Photo: From left to right, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Osmond Petty; Prime Minister Harris and Maj. Gen. Saunders
PM: New national security adviser ‘fulfillment of requirement of law, constitution’
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The prime minister and minister of national security, the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, said that the recruitment of a national security advisor in the person of retired Maj. Gen. Stewart Saunders of Jamaica is in fulfillment of the requirement of law and the constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday, the minister of national security placed on record that by appointing a national security adviser his government is “satisfying a legal obligation to uphold the law.” He pointed out the importance of the post, noting that the “national security adviser is a public officer and the chief professional adviser on national security matters in the Office of the Prime Minister, and is appointed in accordance with Section 79 of the constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The national security officer therefore, is a very important and auspicious post in the national security structure of the federation,” Harris said. “Clearly, what has been outlined and prescribed by law, this post is distinct from the role of the commissioner of police, so he is not coming to be that; the commander of our defence force, and it is distinct from the role of the permanent secretary, yet this is one of the most senior [people] in the security system. While close collaboration is required, the office provides added value to the functioning of the security system in our country. The office holder obviously should bring his expert knowledge and experience to bear on policy formulation and implementation.”
Harris noted that the vacancy was advertised from Nov. 29, 2016, to Jan. 16, 2017, in major newspapers, over radio stations, in print and electronic media, and online, particularly through SKNVIBES. He noted that three people applied for the post and “functioned too low on the hierarchical structure of their organization in which they last worked or were presently working to bring much in terms of leadership and experience,” Harris said.
He further added that the government made a decision to reach out further in the region for support and assistance and “consulted with the Regional Security System (RSS) and the CARICOM Impacts, as well as the federation’s missions overseas and solicited their assistance in encouraging suitably experienced and qualified individuals to apply,” noting that the second batch of applications produced two new people with very strong recommendations.
Harris said that Saunders brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as it relates to national security.
“The major will bring to St. Kitts and Nevis [more than] 40 years of distinguished public service dealing with crime at the operational, strategic and policy levels,” Harris said. “This is a man then, who has been there, has done that and has a story to tell to the world/ Secondly, [he has] the knowledge and experience in dealing with crime at the national, regional and international levels; [he has] knowledge and experience in the development of critical legislation and policies to improve anti-crime efforts, as well as firsthand experience and knowledge of the transformation process of military and law enforcement organizations to enhance public safety.”
The prime minister noted Saunders’ commitment to work with the federation and has emphasized that St. Kitts and Nevis needs a holistic approach to crime fighting.
“He has said to the interview panel drawing on his experience he would not want St. Kitts and Nevis to make some of the mistakes that Jamaica did,” Harris said. “There must be a humanistic approach. There is a need to change the mindset of children in the formative age group – primary schools must be targeted for action. They must be taught that some of [people] who they perceive as mentors (e.g. gang members) are not appropriate mentorship.
“There is need to bring back the belief system in society, away from radicalism and violence. At-risk youths are the ones [who] need to be targeted starting right now. There must be appropriate legislation, proper rehabilitation processes, as well as anti-corruption measures.”