Official Launch of the Police Records Management Information System (PRMIS)
Quetelles Police Station, Kingstown – St. Vincent and the Grenadine
Remarks by Magdy Martinez-Soliman, Resident Representative UNDP
Hon’ble Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves
Your Excellency the Ambassador of the United States, Ms. Linda Taglialatela
Members of Cabinet,
Friends from USAID,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What gathers us here today is the celebration of successful work by the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Minister of National Security and his team, the Commissioner of Police and his agents, whom I would like to address my first vote of thanks and congratulations.
We are also here because an effective police force, that protects our rights and defends our peace is the only acceptable first response to insecurity, one of the most intricate problems a government has to solve, so that people enjoy freedom from fear.
Philosophers and political scientists, penal jurists and behaviour psychologists have interrogated themselves for centuries about the dichotomy between security and liberty. Kofi Annan, whom I served as our seventh Secretary-General of the UN, in his landmark report “In Larger Freedom”, stated that “we will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.”
Fast forward, among the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 16 was precisely designed to provide an objective with very precise targets, such as legal identity, birth registration, recovery of stolen assets, reduction of violent crime, illicit arms flows or eradication of child trafficking, that would combine liberty, security and development. For this to happen, the bedrock is an effective criminal justice system, which starts with the collection of data by the Police in any serious evidence-based crime prevention and prosecution policy. As the Government of St. Vincent and Grenadines builds up the capacity of its Police Force, it also contributes to Goal 16 and the SDG Agenda at large. It is furthering a society where citizens enjoy development with security, the kind of security that respects their human rights.
The work we celebrate today has been designed as a response. If there wasn’t a problem, we wouldn’t be here. Conversely, if the Governments of the Caribbean weren’t aware of the problem and showing the political will to address it, we wouldn’t be here either. Never has there been such a strong political momentum in the region to fight the high levels of violent crime. And the firm responses put in place are already yielding results. If we are to win this fight, we need a police force at the cutting-edge, with backing from the top of the political leadership and with support from every corner of our communities.
Nowhere like in this region and in the neighbouring continent is development so clearly dependent on citizen security, on the effectiveness of smart policing. Tourism and foreign investment are quick on their feet and easily frightened.
There is no shortage of alternatives, in the region and beyond. My country is the second most visited destination in the world, after France and ahead of the United States, with roughly 82 million foreigners coming to our shores every year. Never did our tourism sector or our foreign investments suffer more than when, three decades ago, we were unable to control the combination of terrorism and violent crime.
I have no doubt, the Police Commissioner and his team will agree that the current practice of using pen and paper to write down all related information at a crime scene is not optimal. From the simple challenge of penmanship, to a more critical concern with accuracy and completeness of information, crime fighting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines can benefit from further modernization.
Police officers deployed to a crime scene will now have the means to electronically enter information onto a computer, store that information on a server, retrieve real time data, analyze trends, and prepare reports in a more efficient and timely manner. The piloting of this methodology in Questelles, Central Police Station CID and Calliaqua Police Station should provide evidence and lessons to scale up this approach for national use.
As a partner in development, UNDP is honoured to be here today. This work was made possible thanks to the policy guidance, the financial and substantive support of our donor, USAID, on behalf of the American People and the US Government. Please count on CariSECURE as your international partner to support the Vincentian Leadership in improving citizen security.
Today is the UN’s International Day for the elimination of violence against women. Citizien security is women’s security. Our societies, big and small, rich and poor, suffer from this form of widespread violence, be it from intimate partner violence, rape and sexual harassment, human trafficking, female genital mutilation or child marriage. All these are forms of gender-based violence where women and girls are the victims. We must put an end to this plague, and a good police is part of the solution – to help prevent violence, to support survivors and to bring perpetrators to justice. A good police is one that proves itself for women and girls!
Closing as I started with Mr. Annan’s In Larger Freedom, “No security agenda and no drive for development will be successful unless they are based on the sure foundation of respect for human dignity.” Respect and dignity that are well at home in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The respect you have shown over years in High Office, Mr. Prime Minister, and the solemn human dignity you represent in your country and for your country on the international stage.