Crime, violence taking heavy toll on society, says CARICOM secretary general
PORT-AU-PRINCE – Secretary general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin LaRocque, called on CARICOM to counteract the threat of crime and violence, when he addressed the opening of the 29th inter-sessional meeting of heads of government on Monday in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“As we pool our resources and strategise to combat the damaging effects of climate change, we need to do so as well to counteract another threat to our societies… I refer to the effects of crime and violence,” he said.
LaRocque pointed to the toll on societies through “loss of lives”, “injuries” and the “psychological trauma” and observed that the greatest impact was on families.
“It was within that circle the battle against the scourge must begin,” he said.
At the regional level, the secretary-general suggested revisiting the CARICOM crime and security strategy (CCSS) signed five years ago in Haiti to identify areas for improvement in order to make it more effective.
He pointed also to a number of legal instruments that he said were significant additions to the Community’s armoury against trans-border crime. In this context, he singled out the CARICOM arrest warrant treaty and the agreement on the return or sharing of recovered assets, stating that he looked forward to the “treaty being ratified as soon as possible” and to the completion of the negotiations for the agreement.
The CARICOM arrest warrant treaty simplifies the procedure of returning fugitives to the country where charges have been laid, while the agreement on the return or sharing of recovered assets provides a framework for the return or sharing of criminal assets that have been moved to another jurisdiction.
The secretary-general noted that the region has been working on a counter-terrorism strategy and he drew attention to the very nature of the Community’s interconnection and its vulnerability, as a result.
“…an act of terrorism or violent extremism in one member state will resonate and have repercussions through our region,” he said.
The secretary-general reminded heads of government that the issue of crime and violence was regional problem demanding a regional solution and that it required the full cooperation of all the national and regional agencies charged with the responsibility for addressing crime and security.
In 2007, the Caribbean Community made security its fourth pillar of regional integration arrangements, as they sought to strengthen the security architecture and their efforts in harmonising the fight against crime.
The Ministerial Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) has oversight of the region’s security architecture while, operationally, the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) is the coordinating institution.