Wednesday, 19 March 2014

AG: Gov’ts must continue to financially support regional entities

BARBADOS’ Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, is adamant that regional Governments must do their part financially to safeguard the safety and security of their respective citizenry.

His comments came following the opening of the Meeting of Council of Ministers of the Regional Security System (RSS) at the Barbados Hilton last Friday morning, during which it was noted that the financial sustainability of the seven-Member State defence and security agency, is paramount.

The Attorney General explained to the media that institutions like the RSS are crucial to our way of life and maintaining the peace and security of this region. He explained that very difficult economic times have resulted in regional institutions facing a challenge in terms of the payment of dues by Member States, but he contended that countries have to find some way within their national budgets to ensure that they can continue to support such entities. He made the point as he noted that the RSS was not the only agency affected, but also entities like the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

“I am having a conference call today [Friday] at 2 p.m. to discuss IMPACS where salaries for officers at IMPACS have not been paid, I think for the month of February, because they have been severely challenged,” he surmised.

The AG added, “The work of the RSS cannot be underestimated, the work of IMPACS cannot be underestimated. We tend to take our way of life for granted. The fact that as Attorney General I can go to Oistins and sit down tonight and have a glass of water, or more honestly a cold beer, and don’t need a security officer etc. is not by accident.”

The Minister maintained that such luxuries are enjoyed by all citizens because of the hard work and money spent to facilitate them, and it is for that reason, he maintained that the longevity of aforementioned institutions is important.

“…That’s why the fact that dues are outstanding, and challenging the same institutions to do what they are supposed to do, is an issue. As a region, we just can’t rely on the United States and Canada and the United Kingdom and the European Union etc. to fund these programmes; at some point in time they are going to say, we need you to show that you are committed to the level that you are asking us to commit and I think that time has definitely come, if it hasn’t gone,” said Brathwaite.

Equally, the Attorney General pointed out that just as financial support is vital, so too are countries’ support of initiatives that also speak to maintaining security of the region. He was at the time referring to the Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which is not being fully utilised by Member States.

“We just need to have buy-in to it across the region for them to understand the importance of it because indications are that firearms are being moved from country to country, and that would enable us to track where firearms have been used in offences in various countries. But the reality is that with new technology, it is easier for people to communicate… so we have to look at crime not just parochially, but certainly also regionally and internationally, which is why having the additional tools, stuff like monitoring and tracking, not only individuals but crime, so that you can see what is happening across the region, is important,” he added. (JRT)

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