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PM: Let TT host gun-control headquarters

By SEAN DOUGLAS Thursday, January 30 2014

click on pic to zoom in
PM THE DRUMMER: TT'S Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, second from left, tries her hand on the drums during a break on day 2 of the CELAC Summit ...
PM THE DRUMMER: TT'S Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, second from left, tries her hand on the drums during a break on day 2 of the CELAC Summit ...

PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday made a pitch for TT to be the headquarters of the United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), that regulates the trade in small arms and light weapons.

She said so while speaking at the CELAC summit in Cuba yesterday. The TT Prime Minister suggested that putting the ATT base in TT would help countries worried about the illicit trade, as she vowed to make available the necessary infrastructure for the ATT headquarters.

Persad-Bissessar prefaced her views on the ATT by remarks on crime and security in TT, which she said are this country’s two priorities due to unacceptable levels of crime and gun violence currently being experienced.

“Regrettably, our children are in grave danger and many are falling victim to gun violence, while our women and youth populations remain particularly vulnerable,” she lamented. “We have recognised that we must work together with our international partners, if we are to deal effectively with these problems.”

She then hailed the CELAC for supporting the ATT in its Havana Declaration.

“We recall at the First CELAC Summit in Santiago, Chile last year issuing a vigorous call for the resumption of negotiations for the Treaty at a time when matters were less certain,” she related. “Today, the Treaty represents a significant milestone in the global effort towards arms control.”

She said TT and CELAC members worked tirelessly for the successful conclusion of the negotiations, and now have the duty to ratify and implement the Treaty.

“Our signature and ratification of the Treaty demonstrate our commitment to deal effectively with the international trade in small arms,” she said, “as part of the greater effort to shield our communities from the wanton loss of innocent lives that result from such weapons falling into the hands of criminal organisations and other undesirable elements”.

Persad-Bissessar said TT was offering to host the ATT Secretariat as it served the interests of the international community as a whole, to have the Secretariat located in the Caribbean Region.

“We all have a stake in the effective implementation of the ATT, and we have the resources, both human and physical, and the political will, to ensure a successful operation of the Secretariat,” she pledged.

Persad-Bissessar said TT was among those that championed the adoption of a strong, robust and effective ATT during the negotiations. TT had realised from the start that the requisite machinery was needed to help States in the implementation of the ATT, which is a role of the Secretariat.

“Our geographical location has increased our vulnerability to the illegal arms and narcotics trade, as well as other trans-boundary crimes,” she observed.

Urging the ATT be set up in TT, Persad-Bissessar said global organisations must be fairly distributed geographically, unlike most being concentrated in developed nations. “Trinidad and Tobago gives the undertaking to make available the necessary infrastructure for the efficient running of Secretariat of the Arms Trade Treaty,” she vowed.

Persad-Bissessar also touched on the recent controversial Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruling that jeopardises the nationality of citizens of Haitian descent.

She said Caricom had raised its voices in a spirit of fraternal embrace and constructive dialogue, confident that a solution could be found, that respects the fundamental human rights of those persons affected by the ruling.

She said Caricom had noted CELAC’s positive approach so far in discussing migration within the Community, and from the Community to other destinations.

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