By Kristen MacKlingam –
The governments of Guyana and United States of America (USA) on last Friday signed two agreements to further advance the local and regional security sectors.
The first agreement is the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), Letter of Agreement for 2012-2013, which outlines priorities and provides an additional US$860,000 (G$172 million) in security sector assistance. U.S. Ambassador to Guyana D Brent Hardt stated that the CBSI which was launched in May 2010 is now entering its third year.
“The CBSI is a security partnership that has allowed us to work together to develop a comprehensive regional response to security, law enforcement and social challenges affecting the safety of citizens throughout the Caribbean. At the most recent ministerial-level CBSI dialogue held in Trinidad and Tobago on December 5, 2012, the United States, Guyana and other Caribbean partners marked the extraordinary progress of this partnership. We recommitted ourselves to the priorities of substantially reducing illicit trafficking, advancing public security, and promoting social justice,” he noted.
The ambassador explained that the signing of the 2012-2013 Letter of Agreement brings the total CBSI funding allocated to the U.S.’ partnership with Guyana to US $1.5 million.
Guyana Times International was told that this additional funding is significantly boosting cooperation and coordination between the U.S. and Guyanese authorities, also among Caribbean countries, to address regional security challenges that transcend borders. It was further explained that this new CBSI funding will allow for the deepening of the “law enforcement and professionalisation support” with an emphasis on training and capacity-building for Guyana’s law enforcement personnel.
“It will allow us to continue to enhance the security of Guyana’s ports of entry. New initiatives will offer training for immigration officers in detection of fraudulent documents, and illicit smuggling of goods and persons. It will also allow us to expand efforts to strengthen counternarcotics control capabilities which aim to identify, dismantle, and bring to justice drug trafficking organisations, through close collaboration, training, and intelligence sharing,” the U.S. ambassador posited.
Crime must not pay
This newspaper was also told that some of the funding will go toward boosting Guyana’s capacity to target “money laundering and financial crimes” to ensure that “crime does not pay”.
Ambassador Hardt emphasised that both U.S. and Guyanese authorities will work together to identify and prosecute those profiting from criminal activities through an interagency approach that brings together personnel from the Finance Ministry, the director of public prosecution, law enforcement, and the judiciary.
Further, funds will be used to support the “rule of law and anti-corruption” programmes that will expand Guyana’s capabilities to operate prisons and correctional centres. This will also result in the strengthening of the judicial sector’s ability to address narcotics trafficking, and transnational crime, develop forensic skills for the collection, analysis, and presentation of evidence in court proceedings.
The U.S. ambassador added that all of these programmes will be developed through close collaboration between the two governments, and all share the common goal of enhancing citizen security in Guyana and the broader Caribbean.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett stated that security remains on top of the agenda for both Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean. She said that the two agreements signed, complement what was executed by the Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, in the security sector.
Minister Rodrigues-Birkett noted that “security is everyone’s business” and Guyana continues to work on a national level to ensure that its security issues are dealt with. However, cooperation from other countries is necessary to ensure that all plans and initiatives are successful, she said.