A recently established regional Crime Gun Intelligence Unit (CGIU) headquartered in T&T will be among the beneficiaries of an investment of more than US$100 million by the Government of the United States that will be used to crack down on weapons trafficking, help alleviate Haiti’s humanitarian crisis and support climate change initiatives.
US Vice President Kamala Harris announced the investment yesterday as she embarked on an official trip to the Bahamas for a meeting of Caribbean and US leaders hosted jointly with Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is among the regional leaders taking part in the meeting.
The CGIU facilitates collaboration and cooperation among regional and international law enforcement agencies, including the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security; U.S. agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Industry and Security); and INTERPOL.
It will address critical firearms investigation training needs in the Caribbean to solve gun-related crime cases, deterring gun crimes in the region and bringing criminals to justice. The CGIU will provide training on real-time collection, management, and analysis of crime gun intelligence and encourage information sharing with international law enforcement partners.
The US Justice Department will appoint a coordinator to oversee cases involving illegal weapons smuggling in the Caribbean where there has been a rise in violent crimes.
The US, with help from the UK, also will establish a programme in the eastern Caribbean to mentor local judges and prosecutors in a bid to improve prosecutions of gun-related crimes as island nations struggle with a backlog of cases.
The State Department also expects to work with Haiti’s National Police, a severely underfunded and understaffed agency struggling to quell a surge in gang violence, to help investigate and prosecute crimes with US ties that involve gangs, weapons smuggling and human trafficking.
That initiative is considered key given that gangs are estimated to control up to 80 per cent of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince as killings and kidnappings soar across the metropolitan area and beyond.
US senior administration officials said the worsening security situation requires an international response, and that the US strongly supports the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti.
In October, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested the immediate deployment of a foreign armed force, but the UN Security Council, along with the US and Canada, have yet to respond. Henry, along with other leaders of Caribbean nations, was expected to attend yesterday’s meeting with Harris.
US senior administration officials said discussion are ongoing, and that any decision about military force would be done in consultation with the U.N. and Haiti’s government.
Harris announced that the US Agency for International Development will invest nearly $54 million in Haiti to help fight a sharp rise in starvation and provide access to potable water and healthcare. Almost half of Haiti’s more than 11 million people are facing acute food insecurity, and 19,000 are in catastrophic famine conditions.
USAID also expects to invest $20 million to help Caribbean businesses that use technologies related to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Another nearly $15 million will be used to boost emergency response and preparedness across the region.
Additional funds will help low-lying island nations whose economies largely depend on tourism prepare and adapt to climate change.