Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (3rd R) greeting his Grenadian counterpart, Dr Keith Mitchell while Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, Sonja Welch (right) and the RSS Executive Director, Grantley Watson (left) look on. (BGIS Photo)
By Sharon Austin
Bridgetown, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has underscored the importance of the Regional Security System (RSS), describing it as an organisation the Caribbean “cannot afford to be without”.
Stuart expressed this view on Friday while delivering remarks at a one-day RSS Council of Ministers meeting, which was attended by several regional officials, including Prime Ministers Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada, and Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Stressing that there was a need for such an organisation, he said many of the old threats that existed when it was created 33 years ago, had been replaced by new ones.
“Trafficking in illegal narcotics and firearms, money laundering, trafficking in human beings, cyber-crime and the criminal activity associated with these phenomena are now considered to constitute the greatest threats to security in our region…
“The criminally-minded are sharing information rapidly, and have developed a capacity to move relatively freely across borders. Recent instances of theft from ATMs, allegedly perpetrated by visitors from very distant lands, are an example. Our law enforcement and security forces must be prepared to mount a resolute and enduring defence against such threats to our collective safety, stability, way of life and well-being. Our region cannot allow crime, violence and the violation of our porous borders by drug traffickers to prevail and to win today,” he insisted.
According to Stuart, to effectively counter these threats, the region must have personnel in various border control and law enforcement agencies sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled in the principles of the required measures. He added that they must be equipped and enthused to carry out the necessary tasks and he identified training as a key priority.
He pointed out that national security was an inescapable responsibility of the state and stressed that the establishment and maintenance of a peaceful, safe, secure and stable environment was the primary security objective of all member states.
“Were we unable at the national and sub-regional levels to attain this objective, the result would be unsafe, insecure and destabilised environments for our people and such environments would consequently, become unattractive and unwelcoming to visitors and investors from other lands. So we cannot afford to fail in our efforts to keep our island states safe, secure, stable and peaceful,” he contended.
Stuart thanked the international partners, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and the European Union for providing valuable support and financial assistance to the RSS over the years.