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Warner’s National Security challenge
No doubt, an abundance of ideas, recommendations and proposals related to security and crime must have swamped the Honourable Jack Warner’s ears since his ascension to the powerful post of Minister of National Security. Certainly, this is one of the key ministries that can make or break a government. Public confidence is heightened and supportive of a line minister when they can participate and co-operate with him in the holistic fight against crime. This, of course, requires confidence building measures on both sides.
As the line minister, it is very prudent and urgent for Minister Warner to hold consultations with several key stakeholders and the citizenry. This horrific crime situation necessitate compelling and urgent action. It is important to note, however, that these crime and security challenges are not new, and are encapsulated within the broader context of transnational organised crimes (TOC).
Such transnational offending crimes which continue to wreak havoc on our democratic society, due process and the rule of law, subtly manoeuvres itself into our financial institutions, causing havoc and international concern with respect to illegal drugs, guns, money laundering and human trafficking, migrant smuggling and cyber crimes.
The adverse impact of daily killings and shootouts continue to affect our familial and societal structure, as well as our medical and social institutions. With a murder toll of close to 250, critical and concerted action must be taken to stem the flow of illegal guns—those already in the system and those coming through our porous borders on a daily basis.
Need for clearly defined strategies
It is against this background of border security challenges that the Honourable Minister Warner may have to devise an effective national security strategy. This strategy must be enhanced with properly collated and reliable intelligence. Furthermore, there must be an understanding of the global nature of organised crime, and the effects of globalisation and widespread advanced communications that have rendered some states unable to maintain a high level of authority.
In addition, with advances in technology numerous avenues have been devised to facilitate illegal activities and frustrate the authorities. Therefore, the challenge of law enforcement is to keep abreast of the increasing sophistication of transnational criminal organisations. Criminal organisations are emerging at a higher rate technologically and financially than our police agencies.
In this context, effective local, regional and global police co-operation may very well assist in the containment and detection of transnational organised crime.
Advice and advisers
Minister Warner must have realised by now that perhaps similar advice may have been given to previous administrations, without much transforming effect on public confidence and security. It cannot be that with all the security and intelligence agencies in this country of 1.3 million people, that we do not have the surveillance capacity, intelligence information, financial mechanisms and prosecutorial skills to deal with the menace of organised crime.
With all the police stations, coast guard units and customs posts across the country, what is the problem? Something must be radically wrong with our political will, law enforcement and banking institutions, as white collar criminals seem to have an easy passageway in the society and country.
How then are we ever going to make a concerted effort to dismember this growing giant in our land? This area of organised crime ought to be the focus of the minster’s attention. If the Honourable Minister tackles this menace fearlessly and successfully, his stature in the country and with the public will rise.
As such, consideration must be given to a studied approach with regards to the problems we are encountering. What the population needs from the Honourable Minister at this critical juncture and cross-roads of national security decision making is a well-planned security strategy, with monitoring mechanisms on a consistent basis.
This strategy must be able to sustain the implementation of robust law enforcement to the benefit of the public, as well as coping effectively with the three dimensional approach, locally, regionally and internationally regional and international co-operation combating transnational organised crimes require us to be more proactive and co-operative with Colombia and Venezuela on both the security, diplomatic fronts.
It would also necessitate the creation of a Specialised Border Security Task Force. Agreements must be struck with Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana to harmonise procedures for cross border pursuit, rights of arrest, territorial and time limits, and penalties for violation of the agreed procedures. In this way, Trinidad and Tobago stands to benefit from enhanced security and improved diplomatic relations with our Latin American counterparts.
It also prepares the way for heightened economic ties and development. We can sign and ratify all the United Nations Conventions on Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, the Palermo Convention on Transnational Organised Crime, Human Trafficking and Money Laundering, but if we do not implement and co-operate efficiently, it will serve no purpose.
The citizenry must want a better society, and demand it. We must not surrender our conscience and intelligence to any government, for example has shown that they blunder with many crucial decisions that impact on all of us.
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