The Minister of National Security, the Hon. Tommy Turnquest, together with the Attorney General, Senator the Hon. Michael Barnett, will participate in a Ministerial Conference on Security, Drug Trafficking, Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism as Challenges to Development in the Caribbean, organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) and the Government of the Dominican Republic. The Conference will take place in the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 17-20 February 2009.
Senior officials, high-level experts and representatives from civil society and regional organizations including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), will also participate in the Conference.
In June 2008, the UNODC signalled that it would engage Caribbean Governments in an initiative to formulate an Action Plan, with the objective of generating resources for the development of programmes and projects to assist governments in combating escalating crime and violence in the region. The UNDOC indicated that this new initiative might also assist in the re-opening of the UNDOC Regional Office in Barbados, which had been closed in part due to high operational costs.
The UNDOC’s undertaking to assist Caribbean governments and the convening of the Ministerial Conference follows the release in March 2007 of a Joint Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, together with the Latin American and the Caribbean Region of the World Bank, entitled “Crime, Violence, and Development: Trends, Costs and Policy Options in the Caribbean”.
The Report focuses on issues including conventional crime, organized crime, risk factors for crime and violence, the socio-economic cost of crime and the public policy of crime and violence prevention in the Caribbean region.
Using case studies from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles, the Dominican Republic/Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the Report examines critical issues including youth violence, criminal deportations, drug trafficking, the contribution of the criminal justice system to the control of crime, and violence and guns and crime. The findings of the Joint Report will underpin the Conference’s discussions and decisions.
The overall objective of the Conference is to develop a regional strategy (an Action Plan) that would strengthen the response of Caribbean Governments, including The Bahamas, to the many very serious challenges drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, security and terrorism present, or could present, to development in the Caribbean region.
The Conference will be convened in two parts. In the first part, to take place 17-18 February 2009, Senior Officials/Experts from Caribbean countries will review the agenda of the Ministers’ Meeting. In addition to discussing matters on the Conference’s agenda, the Officials/Experts will also complete drafts of the two documents the Ministers will consider and adopt, a Political Declaration and an Action Plan.
In reviewing the threats and challenges posed by illicit drugs, transnational organized crime and related matters, the Ministerial part of the Conference, to be held 19-20 February 2009, will discuss issues including Law and Enforcement and Organized Crime, the Legal Framework, Drug Demand Reduction, and National Strategies for Countering Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime.
Speaking on The Bahamas decision to participate in the Conference, Minister Turnquest said that. “In light of current crime trends in the Caribbean region, the issues the Ministerial Conference will take up are those with which a majority of CARICOM governments, including The Bahamas, are tackling, and have been tackling for several years now”.
Minister Turnquest is of the view that it is critical for The Bahamas to have an input in the Action Plan the Conference is to develop for the region, to ensure that the country’s concerns are taken fully into account. He pointed to the recent significant seizures of cocaine on board two Haitian sloops as an indication of the continued strident nature of the illicit drug transit traffic. The Minister took the opportunity to commend the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force for the exemplary work they continue to do in the area of drug control.
The Minister said that to counter crime and criminality, including transnational organized crime, requires continued decisive action by The Bahamas, both on its own and in cooperation with regional and international partners. He commended the UNDOC on its initiatives, and said that he and the Attorney General looked forward to working together with their colleagues from around the region at the Ministerial Conference to adopt a Plan of Action that would get things done.
The Minister and Attorney General will be accompanied at the Ministerial Conference by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security, A. Missouri Sherman-Peter, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Bernard Turner and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime and Intelligence, Raymond Gibson.