National Security Minister, Senator Dwight Nelson, is warning that unless immediate steps are taken to counter the problem of crime and violence, CARICOM states stand the risk of being overrun by criminal activities.
Speaking at the opening of the inaugural meeting of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) Commission, at the Wyndham Hotel, New Kingston, on November 3, Senator Nelson lamented the “terrifying reality” that the incidence of crime in the Caribbean is on the increase, a development not lost on regional Heads of government.
“Crime and violence (in) the Caribbean community is fast becoming an overwhelming phenomenon, almost beyond the capacity of the individual national forces, to cope with. This is a reality which administrations throughout the region have been forced to wrestle with,” the Minister said.
Senator Nelson cited the drug trade as one of the main areas that has “spawned” much of the wave of criminal activities. He argued that narcotics related murders, aggravated burglaries and assaults, and kidnapping and trafficking in persons, “have taken on new dimensions in the region.”
National Security Minister, Senator Dwight Nelson (right), greets United States Charge D’ Affaires in Jamaica, Isaiah Parnell, during the inaugural meeting of the two-day Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) Commission, at the Wyndham Hotel, New Kingston, on Nov. 3.
Noting the Jamaican government’s concurrence with United States President, Barack Obama’s sentiments that too many residents in the Americas currently live in fear, Senator Nelson gave the assurence that the administration is committed to the sustained peace, security and safety of the region, “and continues to pledge its unyielding support to the cause.”
“The President asserted that something must be done to effectively minimise this level of fear. The Jamaican government shares the sentiment that violence and insecurity can no longer be tolerated in the Caribbean region. If we do nothing, CARICOM states are likely to be overrun by criminal activities in the decades ahead, unless the problem is addressed now, urgently and comprehensively,” the Minister asserted.
In this regard, Senator Nelson said the CBSI is a welcomed input, arguing that the region needs the assistance offered by the initiative to help in ridding it of the “scourge of criminality in its many manifestations,” through the formulation and implementation of new policies to control and prevent crime.
“Every effort has to be made to prevent the constant erosion of the economic, social and political stability of the region, and an escalation of transnational crime with all the dire consequences this may hold for the security of the wider global community,” he said.
National Security Minister, Senator Dwight Nelson (left), shares pleasantries with (from 2nd left): Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security, St. Kitts and Nevis, Astonia Browne; United States Charge D’ Affaires in Jamaica, Isaiah Parnell; and Deputy Assistant Secretary, United States Department of State, Julissa Reynoso, during the opening ceremony of the inaugural two-day meeting of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) Commission, at the Wyndham Hotel, New Kingston, on November 3.
Citing the threat which rising crime and violence has on regional security and stability, Senator Nelson said there is acknowledgement of dialogue between US and Caribbean government representatives to define and develop the goals and scope for the CBSI.
“As a demonstration of the intent of the ongoing collaboration that exists between the governments of the Caribbean on one side and the United States administration on the other, we are forging ahead with the development of a common regional strategy and operational framework,” the Minister said.
Senator Nelson said stakeholders are of the belief that activities arising from the partnership will complement other regional initiatives.
“It must be noted that the CBSI also serve as a co-ordinating venue to attract and incorporate the support from non-Caribbean allies in pursuit of its key objectives,” the Minister said.
In her remarks, Deputy Assistant Secretary, United States Department of State, Julissa Reynosso, described the CBSI as a commitment, platform, engagement and partnership “amongst friends.and interested parties,” to address the common issues of concern related to security in the region.
Over 20 national security officials and delegates from several North and Central American countries, including the United States, CARICOM and the Dominican Republic are meeting in Kingston over two days (November 3 and 4), to discuss matters pertaining to crime and violence impacting the region, and possible collaborative solutions to effectively address them.
Delegates, at the invitation of Senator Nelson, observed one minute’s silence in memory of late Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson, who was buried today.