ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Sept 12, 2018 (CMC) – Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, says he hopes the inaugural China-Caribbean Conference on Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Cooperation, now underway here, will provide a formal framework of cooperation between Beijing and Caribbean countries.
Addressing the conference, which ended, yesterday, Mitchell said that China’s participation signals its resolve to fight corruption, and to jointly tackle the issue of cross-border corruption that could undermine good governance, good business practices and general financial services in our countries.
“It is well known that the issue of corruption has been identified, through research, as a major factor hindering the development of countries. The individual, and collective, action we take to combat the vexing issue of corruption can only help to enhance the development of our respective countries, and the region as a whole,” he told delegates.
Representatives from China, including Vice-Chairman of the National Commission of Supervision, Xu Lingyi, and several CARICOM member states, are attending the conference, where delegates will share best practices on mutual law enforcement and security concerns, explore specific cooperation instruments and initiatives to enhance law enforcement cooperation, as well as establish networks for information-sharing.
Mitchell said that, in recent years, many Caribbean countries have worked with Beijing on a number of law enforcement issues, but there has not been a formal framework of cooperation.
He said he hoped the two-day conference “will establish that framework.
“Indeed, we can all agree, that corruption impairs social fairness and justice, it undermines the image and credibility of countries and their governments and it hinders economic development and the realisation of sustainable development. In fact, it is well known that when our own citizens think governments are not dealing with corruption aggressively, they tend to perceive that we are also involved.”
Mitchell observed that, at its core, corruption undermines the rule of law and marginalises people.
“It impinges on the very purpose of government – which is to uphold the rule of law and to empower people. Therefore, sisters and brothers, our co-operation on these matters is crucial to all of us, individually and collectively.
“People, who seek to weave their web of corruption to the detriment of the state and its people, and our prized economic development, must come face to face with the reality that there will be no place to run, and absolutely no place to hide.
“And so, I trust that we have all come to St. George’s to be part of this momentous occasion, with an unwavering determination to work, collaboratively, to safeguard our mutual law enforcement and anti-corruption interests.”
He said the historic conference should not be the last, saying “it must be seen in the context of ongoing cooperation among all of us.
“We must appreciate that law enforcement and security are part of a dynamic environment. Every piece of legislation we enact, every regulation we approve, every structure we create, these will be continually challenged by the corrupt few, as they find new ways to circumvent established procedures.
“It is critical therefore, that as law enforcers, we always stay ahead of the game and we maintain innovation and timeliness as key watchwords. Regular meetings of this nature, well help to ensure that we stay one step of the corrupt minds.”
Mitchell said that Grenada is particularly pleased that the conference is taking place, given that the parliament recently debated a new bill on Mutual Assistance, which will seek to incorporate into municipal law in Grenada, the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, between our Grenada and China.
He said this treaty was originally signed in March 2016. Through this Act, the treaty will have the force of law in Grenada, providing legal authority for giving legal assistance in criminal matters, he said.
“This bill signals an unwavering commitment on the part of the Grenada government to be a partner to all other nations in this global fight. By bringing this bill to parliament, we are reaffirming our long-established stance that Grenada shall not be a haven for those who seek to avoid the long, and increasingly inescapable, arm of international justice.
“We are confident that this conference will achieve its goal – and that we in the region, working with our counterparts, will deepen our cooperation in the area of anti-corruption.”
Mitchell said that the two countries already share a history of cooperation on many fronts “and we are confident that these ties will be deepened and broadened”.