Crime, violence takes heavy toll on CARICOM society

From the CARICOM Secretariat

Greater Georgetown, Guyana – Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, secretary-general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), addressed the opening of the 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government earlier today in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, by calling on CARICOM the need to counteract the threat of crime and violence.

“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,” saying the greatest impact was on families. “It was within that circle the battle against the scourge must begin.”

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 which 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 said the region has been working on a counter-terrorism strategy. 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 the community that the issue of crime and violence was a 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.