RSS needs to “up game” to respond to evolving transnational organised crime – Benn

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Stakeholders at the RSS Council of Minister’s Meeting held in Georgetown on Friday

With transnational organised crimes rapidly evolving, the outgoing Chairman of the Regional Security System (RSS), Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn, has lobbied for more support to build the capacity of security forces across the region to tackle these nefarious criminal activities.

Speaking at the RSS Council of Ministers’ Meeting, held in Georgetown on Friday, Benn noted that while much progress has been made by the RSS, more work needs to be done, especially as it relates to building capacity and resources for regional security forces to tackle transnational organised crimes.

Outgoing Chairman of the RSS Council, Robeson Benn

“We are doing well, but have we up our game? Have we become talented? Do we have, particularly, the new resources to respond to the greater challenges of transnational organized crime? [We need to pay attention to] the question of drug trafficking; the question of money laundering; the question of guns coming into the region and being used in support of the drug running and other nefarious activities; the question of people-smuggling and trafficking-in-persons,” Benn has said.

He added, “The requirement for the total security system now is to be able to respond commensurately with the challenges which are out there; and which is why we continue to request; to leverage; to ask for; to beg even, I would say, so that we would get more help in respect of interdiction (and) prevention. Because we are upstream of the marketplaces where the drugs are used, (and) we’re downstream where the guns are used — which are used to support the problems in relation to drug trafficking and money laundering.”

According to the outgoing RSS Chairman, societies in the region are not capable of responding to the problems which stem from transnational organised crimes. To this end, he urged security ministers, military and police chiefs from member states, and international partners gathered for the high-level RSS meeting to examine the future of the regional organisation and its ability to respond to these evolving challenges and threats.

“When we come back with the hard numbers with respect to requests; with respect to the exchange of knowledge and expertise; with request for the training of our security forces at all levels, or armies, police, fire, prisons, intelligence; that we deepen the communication and the connection between our security forces and intelligence agencies, and that we find ways which will create more synergies between the RSS Member States and partner states, our international partners, in relation to this particular issue of transnational organized crime and crime and violence in the region…,” the Home Affairs Minister noted.

Benn added that the RSS must also pay more attention to the diversification of its security forces, by involving more women and focusing on youth crime and violence against women and children. He added, “The issues of corruption, professionalism, integrity in all of our undertakings and forces in the region have to be prioritized.”

The RSS was established over 40 years ago in response to the necessity for a coordinated response to security challenges that were threatening regional stability. In September 2022, Guyana formally joined the RSS as its eighth member following President Dr Irfaan Ali’s signature of the Instrument of Ascension, after which Minister Benn assumed chairmanship in March 2023.

Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Terrence Drew, who will replace Benn as the new chairman, underscored the need for regional cooperation to foster security. He also commended Guyana for taking on the chairmanship even while being the newest member.

Representatives of international partners, including the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), and the European Union (EU), delivered remarks that echoed their continued support towards the quest for a safer and more secure region.

Executive Director of the RSS, Commodore Errington Shurland, also addressed the summit.

The high-profile event was attended by ministers responsible for security from member states, including Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. During the meeting, themed ‘Strength through Unity’, a range of major issues will be discussed.