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Statement by Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris on official visits to Trinidad and Tobago & Costa Rica at the sitting of the National Assembly on May 9th, 2019
Mr. Speaker Sir: I rise to provide an update to the National Assembly and through this Assembly the public at large regarding my most recent visits abroad over the period May 2nd – 8th, 2019.
I attended and chaired the Nineteenth Special Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government on Security in Port of Spain, Trinidad on May 3rd, 2019. The Permanent Secretary of National Security, Mr. Osmond Petty supported me along with the Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hilroy Brandy.
The meeting discussed the state of security in the region, and the imperative for greater cooperation and collaboration among Member States to contain and reduce the level of criminal activity in the Caribbean Community.
Member States highlighted several pieces of legislation critical to the enhancement of the regional security architecture for signing or ratification. St. Kitts and Nevis commits to update our legislative repertoire, particularly as it relates to:
1) Caribbean Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Serious Criminal Matters (MLAT) (St. Lucia, 6 July 2005).
2) Protocol Amending The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to incorporate the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) as an Organ of the Community and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) as an Institution of the Community (Placencia, Belize, 17 February 2016).
3) CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty (Grenada, 5 July 2017) signed by St. Kitts and Nevis. We intend to ratify this Treaty.
4) We note that the Draft Model CARICOM Agreement on the Return or Sharing of Recovered Assets is still to be signed and ratified by St. Kitts and Nevis. I have asked the Attorney General to advise on the signature and ratification of these Treaties and Agreements.
Mr. Speaker, we agreed to enhance the Security Assistance Mechanism in such a way as to facilitate greater cooperation by Member States and access to each other’s resources. Heads agreed to establish a mechanism for special operations, including the dispatch of persons to provide intelligence support to Member States. The legislative framework is a sine qua non for the delivery of law and order and the effective statal response to criminality in society.
These outstanding pieces of legislation affect the ability of the regional framework to function properly and in fact stymie the detection rate of some crimes.
The legislative framework provides the authority and legitimacy through which those that are charged with securing the region’s citizenry and infrastructure act. These are as crucial as the physical resources or training that may be provided to combat the various threats. It is crucial that these be signed and ratified urgently.
A proud moment for me was the intervention by our Permanent Secretary of National Security, Mr. Osmond Petty on our social intervention programmes – such as the Explorers Youth Clubs and the Teen and Police Service Academy (TAPS) – as instruments to develop a more disciplined and law-abiding citizenry. Mr. Petty also briefly shared a proposal that is currently before Cabinet for the implementation of a model for establishing community teams to address crime as a social disease in our communities. This was strongly supported by the delegation from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Before leaving the subject of security, I wish to note, Mr. Speaker, for the period January 1st to May 7th, 2019, the Federation recorded a significant 33 percent reduction in major crimes. The reductions were most significant in break-ins, larcenies and malicious damage to property. We still have a long journey to travel, but we must take time to commend all citizens and residents and law enforcement officers for their contribution to the improvement in law and order.
There have been several efforts by groups throughout St. Kitts and Nevis, in particular from the communities of McKnight, Shadwell, St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s, Sandy Point, Old Road, Phillip’s, Ottley’s and Cayon, to ensure a peaceful environment for themselves and their communities. We commend these efforts at reconciliation and togetherness.
More is always achieved when people work in unity for national good. This peace initiative is spreading to Nevis and can in time become a model for the region. People must want peace, law and order. All must work for it and sustain it for the long term. The life we save from these initiatives may very well be that of a loved one, friend or innocent bystander.
The second leg of my official engagement took me to Costa Rica. I, in my capacity as Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), led a delegation comprising CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Assistant Secretary-General Ambassador Colin Granderson, our Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Dr. Everson Hull and Press Secretary, Valencia Grant in meetings with the International Contact Group (ICG) on Venezuela.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Manuel E. Ventura Robles and the European Union’s High Representative, Her Excellency Federica Mogherini invited me in my capacity as Chairman of CARICOM to discuss the political crisis in Venezuela.
The meeting was quite productive. The crux of my presentation was to set out the principles undergirding CARICOM’s enlightened and principled response to the crisis in Venezuela. I also outlined how the four-pronged approach of the Montevideo Mechanism can help us serve as honest brokers in the political stalemate that has been hurting the people of Venezuela and took on great urgency and volatility in January 2019 when the President of the National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself as Interim President.
Mr. Speaker, the fragile state of play in Venezuela remains a matter of deep concern for our region. The standing of our region as a zone of peace is being undermined to the extent that Venezuela has become the orbit of geopolitical tensions and hegemonic interests. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are at loggerheads over how to respond to the crisis in Venezuela.
It bears reiterating that there is a need for a de-escalation of the tensions in Venezuela – a coordinated and extraordinary humanitarian response through the mechanism of the United Nations, dialogue between the contending parties in Venezuela, commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Venezuelan crisis, and outcomes determined by and for the people of Venezuela.
CARICOM, for its part, will remain engaged in this matter and will continue to urge a restoration of law and order, democracy, respect for the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and non-interference in the affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
CARICOM maintains its interest in working with all entities including the United Nations to restore normalcy in the lives of the suffering people of Venezuela. The resolution of the impasse requires significant give and take by contending parties and careful determination of what is in the best interest of the people of Venezuela.