Antigua and Barbuda and the United Kingdom have joined forces to strengthen border security in both countries.
During an intense training workshop, currently taking place at the Trade Winds Hotel, specially selected officers from the immigration department, the police and two officers from neighbouring Montserrat, will be given the opportunity to improve their skills and broaden their knowledge base under the guidance of two highly skilled security specialists on loan from the UK High Commission in Jamaica.
Resident British High Commissioner to St. John’s, Lindsy Thompson, said both Antigua and Barbuda and the UK have common interests in maintaining safe and secure borders.
“Despite the Atlantic Ocean being so vast, our nations effectively share a border. What affects you affects us, your threats are ours.
“We already experience some strong cooperation on immigration matters. In recent years A&B has worked with the UK to stop several irregular migrants transiting its nation en route to the UK. This is extremely welcome,” she said.
The UK Representative continued, “The benefits to my country are, I’m sure, obvious but this has huge benefits to Antigua and Barbuda too, sending a clear message to the organised immigration crime groups using Antigua and Barbuda as a transit point that law enforcement will not tolerate this activity through its borders.
“The safer and more secure you are, the safer and more secure we all are.”
Thompson explained that the participants will learn more about the immigration risks and threats within the Caribbean which impact the UK, and be provided with the tools and guidance to improve their ability to address those risks.
Minister responsible for Immigration, E. P. Chet Greene said the training offers one way to ensure that the immigration department stays a step ahead of those who intend to use the country’s borders for “less than desirable” purposes.
“The same way we pride ourselves in what we do, it’s the same way that criminals pride themselves in what they do. Every time that we are able to nab them, catch them or deal with them, it’s the same way they go away training to perfect their trade to beat the system.
“Effectively, what we are doing this morning is making sure we stay a step ahead of the game, a step ahead of criminals and those who would want to use our borders for nefarious purposes,” Greene said.
He thanked the UK government for partnering with Antigua and Barbuda to facilitate the training which comes “at a most important junction in world history and our own developmental thrust”.
Greene noted that Antigua and Barbuda has taken a decision to broaden its global footprint which includes visa waivers and the expansion of the tourist trade into South America and Africa and other areas of the world.
“This means that you will now be exposed to a different type of clientele, different types of people coming to Antigua and Barbuda.
“So, with every different group that comes we know that there will be some variances or variations in what we look for or what we will see and how we will treat things that come our way,” Greene stated.
Noting that immigration officers are the first point of contact when travellers arrive at the border, Greene said the continuous training of immigration officers is all the more important.