Tuesday, February 19, 2013

PM Kamla's speech at CARICOM security meeting in Haiti

I am certain that we are all extremely concerned about the scourge of crime that has pervaded our Community. 

I fear that we have found ourselves in a very serious situation and we are running out of time as the scourge of Transnational Crime is slowly taking over the Region. The time has come, colleagues, for urgent and drastic action. Globalization has caused us to redefine the concept of national security.

The emerging reality for Governments is that criminal activity is more often than not influenced and precipitated by external factors, transnational in nature.

This is particularly true for many of our countries, where external influences have dictated the development and growth of specific crimes, such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and money laundering, which have in turn mushroomed and influenced other activities which now directly impact on the security of our nation states.

I think that we can all agree that traditional state-centered security or security built on the notion of only protecting the borders of the nation state can no longer address the modern-day security concerns.

The threats facing our region are non-traditional and we must therefore find non-traditional unique ways of confronting and overcoming them.

Ripsman and Paul (2010), wrote in their book entitled “Globalization and the National Security State” have indicated that “Most states have responded to these new threats by altering the architecture of their national security establishments and by pursuing cooperative security both nationally and internationally.

The states that have failed to adjust their pursuit of national security accordingly, have suffered as a consequence and will face disruptions in the future that will undermine their competitiveness both economically and in the security arena.”

The evidence is clear. The motivation is unquestionable.

We again today have an opportunity to unify and harmonize our approach to security in the Region.
We do have a track record of success in this regard… We did it in 2007 for the hosting of Cricket World Cup. We created a single domestic travel space. We provided resources for the establishment of a CARICOM Operations and Planning Staff (COPAC). We passed the enabling legislation in most of our countries: The Treaty on Security Assistance, The Visiting Forces Act, The Visiting Police Forces Act, to name a few of these statutes. 

If we could have done it back then for an international sporting tournament, what’s to prevent us from doing what is required for the sake of the security of our citizens?

The fundamental role of any Government in a democratic society is the protection of the individual rights of its citizens. To effectively discharge this responsibility, demands that Governments be cognizant of and respond to a myriad of threats to the State, which may originate both internally and externally.

Our on-going objective should and must be the creation of a safer CARICOM, in perception and reality, for all our citizens and visitors to our Region.
Let us take stock of where we are now. What is the current Regional Crime and Security Architecture? 

In 2005, the Conference of Heads of Government adopted a management framework for crime and security. This framework comprised a Council of Ministers responsible for National Security (CONSLE), Standing Committees of Military Chiefs, Police Commissioners, Comptrollers of Customs, Chiefs of Immigration, Heads of Intelligence and with an implementation agency (IMPACS) as its nerve centre.

What is the Tasks ahead of us?

The time has therefore come for Heads to not only assess the effectiveness of this framework; but also to strengthen it, in order to ensure that we have in place the appropriate systems and structures to address the security of the Region.

The CONSLE has received the Report of Landel Mills Consultancy, which had been engaged to conduct a review of four (4) regional security Institutions and agreed, inter alia: 

  • That IMPACS, RSS, and CASSOS should remain stand-alone entities 
  • That the framework should be restructured through the removal of the Coordination and Information Management Authority (CIMA) and the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Resource Mobilisation and Implementation since they were no longer relevant and were not currently operational
  • That the CONSLE should report directly to the Heads of Government given that security is the fourth pillar of the Community
  • In principle, pending consultations that the four regional security organisations should report to the CONSLE rather than report to different Councils as is the current practice
  • To the introduction of a border fee of one United States Dollar per passenger by all Member States as a temporary measure to stem the immediate crisis in funding, along with Member States’ contributions to Regional Security Institutions, in accordance with the established formula in order to secure sustainable funding; I ask Heads to seriously give consideration to this issue 
The CONSLE also noted that the donor community had indicated interest in funding areas related to crime and security, and there was a proviso, that there was a demonstrated commitment by the Region in funding its security agenda.  

Colleagues, we must demonstrate our commitment to the regional security agenda. We must therefore:
  1. ensure that security is the fourth pillar in every possible way
  2. provide the requisite financial and human resources to support the work of IMPACS, the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC) and the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC)
  3. agree upon a mechanism for sustainability of resources for our regional security agenda
  4. adopt a common regional crime and security strategy 
Such a strategy must involve:
  • Increased trans-border intelligence and information sharing
  • Taking the profit out of crime by targeting criminal assets and protecting the financial system
  • Enhancing Human Resource capabilities and strengthened regional security systems
  • Enhanced maritime and airspace awareness
  • Acceding to and ratifying existing regional security legal instruments
  • Strengthening the effectiveness of criminal investigations through the use of modern technologies and a scientific approach to crime fighting
  • Sharing of resources to confront threats and address inherent risks and vulnerabilities
  • Modernizing and enhancing our correctional services and justice systems
  • Building capacity to combat cyber crime
  • Pursuit of functional cooperative security engagements to tackle and manage shared risks and threats; for example by capitalising on the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI)
  • Crime prevention - addressing the causes of crime and insecurity and increasing public awareness of the key risks
  • Improving our resilience to natural and man-made disasters
I have been informed that IMPACS has coordinated the input of the Military Chiefs and Commissioners of Police in the development of such a strategy, which was presented to the CONSLE at the last meeting in January 2013. The CONSLE has recommended that this Regional Crime and Security Strategy, which contains the goals I have just mentioned, should be submitted to Heads for adoption. The Minister of Security in the Bahamas will elaborate.

This Regional Crime and Security Strategy caters to the informational, training and technical security expertise needed by each island in furtherance of national security objectives

Security is an urgent priority. Not all member states have the same security problems, though the region does share many in common, but all share the same waters and transport networks and we all have the same porous borders.

Our geopolitical reality necessitates that we utilize every opportunity to form what I refer to as a virtual iron Atlantic wall against the multidimensional security threats facing our Region.

A region that has trained together, speaks the same security language, has access to centrally deposited intelligence, can obtain common intelligence products.

The globalization of crime demands that crime fighting and national security also become interconnected. At a regional level we cannot afford to continue using the same old methods when the world around us has changed so dramatically.

A country that stands on its own is a country which will be left behind.

Never before have we needed each other more so than in this period of history where globalization has united and bound together our trading partners, our economies, our allies and the enemies of our States.

Yet our individual law enforcement units wish to stand apart and work in isolation.

This is incompatible with progress, incompatible modernization, incompatible success in delivering safety and security to our citizens.

Our enemies have become not only more united with each other, but also more versed in technology and equipment; which we, too, must master if we are to keep one step ahead of our enemies.

The only way in which this could be done is by working together, speaking the same law enforcement language and using the same modern up-to-date technically sound methods.

Our economies depend on the perception of safety and security in the Region.

According to the Caribbean Human Development Report (CHDR) 2012 -‘Human Development and the Shift to better Citizen Security’, youth crime is costing CARICOM countries between 2.8% and 4% of GDP annually, in terms of direct expenditure on crime fighting and in lost revenues due to youth incarceration and declines in tourism revenues.

High levels of violent crime in the Caribbean hinder development. It has been estimated that because of youth crime, countries lose out on millions of US dollars annually in tourism revenue. For instance, in my own country, I am advised, it has been estimated that US$35 million is lost annually in tourism revenue.

No Nation in the region is immune to the tarnishing which crime is capable of inflicting.

The US State Department 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report identified a number of our countries as major ‘illicit drug producing and/or drug transit countries’ and as “jurisdictions of concern” in respect of money laundering.

A single internationally reported incident has the potential to knock dollars off our GDPs.

The Region cannot afford to do business as usual.

It is imperative that security takes centre stage so that our economies remain robust and continue to experience growth and prosperity.

Colleagues, several of our capitals are listed among the top murder capitals of the world. Again the Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 points to the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean region are home to 8.5% of the global population and yet 27% of the world's murders take place in the region.

Would we not prefer to be recognized as a zone of peace, providing our citizens and visitors alike with incomparable security, peace of mind and well-being?

As the Prime Minister with lead responsibility for Crime and Security, I have taken the opportunity to impress upon you the urgency of our situation, so that we may take action where we have been lax and go forward with one mind, to ratify what in most cases has already been recommended by our Ministers of National Security.

To this end, I wish to elaborate on my intention to strengthen regional security. There is a definite need for a more effective response to any CARICOM country affected by a natural or man-made disaster. The immediate support response is critical during those first few days in any such disaster, and I wish to submit that there is more we can do in providing this immediate response.

With due respect I say, the capability to mobilise does not exist, and to do so effectively, as was seen right here in Haiti when several CARICOM countries assembled forces from as far north as Bahamas and Jamaica to as far south as Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. We saw for the first time the formation of a CARICOM Security Force as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti.

However, what is now needed and I say this with the greatest of respect, is a coordination centre to provide that operational link between the affected country and those willing and able to provide the much needed relief.

It is in this regard, as Lead Head for Security in CARICOM and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago that I am prepared to establish a centralized Coordination Centre to: (1) ensure a synchronised response between the affected nation and its CARICOM partners and (2) manage the inputs from other national centres and the various regional agencies. In other words a Regional Security Coordination Centre in Trinidad and Tobago. Colleagues, now may be the ideal time to revisit the concept of National Joint Coordinating Centres (NJCCs).

Coming out of this Agenda item, I would like to see:
  • An agreement and adoption of the regional crime and security strategy
  • The ratification of outstanding agreements, most importantly, the Treaty on Security Assistance, The CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty, the CARICOM Maritime and Airspace Security Cooperation Agreement (MASCA) and the Protocol Amending the Treaty of Chaguaramas to Incorporate IMPACS an Institution and CONSLE as an Organ of CARICOM
  • To agree to a new and improved IMPACS
  • For all to leave this Inter-Sessional resolved to put Crime and Security on the front burner as the fourth pillar of CARICOM 
Honourable colleagues, what is at stake here is not only the security of our individual states, it is also the very future of our Region.

We must resolve to take definitive action now, for the sake of our children and our children’s children, to make our beautiful Caribbean Region a modern, safe and tranquil space of which we can all be justifiably proud.

I earnestly ask for and seek your support.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai