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Posted in: Communiques | 11 May 2005 | Release Ref #: 98/2005 | 1364

    A Special Meeting of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ministers responsible for National Security and Law Enforcement was held in Trinidad and Tobago, 10-11 May 2005. The Meeting was convened at the request of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the Hon. Patrick Manning, Lead CARICOM Head of Government for Crime and Security who also chaired the Meeting.

    In attendance were:

    The Hon. Winston Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda; The Hon. V. Alfred Gray, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Local Government, The Bahamas; The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, Attorney-General and Minister of Home Affairs, Barbados; The Hon. Einstein Louison, Minister of National Security in the Prime Minister's Office, Grenada; The Hon. Ronald Gajraj, Minister of Home Affairs, Guyana; Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, Minister of National Security, Jamaica; Sen. the Hon. Calixte George, Minister of Home Affairs, Saint Lucia; Hon. Sir Vincent I. Beache, Minister of National Security, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Sen. the Hon. Mr. Martin Joseph, Minister of National Security, Trinidad and Tobago. St. Kitts and Nevis was represented by Ms. Astona Browne, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security, Justice, Immigration and Labour.

    Delegates included Permanent Secretaries and other Senior Officers of Government, representatives of the Regional Security System (RSS) and the University of the West Indies.

    In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister set the stage for the discussions, alluding to the situation faced by regional governments as it relates to issues of crime and security. He pointed out that while many of these are determined by the global security environment, they inevitably set the agenda for any strategy the Region must adopt.

    The Prime Minister pointed to the need for a structured, proactive and efficient approach to the challenges if the Region is to benefit from the developmental initiatives being undertaken, notably the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). To this end, he emphasised the need for crime and security to be given the level of emphasis that equates with matters such as trade, health, education and agriculture which are catered for in the CARICOM System. According to the Prime Minister, the overall objective of the Meeting was to advance the implementation of recommendations already approved.

    In opening remarks, CARICOM Secretary-General His Excellency Edwin Carrington stated that the Region was now facing a clear and present danger spawned by the high level and violent nature of crime in many of our communities. He said that the widespread and increasing levels of violence and crime have eroded public safety and security, both local and foreign investor confidence and have threatened CARICOM's economic welfare. He urged Member States to find solutions that would increase the Region's self reliance since the inability to control the scourge of crime would hamper the development as well as implementation of the Single Market and Economy.

    Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, Chairman of the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Resource Mobilisation for Crime and Security, reported on the work of the Sub-Committee over the course of its five meetings and highlighted the CARICOM/ United Kingdom Security Cooperation Plan which the Sub-Committee had finalised in 2004. The Plan focuses, inter alia, on priorities agreed upon by the community. These include training for security and law enforcement officials, the establishment of a Regional Information and Intelligence Sharing Network, Maritime Cooperation and Border Security. The Sub-Committee had also advanced the recommendations for a new management framework for the implementation of the Crime and Security agenda originally formulated by the CARICOM Task Force on Crime and Security including the priorities under the CARICOM/UK Cooperation Agreement.

    The Meeting approved the management framework for commendation to the Conference of Heads of Government. It makes provision for a permanent Committee of Ministers of National Security and Law Enforcement for policy direction, a Security Policy Advisory Committee (SEPAC) and an Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

    Mr. Christopher Dehring, CEO of Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, accompanied by Mr. John Collymore, Director of Security CWC 2007, presented an outline of the security arrangements for the 2007 World Cup. The Meeting agreed that there should be a stronger nexus between the CWC 2007 and the CARICOM Ministers responsible for National Security in developing the operational plans. In this regard, a Meeting of Ministers of National Security and Law Enforcement officials together with CWC 2007 will be held in Jamaica 9-10 June 2005.

    Other priority issues on the regional agenda for crime and security were discussed. They included a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, Regional Justice Protection, Maritime Cooperation, a Human Resource Development Strategy, Border Security and mechanisms for the sharing of information and intelligence among Member States to be facilitated by a Coordinating Information Management Authority (CIMA). These matters are already at various stages of implementation. However, particular attention was drawn to the need for a Region wide Mutual Assistance Agreement which would provide the framework for Mutual Assistance in an agreed range of circumstances and in particular assistance from one country to another in emergency national security situations.

    The Meeting noted that the proposal to the European Union for the Implementation of the CARICOM/CARIFORUM Initiatives in the Fight Against Illegal Drugs is being revised to incorporate the needs of Member States.

    The Criminal Deportee issue was cited as a major concern for Member States. It was agreed that a regional approach should be pursued and should be informed by a study which would provide empirical data on the basis of which the Region could enter into new negotiations with deporting countries in their mutual interest.

    Delegations referred to this Meeting as a "watershed," "trend setting", "seminal in designing a new architecture", "path-breaking in the establishment of a new level of governance and high level participation", "planting the seeds of change in the design and implementation of policy". They commended the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for the excellent arrangements and in particular, appreciated the initiative and leadership of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago which contributed in no small measure to the success of the Meeting.