Secretary General of CARICOM and CARIFORUM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (left), speaking with Ambassador Daniela Tramacere, Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM,
during the launch of the 10th EDF CARIFORUM Crime and Security Cooperation Programme, held yesterday at RSS Headquarters in Christ Church.

United effort needed to fight crime

Now more than ever, CARICOM countries need to remain united in their efforts to fight crime in all its dimensions.

Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and CARIFORUM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, shared the above sentiments as he delivered remarks at the launch of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) CARIFORUM Crime and Security Cooperation Programme, held yesterday at the Regional Security System (RSS) Headquarters in Christ Church.

“Our region cannot afford complacency in the face of ever evolving threats to our safety and security. Beyond the toll taken on people and society, crime and violence have become very costly to the region’s economy, and have an adverse impact on foreign investment and tourism,” Ambassador LaRocque remarked.

Acknowledging that the Caribbean is a critical and central route between drug producers and consumers and that crime and violence remain a pressing problem, the Secretary General stressed that citizen security must remain a priority for the Community.

“One of the principal issues that we face in the area of crime and security is the trade in, and use of illicit drugs. The Caribbean region as a whole continues to be ravaged by this scourge, as drug traffickers find creative and ingenious ways to conduct their 'business', creating challenges for law enforcement in the region,” he pointed out.

“A main driving force for the high rates of crime and violence in the region is drug trafficking. This has led to a steady increase in the availability of illegal firearms. The reality is that neither the most trafficked illicit drug - cocaine - nor the firearms, is produced in our countries. Our region is a transit-point for both. However, significant amounts of both remain on our shores, fuelling extreme violence, institutionalised criminal behaviour and increased gang violence,” he lamented.

“This threatens the security of citizens and visitors and has an 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. How do we combat this insidious threat to our stability? The programme that we are launching today focuses on reducing the demand for and dependence on illicit drugs on the one hand, and on crime prevention on the other. The project presents a diverse mix of interventions to buttress the challenges we are facing,” LaRocque explained.

The CARICOM Secretary General then made a call for greater collaboration on the part of institutions charged with responsibility for crime and security in the region, noting that
information sharing will allow for a more accurate perspective on the extent of the regional drug problem, as well as bolster efforts to combat criminal elements in all spheres.

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