Good day Colleagues,

As you may be aware, the current Presidency of ARIN-CARIB resides in Trinidad and Tobago.  The representatives are Joan Honore-Paul, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and Acting Superintendent of Police, Wendell Lucas, Head of the Financial Investigations Branch of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

Thus far, 2020 has been a year filled with challenges.

One could not help but be moved by images of the illness and death which have gripped the world.  We have all watched in horror as China, France, Spain, United Kingdom, U.S., Brazil and other countries have fallen prey to this Pandemic. Indeed, Covid-19 has affected all of us and the economies of our countries in a real way this year.  Borders have been closed and social distancing has been mandated.  Additionally, the Black Lives Matter movement has also touched many hearts and lives and in many cases has literally added fuel to fire.  This state of affairs may have conspired to distract us from our work in Asset Recovery.

In such circumstances, the Steering Group meeting which was to be held in Miami in April was cancelled and the AGM which was tentatively scheduled for late August in Trinidad has been postponed.  Instead, the Steering Group met virtually on June 17, 2020 and had a very successful meeting, and we are now considering a virtual AGM in December, 2020.

At the Steering Group meeting applications for membership, training needs, statistics and funding were addressed.  But more than a forum for discussion of those matters, the Steering Group meeting provided encouragement and motivation for the persons present. It also served to underscore the fact that as a Caribbean organisation we stand together to assist in the fight against crime and as individuals we have a duty to advance the interests of criminal justice notwithstanding the circumstances. 

The Secretariat and the Presidency also attended an ECAB (Europol Criminal Assets Bureau) meeting on 8th June, 2020.  At that meeting, we were pleased to hear from other ARIN organisations which, despite the current Pandemic, have used their platform to design and deliver virtual training.  We were especially impressed with the work done by ARINSA in this regard.

Though at first blush, the vision espoused by the Trinidad presidency for 2020 might seem to be overly ambitious in this time of Covid 19, we might still meet our goals for growth and development if we use the virtual platform which has been offered by CARICOM IMPACS. Further, telephone conversations, Microsoft Teams Meetings and Zoom meetings still provide us with the necessary tools to get our jobs done.

It would be remiss, if, having a virtual platform such as ours, we did not use it to advance the mandate of our organization, even in these troubled times. Further, we must be mindful of the fact that even though we have been understandably distracted by disease, death, economic hardship and social unrest, the criminals are not distracted but continue to scheme and plan. We in turn must continue to fight to recover illegally gained assets from the criminals who live off their criminal proceeds and use the proceeds to further advance their criminal enterprises.    

Finally, let us keep in touch and keep well until we meet again.