Programme Manager from the Caribbean Criminal Assets Recovery Programme, British High Commission, Eamon Kearney (left) in discussion with Barbados Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite at the start of Wednesday’s workshop on Countering Terrorism and its Financing. (A. Miller/BGIS)
By Julia Rawlins-Bentham
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- The Caribbean is no longer isolated from international criminal networks, including the threat of terrorism, and Barbados attorney general, Adriel Brathwaite, has made it clear that the time has come for countries in the region to put the necessary legislative framework in place and conduct the relevant training to counter these acts.
He made these comments as he addressed a specialised national workshop on countering terrorism and its financing in Bridgetown on Wednesday, hosted by the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism of the Organization of American States, and the government of Barbados.
“We think, terrorism, what has that to do with the Caribbean? … Terrorism is something that you read about in other parts of the world. The reality, though, is that the Caribbean is no longer isolated from the rest of the world. Who would have thought that we have seen some individuals from Bulgaria being charged here recently in a scam to do with our ATM machines?” Brathwaite pointed out.
He warned that a failure to put the necessary systems in place and to conduct the required training would open the doors to the country being exploited.
As he addressed the gathering, Brathwaite, who is also minister of home affairs, stressed that his ministry had a responsibility to ensure that the necessary legislative framework was in place to address issues such as terrorism, and to ensure that all personnel were trained to identify when the island’s facilities, whether corporate trust or banking, were being used for terrorist financing.
“I just want to highlight that it has my overwhelming support because we can provide as much legislation in the world, but if you do not have the requisite training that legislation is of no use to you,” he told participants, who included police and immigration officers, judges and personnel from the Central Bank of Barbados.
Brathwaite also gave the commitment that his ministry would do all within its power to ensure that persons who benefited from the illegal proceeds of crime knew that they would have their assets sought after.
“I want to stop talking about it and start some serious action,” he stated.
He added that he had seen two case studies which outlined how the Financial Intelligence Unit could be used as a catalyst to initiate investigations into criminal networks, and noted that it opened the door to see how Barbados’ resources could be better utilised to attack the proceeds of crime.
Brathwaite cautioned participants that just as they were training, so too were the terrorists and money launderers.
“They have their resources, they have the best brains possible, and they sit down and they plan just like you on how they can get around our laws, how they can get through our system. So, we therefore have to work harder because we have less,” he stated.
During the two-day workshop, participants were due to examine a range of topics, including the regional legal framework against terrorism and its financing, the universal legal framework against terrorism and its financing and confiscation and asset sharing.