NASSAU, Bahamas — The Government of The Bahamas remains fully committed to participating in crime-fighting cooperative initiatives designed to enhance national and regional security, Minister of National Security the Hon. Tommy Turnquest told regional law enforcement officials Wednesday.
Addressing the opening session of the 25th Tradewinds Conference, Mr. Turnquest said Operation Tradewinds has not only enhanced the collective capacity of regional forces to counter transnational and security threats both at the national and regional levels, but has also facilitated the standardization of the region’s approach to the security issues it faces such as illicit gun and drug trafficking, illegal human smuggling and other transnational crimes.
The National Security Minister said there are a number of factors that contribute to transnational crimes within small-island states in the region. Two of those, he noted, are the region’s location between Central and South America which is the source of “significant illicit transnational activities”, and its location between North America and Europe which are the targets of much of those illicit activities.
Mr. Turnquest added that other contributors to ongoing transnational crimes include the fact that regional countries are, for the most part, island and archipelagic states that all have porous sea and land borders, and have limited financial and human resources and assets to counter transnational crime.
It is therefore necessary that regional countries continue to cooperate in initiatives such as Operation Tradewinds and other conferences at the regional and hemispheric levels that deal with those threats as the relate to transnational crime and terrorism, he noted.
“Drugs and arms trafficking, illegal immigration, migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons and vulnerability to international terrorism, head a disturbing list of the challenges facing regional countries with regards to crime and criminality,” Mr. Turnquest said.
“The Bahamas can attest to this. For decades now it has been contending with the illicit transit of drugs and significant illegal immigration. These two illicit activities have created a platform for the other illegal activity we are experiencing, particularly the illicit trafficking in small arms,” Mr. Turnquest added.
Mr. Turnquest said the Government of The Bahamas has undertaken a number of “decisive and ongoing initiatives” to counter transnational crime by “systematically making its law enforcement presence felt throughout the archipelago.”
He told delegates from 16 countries participating in Tradewinds 2009 that the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Base at Inagua has been strengthened to facilitate coverage of the Southern Bahamas, while a new Base has been established at Grand Bahama to cover the Northern Bahamas.
“At great cost to our national accounts, we are progressing with the acquisition of additional craft for our Defence Force and will soon take delivery of two new aircraft for transport and surveillance,” Mr. Turnquest said.
“Our assets base has also been further strengthened by the donation of four Interceptor Vessels donated under the Enduring Friendship Programme, for which we express our sincere appreciation to the United States of America.”
Mr. Turnquest said the focus of Tradewinds 2009 – maritime interdiction – is “critical and timely” and is in line with the Government of The Bahamas’ determination that “every effort should be made to prevent a significant upsurge in drug trafficking in the Caribbean.”
Minister of National Security the Hon. Tommy Turnquest addresses delegates attending Tradewinds 2009 which opened Wednesday, March 4, 2009 in New Providence at the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino. Delegates from 16 countries are attending the event. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)
Pictured are delegates from the 16 countries participating in the Tradewinds 2009 Conference on Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Participating countries include Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States of America and host country The Bahamas. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)