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Administration Continues to Lobby to Stem Inflow of Illegal Guns – PM

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#KINGSTON, February 7 (JIS) – The Administration continues to lobby the United States to provide greater assistance in stemming the flow of illegal guns into the island, says Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.

Addressing a security seminar at the AC Marriott Hotel in St. Andrew on February 7, Mr. Holness said this would bolster the measures the Government has implemented to secure the country’s points of entry and bring the crime problem under control.

“We recognise that there are still many gaps. One of them is the ability of the State to control the inflow of illegal guns into Jamaica. It is a problem for us to control our borders,” he said.

The Prime Minister informed that massive investments have been made in boosting the capabilities of the security forces to increase surveillance and detect illicit items at ports of entry. This includes investments in offshore patrol vessels and maritime patrol aircraft and boosting scanning capabilities at ports.

“But as an island, you know that we have several informal points of entry, and it’s going to be difficult to control all of them, but we are increasing our surveillance, including making significant investment in a state-of-the-art coastal radar system. We are doing what is necessary, but we could do with some help from our friends from the United States, because what we are seeing is a change in the profile of weapons coming into Jamaica,” Mr. Holness said.

“Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, Jamaica would be getting what we would describe as post-war weapons out of Latin America, post-war conflict weapons out of Nicaragua and El Salvador and other places. Now what we are seeing are AR15 and Glock platforms, which are mostly coming out of North America. This is not America’s problem, let me be clear, this is Jamaica’s problem. Jamaica must take responsibility and not leave our national security up to our partners; we must take responsibility for it. The truth is, it is not Americans, meaning persons without Jamaican connections, that are sending guns here; it is our relatives, our family members,” he noted.

Mr. Holness shared that he has asked the American Government to look seriously into this matter.

“When I visited, I spoke to Vice President Kamala Harris a couple of years ago. I went back two years ago, myself and the Commissioner. We met with representatives of the Department of Justice and I went back last year again, We have been constantly lobbying< and our partners have been very accommodating to us,” he said.

“I must say that our partners have been giving us a listening ear, and I know you know our American partners have so many other challenges that they have to deal with. Little Jamaica’s problem, you know, we really should be dealing with that, but because of where our capacity is versus the magnitude of the problem, we need the support,” the Prime Minister added.

Coordinator for the Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions and Associate Deputy Attorney General, United States Department of Justice, Michael Ben’Ary, said the guns that are being illegally trafficked from the United States is a shared problem.

“We are committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with you in investigating, prosecuting, charging and taking these networks out of Commission. It is a problem that we view as our own problem as well as a problem here with our very close partners in Jamaica,” he noted.

He said firearms tracing is the United States being able to identify, disrupt and dismantle firearms trafficking networks in the United States that are responsible for sending the firearms that are causing so much destruction and pain and suffering in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Mr. Ben’Ary added that firearms tracing information can be used to further investigate and bring charges.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security,  Hon. Dr.  Horace Chang, said a collaborative approach is needed to address the issue of transnational organised crime.

The seminar was held under the theme ‘Organised Violence and the Threat to Peace in Jamaica and the Region’. It brought together high-level government officials, law-enforcement experts and other key stakeholders to discuss and engage on pressing security challenges, including international security developments and best practices; spread awareness about concerns regarding the strategic environment in national decision-making processes, and implementation of national policies and decisions.

It also aimed to support collaborative efforts among institutions to promote policies to confront traditional and emerging threats and understanding the needs of law enforcement and security in the context of the Constitution of Jamaica, among other things.

 

Contact: Chris Patterson

Release: JIS

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Barbados recognizes Palestine as sovereign

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

Barbados has made a huge diplomatic move, recognizing Palestine as a sovereign state, as announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kerrie Symmonds, according to a report from CBC News Barbados on Saturday April 20. This now aligns Barbados with other UN Member states which also recognise Palestine.

 

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Haiti death toll rises

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

Haiti’s death toll is now up 53 percent with more than 2,500 people killed from January through March 2024, compared to the same time last year. This was reported by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH),  on Friday April 19. The organization expressed that gangs have changed their tactics, now targeting public institutions and important infrastructure such as the main Airport. Most of the violence is reportedly in the Capital Port Au Prince.

 

 

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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS SHINES AS A PREMIER DESTINATION AT THE 2024 SEATRADE CRUISE GLOBAL CONFERENCE

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St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) –April 11, 2024—The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, led by Commissioner Joseph Boschulte, Assistant Commissioner Alani Henneman, and Deputy Commissioner RoseAnne Farrington, traveled to Miami, Florida, to support Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and other local partners agencies for the 2024 Seatrade Cruise Global Conference.
To kick off the week-long event, the Department of Tourism sponsored the highly anticipated Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) barbecue, which was hosted by Governor Bryan.
Revered as a steady leader in the Caribbean tourism industry, the USVI delegation, which also included the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands Port Authority, West Indian Company Limited, Magens Bay Authority, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Government Employee Retirement System, showcased the territory and its growing accessibility around the cruise industry to key operators and businesses.
“Cruise has been and continues to be a leading entryway for visitors into the territory, and Seatrade allows representatives from the USVI to interface with and share pertinent updates needed to continue fostering positive relationships throughout the industry,” explains Commissioner Boschulte.
Commissioner Boschulte was featured on the Caribbean Spotlight panel moderated by renowned industry leader and FCCA CEO Michelle Paige, who referenced the Commissioner being named the 2023 Caribbean Tourism Executive of the Year by Caribbean Journal and shared how exceptional the publication’s acknowledgment of his accolades are. Paige referenced Caribbean Journal’s spotlight paragraph reading, “No Caribbean destination has seen more growth in the last three years than the U.S. Virgin Islands, which kicked off a full-fledged tourism renaissance just after the onset of the pandemic and hasn’t looked back. And so much of that growth can be directly tied to the expert stewardship of Boschulte, who helped craft an innovative, flexible response to the challenges of the pandemic and has continued to drive the USVI’s performance with a data-driven, creative approach to modern tourism.”
Commissioner Boschulte and Deputy Commissioner Farrington joined Governor Bryan for meetings with leading cruise lines, including Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival Corporation & plc, amongst others, to discuss continued partnerships, expansion opportunities, and industry updates.
As the global cruise industry continues to restabilize following challenges incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Thomas and St. Croix experienced a 13% growth in 2023 over 2019, with West Indian Company Dock, Crown Bay Dock, and E. Abramson Marine Facility welcoming more than 1,600,000 passengers from 495 total calls for the year. With a 58% year-over-year passenger increase from 2022 to 2023, the USVI continues to grow and is projected to experience another 5% increase in cruise passenger arrivals in 2024.
Commissioner Boschulte also highlighted the remarkable success of the USVI and Caribbean region, stating, “I am proud to see the Caribbean’s appeal continue to captivate travelers. Our collaborative efforts with partners like FCCA and the Caribbean Tourism Organization underscore the unity of our region, ensuring unforgettable experiences for visitors while highlighting the unique strengths of the U.S. Virgin Islands. With a safe, welcoming destination and a shared commitment to tourism, we embrace our role as an integral part of the Caribbean community.”
For more information about the U.S. Virgin Islands, please visit https://www.visitusvi.com/.

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