Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 11th 2014 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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BUCCAMENT---Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar yesterday called on Caricom
leaders to support T&T s bid to have the
Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) secretariat head-
quartered in Port-of-Spain.
She lobbied for support while addressing
the opening of the 25th Caricom inter-ses-
sional conference at Buccament Bay resort,
The PM officially handed over Caricom
chairmanship to St Vincent Prime Minister
Ralph Gonsalves at the ceremony.
Fourteen of the 15 regional leaders are
attending the two-day conference. Suri-
name s Desi Bouterse, who is attending a
Latin American grouping meeting on
Venezuela, was absent.
Caricom Secretary General Irwin La
Rocque and its chairman Gonsalves praised
Persad-Bissessar for excellent work in her
"We must thank her from the bottom of
our heart," Gonsalves said.
Addressing her fellow leaders, Persad-
Bissessar, who is head of Caricom s
crime/security committee, said crime and
security remained of concern to all.
She said T&T was proposing an amend-
ment to the conference agenda on ratification
of the ATT and also to seek support for
T&T s Caricom-endorsed bid to host the
ATT secretariat in Port-of-Spain.
She said the ATT provided Caricom with
a significant component in the global fight
against trade of conventional arms in illicit
"Today 116 states have signed the ATT,
including Caricom members, save Haiti," she
She said 11 states---including T&T and
other regional islands---had ratified the ATT.
Persad-Bissessar added: "However, for
this to come into force, it requires the sig-
nature of 50 states."
She said T&T had support from Mexico
and Chile for T&T to host the ATT secre-
"I m calling on my colleagues in Caricom
to consider seriously expediting your signa-
tures on this treaty so this ratification can
take place. I m sure we can make up some
numbers," she added.
She also called for a unified approach in
negotiations before and after the ATT became
Meantime, Persad-Bissessar said, she had
taken on board the need to lock down mar-
itime borders and would be working to
strengthen radar systems, particularly with
Grenada and St Vincent.
The PM extended an invitation to Caricom
states which wished to share T&T s embassy
in Beijing, China.
"We will be opening our doors to Caricom
for islands who don t have embassies in
China. We could have a Caricom desk within
our T&T Embassy," she said, noting that
T&T s agreements with China could redound
to the region s benefit.
Persad-Bissessar said Foreign Affairs Min-
ister Winston Dookeran and the Caricom
Secretary General would work on the plan
for a shared T&T embassy.
She also invited leaders to T&T for Nelson
Mandela Week, which involves a week of
activities in July commemorating the life of
the late South African leader.
The meeting started over a hour late due
to the late arrival of several leaders. Several
Vincentian protesters staged a placard
demonstration at the entrance to the Buc-
BUCCAMENT---Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar says while decriminalising marijuana
for medical use may be something worth con-
sidering, as other countries have done it, she
could not say "yea" or "nay" without getting
feedback from the T&T public.
The PM spoke to reporters yesterday about the
issue after yesterday s opening function of the
Caricom inter-sessional meeting.
Conference host Caricom chairman Dr Ralph
Gonsalves said the meeting s long agenda, which
he detailed, included the regional policy on medical
marijuana and alteration of existing laws on the
strict proscription of marijuana use for social and
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Persad-Bisses-
sar said the issue was something leaders agreed
in principle to discuss since they would have to
take it back to their respective populations.
"I don t think as a responsible politician I would
want to comment without getting feedback from
the people of T&T.
"It s being done in other countries and certain
US states and it is something certainly worth
considering (in terms) of the steps for medical
purposes," she added.
Research, she added, had shown when
use of the herb was decriminalised, crime
and security issues lessened as it was no
longer on the black market and the secret
movements and gun-running involved
in the distribution were lessened. She
noted some also saw it as a less powerful
narcotic than other types.
However, the PM stressed: "I have not
made any view on that. We will have
further discussions. Research has to be
done and when we have that before us
we will take it to T&T for public discus-
Kamla: Referendum first on marijuana ease
PM lobbies for ATT secretariat
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, left, with Caricom chairman Dr Ralph Gonzalves, centre, and Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Rocque
at yesterday meeting at Buccament Bay Hotel, St Vincent. PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
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