Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 11, 2017 (SKNIS): Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said that the recruitment of a National Security Advisor in the person of (Ret.) Major General Stewart Saunders of Jamaica, is in fulfillment of the requirement of law and the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday, July 11, the minister of national security placed on record that by appointing a national security advisor, his government is “satisfying a legal obligation to uphold the law”. He pointed out the importance of the post, noting that the “national security advisor is a public officer and the chief professional advisor on national security matters in the Office of the Prime Minister, and is appointed in accordance with Section 79 of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The National Security Officer therefore, is a very important and auspicious post in the national security structure of the federation. Clearly, what has been outlined and prescribed by law, this post is distinct from the role of the Commissioner of Police, so he is not coming to be that, the Commander of our Defence Force, and it is distinct from the role of the Permanent Secretary, yet this is one of the most senior persons in the security system,” said the Minister of National Security. “While close collaboration is required, the office provides added value to the functioning of the security system in our country. The office holder obviously should bring his expert knowledge and experience to bear on policy formulation and implementation.”
Prime Minister Harris noted that the vacancy was advertised from November 29, 2016, to January 16, 2017, in the major newspapers, over radio stations, in print and electronic media, and online, particularly, through SKNVIBES. He noted that three persons applied for the post and “functioned too low on the hierarchical structure of their organization in which they last worked or was presently working to bring much in terms of leadership and experience”.
He further added that the government made a decision to reach out further to the region for support and assistance and “consulted with the Regional Security System (RSS) and the CARICOM Impacts, as well as the federation’s Missions overseas and solicited their assistance in encouraging suitably experienced and qualified individuals to apply”, noting that the second batch of applications produced two new persons with very strong recommendations.
Dr. Harris said that Major General Saunders brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as it relates to national security.
“The Major will bring to St. Kitts and Nevis over 40 years of distinguished public service dealing with crime at the operational, strategic and policy levels. This is a man then, who has been there, has done that and has a story to tell to the world,” he said. “Secondly, [he has] the knowledge and experience in dealing with crime at the national, regional and international levels; [he has] knowledge and experience in the development of critical legislation and policies to improve anti-crime efforts, as well as firsthand experience and knowledge of the transformation process of military and law enforcement organizations to enhance public safety.”
The prime minister noted Major General Saunders’ commitment to work with the federation, as he understands and has emphasized that St. Kitts and Nevis needs a holistic approach to crime fighting.
“He has said to the interview panel drawing on his experience he would not want St. Kitts and Nevis to make some of the mistakes that Jamaica did. There must be a humanistic approach. There is a need to change the mind set of children in the formative age group- primary schools must be targeted for action. They must be taught that some of persons who they perceive as mentors (e.g. gang members) are not appropriate mentorship,” he said. “There is need to bring back the belief system in society, away from radicalism and violence. At-risk youths are the ones that need to be targeted starting right now. There must be appropriate legislation, proper rehabilitation processes, as well as anti-corruption measures.”