Security threat assessment needed for Diplomatic Centre

The In­ter­na­tion­al Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IA­TA) has pub­lished up­dat­ed and strin­gent SOPs re­gard­ing Air Trans­port and pro­to­cols for all coun­tries in the present COVID-19 pan­dem­ic es­pe­cial­ly as most coun­tries have closed their bor­ders or to a great ex­tent op­er­at­ing un­der lim­i­ta­tions.

For T&T, ac­cord­ing to IA­TA, the sole au­thor­i­ty for Air Trans­port re­sides with the Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty. (IA­TA – Coro­n­avirus Out­break Up­date May 12)

Ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tion­al best prac­tices, re­gard­ing the ar­rival of the Venezue­lan Vice Pres­i­dent, there would have had to be a se­ries of pa­per­work and ad­vanced doc­u­men­ta­tion pri­or to her ar­rival. Some of these pa­per trails would have been di­rect­ly re­lat­ed but not lim­it­ed to Min­istry of Works and Trans­port (Civ­il Avi­a­tion), Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty, For­eign and Cari­com Af­fairs and Con­sulates, both the Trinidad and To­ba­go Con­sulate in Venezuela and the Venezue­lan Con­sulate in Trinidad.

As­so­ci­at­ed with a vis­it of this lev­el would be a Diplo­mat­ic Clear­ance which can be a com­pi­la­tion of doc­u­ments that spells out the de­tails of the ar­riv­ing

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air­craft, the pro­files of the pas­sen­gers, ac­com­pa­nied by their Pass­port bio pages, pur­pose of vis­it and length of stay.

Al­so re­quired in some in­stances would be the pre­ferred Han­dling Agent of the air­craft. This is nor­mal­ly pre-arranged by the in coun­try con­sulate. A se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Venezue­lan Con­sulate would or should have been iden­ti­fied as the point per­son for the mis­sion. Nor­mal­ly, an ad­vanced par­ty rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­est of the vis­it­ing Head of State would be in coun­try and con­duct the prop­er re­con­nais­sance, with the knowl­edge and ap­proval of the host coun­try’s Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty. This per­son would have been in con­stant con­tact and brief­in­gs with For­eign and CARI­COM af­fairs coun­ter­parts. It is un­der­stood that such ex­changes would be to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion for the vis­it.

A very sig­nif­i­cant com­po­nent for vis­its of this na­ture would be prop­er me­dia man­age­ment. The me­dia would or should have been prop­er­ly briefed, pre­sent­ed with a Vis­it Brief, pro­file and agen­da and in­vit­ed. If not to the ac­tu­al meet­ing, but at least to the post meet­ing gath­er­ing, and al­lowed to field ques­tions. This ac­tiv­i­ty can and in most cas­es is ex­pect­ed to be con­trolled. There have been oc­ca­sions in the past where the ques­tions are sent in ad­vance. Es­pe­cial­ly where there may be lan­guage bar­ri­er is­sues.

The Cus­toms and Im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices, in­clud­ing Se­cu­ri­ty at the air­port would be dis­cussed in de­tail and agreed up­on first by the Venezue­lan au­thor­i­ties, pri­or to the ar­rival. There have been cas­es in the past where de­tailed de­mands are made to the host coun­try to sat­is­fy the Se­cu­ri­ty pro­to­cols of the vis­it­ing state. A ma­jor con­cern in most cas­es is the In­ter­na­tion­al Threat As­sess­ment of the vis­it­ing pro­file, the se­nior per­son on the en­tourage and the present Se­cu­ri­ty Aware­ness of the host coun­try.

It would be ex­pect­ed that for a mis­sion of such a lev­el, there would be a de­tailed Se­cu­ri­ty Plan in coun­try for the vis­it. Such de­tails are not dis­cussed in the pub­lic do­main, nor are they made avail­able for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. How­ev­er, a key fac­tor in these dis­cus­sions would be the in­di­vid­ual de­tails of the vis­it­ing del­e­ga­tion. As would be ex­pect­ed, such clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion is pro­tect­ed, but is in­te­gral to prop­er in coun­try back ground checks and pro­fil­ing.

The meet­ing place for the del­e­ga­tion and the in coun­try host­ing team will have to be iden­ti­fied in ad­vance and a pre-dis­cussed agen­da would have had to be agreed up­on. This takes place so that the host coun­try field the best pan­el of ex­perts to en­sure a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion and ap­plic­a­ble strate­gic di­rec­tions of the in­tend­ed con­ver­sa­tion. Se­cu­ri­ty at the venue and sur­round­ing ar­eas would have to be stepped up and would in­volve a joint agency col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach.

In this case the venue was the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre. How­ev­er, based on what has been pre­sent­ed, if there was no pri­or in­for­ma­tion as to who was at­tend­ing, then it would be strong­ly ad­vised that some­where in the line of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, or in­ter-min­is­te­r­i­al frame­work, there were over­sights and blind spots. If this is so, then it would be strong­ly ad­vised that a re­view of the Se­cu­ri­ty and Threat As­sess­ment for the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre be con­duct­ed, so as to im­me­di­ate­ly mit­i­gate all risks, iden­ti­fy the new threats and cor­rect present gaps in the “Se­cu­ri­ty Wall” at the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre.

Com­man­der Garvin Heer­ah, for­mer head of the Na­tion­al Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre, Home­land Se­cu­ri­ty and Safe City Ex­pert.

At present he is a se­nior lec­tur­er and se­nior re­searcher SAM TT and An­glia Ruskin Uni­ver­si­ty UK

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