Caribbean Human Rights Initiative Conference

Caribbean Human Rights Initiative Conference

By By Captain Jessica Plummer, Security Cooperation Office, U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti
July 14, 2016

The Security Cooperation Office – Haiti (SCO-Haiti) and the
Louisiana National Guard (LANG), in partnership with the U.S. Southern Command
(SOUTHCOM) Human Rights Office, sponsored The Caribbean Human Rights Initiative
(HRI) Conference on May 24th-25th, 2016 at the Jackson Barracks in New Orleans,
Louisiana. The conference included participants from SOUTHCOM’s Human Rights
Office, SCO-Haiti, LANG, and military/security force personnel, and
representatives of human rights and civil society organizations from partner
nations, including Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican
Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. The theme of the conference
focused on the shared human rights and security challenges faced today by
Caribbean partner nation security and defense forces. Representatives from Colombia and Brazil served as
subject-matter experts, sharing their expertise on areas such as human rights
considerations in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts, and the
importance of institutionalizing respect for human rights within the armed
forces by establishing a strong program at all levels of the defense
institution. Trinidad and Tobago described their recent efforts of integrating
human rights within the Armed Forces, while the Inspector General of the
Haitian National Police (HNP) provided an overview of the country’s successful
Community Policing program. The conference initiated dialogue and enhanced cooperation
between SOUTHCOM and Caribbean partner nation defense and security forces in an
effort to begin building a regional network focused on human rights and
security challenges for our Caribbean partner nations.Over the years, the security and defense
institutions in the Caribbean and Latin America have made steady progress
toward respect for human rights, but many countries still face daunting
challenges in the face of rising levels of violence and the use of defense
forces in public security missions throughout the region. During each day of
the conference, working group break-out sessions allowed participants to
discuss and share best practices and challenges on specific areas of concern in
a smaller setting. Some of the challenges facing security and defense forces in
the region discussed by participants included gang violence, the need for
adequate use of force protocols, human trafficking, high crime rates, poverty,
transnational organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and political
instability. The May 2016 Caribbean HRI Conference followed last year’s
successful Human Rights Initiative conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In
coordination with SOUTHCOM’s Human Rights Office, SCO-Haiti and LANG will
continue to support human rights initiatives with our military and security
partners in the Caribbean. For more information about the last year’s human rights
conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, follow the link below: http://www.southcom.mil/newsroom/Pages/SOUTHCOM-ho...
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