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Caribbean-US Security Dialogue Ends on High Note

The Caribbean-United States High Level Citizen Security Dialogue ended with a better understanding and appreciation of what needs to be done to curb the high incidents of violence in the region, according to Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage.

Dr. Nottage made this statement during his remarks at the end of the one-day dialogue held Thursday, June 4, 2015 at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island.

Prime Minister and Chairman of CARICOM Perry Christie officially opened the meeting, which was also addressed by Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA).

The dialogue was held against the backdrop that threats to citizen security in the Caribbean include transnational criminal organizations involved in drug-related crimes, systemic violence, corruption, weak judicial systems, and increase of youth involved in criminal activities.

In attendance were ministers of national security of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), representatives of observer and donor countries, and multilateral and regional organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States, the United Nations and the World Bank.

At the conclusion of the dialogue, Dr. Nottage acknowledged that it was an “enlightening and productive” day. “Most importantly we showed just how passionately we feel about the perennial security challenges that we face as a region,” he said.

He noted that throughout the sessions, several over-arching themes emerged. First, the region was reminded of the need to have healthier partnerships beyond merely signing agreements and MOUs.

“We must make those critical stakeholders connections and fill the data gaps that now exist. We must be more willing to share information within the region. We must make better use of innovative technology and equipment that our US partners have shared with us including e-trace and NIBIN. We must take advantage of all of the training opportunities that are available to us and put those skill sets to the appropriate areas,” he said.

Dr. Nottage also called on his colleagues to monitor and evaluate their actions and ensure that they are producing the results that are anticipated.

“We now have a clearer understanding of the relationship that exists between drugs and crime. We have a better appreciation for the culture of violence in the Caribbean region that is exasperated by the availability of illegal guns,” he said.

Referring to the sessions on youth-at-risk, he said leaders were reminded of the importance of shifting their focus from the traditional reliance on enforcement and re-directing their efforts to prevention.

“It is clear that a young person growing up in our region today must have an opportunity to get an education, receive job skills, and have some level of positive family and/or community involvement in order to lead a productive life and stay clear of adopting the culture of violence that is pervasive among many of our region’s youth,” Dr. Nottage said.

He concluded that all involved in the fight need each other to solve the problems that confront the region.

“I look forward to the next opportunity we have to sit around the table as regional security heads and discuss successes and positive impacts that [today’s] discussions have produced,” Dr. Nottage said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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