RDF SYMPOSIUM - ON COMMEMORATIVE MAGAZINE
Declaration of Principles
NY Governor Pataki
Want to go home?
DEXIA - New Approach
Mo n Mo Music
Productivity and Economy
Health & the Diaspora
A Call to Action
Do You Remember When?
Technol. & Intel. Capital
Planning for Agriculture
Security & Development
Dominica State College
DSS in Partnership
Dominica & Integration
Education for Survival
Globalisation & Caribbean
Skills for Internet Age
Legacy of Rosie Douglas-1
National Security in Dominica
by Rayburn Blackmore
In the context of Dominica, there are four fundamental areas with respect to National Security: drug trafficking; money laundering; light weaponry; and hiv/aids. Few would doubt that, over the past ten years, Dominica has witnessed an upsurge in drug related crimes Increasingly, the major contributor to criminal behaviour in Dominica is the illegal drug trafficking trade. Dominica and by extension the Caribbean have already become key transshipment routes for south American cocaine into the United States of America and European markets. The 1999 report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has noted that the transshipment of cocaine through the Caribbean and Central America is on the rise.
Although there is no empirical research available, drug use is one of the major problems facing the Dominican society today. The country’s growing drug problem can be attributed to a number of factors. It is a symptom of the failure of some economic development plans and the lack of viable economic alternatives. Consequently, the illegal narcotics business is the most profitable sector of the country’s informal economy. The rate of unemployment is another major factor as the drug trade serves as a means of easy access to money that the other major sectors in the economy, including agriculture cannot readily provide.
It must be noted, there have been harmful consequences from this drug trade. The most threatening and troubling is that the police are being confronted with a network of organised criminals who have tremendous capacity, and access to weapons and financial resources that in some cases are greater than that of the police.
The spread of drugs in our communities is having a devastating effect on our youth. Instead of living productive lives that benefit our social and economic development, these young people are contributing to crime and increasing the financial burden on the state. Also, the drug trade has led to overcrowding of our prisons and the cohabitation of first time offenders with hardened criminals. Hence, instead of reforming prisoners, the prison has become a greenhouse in which criminals are being nurtured.
Drug trafficking and the production of illegal narcotics is a security problem as well as a hazard to the foundations of civil society and to the sovereignty of the State. Every effort should therefore be made to combat the efforts of the drug lords to corrupt and penetrate democratic government. In sum, the drug trafficking phenomenon generates and aggravates ordinary crime, promotes substance dependency and diverts national funds. Given Dominica’s limited resources, the drug trade will not be halted any time soon. In the meantime valuable national resources will be diverted from infrastructure, education and health care to fighting the illegal drug trade.
The use of firearms is indispensable to the proficiency of the criminal operations. We have been witnessing the cross fertilisation of crimes. Drug dealers are using those who traffic firearms to perpetrate their crimes. Most frequently being more sophisticated and advanced in firearms than the police, criminals have the potential of jeopardising the country’s security. The smuggling of firearms from the French departments is indeed a serious concern. To expect ill-equipped, police officers to successfully fight the sophisticated trafficking of firearm and illegal narcotics is almost an impossibility.
Dominica like every other poor developing state is attempting to diversify its economy not only to survive in this global climate, but more importantly, to eradicate poverty through sustainable development. It is recognised that the financial market accounts for a significant component of the global economy and Dominica will seek to capitalise on the potentials that exist in the off-shore banking sector. However, the openness that accompanies globalisation can facilitate certain types of organised crimes namely, money laundering.
Money laundering is not only considered to be a threat to the national security of individual nations but is seriously considered to be a threat to international security. In the main, people tend to associate money laundering only with drug trafficking. However, it also arises from illegal arms trafficking, organised crime, blackmail, credit card and other financial fraud.
Dominica has already taken steps to strengthen and modernise its capabilities in the offshore banking sector. New laws have been enacted, and a supervisory authority and a financial intelligence unit have been established for the expressed purpose of protecting the integrity of the offshore banking sector. What is disappointing about the whole issue of money laundering, is that the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have been insufficiently appreciative of our efforts to improve the regulation of the offshore banking sector. Certainly the blacklisting of Dominica is deliberately harmful.
There is no doubt that the actions of the OECD and FATF tend to push small nation states like Dominica much too far and have the potential for provoking government and public hostility because of little regard for national sovereignty.
The issue of HIV/aids must be recognised as a major security issue. Most of the persons testing positive for HIV as well as those who die from aids are in the 24 – 35 year old age group, representing people in the prime of their working and reproductive lives. The implications to Dominica from a cultural, social and economic standpoint can only be harmful. Combating those problems highlighted will not only require political will but also the creation of a national machinery that will enhance our collective capacity to deal with matters of llegal drugs, firearms money laundering and HIV/aids.