Nov 06, 2008 News
– T&T Security Minister
Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister, Martin Joseph has expressed the hope that there will be effective implementation of the Regional Action Plan for security at the end of the seventh meeting of the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE), which is being held at the International Convention Centre at Liliendaal.
This, he said, must be done in the context of commitments made at CARICOM and other security fora involving regional security heads.
The present meeting comes a few days after Regional Commissioners of Police ended their annual conference in the Bahamas, and at a time when security poses one of the major threats to the Caribbean region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony yesterday, Minister Joseph said that this year, so far, has afforded regional leaders ample opportunity to strengthen the relationship that began in 2006 when the management framework for crime and security was first established.
He noted that in April this year, following up on the fifth meeting of CONSLE, CARICOM leaders held a special meeting in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, which focused on crime and security.
At that meeting the leaders had agreed on a strategy and plan of action to stem the rising tide of violent criminality.
According to Joseph, the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement emerged from that meeting with a mandate to deliver on a range of issues that included maritime and airspace cooperation and the sharing of assets, intelligence and information sharing, illegal firearms, drug trafficking, gang- and youth-related violence, kidnapping and deportees.
Since then, the CONSLE met in St. Kitts in June, and Ministers from the region have participated in a number of hemispheric meetings that have offered them the opportunity to continually make reference to the work programme defined by regional heads at the special April meeting.
He also pointed to the second regional summit on drugs, security and cooperation, which was held in Cartegena, Colombia in July, out of which came a plan of action to address the drug problem in the region.
“This plan focused on drug supply and reduction in the region,” Joseph said.
Within recent years the Caribbean has increasingly become one of the major transshipment points for illicit drugs from Latin America to North America and Europe.
In addition, it has been observed that there is an alarming increase in the use of drugs among CARICOM citizens. There were two other hemispheric meetings at which most Caribbean member states participated, during which several security decisions were taken.
These included the fourth Conference of Defence Ministers of the Americas, which was held in Canada in September, and a Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas which was held in Mexico City last month.
“It offered us additional opportunities to meet in caucus and to speak with one voice on issues that bore relevance to what I would say is the regional plan of action for addressing crime and security,” Joseph said.
He pointed out that the regional bosses are now meeting in Guyana with an agenda that seeks primarily to update on the status of implementation of projects, enhance cooperation in providing security for the Summit of the Americas and further strengthen political engagement on the security issues that were defined earlier by CARICOM heads.
“It is my view that at the end of this meeting we would have not only clearly defined the steps that we have made thus far in advancing the regional security agenda, but more than that, would be assured of the next step required in order to ensure effective implementation of the regional action plan in the context of commitments made at CARICOM and other security forums,” said Joseph, who is also chairman of CONSLE.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, in brief remarks at yesterday’s opening ceremony, stated that the region must prevail in overcoming those who are inclined to criminal activity that threatens the society.
“Our countries and our people are hurting. Our collective image has been dented and our economies have been affected by the events of the last decade,” the Prime Minister said.
He added that those attending the conference must deliberate with that in mind, noting that there is a need for urgency to turn back the tide of criminal activity.
“The challenges are significant and they are many. They range from mobilising resources and improving the organisational efficiency and effectiveness of our Police Forces and our Defence Forces,” Prime Minister Hinds said.
He pointed out that in Guyana the administration had entered into a number of programmes with other supporting countries to improve the conventional approaches to implementing responses.
To this end, he said that over the years, the Guyana Government has increased the amount of resources provided to the security sector in keeping with budgetary constraints.
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