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Caribbean

Representatives of all the 25-nations Association of Caribbean States (ACS) will attend the seventh summit of the regional organization from June 2–4 at Havana’s Convention Center, Cuba.

The Cuban foreign ministry said seven associated nations and eight observer organizations, along with guests will also attend the summit.

The forum will adopt a declaration and a plan of action to consolidate the bloc’s renovation process that started in 2013, the announcement explained.

ACS general secretary Alfonso Munera met with first deputy foreign minister Marcelino Medina in Havana last April to discuss preparations for the summit.

The founding documents of the ACS were signed on July 24, 1994, in Cartegenas de Indias, Colombia, with the aim of promoting consultation, cooperation and joint actions by all Caribbean countries.

Antigua

The UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will review Antigua and Barbuda’s human rights record for the second time this month.

The Caribbean country is one of 14 states to be examined by the UPR Working Group during its session. The first UPR took place on October 4, 2011.

The documents on which the review are based are: national report- information provided by the state under review; information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies and other treaty bodies.

Among the issues raised in the documents are; tackling violence against women; combating human trafficking and addressing the needs of victims; decriminalizing sexual acts between same-sex couple; addressing sexual abuse against children; the use of corporal punishment; prison overcrowding; backlog of criminal court cases; the imprisonment and lengthy sentences of children; steps to eradicate poverty; high teenage pregnancy; combatting discrimination against persons with disabilities and technical assistance to improve efforts to meet international human rights obligations.

The UPR is a unique process that involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all l92 UN member states.

Bahamas

CARICOM foreign ministers and the British foreign secretary recently held “frank and cordial” talks in Freeport, Bahamas at the Ninth Caribbean-UK Forum.

Bahamas Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell and Phillip Hammond, UK foreign secretary, both expressed their satisfaction at the discussions during a press conference at the end of the biennial Forum.

Mitchell said that the range of issues that engaged the ministers included climate change, health, financial services, correspondent banking, security and border threats.

He announced that there would be by six-monthly follow-up meetings at the level of senior officials on both sides prior to the next Forum scheduled for the UK in 2018.

Hammond, who announced assistance to the region for the fight against the Zika mosquito-borne virus at the opening ceremony recently, stated the relations with Caricom countries were important to the UK.

Cayman Islands

A European-wide blacklist of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions is coming and will be announced within the next six months.

Member of European Parliament Jeppe Kofod, who is part of the TAXE2 Committee, said that the EU blacklist for non-cooperative tax jurisdictions is a priority for the European Commission.

He said the European Parliament has called for such a list for a long time and Commissioner Moscovici has now committed himself to delivering with a six month time period.

Kofod said if the Cayman Islands were to be included on such a list, it would be a hammer blow for the financial services industry, which has spent the last few years bending over backwards to implement every OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) initiative required on tax information exchange and transparency, as well as the government striking the recent agreement with the UK on sharing beneficial ownership information.

Kofod, who is a member of Denmark’s Social Democratic delegation to the European Parliament, said Cayman’s potential inclusion on any EU blacklist would really depend upon its own actions.

He said the TAXE2 committee was pleased to see that the Cayman Islands ultimately decided to present themselves to the committee.

Guyana

The Guyana government has passed the contentious money laundering legislation, but the opposition says it will be without teeth because of the absence of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

The Anti-Money Laundering / Countering the Financing Terrorism (Amendment) Bill (AML / CFT) went through all the stages of the parliamentary process at the recent sitting of the House to be passed.

It absorbs the final recommendation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and paves the way for Guyana to apply to exit the FATF process.

The bill was presented by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, who highlighted Guyana’s obligation to becoming an AML / CFT compliant regime.

The opposition’s Anil Nadal, a former attorney general said the bill should have been sent to a special committee for consideration.

St. Kitts

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission are partnering with the government of St. Kitts and Nevis to host a regional geothermal forum under the theme “Opportunit­ies and Synergies for Collaborat­ion.”

The three-day forum will be held later this month in Basseterre.

Geothermal energy, through scientific evidence, has emerged as a priority in Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The meeting will bring together high level officials from relevant ministries and government agencies, engaged in the development of geothermal projects within the resource-rich countries in the OECS.

Representatives of multilateral institutions, international development partners and international financing institutions, as well as private sector developers and investors, will be present.

The forum comes at a time of increased interest and activity with respect to geothermal energy development with the CARICOM region.

St. Lucia

The Italian government has agreed to provide financial support to the government of St. Lucia for the state-of- the art flood and hazard early warning system and information center.

The agreement between the two countries were formalized during the recently concluded signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement at UN headquarters in New York by St. Lucia’s sustainable development minister James Fletcher and his Italian counterpart, Gian Luca Galletti.

The early warning system will involve the establishment of a multi-hazard information center for natural disasters forecasting and early warning that combines information derived from multiple ground and satellite sources and provides concrete information on upcoming extreme weather events and their potential impacts over the island.

The center will be supported by state-of-the art operational capabilities such as COSMO-SkyMed7, which is a constellation of four radar satellites, funded and designed by the government of Italy and used by government institutions and industry worldwide.

The project is expected to provide St. Lucia with sophisticated technology that will allow the country to predict the likely impacts of threats from climate change.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago recently signed a government-to-government agreement with Ghana, as well as a natural gas memorandum (MoU), which would see both countries developing commercially and viable natural gas projects.

The signing took place in Ghana during the visit of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and his delegation to the West African nation.

The government-to-government agreement was signed following Rowley’s official visit to Ghana where he me met with President John Dramani Mahama, at Flagstaff House, Kanda, Accra.

“Thereafter, both leaders and their respective delegates engaged in official bilateral talks, which resulted in the signing of a General Cooperative Agreement between the government of Ghana and the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” a statement from the Office of Dr. Keith Rowley said.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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