for being present, and I thank those who are viewing us virtually or listening via the radio.
Over the past few months, there has been an increase in certain types of crime and violence in our society.
I want to first express sympathies on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands to all persons who have been negatively impacted by these activities.
Your Government empathises and sympathises with the families. We are deeply sorry for your loss, as it is always difficult losing a loved one. We pray that God will keep you strong and bring you comfort during these difficult time as they grapple with the realities of what has happened.
I know that our Virgin Islands community also feels a sense of loss, and we hear you, we empathise with you because in our Virgin Islands culture what affects one, affects all.
When your family hurts, my family hurts. When my family hurts, your family hurts because we are in this together.
Your Government does not like what is happening regarding the murders, especially the unsolved ones over the years. Families continue to ask questions as to when will justice come?
We are concerned about how these activities are impacting the psyche of our people; the damaging impact it is having on our society, and the harm it can do to how we are viewed internationally, particularly as a tourist destination and business jurisdiction.
We share your concerns about these negative things that are seeping into our society and disrupting our peaceful way of life in the Virgin Islands, and we remain committed to doing our part to stamping them out.
Criminal behavior will not be tolerated. And for the handful of persons who are engaged in unlawful activities or violent behaviour, you must stop now.
The Virgin Islands is our home. As a matter of fact this is not just our home, it is who we are. It is all we know. Our livelihoods and our economy depend on maintaining our reputation as a safe destination for visitors. Our values as a people are peace, harmony and BVILOVE. We are a God-fearing and law-abiding society.
These are things that have been ingrained in us from our ancestors and what we continue to be guided by over the past 70-plus years.
Our foreparents marched and struggled for our progress, and we must ensure that we honour their labour and sacrifice by doing what is right in the sight of God for these Virgin Islands.
And so, we owe it to the past, the present and the future to raise every power to fight off this evil that threatens our home and our way of life - and which threatens to undo everything we have worked for decades to achieve and to protect.
We must fight this at all levels.
We must not allow these temporary things to become eternal damnation.
We must intensify our efforts through our churches and our prayer warriors.
We must tap into the resources of our schools and our civic organisations, but more so our families.
We must fortify our homes by strengthening the family circle.
Each one must reach one.
We must reinforce throughout, especially in the minds of our young people, the difference between right and wrong, and the consequences of wrongdoing.
I want to remind everyone in this country that we are all free to make decisions, but we are not free from the consequences. When we make sound decisions we get sound results.
Crime and violence are not options for resolving problems and disagreements.
No one must deprive another of the right to live or to live in safety. People cannot make their own decisions or handle disputes on their own. That is a role for the law and the judiciary.
If someone you love – a friend, a family member, someone in your household – is going on the wrong path, talk to them. Urge them to stop and to think. Remind them that there are children and loved ones who love them and who need them. We cannot live selfishly, that is not the trait of us as Virgin Islanders.
Each one must reach one.
If someone you love – a friend, a family member, someone in your household – is going on the wrong path, get them some assistance. It might be emotionally difficult to do, but you might be saving them from bigger, more devastating trouble than if you look the other way.
Each one must reach one.
We must continue to support the police and the other law enforcement agencies by doing our civic duty.
Rest assured, your Government will not allow the actions of a few individuals to endanger the welfare of the BVI and our economy.
While the responsibility for national security and internal security sits, constitutionally, with the Governor and the Commissioner of Police as the head of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, successive Virgin Islands Governments have been providing diligent support, whether through facilitating legislation, or providing funding and other resources.
This will continue.
Your Government will continue working with and supporting all our law enforcement agencies and the other elements of our justice system, as we have been doing.
For example, November 2020, we added four new law enforcement vehicles to the police fleet as the Government of the Virgin Islands continues to invest in law enforcement. We were pleased to make this necessary purchase to further enhance the capabilities of the force to carry out its law enforcement responsibilities, and patrols. We did this in the middle of COVID-19.
We would have also ensured repairs to the police boat, and we added as well to the fleet of Her Majesty’s Customs.
As a Government, we will continue to ensure that financial allocations are made to provide the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Her Majesty’s Customs and Immigration Department with the resources needed to perform in managing crime in the Virgin Islands.
We as a people must not let the negative actions of a few to be allowed to paint us all with the same brush.
Wherever necessary, your Government will continue to strengthen any existing legislation, as well as make penalties stiffer and uncompromising to deter anyone who thinks about or commits nefarious crimes.
The amended Police Act, which has been around for seven years or more, recently had its first reading in the House of Assembly. This is another tool to strengthen law enforcement, and to ensure that the modernisation of law enforcement processes.
The Police Act will now be put forward for public consultation in all nine districts and I am appealing to the people of the Virgin Islands to come out and let us shape this legislation so that we can protect lives and livelihoods.
Remember that we are in this together, and this is not a time to point fingers or cast blame, but for us to unite so that we can protect our Virgin Islands good name.
Each one must reach one.
Let us all work together to bring these matters to an end.
Let us keep each other safe.
Let us focus on making sure that our economy is strengthened and not weakened.
Let us make sure that we focus our efforts on building up each other and not taking the lives of another.
In closing, let us unite in our love for these Virgin Islands, and our love for peace.
Let us all do our part to save our Virgin Islands and to restore and preserve our way of life.
And let us each do everything that is in our power to keep our people and our shores safe.
In BVILOVE, I thank you, and may God forever bless and protect these beautiful Virgin Islands and the people of the Virgin Islands.
Remember, each one must reach one.
I thank you.