Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 3, 2016 (SKNIS): Stakeholder groups from the public and private sector and civil society have commended the Governments of the Member States of the Regional Security System (RSS) at the National Consultation on the Economy on September 28 for supporting the regional security body’s presence in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis to partner with the local security forces in assisting with safety and security.

Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Shawn Richards; Premier of Nevis, Honourable Vance Amory and Attorney General, Honourable Vincent Byron Jr.; along with the Commissioner of Police, Ian Queeley and Commander of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF), Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Wallace, met with representatives from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Hotel and Tourism Association, the Evangelical Association, the Contractors’ Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants on September 20.

“We are taking a stand on behalf of the country and I feel assured that we’ll have the full backing of every right thinking person in the country,” he said, dismissing criticisms in some corners that the move is excessive. Prime Minister Harris said that the presence of the RSS has nothing to do with a loss of confidence in the local security forces.

Premier of Nevis, the Honourable Vance Amory supported the presence of the RSS in the Federation.

“What that is doing for us is responding to the cries of the people. I have had to deal with that in Nevis,” he stated, repeating the calls by the public to seek assistance from Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom or the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the United States. “Poor security is a threat to prosperity and that is something that we cannot continue to allow to happen,” Premier Amory said.

Speaking at the National Consultation on the Economy, Prime Minister Harris, who is Minister of National Security, said to rapturous applause that he wants “to commend the Regional Security System for the support it has provided to our local security at this time to ensure that we take another bold and courageous step to stamp out antisocial behaviour and violent crime in particular in our country.”

“My own personal view, if it is for one day their presence stops one life from being lost, it is a day that is worth it because we cannot put a price on people’s life and we cannot put a price on the cumulative effect of the homicidal rate that reached to crisis proportion way back in 2011…we have to ensure that these bad times are gone, never to be returned,” he said.

The National Security Minister said that so far he has received reports from Commissioner of Police, Ian Queeley, “that their support has led to significant inroads in the battle for our streets, our byways, our hills” while thanking the RSS, Commissioner Queeley, the Commander of the Defence Force, Colonel Wallace, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Osmond Petty, who travelled to Barbados to negotiate the terms of the arrangement for the RSS to come.

“They have come not because of any loss of confidence; they have come because we are determined that all resources, all resources must come now, not later; they must come now to stamp out the wave of violent activity in the country,” he emphasized.

He said that crime can seriously affect investor confidence in the country and that the RSS must come now before Park Hyatt, Koi Resorts and Radisson open their doors.

“They must come now because the future is at stake unless we act now. That is why we have invited them here and we hope that they will continue to get the good support of all law-abiding citizens,” he said. “At this time in our country’s development, we have to draw a line in the sand. You are either on the side of the law and all that is required of servants of the law and order and encouragement to civic action or you want to partner with the criminals.

The prime minister thanked all the stakeholder groups including the Chamber of Industry and Commerce; the Hotel and Tourism Association; those who represented the Accountants in this country and the Evangelical Association who came and gave support to the Government in the mission of the RSS.

The mission statement of the RSS is “To ensure the stability and well-being of Member States through mutual cooperation in order to maximize regional security in preserving the social and economic development of our people.”

The Member States of the RSS are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. St. Kitts and Nevis became a signatory in February 1984. The Treaty establishing the RSS was signed at St. George’s, Grenada on 5th March, 1996.