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Editorial - US must stop the guns, but ...

Published:Friday | April 23, 2010 | 4:00 AM

The Golding administration in recent times has indeed weakened Jamaica's authority to engage the United States (US) firmly on the issue, but that does not lessen the essential truth of the prime minister's argument of the need for the Americans to do more to lessen the flow of guns into our country.

Of the 2,175 people murdered in Jamaica in the 476 days to Wednesday of this week, more than 80 per cent were killed with guns. And as Prime Minister Bruce Golding said in Parliament on Tuesday, the overwhelming majority of those weapons were manufactured in the US. They are mostly smuggled into Jamaica.

Of course, America cannot be blamed for the social, economic and moral failings that undermine the capacity of our young people to manage conflict, and which predispose them to violence. The US, however, cannot totally absolve itself of responsibility for the effects of the trade in these instruments that make the conduct of violence far easier.

For the Americans to assume such a position, placing the responsibility for stemming the illegal trade in small arms only on the centres of demand would, in effect, be to eschew global interdependency. Moreover, it would fly in the face of America's own attitude to the trade in narcotics.

Indeed, the US places great pressure on its global partners, including Jamaica, to halt the supply of illegal drugs to the US. Jamaica has, for the most part, tried hard into comply, with fluctuating outcomes.

Unfortunately, this country and others in the Caribbean do not believe that the US has reciprocated with equal intensity.

Washington, for instance, has not embraced the proposed United Nations convention on the trade in small arms with the vigour we had hoped for. And domestically the Americans are not doing enough to limit the flow of guns into our country.

The Americans claim that they are limited by the constitutional right of Americans to bear arms, the strength of the country's gun lobby and the impracticality of checking the vast quantity of cargo containers that leave its borders each year, some of them containing illegal weapons.

No resources

Yet, that is the kind of rigour they demand of countries like ours to prevent the flow of narcotics across their borders. But we have neither the resources nor the technology of the US.

It is high time that the United States shape up and embrace its obligations in what should be a partnership of shared responsibilities with its neighbours, including Jamaica. Of course, our government has to demonstrate it is worthy of trust.

The Golding administration, in this regard, has to regain the moral authority it has so badly squandered in its handling of the affair of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who the Americans want to extradite on narcotics and gun charges. Our government has refused to either send Mr Coke or allow the courts the opportunity to decide on his extradition.

Mr Golding bases his action on some administratively adduced position about the merits of the evidence against Mr Coke. It is all rather shameful.

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