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Border Security Workshop now into second day

Border Security Workshop now into second day

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Immigration and customs officers here are now into the second day of a five-day joint border security workshop aimed at strengthening their capacity to prevent and detect illegal activity at the nation’s borders.

The workshop also aims to strengthen the interviewing and interrogation techniques of border officers in an effort to increase prosecution and get higher conviction rates.

The training is being carried out by United States Customs and Border Protection trainers Luis Rodriguez and Jennifer Chemel.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the workshop which was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ conference room on Monday, Executive Director of the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) Francis Forbes said that the workshop is a capacity building effort and part of a much broader program of support being given to the regional security sector.

According to Forbes, working together with outside entities on initiatives aimed at building capacity will strengthen the region’s border security, while the overall objective of this partnership is aimed at enhancing the region’s capabilities to fight transnational organized crime in particular the illicit trade in drugs and guns, human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Forbes said that the only way that a country will improve its border security is by improving CARICOM’s border security controls through capacity building

initiatives and enhancement of systems like the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) and the Advanced Cargo Information System (ACIS).

Forbes explained that the joint training approach of immigration and customs officers is consistent with the decision of the 13th special meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM which was held on April 4 and 5, 2008.

He said that at this meeting, it was decided to introduce measures to improve system intelligence and training with a view to enhancing border security and to promote inter agency collaboration and avoid institutional isolation.

Forbes said that through this exercise, the region aims to make significant advances towards building greater collaboration and interoperability across border security agencies.

“The seeming increasing complexity of national security threats requires an even more consistent and connected approach to capacity building that compliments existing individual agency arrangements,” said Forbes while noting that this workshop will focus on detection, identification and interception methods to interrupt illicit cargo including illegal drugs and terrorist financing, originating from, transiting or entering the region.

The workshop is expected to look at many things that fall within the remit of border security including the detection of persons of interest such as passengers with illicit intent whether occupying a seat on an airline or travelling by sea who need to be identified, intercepted and prosecuted.

The workshop which is being financed by the European Union (EU) under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) is taking an integrated approach aimed at providing the training and increase the technological support through the expansion and enhancement of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) and the Advance Cargo Information System (ACIS).

The 10 EDF is described as a critical component of the CARICOM EU partnership as it involves cooperation to combat criminal networks.

CARICOM IMPACS has to date delivered this training in one other country (Trinidad and Tobago), with the training expected to extend to all CARICOM member states.

Forbes, who has spent most of his life working in the region in the area of security said that the training comes at an opportune time for SVG as we have just opened an international airport.

Also speaking at the opening ceremony were Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Chief Immigration Officer Stanford Hamilton, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey and Comptroller of Customs and Excise Irwina Phills.(LC)

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