Watch our back and we will watch yours!
That was message delivered by United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Larry Palmer to Barbados and other regional states during his address to the opening of the US-sponsored Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Professional Exchange Conference this morning.
Palmer noted that as the US’ third border, what affected the Caribbean also affected them, and vice versa.
While strongly urging the region to capitalize on the use of the Air Passenger Information System (APIS), Ambassador Palmer urged Barbados to unite with its neighbours to fight common enemies.
“I believe increased collaboration among all stakeholders can be an effective means of strengthening border control as well as an effective means of building and implementing actions to address new and emerging threats,” he said.
He noted during the past year, new threats had emerged, including the dreaded Ebola outbreak.
The Ambassador said the US took great pride in standing shoulder to shoulder with the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in this critical dialogue on how they could enhance border security in the region.
“I am asking each of you to reach out to the JRCC [Joint Regional Communications Centre] and your Caribbean partners to gain their support and input on border issues affecting the entire region. I also encourage to ask your operators in the field to communicate their challenges and successes so that we are aware of your progress and needs,” the American diplomat said.
In his address to the same conference, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite expressed concern about the increasing crime in the region and suggested a common approach to resolving it.
Brathwaite told the gathering of security officials from around the region that because of the nature of transnational organizational crime, no individual territory could fight it alone.
The Minister of Home Affairs contended that regional governments ought to invest the appropriate level of funding into the mechanisms used to fight transnational crime.
He contended that greater collaboration and feedback through the use of the APIS could improve border security across national borders.
“We cannot rely on our US and international partners to care for us all the time. I want to use this occasion yet again to call on member-countries to ensure that they meet their obligations so that our vehicles . . . are able to perform the outstanding functions that they do.”
Brathwaite said that there was now a new draft of the island’s transnational crimes act, which makes provision for dealing with human smuggling.
He said too that the Government was finalizing its Civil Asset Forfeiture legislation, another means of fighting transnational organized crime and crime generally.
“We are strengthening our Financial Intelligence Unit; and just two weeks ago, there was a meeting here . . . the opportunity was taken . . . to execute additional MOUs with other FIUs across the world.”
The theme of the conference, which is taking place at Hilton Barbados, is Information Sharing and Collaboration as a Strategy to Counter Transnational Criminal Organizations.