CARICOM and CARIFORUM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in his remarks at the launch of the Tenth EDF CARIFORUM Crime and Security Programme, on 17 January 2017, in Barbados, pointed to the “strength of cooperation” between the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean.
Calling the EU a “long standing and staunch partner” in the Region’s thrust to attain sustainable development, Ambassador LaRocque said “its [EU] assistance has been crucial…”
“The value of that contribution goes beyond the money, given its impact on the sustainability of our society”, he emphasized.
Ambassador LaRocque singled out areas such as the CARICOM Single Market an Economy, private sector support, agriculture, climate change, disaster management, human resource development and crime and security for which support was received.
In the specific context of the launch, Ambassador LaRocque reminded that crime and security was an issue impacting all Member States and that the trade in, and use of illicit drugs was a principal issue in this area.
“[It is] a main driving force for the high rates of crime and violence in the Region… [and] has led to a steady increase in the availability of illegal fire arms…. The reality is that neither the most trafficked illicit drug, cocaine, nor the firearms, is produced in our countries, the Secretary-General pointed out.
Referring to the impact of this scourge, including “the toll on people and society and the adverse impact on foreign investment and tourism, Ambassador LaRocque said, “The greatest impact is on our human resources which we need to continue to build resilient, strong societies….. “Our Region cannot afford complacency in the face of ever evolving threats to our safety and security”.
He referred to the “diverse mix of interventions” which focused on reducing the demand for and dependence on illicit drugs and crime prevention, and emphasized” whatever projects and programmes are put forward, the core of this battle must be fought in the home”.
“Families have a vital role to play in turning the tide of this struggle’, the tried and tested values of love, hard work, honesty, character building, belief in self and self-respect are key weapons. The first intervention must be in the home”, he added
He continued, to the gathering which included Fifth Form Students, “in our streets, in our communities in our towns and villages we must focus on the development of social resilience skills and demonstrate that drugs, guns, gangs, crime and violence are not the answer to a path of success and self actualization. It ultimately leads to social decay and destruction of lives at the significant cost to families and society as a whole”.
The Secretary-General used the opportunity of the launch, which was held at the Regional Security System (RSS) Headquarters, to reiterate thanks to the RSS for its valuable contribution to the relief and recovery efforts following the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September.
“The RSS went beyond the boundary of its membership and support”. That commitment to the task is a feature of the multi-faceted organization, the RSS, which is playing a significant role in the crime and security structure of our Region, as well as in disaster relief, despite its limited resources and equipment’, he said.
The 10th EDF CARIFORUM focuses on three main thematic areas. These are: reducing the demand for and dependence on illicit drugs; advancing the thrust towards Drug Supply Control Initiatives with enhanced coordination and dialogue with Latin America, and addressing some of the critical factors for Crime and Violence Prevention and Social Development.