JIS News

Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips, has called for increased collaboration between CARICOM and the United States (U.S.) in combating the trafficking of illegal drugs in the region, as well as dealing with other security threats.
“It is important that a holistic approach be adopted to looking at security in the region and the interrelationships and inter-linkages that exist between violent criminal activity, the availability of weapons and the trafficking of drugs in the Caribbean,” the Minister stated, adding that, “the intersection of these (components) provide a platform for these enterprises to suborn and undermine critical institutions within the region, which in turn could impact governance, civil authority and the rule of law.”
Minister Phillips’ statements came during a keynote address at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington on July 8, where he addressed an audience of U.S. government officials, CARICOM diplomatic personnel, academics and opinion leaders, as well as representatives from international financial institutions based in Washington.
Before his presentation, the Minister held several high-level meetings in Washington, including talks with Ambassador Thomas Shannon, special assistant to President George Bush and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the White House and Ambassador Roger Noriega, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State.
He also participated in a forum focusing on national security issues in the Caribbean at the George Washington University, which was attended by several representatives of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defence, as well as the District of Columbia Office of Counter Terrorism.
Dr. Phillips also submitted, that the era of globalisation had not only impacted the conduct of legitimate commerce and the movement of people, but had also served to “facilitate the dramatic growth of transnational criminal activity, with criminal enterprises in the U.S. developing strong linkages with counterparts in the Caribbean and thus posing even more formidable challenges for law enforcement in the Caribbean.”
Acknowledging that the influx of deportees had exacerbated the problem, the Minister said that receiving countries would have to collaborate more closely with the deporting states, to aid the assimilation of the deportees and to reduce prospects for their participation in criminal activity.
Turning to the issue of political instability and its impact on illegal narcotics and weapons trafficking, Dr. Phillips emphasised that inter-American security was inextricably linked to the continued political viability of all states in the region.
“Our hemisphere is as secure as its weakest link,” he noted, while stressing that unstable political environments invariably fostered transnational illegal activity, such as the narcotics trade, and could also become breeding grounds for more formidable threats such as terrorism.
“This is why the Jamaican government is redoubling its efforts to ensure that our counter narcotics initiatives, such as Kingfish, continue to produce results and to disrupt these criminal networks, which seek to thwart our development.
“Our resolve and our commitment can be no less, given the capacity of these networks to purchase influence with their vast resources and to intimidate and compromise state institutions and law enforcement, which seek to confront them,” the Minister said.
He also called on international lending institutions, to rethink traditional approaches to providing assistance for law enforcement. “While our countries have been able to access funding for community policing initiatives, for instance, these institutions do not.provide assistance for the building of police stations and providing equipment and infrastructure that are essential to successful crime-fighting,” he pointed out.
Dr. Phillips took the opportunity to reiterate Jamaica’s commitment to thwarting human trafficking within its borders and to ensure that enterprises, which seek to benefit from the exploitation of minors, are curtailed.
“We are steadfast in our resolve that our territory will not be utilised for the trafficking of persons across or within our borders. For us to be effective, however, it is necessary for our partners in the international community to work with us in the event that there is evidence that there may indeed be breaches in this regard,” he said.