PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday May 28, 2013 – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are “actively pursuing” the development of a Regional Counter Illicit Trafficking Strategy, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar, who is hosting a meeting of CARICOM leaders and United States Vice President, Joe Biden, said the strategy forms part of a comprehensive security apparatus that includes CARICOM’s Crime and Security Strategy (CCSS) adopted by regional leaders at their Inter-sessional summit in February.
“The goal of the CCSS, as you recall, is to significantly improve citizen security by creating a safe, just and free Community, while simultaneously improving the economic viability of the region.
“It represents an historic milestone in our efforts to create a secure region in terms of peace, freedom, democracy and development,” she said, adding that a “secure region redounds not only to our benefit, but also to the benefit of U.S. nationals who visit our respective countries for business or recreation purposes”.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar, who has led responsibility for security within CARICOM, held bilateral talks with Biden before hosting her regional counterparts.
She said the region was looking forward to the elaboration of the policy of the U.S. government towards the English-speaking Caribbean.
She outlined the progress made in the implementation of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CSBI), including priorities for enhancing “our security partnerships and national security policies towards strengthening citizen safety and economic growth.
“I wish to also highlight the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty and CBSI programmes to help stem the flow of small arms into and through the Caribbean, and to address the issues of immigration reform and criminal deportation.”
She said that the adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the United Nations last month “establishes common international standards for the regulation of international trade in conventional arms.
“The harsh statistic is that 70 per cent of homicides in our region are committed with illegal guns, which makes this treaty of particular significance,” she said, adding that the treaty would be open for signatures and ratification on June 2, at the UN General Assembly and will enter into force after it has been ratified by 50 States.
“We urge the U.S. to support this treaty and use its influence to promote the signing, ratification and implementation of the treaty as well as providing technical and other resources to assist CARICOM member states in the implementation of the treaty.”
The Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister said she hoped Washington and the Caribbean would place increased emphasis on dealing with the issue of criminal deportees.
“We believe that there should be an increased focus should be placed on improved information and intelligence sharing with respect to criminal deportees, in particular access to complete dossiers on medical and criminal history.”