The Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held its Thirteenth Special Meeting in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 4-5 April 2008.
Crime and Security was the focus of the Meeting as agreed at the Nineteenth Inter-Sessional Meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas. The thrust of the Meeting was to ‘fully ventilate the crime and security issues facing the Region and to agree on a Strategy and Plan of Action to stem the rising tide of violent criminality’.
In that regard, Heads of Government received proposals from the Extra-ordinary Joint Meeting of the Standing Committees of Commissioners of Police and of Military Chiefs; the Security Policy and Advisory Committee (SEPAC); and the Council of Ministers with Responsibility for National Security and Laws Enforcement (CONSLE).
Heads of Government agreed that, building on the legacy of the success of the Security Co-operation arrangements put in place for the Cricket World Cup 2007, some of the elements would be upgraded and expanded on a permanent basis. These include the Advanced Passenger Information System, the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre and the Joint Regional Communications Centre.
In addition, they agreed that an Advanced Cargo Information System would be put in place. Discussions would continue with respect to the CARICOM Visa, the CARICOM Travel Card and the Single Domestic Space.
Heads of Government also agreed to put into operation the Action Plan submitted by the Commissioners of Police and Military Chiefs and supported by the SEPAC and CONSLE. The Plan called for short, medium and long term measures to curb the high levels of crime in the Community. These include a strategy to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons along with the establishment of a Regional Integrated Ballistics Information Network (RIBIN) and a Regional Investigative Management System (RIMS).
Heads of Government agreed to sign the CARICOM Maritime and Air Space Security Co-operation Agreement and the CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty by July 2008.
Heads of Government also agreed to the attached Summary Decisions.
Heads of Government also met in Informal Session on Friday, 4 April 2008. They expressed shock at the loss of lives from the tragic plane crash which killed 19 people in Suriname. They offered their deepest sympathy to the Government and People of Suriname and in particular to the relatives of those who lost their lives.
The discussions at the Informal Session centred around the views and perspectives of the Heads of Government with respect to the future of the Community as well as the strengthening of the Governance arrangements of the Community.
Heads of Government reiterated their strong commitment to the integration process and the completion of the arrangements for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. They also agreed that in order to achieve the goal of a Community for All, ways must be found for the greater inclusion of the Associate Members of the Community.
Heads of Government mandated that an appraisal of the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market arrangements in each Member State be conducted with a view to improving its operations.
Heads of Government expressed sincere thanks and appreciation to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago for providing the environment which ensured a fruitful and productive discussion.
With regard to Intelligence and Information Sharing,
Approved the –
(i) conduct of a Region-wide Information campaign against crime to be facilitated by CARICOM Secretariat;
(ii) retooling, retraining, and realignment of national and regional Intelligence Units to assist law enforcement agencies in the fight against Crime;
(iii) encouragement of the utilisation of current facilities such as the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC), the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC) and the CARICOM Watchlist.
With regard to the Procurement of Equipment,
Agreed to –
(i) formulate a strategy for information-sharing in the procurement of assets among military and law enforcement entities in Member States;
(ii) assign a Working Group to –
(a) create an index/inventory of existing resources in the Region;
(b) identify the gaps therein;
(c) recommend equipment to fill the gaps identified.
With regard to the Rapid Deployment of Regional Joint Forces,
Agreed to explore the establishment of a Rapid Deployment Regional Joint Force.
With regard to Illegal Firearms,
Agreed to –
(i) enforce existing regulations that pertain to the use and storage of firearms and ammunition;
(ii) develop a regional database of firearms which is accessible by all regional law enforcement agencies;
(iii) increase the capacity of detection and surveillance methods in relation to the movement of firearms, including the importation, sale, transfer, theft and use of firearms;
(iv) introduce measures to improve systems, procedures, intelligence and training with a view to enhancing border security.
With regard to Drug Trafficking,
Agreed to –
(i) increase the capability and coordination among law enforcement agencies to develop intelligence to conduct operations and to enhance the enforcement of laws;
(ii) maximise the use of available technology in detection, deterrence and seizure of illegal drugs entering and transiting the Region;
(iii) ensure the implementation of systems, procedures, intelligence and training with a view to enhancing border security.
With regard to Murder,
Agreed to –
(i) the development of specially trained, equipped and dedicated teams of homicide investigators;
(ii) the full utilisation of forensics, including DNA and comprehensive crime scene management;
(iii) introduce video in criminal proceeding, inclusive of ID parades;
(iv) timely completion of investigations and improvement of conditions for speedy prosecution of persons charged.
With regard to Crime Prevention,
Agreed to –
(i) promote inter-agency collaboration for crime prevention at the national level;
(ii) establish a Regional Investigative Management Team to support difficult and protracted investigations;
Also agreed to –
(i) implement the CARICOM Justice Protection Programme and work towards the establishment of a Western Hemispheric Justice Protection Programme;
(ii) establish a CARICOM polygraphing capacity with a view to addressing corruption in law enforcement and other agencies;
Further agreed to the enactment of legislation to allow for plea bargaining, the interception of communications and confiscation of assets connected to criminal activity.
With regard to Gang- and Youth- Related Violence,
Agreed to the development of intelligence, monitoring and analytical capacity to deal with gang-and youth-related activities nationally and regionally.
With regard to Kidnapping,
Agreed to –
(i) the establishment and training of counter-kidnapping units (response teams and hostage negotiators);
(ii) increased use of technology and intelligence;
(iii) monitor and target gangs/individuals whose modus operandi includes kidnapping/forcible abduction.
With regard to Deportees,
(i) to pursue negotiation of standardised agreements/MOUs with United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and other states;
(ii) that such Agreements/MOUs should provide, inter alia, for
(a) adequate notification periods;
(b) the settlement of personal affairs prior to deportation of long-term residents;
(c) complete dossiers, including criminal antecedents and medical records where applicable;
(d) appropriate arrangements to reduce the financial burden on deported persons, and on receiving countries;
(e) support for programmes designed to aid the rehabilitation and reintegration of deported persons in the Region;
(iii) to the establishment of a mandatory requirement for the enforcement of monitoring orders where persons are deported in relation to convictions for specified major offences;
(iv) to the development of an information-sharing protocol to guide the transfer and dissemination of information related to deported persons between relevant law enforcement authorities throughout the Region;
(v) to collaboration in the establishment of transition centres in each country to facilitate short-term stays for deported persons without shelter and/or familial support.
With regard to Maritime and Airspace Cooperation and the Sharing of Assets,
Agreed to –
(i) sign the Maritime and Airspace Security Cooperation Agreement by July 2008;
(ii) engage international partners, particularly the United States of America, with respect to the implications for the Region of their anti-narcotics efforts in Central America and the Pacific Coast;
(iii) immediately draft model national legislation for enactment by Member States.