Coming out of a fifth regular session, held in Trinidad and Tobago, the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the Organization of American States (OAS) has renewed commitments to combat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever its origin or motivation. A *“Declaration of Port-of-Spain on Strengthening Cooperation on Strategies to Sustain and Advance the Hemispheric Fight against Terrorism,”* was adopted at the session which concluded on Thursday.
The threat of terrorism has been made even more serious by connections with money laundering, illicit trafficking in drugs and arms, and a number of other forms of transnational organized crime. Member states called for urgent measures to be taken to strengthen cooperation and information exchange *“with the aim of locating, capturing, prosecuting, and punishing the sponsors, organizers, and perpetrators of terrorist acts, as well as of identifying and freezing assets and resources used to facilitate, promote, or commit such acts.”*
In the Declaration of Port-of-Spain, CICTE members also affirmed the need to support cooperation on cross-border management, improve the security and integrity of official documents, develop ways to rapidly disseminate warnings about cybersecurity threats, and intensify efforts to disrupt the capacity of terrorist networks to threaten safe travel and recreation in the member states.
Current Chairman of CICTE is Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of National Security, Martin Joseph. He acknowledged that the work plan which was adopted in Port of Spain is going to require continued political, human and financial support; however, CICTE is a forum which must always be a forerunner in the sustained fight against terrorism, recognizing that it*“is a unique inter-American forum which allows for dialogue, policymaking and action in countering terrorism and related matters.”*
In 1998, in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the OAS committed to establish CICTE, comprising “competent national authorities” of the member states. This effort was further endorsed by the heads of state of the hemisphere in the Plan of Action of the Second Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile. The first regular session of CICTE was held in Miami, Florida in October 1999.
The basic objectives of CICTE are to:
• Enhance the exchange of information via the competent national authorities, including the establishment of an Inter-American database on terrorism issues
• Formulate proposal to assist member states in drafting appropriate counterterrorism legislation in all states
• Compile the bilateral, sub regional, regional and multilateral treaties and agreements signed by member states and promote universal adherence to international counterterrorism conventions
• Enhance border cooperation and travel documentation security measures
• Develop activities for training and crisis management
National Points of Contact (NPCs) have been appointed as the principal, professional level liaison between the OAS CICTE and Member State governments. NPCs ensure that communications from CICTE reach the appropriate government authorities, and to see that CICTE is informed in a timely manner of counter-terrorism-related developments within their respective Member States. In The Bahamas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been designated as the NPC, with the Ministry of National Security as Competent National Authority.
The Bahamas is a signatory to the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, adopted by the Organisation of American States in 2002.