PORT-OF-SPAIN: Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden earlier this week to discuss developmental issues that will benefit America and the Caribbean.
Biden arrived in T& T on Monday night and engaged in bilateral talks with Persad-Bissessar on Tuesday before the two met with CARICOM leaders to discuss regional, trade co-operation and other issues. Biden, accompanied by his wife, Jill, and a delegation of U.S. officials, left the country on Wednesday.
Following the meeting with Biden, Persad-Bissessar said Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are “actively pursuing” the development of a Regional Counter Illicit Trafficking Strategy, which forms part of a comprehensive security initiative that includes CARICOM’s Crime and Security Strategy (CCSS) adopted by regional leaders at their Inter-sessional summit in February.
“The goal of the CCSS, as you recall, is to significantly improve citizen security by creating a safe, just and free Community, while simultaneously improving the economic viability of the region,” said Persad-Bissessar. “It represents (a) historic milestone in our efforts to create a secure region in terms of peace, freedom, democracy and development.”
Persad-Bissessar, who has lead responsibility for security within CARICOM, outlined the progress made in the implementation of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CSBI), including priorities for enhancing security partnerships and national security policies in order to increase the safety of citizens and stimulate economic growth.
“I wish to also highlight the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty and CBSI programs to help stem the flow of small arms into and through the Caribbean and to address the issues of immigration reform and criminal deportation,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said the adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the United Nations last month establishes 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, adding that the treaty would be open for signatures and ratification on June 3 at the UN General Assembly and will enter into force after it has been ratified by 50 States. “We urge the U.S. to support this treaty and use its influence to promote the signing, ratification and implementation of the treaty as well as providing technical and other resources to assist CARICOM member states in the implementation of the treaty.”
Persad-Bissessar said she hoped the U.S. and the Caribbean would place increased emphasis on dealing with the issue of criminal deportees.
“We believe that an 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,” she said.