JIS News

A security cooperation plan, aimed at combating the mushrooming problems of drug trafficking and money laundering within the Caribbean, has been launched between the government of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Details of the pact were disclosed to journalists at a press conference that also served as the plan’s launch, held yesterday (October 20) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
National Security Minister, Peter Phillips informed journalists that the agreement would deal with the training of security and law enforcement officials; the establishment of a regional information and intelligence sharing network; and enable maritime cooperation.
On the matter of the training of security/law enforcement officials, Minister Phillips said the intention was “to create a platform for the training of high level officials in the law enforcement services in the Caribbean.that involves not just the police but a wide range of security institutions including customs and immigration officials and the like.”
The regional information network “will enable states to share information in real time online, so we can combine the energies of our various law enforcement agencies. In Jamaica, for example, our successes in counter narcotics and stopping the courier traffic has resulted in an upsurge of courier traffic in other parts of the Caribbean and we are certainly seeking by this [plan] to put our region in a position where we can overcome challenges that might exist from region wide criminal networks.”
Minister Phillips told members of the press that the implementation of the security cooperation plan was relevant, against the background of the coming into being of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), coupled with the region hosting the World Cup Cricket in 2007.
“These carry with them potential security implications and threats. We certainly need to be in a situation to free up the movement of people and commodities as we envisage the influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors for the World Cup Cricket and have to ensure we have an appropriate security platform that is region wide. This agreement takes on particular urgency because of those impending developments,” he observed.
The National Security Minister noted that inasmuch as the agreement sought to address pertinent drug and criminal matters, there were other focus areas that the UK and CARICOM agreed warranted attention. These included anti-corruption measures, building greater intelligence gathering capabilities, and continuing discussions on the issue of deportees.
The launch of the security plan stemmed from a meeting held last year in the United Kingdom between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and CARICOM Heads of government, led by then CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.
This, in turn, led to Prime Minister Blair authorizing the visit of his Security Minister to the Caribbean to discuss and develop a framework of cooperation with the region’s Ministers of National Security. The security plan culminated following a series of meetings to iron out matters, and arrive at a consensus.
Meanwhile, in his address at the launch, Minister Bill Rammell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, remarked that his government had engaged in favourable discussions with CARICOM, and a number of areas were identified “where we could look to pull our resources to look to give more training, advice and mentoring, equipment but also urging and looking to the CARICOM governments to do more on their behalf working with us.”
In highlighting elements of the cooperation plan, Minister Rammell advised that a pilot leadership-training course was being developed and would begin in January in Trinidad and Tobago. “We have deployed an expert to Port-of-Spain to help set up the Caribbean coordinating information management authority, which is a key element of maritime cooperation,” he further revealed.
Other preparatory work of the plan included the UK Government organising and co-chairing, with the CARICOM Secretariat, the first meeting of the technical working group on maritime cooperation in Bridgetown, Barbados in July. The intent of this meeting is to identify specific assistance that Caribbean countries would require. Mr. Rammell said he hoped that the plan would be broadened overtime, and “expanded to take onboard extra support from international financing institutions, particularly the European Union.”
He added that the security cooperation plan was important to the UK and CARICOM because “we have shared history, we have shared people, we have shared values but we have a practical shared interest in tackling the scourge of drugs because it afflicts both your society and our society.”

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