Regional cooperation on defence matters has become even more important as the Eastern Caribbean faces new threats from trans-national organized criminal activity, executive director of the Regional Security System (RSS), Captain Errington Shurland, warned Monday.
Speaking at the launch of a three-week training course on maritime operations and planning at the Barbados Coast Guard’s headquarters Monday morning, he said it was no secret that member states throughout the RSS were having challenges that relate to crime.
“Human trafficking and drug trafficking are on the increase, and we are particularly concerned about the number of small arms coming into our jurisdictions,” he said.
“We recognize that this is something we have to deal with in terms of a collective strategy and national strategy and, coincidentally, we will be meeting with the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines between July 23 and 25 to assist them in developing a national strategy.”
Twenty-two officers drawn from the police and defence forces of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Grenada and Dominica are participating in the course.
Shurland noted that the RSS had just embarked on a project with the European Union (EU) that aims to enhance the capabilities of law enforcement and border security personnel, and augment existing projects in correctional facilities that rehabilitate drug offenders and provide them with alternative skills.
The current course is one of a series that will also include training in drug prosecution; leadership and management for senior and middle management of customs, immigration, police, correctional facilities and defence forces; as well as crime scene technician courses for staff of criminal investigation departments.
“Given the importance of controlling or reducing recidivism rates, in collaboration with the EU we will be providing equipment to correctional facilities in our member states, and providing training to correctional officers to enhance rehabilitative initiatives,” Shurland added.
EU Charge D’Affaires Silvia Kofler underscored the importance of the maritime training, noting that the maritime zone of the Eastern Caribbean stretches far beyond the landmass of those countries.
“The beauty about the RSS is that, under it, we can operate in each other’s territories without having any disputes whatsoever, so we can call on each other to assist if necessary.”