An intensive interrogation of identified critical issues touching and concerning law, justice and policing in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is high on the agenda for the inaugural ALRIGHT conference which began in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday July 25th.
ALRIGHT stands for Applying Legal Responses to Intercepting Gangsters, Hustlers and Transgressors. The conference began on Tuesday evening, 25th July, with an opening ceremony and reception attended by participants and other officials at the official residence of the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, is partnering with representatives from agencies across the region and local law enforcement stakeholders to host the ALRIGHT conference. According to the DPP, Colin Williams, inter-agency co-operation within national borders is not what he would like it to be, he hopes the ALRIGHT conference will foster greater cooperation.
The Director of Public Prosecution described the hosting of the conference as bringing together the Ministry of Legal Affairs and other Departments such as Customs & Excise, Coastguard, Passports & Immigration, and Her Majesty Prisons. “Unfortunately, at this time, we do not have on board at this particular ALRIGHT enterprise, the church and other NGOs that have critical roles to play and have an interest in the whole system," Mr. Williams said.
Executive Director of the Regional Security System (RSS), Captain Errington Shurland, said that he was enthused by the RSS's participation in the ALRIGHT conference, “When I was approached about the Regional Security System partnering with the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in particular, the DPP, I had no hesitation whatsoever in agreeing to partner with this project," the Executive Director said.
Captain Shurland opined that criminals have networks, and that law enforcement officials need to respond in a “collective manner”. He is pleased as the Executive Director of the RSS, to participate in this high level knowledge exchange and is confident “that it will enable those with decision-making authority in citizen security, to network and share best practices of evidence-based citizen security policy and programme development, with criminal justice systems.
Mr. Grenville Williams, former head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and now Director of the RSS Asset Recovery Unit, has been credited with playing a pivotal role in making the ALRIGHT conference a reality. In his remarks, Williams applauded the DPP and his staff for taking the initiative to host the ALRIGHT conference. He further opined that the RSS Asset Recovery Unit is pleased to partner with all stakeholders to deter and disrupt criminal activities.
Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, highlighted a number of issues relating to increased firearm related crimes in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Minister of National Security pointed out that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines does not produce firearms, and that these somehow are brought to these shores through local criminal elements and their associates in North America and parts of South America. To this end, Dr. Gonsalves urged the United States Government to help the region in this matter; he stressed the limitations of the coastguard in regards to inadequate boats and surveillance equipment. Dr. Gonsalves said that he is pleased that a representative from the US Treasury is present to hear his appeal.
Of concern to the Minister of National Security is when law enforcement officers join forces with criminals, thus making it more difficult to deal with and capture the said criminals. Dr. Gonsalves suggested that there needs to be means to sanitise law enforcement agencies, and he thinks the ALRIGHT conference would provide means to handle such. “Your presence reaffirms the commitment of the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to strengthen co-operation regionally and globally, to ensure that we maintain better law and order and justice in our region and certainly in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,” the Prime Minister said.
Other guests at the cocktail included, Judge at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Hon. Adrian Saunders; Speaker of the OECS House of Assembly, Hon. Rene Baptiste; Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-Dabreo, British Virgin Islands; RSS Course Co-ordinator, Superintendent Kamecia Blake-Byam; Inspector Warren Williams, Jamaica Constabulary; Advisor, Mr. John Murphy of United States Department of Treasury Economic Crimes Unit; and other members of Parliament including the Hon. St. Clair Leacock, among others.
The ALRIGHT conference is being held at the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Community College and will conclude today, Thursday 27th July.