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With nine countries of the Caribbean region poised to host the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Cricket World Cup (CWC), in March next year, State Minister for National Security, Dr. Donald Rhodd, has informed that further initiatives were now being finalised to improve border security.
“Border security as it relates to this event is of paramount importance.to ensure that all citizens and all visitors alike will have an incident free and safe Cricket World Cup,” Dr. Rhodd said.
Delivering the keynote address at a Border Protection Workshop for Immigration, Citizenship and Passport personnel at Jamaica Customs, downtown Kingston today (October 30), the State Minister said that in addition to electronic systems to monitor and track probable security risks, a Forces Agreement would soon be enacted among CARICOM states for the deployment of Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) personnel to other regional jurisdictions during the staging of the event.
Pursuant to this agreement, Minister Rhodd informed that South Africa, which hosted the 2003 event, would provide special training in anti-terrorism and border security techniques to the JDF.
“This will allow for a tiered approach to border protection, as JDF personnel operating throughout the region could take pre-emptive action based on intelligence before that potential threat ever gets to our border,” he pointed out.
Dr. Rhodd said that after the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, in addition to planning challenges, “the ever present threat of terrorism which faces the entire world community” were major concerns when hosting events on the scale of the global cricket event.
“An obvious challenge is the security logistics involved in the movement of people that are expected to visit the region,” he said.
The State Minister said regional security forces were also on the look-out for money laundering, drug and human trafficking, adding that this would be undertaken in a collaborative effort among CARICOM partners and international partners.
Dr. Rhodd further informed that, “one measure that will be instituted is an Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) for international carriers. This will allow the trans border flow of data for reasons of national security and the public interest”.
The APIS is a means by which a passenger’s personal data, as provided electronically to a transportation company, can be vetted for security clearance prior to the passenger boarding the vessel.
“It is intended that a person who is identified as a security risk will be denied entry to the country before embarking on the vessel,” the State Minister informed. He emphasised that APIS would complement the Ion scanning machines that were installed at both the Norman Manley and Donald Sangster International airports since 2004, and the mobile x-ray machines at the Kingston and Montego Bay ports.
“This will assist in deterring those who would seek to use the cover of the World Cup to courier drugs and other contraband,” he said.
Dr. Rhodd pointed out that the thrust to sufficiently outfit local border security to deal with breaches was not exclusive to the hosting of CWC 2007.
He cited the Ministry’s recent acquisition of marine patrol boats to improve the policing of coastal waters. “We have been consistently engaged in the modernisation of our security forces to deal with threats to our borders posed by narco-traffickers.
“Narco-traffickers may seek to reassert themselves and in this context, the acquisition of the vessels is timely,” he said.
Pointing to Operation Kingfish’s 80 per cent success rate in making inroads in drug trafficking in Jamaica, Dr. Rhodd assured that these improvements to border security would ensure a safe and uneventful staging of Cricket World Cup.