#TurksandCaicosIslands – January 22, 2020 — “Good Morning Everyone. Thank you to all that are present and those who are listening by radio and Face Book Live.
I want to begin by thanking the Joint Law Enforcement Team led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, H.E. The Governor, Victoria Farley and the Team at London for the work towards the delivery and launching today of such an important policy document.
Today is an important day in these Islands and is significant for a few important reasons:
- For the first time, the highest offices join together to jointly address areas under our remit in matters relating to national security and this coming together at the top is the right step to lead by example in an effort to move away from the too common practice of operating in silos across Government and is a step in the right direction to foster a new culture of sharing.
- Secondly, if you were to poll TCI as to the top issues of concerns you will hear issues around criminal activity, be it serious crime or illegal entry of migrants. Today this step is significant as well because we must abandon aged thinking that the Governor with his constitutional remit and mostly the Police alone are responsible for national security issues.
- And thirdly, today is significant because this work identifies key threats that we as a people must together whether across the public sector or private sector/citizenry must act on one accord to mitigate the impact of these threats.
The launch today of our country’s first ever National Security Strategy is critical; critical to identifying a list of threats (not exhaustive) that we can all put our resources, hands and minds strategically together to minimize its impact. Today calls for a change in mindset for the government and the people recognizing that national security extends beyond the Governor’s constitutional remit of internal and external security and extends to areas of ministerial responsibility. Today we are beginning what has begun to become commonplace for key government stakeholders, a critical coming together.
Importance of the Strategy
The importance of this Strategy cannot be overemphasized.
- It ensures continuity and even as we plan our roll out of the ever important Vision 2040, (Our Country’s Plan for the next 20yrs) we feature and emphasize the critical need for continuity in efforts by successive governments.
- This Strategy is important because it will call for all responsible agencies to complete and carry out additional plans for operations at its level.
- The benefit then for a small country with limited resources will be tremendous, in that resources will then be applied not in silos but as a whole and will then result in a smarter use of our scarce resources and
- And fourthly, as we have already begun to do and many have found it to be most useful. We then will enjoy a more joined up government approach to threat’s against this country’s national security.
The eventual dream and aspiration is for a Border Protection Agency which will foster better protection of our borders. Much work is underway and I must thank the UK Government for its unprecedented support. We have had the awesome opportunity to engage the UK Government more frequently on matters of national security and we have found in the Minister, Lord Ahmad an engaging and responsive Minister and we are eternally grateful.
We continue critical work with the US Coast Guard and the Bahamas Government. OPBAT and regional bodies remain critical partners for us.
THE THREATS IDENTIFIED
For the purposes of the Strategy, we have identified 9 threats that we will work at through our collaborative efforts and then through the agencies that have the direct responsibility.
As a small island nation, it should not be a surprise some of the threats and the reason why we believe that any of them can serve as a destabilizer for our country:
- The threat of illegal migration
- Disaster (be it natural, major accidents or epidemics)
- Serious Crime
- Critical National Infrastructure Failure
- Serious Public Disturbances
- Maritime Sovereignty
- Food Security and Scarcity
- Terrorism, Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism
These identified Threats have seen discussions at the Cabinet level, the National Security Council and its Advisory Group, with the Leader of the Opposition separately and as a member of the National Security Advisory Group and we now wish to present them to you as a people.
The Strategy does not only identify the Threats but outlines the Response and the Structure for Governance. This is a high level Document and each Agency has to prepare its strategy and implementation plan that sits under this. The establishment of the National Security Unit this year will be the center of/focal point for reporting and coordination. The Head of this Unit will be answerable to both the Office of the Governor and the Office of the Premier and will likewise speak on both our behalf under directive and standing authority. Critical hires will take place early in the next financial year.
I want to commend this Policy/Strategy to the people of these Islands. It will indeed be a Game Changer in the way we address national security and once fully applied and operationalized, we will be as a country all the better for it.
May God bless these Beautiful By Nature Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Full Statement on January 22, 2020 by Premier Sharlene Robinson