The meeting comes months after the successful deployment of the Regional Security System in St. Kitts and Nevis, to assist with enhancing the safety and security of the country, and also at a time when the RSS is seeing significant progress region-wide on a number of fronts.
During an interview yesterday, Wednesday, March 15th, with the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, the new Executive Director of the Regional Security System, Naval Captain Errington Shurland, detailed some of the successes.
“There has been a significant increase in drug seizures in collaboration with security forces of the region, as well as the RSS Air Wing. There has also been a significant increase in the assets that have been seized or forfeited, to include money and property, and this is through the recently developed Regional Security System Asset Recovery Unit,” Captain Shurland said.
The new Executive Director succeeds Mr. Grantley Watson, who demitted office on January 31st after serving in the post for 13 years. Captain Shurland now directs the day-to-day work of the Regional Security System from the RSS Headquarters in Barbados and reports to the Council of Ministers.
With effect from April 1st, 2016 to March 31st, 2017, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Ministers that oversees the Regional Security System (RSS).
The chairmanship rotates on an annual basis among Council members. They comprise Government Ministers who hold responsibility for the national security portfolio in the seven member states of the RSS.
In October 1982, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Barbados to provide mutual assistance upon request. St. Kitts and Nevis signed the MOU in February 1984 and Grenada signed it in January 1985. On March 5th, 1996 in Grenada, the MOU was replaced when the member states signed the treaty establishing the Regional Security System.
The Regional Security System promotes cooperation among the member states in the prevention and interdiction of traffic in illegal narcotic drugs; national emergencies; search and rescue; immigration control; fisheries protection; customs and excise control; maritime policing duties; natural and other disasters; pollution control; combating threats to national security; the prevention of smuggling, and the protection of off-shore installations and exclusive economic zones.
On Monday, September 19th, 2016, the RSS began operations in St. Kitts and Nevis for several weeks. The day before, RSS Officers were sworn in as Special Constables to execute their duties in accordance with the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis under the command of the Commissioner of Police, Ian Queeley.
On Tuesday, September 20th, Prime Minister Harris and a subcommittee of his Cabinet of Ministers convened a meeting with representatives from the top brass of the country’s security establishment, as well as with civil organizations namely the St. Kitts Evangelical Association, the St. Kitts-Nevis Branch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Eastern Caribbean, the St. Kitts & Nevis Building Contractors Association, the St. Kitts-Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the St. Kitts and Nevis Hotel and Tourism Association (HTA).
During that meeting, the civil society representatives voiced their full-throated approval of the government’s move to step up crime-fighting efforts by deploying the RSS to work alongside the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force in stamping out criminality. They also pledged their unwavering support for the security initiative and expressed optimism over its outcome.
Eight days later, speaking at the National Consultation on the Economy, the Honourable Prime Minister said reports from the Commissioner of Police about the RSS’ presence indicated that, “Their support has led to significant inroads in the battle for our streets, our byways, and our hills.”
The RSS was once again successfully deployed in St. Kitts and Nevis during the busy Christmas and Carnival period. Those deployed included the participants in an RSS Section Leaders Course that was held in St. Kitts for six weeks up until Friday, December 16th.