December 5, 2022 | By Colin O. Jarrett |
The CARICOM Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) has ushered in a new era of cooperation over the past year to confront the emerging trends in criminal activity that represent a common threat to the Region.
In an interview early in October, CONSLE Chair the Hon Dr Horace Chang, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security in Jamaica, said 2022 was a “good year” for CONSLE. Dr Chang chaired the 24th Meeting of CONSLE and other security-related meetings in Trelawny, Jamaica, October 4-7, the first in-person meeting of the Council since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The meetings included a maritime security engagement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which is providing support and technical assistance to develop a Caribbean Maritime Strategy. CONSLE had identified maritime security as one of the areas of common security interest to Member States of CARICOM. The other areas were firearms trafficking, cyber security and trafficking in persons. Under his tenure, a repositioned CONSLE has helped reawaken interest in the security arena given what is occurring in terms of firearms trafficking and cyber security arena which provide another common purpose for co-operation within the regional security apparatus, according to the Jamaica National Security Minister. Providing a broad view of the security concerns during the year, he said, security experts were able to get a “good look at the challenges coming after COVID”.
While COVID may have contributed to exacerbating those challenges, especially petty crimes and acquisitive crimes, the emergence of organized gangs was coming and matured under COVID. Firearms trafficking; a major focus of CONSLE Meeting, and homicides using firearms as the primary instruments, are Caribbean problems and “we need to get on top of that” he said. He drew the connection between the illegal firearms trade and drug trafficking and “coming right behind or almost simultaneously, the expanding cybercrime activity which need co-operation to deal with”.