(LOOP NEWS CARIBBEAN) – The illicit trafficking of guns in the Caribbean continues to serve as a reminder for collaboration to enhance maritime domain awareness in the Caribbean Basin.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell stated this in his capacity as Chairman of the CARICOM Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) during the Ninth Caribbean-United States Security Cooperation High-Level Dialogue.
Mitchell identified closer collaboration, particularly in security matters, as one of the critical lessons to be gleaned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said in light of traditional and emerging threats to regional security, the region must envision new ways in which to collaborate.
Grenada’s prime minister identified firearms trafficking as one of the security challenges facing the region. He noted too, the linkage between firearms trafficking and illicit drug trafficking as well as human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
The Grenadian leader and CONSLE Chair said:
“The maritime domain has become an even more critical conduit to facilitating illicit trafficking. In this regard, it is important for us as partners to increase our cooperation and collaboration to enhance maritime domain awareness in the Caribbean Basin.
Protecting the maritime domain is critical since it provides us with our income, our food, our leisure.”
The Prime Minister acknowledged that some strides have been made with the issue.
He said: “I am pleased to report that we continue to be proactive and a number of activities have taken place in the region to address firearms trafficking, including capacity building in marking, stockpiling, tracing, double casting and ballistics and case management among other areas.
Nationally, some countries are reviewing their firearms laws to ensure that those who run afoul will face appropriate punishment.”
On the matter of cybercrime and cybersecurity, Mitchell said the pandemic has highlighted the need for regional countries to boost their ICT capacity as they seek to effectively address these threats.
The prime minister said: “There is an urgent need, not only for the physical infrastructure to allow for digitisation, but also to enact the necessary legislation to protect such infrastructure.
I am happy to report that at the regional level, a number of activities are being undertaken to help member states improve legislative frameworks, build capacity at the judicial level, sensitise the executive branch and increase capacity as it relates to cyber intelligence.”
Another critical point raised by the Prime Minister was the need to place a representative from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in the Southern Caribbean, to work hand in hand with national and regional authorities.