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St Kitts-Nevis Government Strengthens National Security

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BASSETERRE, St Kitts — Last week, Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris announced a number of measures designed to support, reform and strengthen the national security apparatus in St Kitts and Nevis, in an effort to coordinate and “consolidate the mechanisms and systems of governance” that are prerequisites for social stability, sustained economic growth and prosperity.

“Today, I am pleased to provide an updated score card of the efforts of the people’s elected government to consolidate the mechanisms and systems of governance. In this way, we can ensure a more efficient, sensitive and sensible response to the people’s agenda as determined on February 16, 2015,” Harris said at his monthly press conference last Wednesday, May 27.

As such, the prime minister announced the appointment of Osmond Petty as permanent secretary in the ministry of national security. Petty is a former permanent secretary in the ministry of education and foreign affairs and currently serves as personnel officer of the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force.

“Mr Petty’s task as permanent secretary will be inter alia (1) coordinate and bring success to a number of EU projects related to security; (2) deliver a modern rehabilitation and correctional facility to replace the outdated prison built in 1840; and (3) pursue the reform agenda in our Police, Prison, Fire and Defence Force,” Harris said.

The appointment of a permanent secretary in the ministry of national security will now facilitate the proper implementation of the following national security legislative instruments:

a) Defence Force Act
b) National Defence Council Act
c) National Crimes Commission Act

In directly addressing his administration’s crime fighting agenda and priority, Harris indicated his intent to appoint a national security advisor in fulfilment of the statutory requirement of the National Defence Council Act and [operating out of the Office of the Prime Minister] an advisor on crime-fighting who would have an “impressive resume and track record in local law enforcement.”

He also announced the activation of the National Crimes Commission to “facilitate, among other things, community involvement in the fight against crime.”

“The security and safety of the state are basic responsibilities of the state. We inherited a bad situation: a demoralized force, which was under-resourced and lacking in motivational leadership. We are working assiduously with international professional police out of the United Kingdom to redeem the agencies of law and order,” the prime minister said.

He emphasised his administration’s approach to national security as robust and comprehensive.

“I wish to assure the public at this time that the issue of crime fighting is of paramount importance to our Unity government. Ours is a robust approach thus inclusive, for the first time, of the deployment to Nevis of a contingent of military personnel from the Defence Force. This additional manpower will assist the Nevis Police with matters such as patrols, surveillance and other general policing operations for several months. This joint approach to addressing crime will also redound to closer collaboration among our security forces on both islands. Thus far, we are already seeing results,” Harris said.

The National Defence Council Act establishes a national security council to advise the government on matters of national security; to coordinate national security activities among various government agencies and; to enable law enforcement, security forces and agencies of the government to cooperate more effectively in matters involving national security.

The National Crimes Commission Act provides for the establishment of a National Crime Commission charged with the responsibility of advising and assisting the government, its agencies and the community at large in combating the prevalence of crime.

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