Sunday, February 18, 2018

Kamla: US deportees linked to T&T crime surge

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar pointed to the relationship between criminal deportees and increased crime and violence in Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the Caribbean in yesterday’s discussions with United States Vice-President Joe Biden.

The Prime Minister noted that one of the major problems being experienced was that many of the criminal deportees would have left the region prior to adulthood and do not have ties to the countries to which they have been deported. 

In this context, Persad-Bissessar suggested to the US vice-president that increased focus should be placed on improved information and intelligence-sharing with respect to criminal deportees, in particular, access to complete dossiers on medical and criminal history, as well as consideration of financial and technical assistance to establish reintegration programmes within Caricom member states. 

The Prime Minister, who is the Caricom head with responsibility for security, pointed out to Biden that the majority of criminal deportees had few support networks or connections in their home country, making them vulnerable to criminal careers and threatening citizen peace and security in the region.

Persad-Bissessar pointed out that undertakings given by the US in the MOU (memorandum of understanding) of 2000 had not produced all of the expected results as it failed to ensure forwarding of complete criminal records of these persons deported from the Uni­ted States.

In her opening remarks to the multilateral talks at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, between Biden and Caricom leaders, Persad-Bissessar also addressed the issue of the CBSI (Caribbean Basin Security Initiative).

 The PM highlighted the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty and CBSI programmes to help stem the flow of small arms into and through the Caribbean. She noted the adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the United Nations on April 13, 2013 that establishes common international standards for the regulation of international trade in conventional arms.

 “The harsh statistic is that 70 per cent of homicides in our region are committed with illegal guns, which makes this treaty of partic­ular significance,” she said.

Noting that the treaty would be open for signatures and ratification next week, June 2, at the UN General Assembly, and will enter into force after it has been ratified by 50 states, the Prime Minister urged the US to support the treaty. 

She also called on the US to use its influence to promote the signing, ratification and implementation of the treaty, as well as provide technical and other resources to assist Caricom member states in the implementation of the treaty.