— Barbados’ Attorney General warns region’s politicians
CARICOM Ministers of Security attending the 17th Meeting of the Council for National
Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE), a one-day engagement held at the CARICOM Headquarters at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, were on Monday urged to desist from politicising crime in the region.
The Honourable Adriel Brathwaite, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs of Barbados, expressing deep concern about the state of crime in the region — and more particularly violent crime –- charged that the upsurge in criminal activities within CARICOM was being “made into a political issue.”
“It is not a political issue!” he said, adding: “We have made this, in some cases, into a political issue. It is an issue that is fundamental to the way of life of all of our people, and none of us can deal with this alone; not one party, not one Government,” he said, as he urged fellow Security Ministers to find solutions to the ever-increasing problem.
Transparency International Guyana Incorporated had also recently called on local politicians to desist from politicising the crime situation in Guyana.
Brathwaite stressed that the issue of gangs, and the increase of firearms in a region that does not produce same, must be addressed frontally.
“We are seeing in most of our territories, not only an increased amount of violent crime, but an increased usage of firearms from a myriad of sources. What I am being told (is that) more powerful weapons are being used in our territories. It is not a problem for Guyana, Trinidad or Barbados, it is a collective problem; we are all seeing this, and we need to address this,” the top Barbadian official admonished.
And he asked, “Why are we, as a region, seeing an increase in the number of firearms? Firearms are flowing through a region which does not produce guns of any kind! Is this linked to the free movement of people? What are the causes?”
He is of the opinion that, whatever the causes, the region MUST utilise its best available resources to tackle crime. He called on stakeholders to utilise both individual and regional entities, while making reference to the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project, which is funded by the Government of Canada under an agreement with the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
The project provides assistance to CARICOM in drafting legislation to enhance regional integration and economic growth; provides more legislative protection of vulnerable groups against discrimination; and trains mediators and sensitises ordinary persons about their rights under the law.
The Barbados Attorney General has said that, notwithstanding the assistance provided through IMPACT, regional security entities remain financially challenged.
“Yet, for some reason, we seem unable or unwilling to provide the resources necessary to address crime and security in the region,” he lamented.
Contending that there would be no sustainable industry in the region if crime remains out of control, Minister Brathwaite posited that a united approach in tackling crime must pervade the region.
“There is no use Barbados being stable and St Vincent having challenges. There is no use Guyana being stable and Jamaica having challenges, because the international community will look at that,” he cautioned.
Guyana’s Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, told participants of the meeting that citizens’ perception of security and law enforcement in the region must be addressed with urgency. He stressed the urgency with which the region needs to change the perception that “the security and law enforcement sector is populated purely for predatory purposes”.
Ramjattan recommended implementation of programmes to create champions on the ground as an approach to tackling the current mindset of the region’s citizens.
“We have to lead our people out of that negative habit which teaches that crime and corruption are our culture… They are bad choices that must never be condoned, and for which citizens must speak out against.”
Minister Ramjattan called on the CONSLE to construct projects of hope and trust, in order to secure freedom from violence and fear.
CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, who also addressed the forum, alluded to the threats which challenged the region’s peace and security.
“In many of our member states, the Community’s work in the area of crime and security has become more urgent,” he said as he called on the region’s security policymakers to deepen their resolve and to remain committed to the task of further strengthening the regional security architecture through individual and collective action.
Chaired by Minister Brathwaite, the meeting sought to engage the region’s security ministers on issues relative to cybercrime and cyber security; member states’ citizenship by investment programmes (CIPS); CARICOM’s relationship with third states; and financing the regional security agenda, among other critical security issues.
It is also focused on the approval of the CARICOM Cyber Security and Cyber Crime Action Plan (CCSCAP), which provides a framework through which all initiatives of cyber security and cybercrime in the region would be managed, developed and implemented.