Borderless crime must be addressed through partnerships – Dr. Errol Cort

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) – The Caribbean Region has welcomed the security cooperation Dialogue with the United States aimed at further strengthening relations between the two parties and forging a strategic partnership to tackle crime and security threats which were not restrained by borders.

These sentiments were expressed by Senator Dr. the Honourable Errol Cort, Chair of the CARICOM Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) and Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of National Security and Labour. He was speaking at the Caribbean-United States Security Cooperation Dialogue, held Thursday 27 May, 2010 in Washington D.C, United States (U.S.) to formalise the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

Dr. Cort said that the Caribbean Region was faced with increasing crime and violence driven by the cultivation, manufacture and transportation of narcotic drugs, illicit sales and trafficking of weapons and the trafficking of persons.

Against this backdrop, he said, “it is essential that the Caribbean States work together to coordinate their respective resources to counter the multidimensional threat to our security.”

Emphasising that partnerships were imperative to combat cross-border security threats, he stated “the criminal world has no borders, no bureaucracy, and will operate with relative impunity.”

“We now have to respond to the threats of that borderless world through partnerships,” he said, adding that the Caribbean- U.S. security talks were steps in the right direction.

The CBSI is a “multi-year, multi-faceted” US$30M investment pledged at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in April last year, by United States President Barack Obama to develop “a joint regional citizen safety strategy to tackle the full range of security and criminal threats to the Caribbean Basin.”

As the Caribbean forged this partnership with the U.S., Dr. Cort said that its strategic priorities were: Border Security, Crime Prevention, Crime Management, Small Arms and Light Weapons, Counter Narcotics, Counter Terrorism, Maritime and Airspace Security Cooperation, Disaster Management, Anti-Corruption, Human Resource Development, Intelligence and Information Sharing, and Criminal Deportation.

Describing the cooperation as a “historic phase in an already strong relationship between the two parties,” he said the U.S. was always an “important partner” assisting Caribbean States to strengthen their economies and security.

There was now need, he added, for “a more institutionalised security arrangement much like what is being developed between the U.S. and Central American States.” Hence, he noted, the Dialogue was “very timely and most appropriate.”

The CONSLE Chair said that it would “strengthen cooperation with an understanding of mutual responsibility and mutual respect in order to secure and preserve the peace, security and socio-economic development of the citizens of the Caribbean and by extension the United States.”

He said that with security established as the fourth pillar of the Caribbean Community, the Dialogue would serve “to advance and reinforce the efforts already underway to secure the Region.

Chief among those efforts was a management structure for crime and security which included CONSLE; the Bureau of the Council or Sub-Committee of CONSLE; the Security Policy Advisory Committee (SEPAC); the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS); and Standing Committee of Operational Heads including Commissioners of police, military chiefs, chief of immigration and comptrollers of customs, to provide technical advice to the policy and political levels of the Caribbean Community.

With the regional framework for the management of crime and security in place, he said, the Caribbean had demonstrated its “readiness to share in the responsibility for hemispheric security and reaffirmed its commitment to constructing a safer hemisphere,” adding that it was heartening that the partnership sought to address threats to vulnerable groups also.

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