In keeping with his government’s commitment to addressing corruption at all levels, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis presided over a ceremony in which the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the United States of America pledged continued joint efforts in the fight against such practices. The Eighth Amendment to the Letter of Agreement on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement between both governments was signed during a ceremony at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. Under this most recent Amendment, the United States will provide over $1.4 million for law enforcement professionalization support, rule of law, transparency and anti-corruption reform in The Bahamas. Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Darren Henfield and United States Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Stephanie Bowers represented their governments in the signing. Also in attendance were Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Hon. Carl Bethel and Minister of National Security, the Hon. Marvin Dames. “My Government remains resolute in our commitment to addressing corruption,” said the Prime Minister, noting he was pleased to participate in the signing ceremony.
The original Letter of Agreement was signed on September 24, 2010. And since then, the Agreement has provided equipment, technology and training opportunities in various areas of law enforcement by the United States of America to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Department of Correctional Services. Additional initiatives comprise assistance with legislative reform, the creation of anti-corruption bodies and the provision of training, technical assistance and equipment to law enforcement, and the financial, judicial, and civil society sectors. Prime Minister Minnis said: “The additional support from our neighbor will help to facilitate the advancement of three of the government’s key priorities, namely, to advance our national security strategies to reduce crime, strengthen our borders, and reduce the recidivism rate for a safer Bahamas.” Moreover, it is envisioned that the scope of the amendments to the existing Agreement with respect to transparency and anti-corruption will support public sector modernization and the ease of doing business. “This lends well to the aggressive targeting of systematic corruption by my government, which aims to reduce the significant burden which corruption places on the public purse, to further stimulate foreign direct investment by enhancing confidence in our institutions to improve the quality and standard of government services, and to decrease the level of inequality,” the Prime Minister said.
Over the past eight years, the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs office at the US Mission to The Bahamas has provided nearly $14 million dollars in foreign assistance to The Bahamas. According to the US Government, a lack of transparency also discourages foreign investment in a country, corruption costs a country jobs and economic growth – and it forces a government to compensate for lost revenue by raising that revenue through other means. “These issues also directly affect the United States and the security of our people. As the United States increases border security, we must also have trust in the systems of our partners. Liberal travel procedures are predicated on the integrity of our partners’ systems — whether travel documents, police records, or the justice sector,” said US Chargé d’Affaires, Ms. Bowers. Concluded the Prime Minister: “The Government of The Bahamas is committed to working with our longstanding friend and ally to further strengthen relations, and to accomplish the desired outcomes of this Agreement.”