The Honourable Kamla Persad- Bissessar on the issue of Regional Security at the US Vice President–CARICOM Multilateral Meeting, 28th May 2013
CITIZEN SECURITY / SECURITY COOPERATION
Mr Vice President, as lead CARICOM Head on the issue of Regional Security, I take this opportunity
- To convey the Region’s progress in Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CSB) implementation, including priorities for enhancing our security partnerships and national security policies towards strengthening citizen safety and economic growth;
- To 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.
Establishment and Implementation of the CBSI
The Region acknowledges the support of the United States in our on-going efforts to improve citizen security and combat transnational security threats through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), which was announced in April 2009 by President Barack Obama, in his opening remarks at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad and Tobago.
This engagement with CARICOM and the Dominican Republic in the crucial area of Hemispheric security, and a commitment to greater cooperation and partnership to confront common challenges, has enabled the Region to identify several Strategic Priorities:
- Ø Border Security,
- Ø Crime Prevention,
- Ø Crime Management,
- Ø Small Arms and Light Weapons,
- Ø Counter Narcotics,
- Ø Counter Terrorism,
- Ø Maritime and Airspace Security Cooperation,
- Ø Disaster Management,
- Ø Anti-Corruption,
- Ø Human Resource Development,
- Ø Intelligence and Information Sharing,
- Ø Criminal Deportation.
The threats and needs of vulnerable populations are also recognised as a determining factor in crime prevention, therefore emphasis is also placed on strengthening community policing, providing rehabilitation to offenders and abusers, and special programmes for the youth.
1. There have been several rounds of Technical Working Groups on Law Enforcement Information Sharing, Law Enforcement Capacity and Cooperation Building, Preventing Crime by focusing on vulnerable Youth and at-risk Populations and Maritime and Aerial Domain Cooperation, each hosted by various CARICOM territories;
2. Three (3) Meetings of the CSBI Commission and three High Level Dialogues. At the third sessions proposals were put forward to include not only traditional international partners such as the United Kingdom and Canada, but also to consider inclusion of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, as observers, and International financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Canada has taken on the responsibility to coordinate the efforts of the international/traditional partners. In this regard, Canada hosted a meeting during the week of November 11, 2012, which brought the United Kingdom, European Union, France, the Netherland, the United States and Canada, key donors for Caribbean security, together.
3. Two (2) sessions of training to representatives from the ten (10) CARICOM Member States participating in the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) were conducted; as well as
4. Port of entry visits to nine (9) of the ten (10) Member States that have the Advance Passenger Information (API) Legislation enacted.
We note that both the Ports of Entry Visits and the Training represent the first phase of the US Customs and Border Protection’s APIS-related Border Security Initiative under the CBSI.
5. The Region is also actively pursuing the development of a Regional Counter Illicit Trafficking Strategy as we are very Cognizant of the fact that there is also a need for cooperation in the area of Caribbean Counter Illicit Trafficking.
The goal of the CCITS is to articulate a framework policy hat is harmonious with both the Caribbean Regional Crime and Security Strategy, as well as other existing policies and legislation. It is also designed to increase regional coordination, maritime and aerial domain awareness, and information and intelligence sharing among the 15 member states of CARICOM and their international partners.
Member States have been invited to consider this strategy in conjunction with the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy (CCSS), adopted by the Conference of Heads of Government, February 2013, and their own national policies and priorities.
6. The CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy (CCSS) was adopted by the Twenty-fourth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government held on 18-19 February 2013 in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti with the goal ‘to significantly improving citizen security by creating a safe, just and free Community, while simultaneously improving the economic viability of the Region’.
The CCSS represents a historic milestone that marks the beginning of a new era in efforts to consolidate the Community as a secure Region in terms of peace, freedom, democracy, and development through a coordinated and integrated approach.
7. As the lead CARICOM Head on Regional Security issues I welcome the adoption of the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy by CARICOM Heads of Government as an important step in enhancing regional and international security;
8. We recognize that the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy constitutes an important mechanism to promote actions that will further strengthen cooperation between the United States of America and CARICOM, and enhance regional and international security; and
9. I respectfully call on the United States of America to reiterate its firm commitment to support regional security activities, including the implementation of the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy.
In 2013 it is our intention to
(i) Expand the APIS Programme to the Bahamas and Suriname, inclusive of the necessary training;
(ii) Conduct Border Security Training at the national level in each of the twelve (12) participating Member States; and
(iii) Conduct of Joint Exercises in some of the Member States; we envisage these exercises to become an annual occurrence.
(iv) Re-submit a proposal for the provision of contraband detection equipment e.g. CT 30 kit and seek funding assistance for the completion of the Region’s Cargo Targeting System i.e. Advance Cargo Information System (ACIS).
(v) Resume Technical Working Group meetings. A date is to be confirmed for the video conference meeting for the Crime Prevention Working Group. Under the priority area of Law Enforcement Cooperation and Capacity Building, the proposed TWG for Anti-corruption is carded to take place June 20 – 21, in Kingston Jamaica. A timeframe is yet to be determined for the convening of a meeting under the theme of Law Enforcement Information Sharing. And, efforts are still being made by US Partner for the convening of a meeting for the Aerial and Maritime Domain Security Awareness group.
Fourth Commission Meeting and High Level Dialogue
A host has to be identified for the convening of the fourth (4th) meeting of the CBSI Commission. It is anticipated that this meeting would take place no later than October 2013.
With respect to the Fourth (4th) High Level Dialogue, we note that this should be hosted by the United States, however we are still awaiting official word. This should take place in November 2013.
Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)
This is matter of urgent and extreme importance to our Region. On 2 April 2013 Governments at the United Nations General Assembly adopted an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that establishes common international standards for the regulation of international trade in conventional arms.
Illegal guns and ammunitions are responsible for more than 70% of homicides in CARICOM. The treaty also preserves the principle that the international conventional arms trade is, and will continue to be, a legitimate commercial activity that allows nations to acquire the arms they need for their own security. The Treaty applies only to international trade, and reaffirms the sovereign right of any State to regulate arms within its territory.
The United States of America and CARICOM Member States have been key advocates for an Arms Trade Treaty and were critical actors during the UN negotiation process for the Treaty.
The Treaty will be opened for signatures and ratification on 3 June 2013 at the UN General Assembly and will enter into force after it has been ratified by 50 States.
Key Issues to Advance:
- We urge the United States of America to reaffirm its commitment to support the Arms Trade Treaty;
- To use its international reach and diplomacy to promote the signing, ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty;
- To Provide technical, legal assistance and other resources to support CARICOM Member States on implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty; and
- To reiterate the commitment of the Government of the United States of America to promote policies intended to reduce the illicit trade of arms and ammunition.
It would be recalled that a study was undertaken by Dr. Anne Marie Barnes in 2009 as it relates to Criminal Deportation from primarily Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The report highlighted a number of issues experienced by Member States which were as a result of high rates of recidivism by criminal deportees. A number of recommendations were made with respect to improving this problem. These included:
(i) MOUs between sending and receiving states which would provide a framework for deportation of criminals including information sharing, notifications and processing upon arrival;
(ii) Deportees’ access to assets within deporting states;
(iii) System of re-integration of deportees to minimize rates of recidivism; and
(iv) Public Education.
While a number of CARICOM Member States have seen some improvement in the information sharing and notifications prior to arrival, all agree that there is room for improvement with respect to information sharing and notification prior to the arrival of criminal deportees from the United States.
It should be noted that one of the major problems being experienced is the fact that many of the criminal deportees would have left the Region prior to adulthood and do not have any ties to the countries to which they have been deported.
We note an amendment to the US Immigration Bill which is currently being considered is being considered which would allow deportees brought to the US before their 16th birthday to be eligible to return.
We therefore believe that increased focus should be placed on-
(i) Improved information and intelligence sharing with respect to criminal deportees, in particular access to complete dossiers on medical and criminal history
(ii) Consideration of financial and technical assistance to establish re-integration programmes within CARICOM Member States;
(iii) Consideration of how criminal deportees may access their assets within deporting States to facilitate re-integration into CARICOM Member States, especially in light of the fact that some of the deportees have spent the majority of their lives in the United States and have few support networks or connections in their home country, making them vulnerable to criminal careers, therefore threatening the same citizen peace and security that the Region is working so assiduously to improve.
Mr Vice President I thank you for your consideration of our Security concerns.
Energy security interdependence are critical issues for CARICOM Member States, these issues are of particular importance given the high cost of fossil fuels and the deleterious impact on the National budgets of many of our countries, who, over the past five years are struggling to cope with the effects of the international, financial and economic crises. Trinidad and Tobago has decided to forge a relationship with the US in order to make a meaningful contribution towards regional attempts to foster green initiatives. In this connection, in collaboration with the US Department of Energy, Trinidad and Tobago will be working to establish a Regional Renewable Energy Research centre. This centre falls within the framework of the energy and climate partnership of the Americas.