Barbados Committed To Fighting Illicit Maritime Trafficking
Regional Security System | Sunday, May 22, 2022
Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Alies Jordan, and EU Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Malgorzata Wasilewska, as they signed the SEACOP MOU. At right is SEACOP’s Project Coordinator, Dominique Bucas, while looking on is Deputy Director of the RSS, Graham Archer and EU Representative, Luc Pazelt. (Photo courtesy T. Barker/BGIS)
Barbados has renewed its commitment to fight illicit maritime trafficking and protect our borders. This comes with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Expertise France/International and Ibero/American Foundation for Administration and Public Policy for the European Union (EU) funded phase five of the Seaport Cooperation Project (SEACOP).
The signing took place Friday at the Main Guard, St. Ann’s Fort, the Garrison. Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Alies Jordan signed on behalf of government, while EU Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean (OECS) and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Malgorzata Wasilewska, signed on behalf of the EU.
In her welcome remarks, Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Alies Jordan, spoke of the importance of the SEACOP programme in building the island’s security infrastructure and achieving Sustainable Development Goal number 17 which speaks to partnership for the strengthening of the goals.
“Barbados is one of those countries that pays very serious and close attention to the execution of sustainable development goals. These goals we recognise, are akin to goals we have for ourselves in terms of the development trajectory of Barbados. So partnerships such as the one that we have here this afternoon between the EU and the government, on this particular programme, SEACOP, are very near and dear to us.”, Ms. Jordan stated.
Staff Advisor to the Chief of Staff, Commander Mark Peterson, thanked Ambassador Wasilewska for the continued interest in helping to promote the safety, security and stability of Barbados and the wider Caribbean region, through international partnerships such as SEACOP.
He maintained that the trafficking of illicit goods, including illegal drugs was mainly through transport by sea and concealment among legitimate cargo within containers or on cargo vessels, fishing boats and yachts.
Commander Peterson pointed out that inadequate port controls and general institutional weaknesses facilitated criminal activity and “enabled the intersection of illicit flows connecting ports in our region to ports in Africa and Europe that promote criminal networking”.
“This flexibility in transatlantic maritime trafficking is a fundamental reason why it is necessary to target trans-regional trafficking routes in a consistent, coherent and simultaneous manner,” the senior military official stated.
Mr. Peterson underscored the importance of partnerships in Barbados’ quest to be a zone of peace. “… We can never have enough friends, partners and allies in this never-ending quest to protect our islands and our reputation for being known as a zone of peace and stability. Certainly, regional and international criminal networks are also forging connections with the focused intent of destabilizing our way of life and destroying our children’s future through drugs, crime and violence.”
He continued: “That is why initiatives like SEACOP, and hopefully more like it, are always to be appreciated. For they send a clear message that those who believe in the triumph of good over evil, will always fight to protect our future.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Wasilewska acknowledged the threats posed to governments and societies by organised crime and drug trafficking. She suggested that governments must be aware of the challenges and “seek innovative solutions so that we can respond quickly and effectively to rapidly evolving trends”.
“In order to be that step ahead, we must join forces that go beyond local and national approaches, build a common agenda to forge effective regional and global responses and work together very closely in implementing them. Building resilience of governance systems to resist organised crime and tackle associated risks is critical to security and development,” she underlined.
The Ambassador said the EU was deeply committed to addressing these issues through close cooperation and coordination with its regional partners evidenced by the assistance and programmes offered to the region.
SEACOP’s Project Coordinator, Dominique Bucas highlighted the need for knowledge and sharing of intelligence with the agencies involved in the illicit drugs fight.
He said the organisation was keen to renew the partnership with Barbados and the signing of the MOU “is a way to register firmly about our common will to fight jointly in illicit trafficking.
SEACOP promotes closer ties between the Barbados Police Service, Customs and the Barbados Coast Guard, by combatting illicit maritime trafficking and associated criminal networks through maritime intelligence sharing.
The programme was implemented in Barbados in 2015.