PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – nations in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, where they discussed our comprehensive regional partnership to improve citizen security in the Caribbean.
Working together in support of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), the United States and the nations of the Caribbean are combating the drug trade and other transnational crimes that threaten regional security. This partnership fulfills the commitment to deepen regional security cooperation that President Barack Obama made at the 2009 Summit of the Americas.
CBSI is part of an integrated citizen security effort that includes the Merida Initiative in Mexico, the Central America Regional Security Initiative, and the Colombia Strategic Development Initiative.
The United States, CARICOM member nations, and the Dominican Republic are improving citizen safety throughout the Caribbean by working together to:
· Substantially reduce illicit trafficking,
· Increase public safety and security, and
· Promote social justice.
CBSI partner nations have collectively identified priorities for cooperation, including: building a regional information sharing network, improving maritime interdiction coordination, developing regional training capacity, implementing prisons/corrections reforms, improving asset sustainment and maintenance practices, and addressing illicit firearms trafficking.
Effective solutions to these challenges will require a sustained commitment from all CBSI partners, as well as the assistance of other international donors.
The United States committed $203 million in funding for the first three years of the initiative. This contribution to CBSI includes assistance in the following areas, all developed through the CBSI cooperative dialogue process:
Maritime and Aerial Security Cooperation: Support regional maritime and aerial coordination by improving radar coverage in strategic locations and sharing radar information. Provide equipment and training that will enable Caribbean governments to carry out maritime and aerial operations to identify and respond to threats, engage in effective end game operations, and sustain those capabilities with reliability and regularity.
Law Enforcement Capacity Building: Enhance law enforcement effectiveness through police professionalization, anti-corruption training, community-based policing, and sharing regional ballistics and fingerprint information.
Border/Port Security and Firearms Interdiction: Provide technical support, technology upgrades, and training on techniques for intercepting smuggled narcotics, weapons, bulk cash, and other contraband at commercial airports and seaports, to include the enhancement of strategic trade controls through training to strengthen border security capabilities.
Youth Development/Crime Prevention: Improve academic opportunities and prepare at-risk youth for entry into the workforce. Develop capacity to build sustainable youth development systems, providing professional development and life skills, strengthening second-chance institutions, and supporting entrepreneurship opportunities.
A solid partnership, borne of our annual CBSI Dialogue and effective cooperation with Caribbean partners in the field, has begun to produce results. The December 2012 meeting in Trinidad and Tobago of CBSI’s steering body reinforced regional commitment to information sharing and deployment of national resources, linchpins to the Initiative’s long term success.
In addition, we can point to the following CBSI accomplishments over the last year as indicators of tangible results:
· CBSI support contributed to several contraband interdictions, resulting in high levels of seizures and eradication efforts over the last few months in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and the Eastern Caribbean. Homicides are also down as a result of successful CBSI-supported counter trafficking efforts and combating other crimes in the region. St. Kitts and Nevis, which once had one of the highest per capita rates of homicides in the hemisphere, now boasts a reduction in homicides by more than 50 per cent from 2011 to 2012 and a 30 per cent reduction for the first quarter of 2013 alone.
· CBSI assistance helped the region adopt new legislation, criminal codes, and evidence-gathering guidelines, so prosecutors can more effectively manage high caseloads. In addition, we worked together to found the first regional organization for prosecutors, which will promote information sharing and prosecutorial standards in 16 countries. In St. Lucia, a model “Prosecution Witness Charter” teaches regional police and prosecutors about witnesses’ rights and protections. We are also building capacity among investigators and prosecutors to target criminal asset forfeiture and financial crimes.
· With the assistance of CBSI and CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), intelligence sharing has contributed to several arrests and prosecutions across the region, as well as significant seizures of drugs and weapons.
· CBSI has supported anti-corruption training for over 1,300 anti-corruption investigators and other law enforcement officials, resulting in the arrests and prosecutions of police officers suspected of corruption, money laundering, and other financial crimes. In Jamaica alone, there has been a 24 % increase in prosecutions for corruption since 2010, successfully removing corrupt law enforcement and other government officials. CBSI assistance has also resulted in 100 arrests and the seizure of over 120 vehicles, hundreds of computers and cell phones, and tens of millions of dollars from lotto scam operations.
· CBSI has also focused on the empowerment of the region’s young people. To date, more than 23,000 young people have participated in CBSI programs in education and workforce development across the Caribbean, diverting them from crime, gangs and prisons.