Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has sent a strong message to Ministers who hold responsibility for security within the Region, that there is an urgent need for more work to be done on crime fighting.
The Secretary General was speaking to Regional Security Ministers gathered at the opening ceremony of the 17th Meeting of the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement on Monday at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown.
Given the current environment in many of the member states, LaRocque said the Community’s work in the area of crime and security has become more urgent.
He said the issues to be dealt with were countless, from the upward trend in the incidence of crime and violence taking toll on valuable human resources, to the external threats which challenge peace and security.
“In light of these threats, we must deepen our resolve and remain committed to the task of further strengthening our regional security architecture, through our individual and collective action,” the SG told Security Ministers.
He reminded that at the 37th Meeting held in Guyana last July, Heads of Government had devoted much of their time to deliberations pertaining to the security of the Region.
The representatives had also agreed that member states should move to accede to and implement the key agreements, as most of the regional security agenda is linked significantly to the application of these legal instruments.
“However, there are other legal instruments related to Mutual Legal Assistance, Airspace and Maritime Security as well as the Advanced Passenger Information System, which have been languishing for far too long. I urge the Members of this Council to brief their Attorneys General on the policy imperatives of concluding these outstanding items, so critical to supporting our security architecture. The need for those instruments has been recognised at the highest levels of our Community,” LaRocque stated.
LaRocque said it was noteworthy that the meeting was taking place in the wake of the adoption of the Protocol to incorporate CONSLE as an Organ of the Community and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), as an institution of the Community. This was supported by Heads of Government at their Inter-Sessional Meeting in Belize last February.
“There are other initiatives being pursued to strengthen our cooperation in this vital area. I look forward to the planned review of the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy, which could lead to a reconfiguration and amplification of initiatives designed to address the emerging threats which loom larger by the day,” the Secretary General added.
He said a commitment has also been given to establishing a stronger partnership for the future between the Caribbean and the United States of America, at the Sixth Security Cooperation Dialogue held in Washington, DC last October.
He said while the Caribbean appreciated the financial and other assistance provided by Third States, the onus was on member states to collectively demonstrate their seriousness about security.
He underscored the important role of the Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), hub of the regional crime and security framework, along with its sub-agencies – the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC) and the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC).
LaRocque explained, “Every effort ought to be made to ensure that the agency continues to carry out its crucial role. Even in the face of the financial challenges, which beset our Governments, we must strive to support our security architecture while we seek to finalise a financial plan that redounds to the benefit of ALL regional institutions”.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said the matters of the 17th meeting are many, but such must be its work in the context of a CARICOM and a Caribbean racked by a powerful aftermath of a world economic decline and a woefully neglected global crisis of violence.
He said regional countries suffer from a paralysing myth, which officials seem unable to dispel – that effective security in law enforcement measures to help citizens are impossible to be successfully realised .
Ramjattan said, “It does seem that no matter what we do, our people see our security and law enforcement sector as populated purely for predatory purposes and irredeemably committed to the ways of venality and violence. (Counsellor) in our individual territories must halt this erroneous perception of our people concerning this important security sector.”