U.S aims to tackle crime among youths in C’bbean.

U.S aims to tackle crime among youths in C’bbean.

Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) partners opened a two day Technical Working Group (TWG) on Crime Prevention, focusing on at-risk youth and vulnerable populations.  U.S. Ambassador to Guyana D. Brent Hardt, CARICOM Officer-in-Charge of the Directorate of Human and Social Development Myrna Bernard, Reverend Kwame Gilbert representing the Government of Guyana, and Vice Minister of Youth Jorge Minaya, representing the government of the Dominican Republic delivered remarks at the opening session.

CBSI is a Caribbean-U.S. partnership that fulfills the commitment to deepen regional security cooperation launched by President Barack Obama at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2009.  Through CBSI, the United States, CARICOM member nations, and the Dominican Republic are working together to reduce illicit trafficking, increase public safety and security, and promote social justice.

Technical Working Group meetings provide an opportunity for CBSI partners to evaluate progress, generate new ideas, and identify concrete outcomes that have spurred new programs.  Ambassador Hardt noted in his remarks: “To be successful, we must constantly adjust our tactics, build upon successful experience, and develop new ways of operating in which communities play a central role.  While other TWGs in the past have focused on more traditional security and law enforcement efforts to combat illicit trafficking and to boost public safety and security, this TWG focuses on the vital issues of social justice and economic opportunity, which are indispensible to any effort to build safe and prosperous societies.”

Government and civil society partners from around the region joined U.S. government representatives and partners from other regions to assess what has proven most successful in reducing youth violence and providing young people with educational and employment opportunities.  Assessments made by Caribbean member countries revealed that many of the issues faced are common throughout the region, but often require locally crafted solutions.

Participants also heard from organizations working in other regions on ways to reduce the spread of gangs and the involvement of youth in organized crime.  The methodology and best practices shared by these organizations offered transferrable solutions to address similar challenges in the Caribbean.  Participants also highlighted the value of effective monitoring and quantifiable results.

With CBSI support, more than 23,000 young people in the Caribbean have participated in education and workforce development activities.  To help reduce the number of young people imprisoned in the juvenile justice system, activities have focused on the use of alternative sentencing and diversion.

CBSI is also working with youth already being held in juvenile facilities by supporting their transition back into communities and toward the establishment of a productive life.  Community-based policing is complemented by community education on effective collaboration with police on local safety issues.

(US Embassy, Georgetown)

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