The European Union’s (EU) top diplomat here has urged Barbados and the rest of the region to come up with a common approach and strong, professional institutions to address crime and security challenges facing the Caribbean.
With the EU providing millions of dollars in funding through various programmes to help fight crime in the region, the EU’s head of Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Daniela Tramacere said collective security mechanisms were imperative to effectively tackle these challenges.
However, she told the inauguration of a joint programme to improve security that a “quick fix, iron-fist” approach was not the way to successfully fight crime.
“Effectiveness in confronting security challenges has less to do with quick-fix, iron-fist or clean-sweep approaches that ignore underlying causes and which can create new problems or aggravate old ones by reproducing a culture of violence, and more to do with the building of strong, professional institutions that approach security challenges from an objective, evidence-based, multidimensional and multi-stakeholder perspective,” Tramacere cautioned at the launch of the 10th European Development Fund CARIFORUM Crime and Security Cooperation Programme at the Regional Security System (RSS) headquarters at Paragon, Christ Church.
The €12 million programme will focus on reducing the demand for, and dependence on, illicit drugs, advancing the thrust towards drug supply control initiatives with enhanced coordination and dialogue with Latin America, and addressing some of the critical factors for crime and violence prevention and social development in Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), a sub-group of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of states comprising the 15 CARICOM countries and the Dominican Republic.
Tramacere said the EU was gravely concerned about the impact of crime on citizens in the region.
However, she admitted that the 28-member economic and political grouping also had selfish reasons for funding such programmes.
“Yes, investing in citizen security in the Caribbean is an investment for us, a selfish investment, in our security. We have great stake in each other’s success. What happens anywhere in the Caribbean affects us”, the leading diplomat said.
“We believe that only willingness to analyze and make decisions in a common approach can achieve what in a globalized world no nation, whatever its size, can successfully and permanently do – resolve conflicts or manage threats on its own. Such a joint approach by partners and neighbours that are bound by history, friendship, and by family, based on shared values, is in my view, priceless, especially in the current political climate,” she stressed.
CARICOM has described the Caribbean as a critical and central route between drug producers and large scale consumers, with violence and crime remaining a pressing problem.
Addressing today’s launch Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said guns and drugs passing through the region were fuelling gang violence and crime, thereby threatening “the security of citizens and visitors” and negative impact on the safety of community life “as gun and gang violence become rife and create dysfunction in families through drug addiction and alcoholism”.
“The greatest impact is on our human resources, which we need to continue to build resilient, strong societies,” LaRocque said, adding that he was hoping the new security cooperation programme would help to combat “this insidious threat to our stability”.
However, he advised that “the core of this battle must be fought in the home”. “Families have a vital role to play in turning the tide of this struggle,” the secretary general said.
The 10th EDF regional programme will be implemented through several institutions, including the RSS, which is CARICOM’s implementation agency for crime and security.