RSS meeting convenes with focus on Haiti’s crisis, transnational crime


By Isanella Patoir

The 49th Regional Security System (RSS) Council of Ministers commenced on Friday with an emphasis on bolstering security and stability in Haiti.

The high-level conference is being held under the theme – ‘Strength through Unity’ – at the Ramada Princess Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara.

Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn who is also the outgoing chair of the RSS, directed particular attention towards the crisis in Haiti.

In 2021, the instability in Haiti worsened with the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Since then, the nation has been grappling with escalating gang violence, plunging the country deeper into crisis.

“Given the questions of what is happening in Haiti, we need to take a longer view of three years of where the Regional Security System will be,” Minister Benn pointed out as he listed the importance of a long-term strategy to address the evolving security challenges and finding solutions.

He said it is imperative to safeguard Haiti’s population, especially vulnerable groups like women and children to prevent further descent into chaos.

According to Benn, peace, freedom, and development cannot be assured without security.

“Ultimately if we are not able to help in the stabilisation of Haiti, it will speak to profound failures, and I know both the U.S. along with our international partners and CARICOM are having meetings end-on-end in relation to a resolution of Haiti,” the Home Affairs Minister said.

Dr. Terrance Drew, Security Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis (seated third from left) along with Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn (seated fourth from left) along with other RSS Members and Members of the Diplomatic Corps. (Photo: News Room/March 22, 2024)

Echoing similar sentiments, Dr. Terrance Drew of St. Kitts and Nevis, the incoming chairman of the RSS, also underscored the critical need for unity, noting that an unstable Haiti could destabilise the entire region.

“A destabilised Haiti can never result in a stabilised region. An unstable Haiti will result in an unstable region,” Dr Drew contended.

He also noted that it is important to stand together to protect the region “because none of us by ourselves can meet the task of providing security for each of our member states, we must work together.”


Meanwhile, Minister Benn also highlighted the pressing need for collective action against transnational organised crime, which according to him, has escalated amid post-COVID challenges.

Acknowledging the evolving nature of criminal activities, the minister emphasised the necessity for enhanced resources and coordination to combat drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal firearm trade and human trafficking.

“Now we seem to be challenged by transnational organised crime which appears to have moved ahead, to have evolved to a position where it seriously challenges the capability, the responsiveness and the assets and support that are normally and at present available to the RSS and to the governments and security forces in the region,” Minister Benn said.

Moreover, Benn alluded to including more women in intelligence and security operations. He said this is essential for regional security.

The RSS received supportive remarks from various diplomats, including the British High Commissioner to Guyana, the U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, and the EU Ambassador to Guyana, who lauded the RSS’s efforts in combatting transnational crime and enhancing regional security cooperation.

Highlighting ongoing collaboration, the U.S. DEA and the State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) announced plans to establish an RSS vetted unit to combat transnational criminal organizations, further illustrating the commitment to joint action against crime.

The meeting on Friday reaffirmed the importance of the RSS in safeguarding regional peace and stability, continued support and collaboration to confront emerging threats and to uphold security across member states.


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