Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Jan. 5) – Fiji’s military commander says the country could be raising a generation of criminals if youths are not told that what happened in Parliament in May 2000 is wrong.

That could be one way of tackling the crime problem in the country — by explaining what's right and wrong under the law.

Another way of tackling the problem is by making examples of people — by showing that people who commit crimes will pay the penalty in jail.

Changing their attitudes, their way of thinking and their beliefs will be crucial in tackling crime through this method.

Another way of tackling the problem could be to get to the root of the problem. Questions need to be asked. Why did people flock to Parliament in May 2000 by the hundreds?

Were they misled, in need of free food, grog and fun or did they truly support the overthrow of a government elected by majority of the people?

The authorities also need to look at why people are committing crimes. Is poverty, drugs and alcohol or family problems driving them to commit crime? Or is it sheer laziness and envy of another person's possessions?

Whatever the reason, getting to the root of the problem is crucial in the fight against crime.

Our courts are always filled with the old and young facing charges of larceny, break-in, robbery with violence, murder and manslaughter.

Some of the crimes are committed under the influence of drugs and alcohol while others could be the result of peer pressure.

In order to alleviate the pressure on the Fiji Police Force and society, the authorities, leaders, churches, non-government organizations, social groups and citizens need to stay in touch with reality to determine what causes people to commit crimes.

If poverty is the reason, policies need to be reviewed to determine whether or not they are properly geared toward helping people. If families are to blame, perhaps churches and social groups need to work closely with families to ensure that the family unit stays together.

If drugs and alcohol are the causes, perhaps laws should be enforced to deter the abuse of drugs and alcohol through harsher penalties, therapy and counseling.

Whatever people do to address the root causes will go a long way to fighting crime in Fiji. It doesn't have to be making a citizen's arrest or anything dangerous.

What Fiji needs is a generation of law-abiding citizens. This can be achieved through a concerted effort and a community approach.

January 5, 2005

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