BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris briefed civil society stakeholders today on the Regional Security System’s (RSS) involvement in assisting St. Kitts and Nevis with enhancing the safety and security of the country.

The RSS began ongoing operations in St. Kitts and Nevis as of yesterday, Monday, September 19th, 2016. RSS officers were sworn in on Sunday in the Federation as Special Constables and will execute their duties in accordance with the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis under the command of the Commissioner of Police.

In October 1982, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Barbados to provide mutual assistance upon request. St. Kitts and Nevis signed the MOU in February 1984 and Grenada signed it in January 1985.  On March 5th, 1996 in Grenada, the MOU was replaced when the member states signed the Treaty establishing the Regional Security System.

The RSS conducts national security research and analyzes crime statistics to combat threats such as illicit drugs and arms trafficking.  Its Training Institute aims to standardize police training throughout the member states.  The RSS Air Wing undertakes counter drug surveillance missions using sensor-fitted aircraft, and the RSS Coast Guard undertakes coordinated patrols to interdict illegal activities at sea.  RSS Land Forces are deployed to member states to assist with matters of importance to national security, including hurricane aftermath efforts and large national events.

At today’s meeting, Prime Minister Harris explained the role of the RSS and stressed the importance of receiving support and cooperation from civil society organizations and the larger society.  The civil society representatives voiced their full-throated approval of the government’s move to step up crime-fighting efforts by deploying the RSS to work alongside the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force in stamping out criminality.  They also pledged their unwavering support for the security initiative and expressed optimism over its outcome.

A subcommittee of the Cabinet of Ministers, as well as persons from among the top brass of the country’s security establishment also attended the meeting at Government Headquarters.

The Cabinet subcommittee was chaired by the Honourable Prime Minister, and also comprised Premier of Nevis the Honourable Vance Amory; Deputy Prime Minister the Honourable Shawn Richards, and Attorney General the Honourable Vincent Byron, Jr.

Representing the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force were Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley and Deputy Commissioner of Police Hilroy Brandy.  The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr. Osmond Petty, was also present.  Representing the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force were the Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Wallace, and Captain Kayode Sutton.

The civil organizations represented at today’s meeting were the St. Kitts Evangelical Association in the persons of its President, Bishop Ron Collins, and its Secretary, Pastor Ericson Cumberbatch; the St. Kitts-Nevis Branch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Eastern Caribbean in the persons of its President, Mrs. Carol Riley-Boddie, and board member Ms. Tuffida Stewart; the St. Kitts & Nevis Building Contractors Association in the person of its Executive Director, Mr. Anthony Evelyn; the St. Kitts-Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce in the persons of its President, Mr. José Rosa, Immediate Past President, Mr. Damion Hobson, and Adviser to President Rosa, Mr. Mark Wilkin, and the St. Kitts and Nevis Hotel and Tourism Association (HTA) in the persons of Ms. Tara Hendrickson, its new Executive Director, and Immediate Past President, Mr. Nick Menon.

On April 1st, 2016, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Ministers that oversees the Regional Security System (RSS).  The chairmanship rotates on an annual basis.  The Council of Ministers comprises Government Ministers who have responsibility for the national security portfolio in the RSS’s seven member states.

The mission statement of the RSS is “to ensure the stability and well-being of Member States through mutual cooperation in order to maximize regional security in preserving the social and economic development of our people” and its motto is “Strength Through Unity.”

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