By Dale Andrews
Guyana’s commitment to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) is without question. This is the assertion of Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, during his feature address yesterday at the opening ceremony for the fourth meeting of the CBSI Commission which is being held at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal on the East Coast of Demerara.
According to the Prime Minister, Guyana’s commitment to the initiative is demonstrated by its acceptance of the offer to host the current meeting, despite the stringent economic circumstances under which the country is functioning, especially since Guyana last hosted a similar meeting in October 2011.
The current two-day meeting comes at a time when the region, amidst some stifling economic challenges, is grappling with growing criminal activities which is threatening to undermine its security, and is a precursor to the fourth annual Caribbean/US security cooperation dialogue which will be hosted in Washington, USA in another three weeks time.
In the words of United States Ambassador to Guyana Brent Hardt, the CBSI which was formally launched in May 2010 was conceived and developed as a shared security partnership among countries of Caricom, the Dominican Republic and the United States of America.
It was born out of the announcement by US President Barrack Obama at the fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, a little over four years ago of an “investment in the shared safety and security of the citizens of the Caribbean Region.”
Hardt in his brief remarks was also loud in praise for the initiative which seeks to meet the varied threats arising from increasing crime and violence throughout the Region.
“These threats, with both internal and external origins, have been fueled by drug and other illicit trafficking that affects the safety of both Caribbean and United States of America.”
He noted that after three years of technical working group meetings and dialogue, the CBSI has evolved over the past four years as a genuine partnership among 14 nations, each bearing responsibility for ensuring progress towards a collective CBSI goals and objectives.
He pointed to other regional security partnerships in the hemisphere, such as the Merida and the Central America Regional Security Initiatives, which have had an impact on international crime and violence in their respective regions, resulting in an increase in illicit trafficking and crime in the rest of the Caribbean.
This he said “makes it vital that the CBSI succeed in achieving its goals so there is no sub-region seen as hospitable for drug and other illicit trafficking flows.”
According to the US diplomat, given its broad regional scope, it is also important to recognize that the CBSI also provides a vehicle through which nations throughout the world with interests in the Caribbean can coordinate their regional activities with the CBSI partner nations to foster more efficient multilateral efforts.
“In this regard, we welcome the active engagement of our Canadian, British, European union, UK, Dutch, and other partners who are making valuable contributions to the region’s security,” Ambassador Hardt said.
He concluded his address by expressing the hope that at the conclusion of the meeting, all the participants will return home with a renewed commitment to the CBSI partnership and a renewed belief that “we can together enhance the safety and security of our citizens through our cooperation, creativity and perseverance.”
Stakeholders from several Caribbean member states and from a host of US government agencies are participating in the meeting.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hinds reminded the meeting that the Region is faced with significant crime and security challenges that require the collaborative efforts of all the regional authorities as well as international partners to address them.
He highlighted some of the crime and security issues that continue to confront the Caribbean.
These include the increasing propensity of young people to be involved in crime and deviant behavior; the proliferation of firearms trafficking; the tendency of persons to engage in the use of violence to resolve their differences; the rise in gun related crimes; the difficulties posed by the drug trade and its spinoff; cyber crimes, and more recently the use of the internet to traffic drugs; gang related violence and the proliferation of gangs in the Region as well as the challenges posed by human trafficking.
According to Prime Minister Hinds, these issues justify the conceptualization of the CBSI.
“Guyana supports the roll out of the current CBSI projects, in that, the focus is holistic. The projects allow us to continue to build the capacities of our law enforcement agencies and at the same time a significant portion of the funding, under the initiative, is being used to deal with issues relating to youth,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted that this approach is realistic and appropriate.
He noted that it has reached a stage in today’s world where criminal networking has been taken to a level of sophistication that warrants appropriate law enforcement responses.
Therefore he said it is apt that one of the main objectives of the CBSI is capacity building of institutions to effectively combat all forms of crimes.
“We in Guyana welcome the emphasis on training that is evident in the programmes under the CBSI.” PM Hinds declared.
The CBSI is built on four pillars, one of which is law enforcement information sharing under which firearms marking, stockpile management and the destruction of firearms, electronic tracing of firearms, cyber security training and capacity building and border security training are being looked at.
The other pillars are law enforcement cooperation and capacity building; crime prevention by focusing on youths at risk and maritime and aerial domain.
The Prime Minister, who was speaking in place of Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee who was noticeably absent from the ceremony due to illness, said that the Guyana government strongly believes that the programs under the CBSI have been properly conceptualized, and the outcomes of the implemented projects will benefit all.
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