JIS News

Minister of National Security, Derrick Smith, has said that the Government of Jamaica remains committed to working with its CARICOM partners to address security issues affecting the region. He was addressing the opening of a two-day Regional Conference on Crime and Security, which got underway this morning (Oct. 29) at the University of the West Indies’ Mona campus.
Mr. Smith said that as small independent nations, the Caribbean is challenged by the “vast criminal enterprises operating in this new, global environment, but as members of CARICOM, we have a responsibility of making a far greater impression in these issues.” According to the National Security Minister, the region’s security problems “are determined to a large extent, by global security issues over which we have very little control. For example, we are expected to use our limited resources to address problems like the shipment of drugs through our ports, when we are not really the market for these drugs.” “We are expected to almost single-handedly take on the wealthy trans-national criminal with financial resources many times that of our combined annual budgets,” he pointed out. Stating that CARICOM has made the issue of security a great priority, Mr. Smith said that over the past two years, the Heads of Government have put in place a permanent management structure to deal with crime and security and they have elevated this issue to become fourth pillar in the CARICOM architecture.
The Jamaican Government, he said, has also made crime and violence a priority. “We are conscious that we cannot move forward if we are being hampered by a murder toll of over 1,000 per annum. Doing business is burdened by high security costs, and large numbers of our population are immobilised by the fear of crime,” Mr. Smith pointed out. He noted that “unfortunately for us, we are neither rich enough to provide the resources to properly address all the problems that confront us, nor poor enough to seek access to incentives like debt relief. These are problems, which we share with our colleagues in the region and which we have to approach as a united body.” He gave commitment to the regional programme of action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit drug trade in small arms and light weapons, “even as we remain concerned about the quantity of these arms that continue to flow into Jamaica from neighbouring countries.” The Minister expressed the hope that the seminar will act as a catalyst for some new ideas in dealing with the security issues facing CARICOM countries.

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