Tia Belau Editorial, August 8, 2013 —-
A “Public Forum on Communities Against Crime and Violence” is being held today at Ngarachamayong Cultural Center.
The purpose of this symposium will be to hear from the elected and appointed leaders of our community and to identify real solutions to the alarming incidences of crime within our communities.
In his statement released earlier, President Remengesau said “This trend is both troubling and unacceptable. I believe that as elected and appointed leaders of our nation, we must come together to address this issue that has infected our small community. We cannot stand by and hope that these problems will take care of themselves; we must take action.
We agree 100 percent with the purpose of the symposium.
Here are some ideas that also take into consideration policy initiatives that have been proposed by this OEK or have been a long running issue that needs to be addressed.
- Pass the proposed legislation introduced in the Olbiil Era Kelulau to update Palau’s criminal code, to reflect the current realities – definition of various crime categories and upgrade the level of punishments.
- Office of the Attorney General is understaffed when it comes to prosecuting attorneys. This has been a long running problem, so let’s give them additional budget to speed up prosecution, removing criminals from the neighborhood before they end up committing more crimes before their trial even begins.
- Have AG’s office and law enforcement officials to work with state officials or traditional chiefs to devise place-based anti-crime strategies in hamlets or locations – hot spots – with the greatest need for solutions, so as to ensure enforcement resources are directed at the most persistent crime problems and the most dangerous locations.
- Huge numbers of Palauan citizens, including hardcore criminals are being deported from U.S and its territories back to Palau. The Bem Ermii employee who was hacked in Airai is an alleged victim of a recent Palauan deportee from the U.S. Should we be concern of the sudden increase of convicted violent offenders on the streets?
- On the preventive side, besides sports which is highly participated year-round by all ages, through agencies like the Bureau of Arts and Culture and Belau National Museum, and other organizations could spearhead cultural and historical shows with performances year-round. This requires commitment from the leadership in investing budgetary support for such activities. Such activities works to empower individuals and communities in order to reduce or eliminate the forces, influences, catalysts, and causes that feed criminal behavior.
- Over the long-haul, strategies will include research and solutions to be research based to effectively address the complex social issues leading to crime and violence in our communities.
- There should be an actual rehabilitation program – giving second chance for young people to straighten themselves to be more productive members of the community. This also requires commitment from the top leadership of the country. Commitment means funding to support for programs which offer employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, mentoring, victims support, and other services that reduces the chance of the person to commit acts of crime and violence.
- Solutions to crime and violence will vary and require approach to be flexible, creative, and adaptable.