By Racquel Porter:
BARBADOS Chief Immigration Officer Wayne Marshall is calling for more collaboration among Caribbean countries to strengthen border security in the region.
He was addressing Tuesday’s opening ceremony of the 19th annual staging of the Caricom Chiefs of Immigration and Comptrollers of Customs Conference (CICC19) at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.
Marshall, who professed to be a profound believer in team work, said Caribbean countries should build strategic partnerships across agencies and all borders.
“This networking is done by criminals and evildoers, so why not us?” Marshall reasoned.
“Border security is a common concern, especially for us here today. We must work together on common border security challenges. It not only facilitates stability in our region, but it leads to… safe and secure movement of people, as well as services.
“Together we must tackle illegal, cross-border activities. We must fight organised crime — including corruption and illegal migration, weapons, drugs smuggling, and trafficking in human beings to name a few,” Marshall said.
Marshall, while noting that it is the stakeholders’ moral duty to get rid of cross-border crimes, said they can only succeed if they work together.
The 19th annual staging of CICC19, which ended yesterday, was hosted by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency and the Jamaica Customs Agency.
“Only by working together we can succeed. We need to strengthen interagency collaboration for good border management, where immigration, customs, police, and other authorities must work together. We also need the national cooperation with neighbouring countries,” Marshall said. “This can include practical measures, exchange of information and experiences on border control issues, training security officials, and conducting joint operations wherever possible,” Marshall said, adding that joint efforts will improve regional cooperation.
Approximately 60 participants from various Caricom territories, including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, The Bahamas, Belize, Montserrat, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Anguilla, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Turks and Caicos, participated in the three-day conference.
The conference is designed to facilitate discussions among security officials in relation to trends and the exchange of best practices in order to enhance the regional security agenda.
State minister in the Ministry of National Security Rudyard Spencer, who agreed with Marshall, said there is a demand for partnerships.
“In the face of porous borders, shifting criminals and terror stress, it is indeed true that no man is an island and no man stands alone. While the dynamic security environment is not unique to the Caribbean, what is unique is our physical environment and borders. What is clear is that things cannot be business as usual in terms of our approach,” Spencer noted.
The state minister said, too, that in the age of terrorism, cybercrime and organised criminal networks, Caricom continues to tackle the increase in crime successfully.
Despite the progress made, Spencer said the regional priorities are now illegal drug trade, trafficking of firearms, identity theft, data breaches, and the increase in human trafficking and smuggling.
Spencer also commended the security forces who continue to protect Jamaica’s borders.