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France imposes curfew on minors in Guadeloupe in bid to cut crime

By RFI
France  Cedrick-Isham CalvadosAFP
THU, 18 APR 2024 LISTEN
© Cedrick-Isham Calvados/AFP

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has ordered a curfew for minors in Pointe-à-Pitre, the economic capital of Guadeloupe, in an attempt to address a crimewave in the French overseas department.

Darmanin announced the 8pm curfew as part of the government's response to a rise in crime in the archipelago since the beginning of the year.

According to the prefecture, there are six times more homicides, nine times more attempted murders and 20 times more armed robberies in Guadeloupe than the national average in France.

Much of the violence has been blamed on young people.

“Previously minors made up 12 percent of those who committed crimes. Now it's 38 percent,” said Pointe-à-Pitre mayor Harry Durimel, who has been sounding the alarm for weeks.

Clampdown

Darmanin, on a two-day visit to Guadeloupe with Overseas Minister Marie Guévenoux, said he was “very struck” by the high number of minors involved in petty crime in Guadeloupe in general, and Pointe-à-Pitre in particular.

“The state will not ignore crimes that are increasingly carried out by young, armed people,” he told journalists as he walked through the streets of the city.

“We cannot allow children of 12, 13 and 14 years old, with weapons, move about in the street at 10pm, attacking police officers and tourists and passers-by.”

Last month cruise ship tourists were injured by a woman suffering from psychological troubles, while a shop owner was killed during a robbery.

'Concrete' response

The curfew comes into effect next week, on 22 April, and will apply to anyone 18 and younger.

Durimel welcomed the move, praising it as “something concrete” being done to address the problem.

“If children are with their parents at night, they will not burn 70 garbage bins as they did in Pointe-à-Pitre last week,” he said.

Violence committed by minors has become a major concern for the French government after several incidents around the country in recent months, with President Emmanuel Macron calling for a consultation on the issue.

Darmanin said he met with police officers involved in operations in Pointe-à-Pitre.

He told reporters that such operations would be increased throughout the month to fight against both drugs and the circulation of weapons, which were "without a doubt the main problem facing Guadeloupe today”.

A new security contract like the one in the neighbouring department of Martinique would be implemented, Darmanin said, adding it had been proven to lower petty crime rates.

He also urged international cooperation on illegal immigration, drug and arms dealing with the neighbouring islands of Saint Lucia and the Dominica islands.

(with AFP)

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