“We are not helpless but we need support…”
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
May 27, 2009 (CUOPM)
Technical level talks on security cooperation involving the United States and the Caribbean Community ended Wednesday, in Suriname, on what was described as a very positive note. Both heads of delegation concurred that the dialogue was productive, rich in information sharing and explicit in its objectives for future co-operation.
The meeting was jointly chaired by St. Kitts and Nevis’ Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Immigration and Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Astona Browne, Interim Chair of the Security Policy Advisory Committee (SEPAC), and the US Ambassador to Suriname His Excellency, Lisa Bobbie Shreider-Hughes.
The Caribbean-US Technical Meeting on Security Cooperation sought to find common ground on which to advance the security cooperation agenda for both regions, particularly in combating illicit trafficking in drugs and firearms and rising violent crime.
Members of the CARICOM delegation made informative presentations which not only highlighted the scope of the security threats and challenges in the Caribbean, but also raised the awareness of the US Delegation on the programmes, mechanisms and architecture that CARICOM had initiated to deal with those threats. The presentations also pointed to the critical areas in which greater collaboration and support were needed to enhance the region’s security; some of which included deportations, cyber crime, drugs and guns trafficking interdiction, gang violence, justice sector enforcement, witness protection, border security, institutional strengthening and capacity building.
The US Delegation also outlined strong mechanisms for co-operation which could prove to be mutually beneficial. Those included Information and intelligence sharing, capacity building, training for law enforcement officers, crime detection, strengthening of the Caribbean’s assets base for crime fighting, drug and arms interdiction, providing life skills training for youth and boosting rehabilitation programmes in the Caribbean.
The Meeting agreed that a joint working group would be established to craft a joint regional security cooperation strategy; develop a subsequent plan of action and fine-tune the agenda for the proposed Caribbean-US High Level dialogue on Security Cooperation set to take place in Washington D. C. USA, later this year.
Head of the Caribbean Delegation, Mrs. Astona Browne in expressing satisfaction with the outcomes of the meeting said the United States had recommended “a wholesome package” and had demonstrated a willingness and spirit of cooperation.
She noted that the Meeting was well timed at a point when the Region was making efforts to forge partnerships with neighbouring states ““ particularly the US ““ 93 with whom we would like to strengthen engagement given its proximity”¦It is important that we collaborate to strengthen the region’s security mechanism,” she added.
Mrs. Browne thanked the US Delegation for its efforts over the years to support the Caribbean and expressed hope that such technical cooperation would be institutionalized as we move forward in securing our region; our people; knowing that our safety is their safety.”
Ambassador Shreider-Hughes, endorsed the sentiments expressed by Mrs. Browne and noted that “reasonable progress” had been made and that it was very clear that both parties were on the same page in moving forward on crime and security.
Ambassador Shreider-Hughes stated further that she was very impressed with the presentations, the level of engagement and strong leadership from the Caribbean. She reiterated her country’s commitment to the process of partnering against crime and commended Suriname for “the excellent arrangements” they had made to host the meeting.
Also commenting on the outcomes of the meeting, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations, Ambassador Colin Granderson stated that the meeting was productive, and exceptionally rich in information sharing.
He added that he was particularly impressed with the expressed commitment by the US to shared responsibility and partnership. This, he said, represented a solid platform on which we could begin to build co-operation”¦especially since it was clear that we had shared concerns.
“It was also important that we gave a sense of what the Community had been doing to deal with the situation; as the co-Chair (Astona Browne) pointed out, we are not helpless but we need support in our efforts,” Ambassador Granderson concluded.