Saint Lucia
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RSS Unity Exercise to Tackle Transnational Crime, Terrorism

Acting Police Commissioner, Ronald Phillip
Acting Police Commissioner, Ronald Phillip

The Regional Security System’s (RSS) 2024 Unity Exercise (UNEX’24) which is slated for April of next year will deal with a number of critical issues including transnational crime and terrorism, Acting Police Commissioner Ronald Phillip indicated Monday.

UNEX’24 is being implemented under the RSS’ 11th European Development Fund in collaboration with the European Union and the Government of St Lucia; the activity will take place from April 3-14.

Launched on Monday, UNEX’24 will provide participants with the perfect opportunity to strengthen their readiness and interoperability in the fight against crime, Phillip noted.

“In recent times we have all witnessed the rise of arms trafficking as an independent industry… this Unity Exercise is very important to the Caribbean region as it provides a much-needed platform… Such training exercises are designed to prepare member states for any eventuality which may pose a threat to our region or issues which may undermine citizens safety and security,” Phillip told the audience.

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“This exercise will see us embarking on developing goals and executing plans to deal with issues of transnational organized crime, terrorism and its associated evils,” he said.

At a graduation ceremony earlier this year, Deputy Director of the RSS, Graham Archer stated that it is critical that the RSS provides ample training for officers so that they will be equipped with the skills to plan and execute the exercise.

“We have not had the Unity Exercise for a number of years,” Archer noted.

Phillip made a similar observation.

According to him, “unfortunately (we have) had a lull in the quantity of training received in recent times… I welcome the funding and commitment from the European Union and the Regional Security System. This level of commitment and dedication will go a long way in ensuring that Unity 2024 is a success.”

Errington Shurland, Executive Director of the RSS, said UNEX’24 exemplifies the commitment of the RSS to produce timely collaborative solutions to common security concerns.

The RSS has had a long history of coordinating operational deployments to countries, Shurland noted, adding that “those states were stricken by natural hazards, social unrest and other circumstances.”

Further, he said, the RSS was established to promote cooperation amongst its membership in addressing mutual security concerns.

“We have taken on this role with fervor for the past 40 years mobilizing much-needed support to our member states,” Shurland stated.

Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte
Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte

Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Philip J Pierre, said in order to fight crime, the region must remain united.

Albert-Poyotte also thanked the RSS for what it had achieved in Saint Lucia earlier this year when it responded to “our call for assistance” by deploying security personnel in the south of the island to help combat the escalation in violent gun crimes.

According to Albert-Poyotte, the presence of RSS officers has “bolstered our human resource capacity and technical capabilities in handling the crime situation.”

Further, she said, gun violence has decreased significantly since the RSS intervened.

“You will recall that in April this year the situation with violent crime in the region triggered a meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Port of Spain Trinidad to examine crime as a public health issue,” Albert-Poyotte said.

At that meeting, she added, the prime minister called for a comprehensive and multidimensional approach which seeks to find and eradicate the root causes of violence in the region.

“In light of the government’s commitment to strengthen security in the country this exercise is of great importance to the prime minister and his Cabinet of Ministers,” Albert-Poyotte said.