Remarks given by Caricom Chairman andPrime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham at the Opening Session of the Thirteenth Special Meeting of the Conference held at the Hilton and Conference Centre, on Saturday, April 5, 2008.
Remarks by The Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, Prime Minister of The Bahamas
Port of Spain, Trinidad: It gives me great pleasure as Chair of the Caribbean Community to welcome you all to this very important Special Meeting of the Conference.
Permit me first to thank Prime Minister our host, not only for the excellent arrangements put in place to receive us but for his primary role in causing the Summit to take place.
The Region is challenged on several fronts today. There is the rising cost of living triggered primarily by the high cost of fuel. The instability in global financial markets and the tightening credit situation are negatively impacting the flow of capital and investment in the Region. The weakening global economy has already begun to impact our tourism sectors.
We continue to be challenged by the fallout from uncontrolled economic migration and the illegal traffic in drugs and the associated criminality.
And so, we very rightly are placing great emphasis upon stemming the invidious tide of violence and in joining in the collective struggle to make this Region a truly safe and secure place for our citizens and guests.
In this regard, I note that Security is a primary focus of functional cooperation activity. There has been no better manifestation of this than the legacy of the Tournament which placed this Region in the international limelight just one year ago.
All reports indicate that the “Functional Cooperation” in our security arrangements for that event resulted in tangible benefits in intelligence-sharing of which the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) and a common CARICOM Visa System are two examples.
We are all aware of the major challenges crime and violence pose for our societies and the deleterious and self-reinforcing impact they have on our social and economic development.
Clearly, we must make greater progress in our efforts to reduce the level of crime; most particularly violent crime in our societies.
The fight against crime requires that we identify priorities and develop multi-sectoral strategic responses. It will take us well beyond the business of law enforcement into the care issues of our social development. It will require us to reformulate our social policies to deal with public awareness, educational deficiencies, skills training, unemployment and poverty.
It will also require that we form strategic alliances to deal with issues such as deportation, the illicit firearms and drug trade and the invasive nature of increasing cyber-crime.
I believe the Region made a good start in establishing priorities and evolving modes of cooperation to meet the challenge of security and criminal issues last year in preparation for the hosting of the Tournament. Let us now continue.