Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General has warned regional leaders of the threats crime and violence posed to a viable and prosperous Community.

Speaking at the 29th Inter-sessional meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government at the Mariott Port-au-Prince Hotel in Haiti, he stated “crime and violence do not provide a pathway to success.”

“The issue requires the full co-operation of all the national and regional agencies charged with the responsibility for addressing crime and security,” the Secretary-General stated. He bemoaned the heavy toll the scourge has put on the nucleus of society, and stressed:

“The tried and tested values of love, hard work, honesty, character building, belief in self and self-respect are key weapons which must also be deployed in our streets, in our towns and in our villages.”

He said the Community had instituted several measures to improve its security architecture including the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy, and the CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty, intended to simplify extradition. In that regard, he said the Treaty needed to be ratify “as soon as possible.”

Ambassador LaRocque urged the completion of negotiations for an Agreement on the Return or Sharing of Recovered Assets, which rationalises the return or sharing of criminal assets across jurisdictions.

He added that the Community is advanced with a Counter Terrorism Strategy with the awareness that one act of terrorism or violent extremism will resonate and have repercussions throughout the Region.

“We cannot allow the threats of climate change, and crime and violence to derail our efforts at building a viable and prosperous Community for all our people, he emphasized noting that substantial progress has been recorded in the regional integration movement, particularly with the Single Market component of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). He acknowledged, however, the need to implement the existing plan for outstanding issues regarding full compliance within a specified time frame.

“We must accelerate the use of the provisions of the CSME to help us build our economic resilience,” he urged, noting the eagerness he recognised for Haiti to complete its internal arrangements to become CSME compliant. The Secretary-General on Friday, last, in Port-au-Prince, participated in a forum on the CSME involving members of Haiti’s private sector, youth and civil society which inspired his belief that their creativity and entrepreneurial spirt will ensure Haiti plays a major role in the CSME.

Given the importance of transportation to the efficacy of the CSME, he said this sector will receive a boost during the Meeting with the New CARICOM Multilateral Air Services Agreement being ready for signature.

Seen as a major development, the Agreement expands the scope for airlines owned by CARICOM nationals to provide air services throughout the Community. It also allows for no restriction on capacity or traffic rights, and is expected to facilitate increased intra-regional travel as well as cost-effective cargo options.