Caribbean Round-Up

Antigua

An Antiguan businessman is facing up to 20 years in jail for human trafficking after becoming the first person to be charged under the country’s recently-passed Trafficking in Persons Prevention Act.

Promoter Cheryl Thompson has been slapped with 49 charges after being accused of benefiting from the services of her 17 victims, who were allegedly sexually exploited.

Thompson, the owner of several stores and rental properties and a nightclub, was granted EC$500,000 bail (US$185,000).

She has been ordered to report to the police three times a week.

Bahamas

Some 72 Haitian migrants who were found in overcrowded boats near The Bahamas have been returned home following two separate operations by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Sixty Haitians were spotted in an overloaded sail freighter recently by a Coast Guard helicopter.

A day later, a second group of migrants was sighted on another overloaded Haitian sail boat by another Coast Guard helicopter.

The U.S. Embassy said the crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Northland and Vigorous “arrived on the scene and distributed life jackets to the passengers. The Vigorous crew embarked 122 Haitian migrants.

Barbados

Regional airline, LIAT has promised support for law enforcement authorities in Barbados after one of its pilots was arrested on drug-related charges,

LIAT has also undertaken its own investigation into the matter, according to a media release issued by LIAT’s Corporate Communications Manager Desmond Brown.

The pilot, Keith Richard Otway Allen, who was arrested on drug-related charges in Barbados recently, has pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared in a Bridgetown magistrate court.

He was denied bail and remanded in custody. He is charged with possession of marijuana, intent to supply, importation and trafficking.

Allen, 34 of Arnos Vale, who also resides in Barbados, arrived in Barbados on a LIAT flight from St. Vincent. He was arrested by officers from the Drug Squad, who allegedly found two packets of the marijuana in his pilot’s bag and another six packages in a pulley he was carrying

He was wearing his pilot’s uniform but was not on duty at the time.

Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has stressed that the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) will remain a state-owned radio and television station.

He told Barbadians recently that the Pine Hill, St. Michael station had been operating with an accumulated deficit that had quadrupled to more than Bds $76 million by the time the government came into office three years ago but now was not the time to restructure it.

The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) government established CBC as a state-owned station. The DLP government will keep the CBC as a state-owned station, the prime minister said.

Cayman Islands

Shmona Simpson, a model student of the Cayman Islands and the holder of a first-class honors degree from the University of London, is the latest recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Simpson, 23, who has an MSc in global health from the University of Oxford, was announced the 2012 winner at Government House recently, joining a list of past winners that included American president Bill Clinton (1968) and former vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies Rex Nettleford (1957).

Names after Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Scholarship, is an international postgraduate award for study at the University of Oxford and according to Simpson, it goes way beyond academic attainment.

Haiti

The Haitian government is facing renewed pressure to bring former dictator Jan-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to justice for human rights abuses committed under his regime.

Some 16 Canadian organizations under the grouping Concertation pour Haiti (CPH) have written to President Michel Martelly demanding a “just and fair” trial for the former dictator.

“We are also aware to complete a just and fair trail against Jean-Cluade Duvalier and other officials under his command is a huge challenge for the Haitian judicial system,” the group wrote.

“We are convince that can be met with technical support from the international community. If the Haitian authorities send a request to this effect to the government and civil society of Canada, the Concertation pour Haiti will put pressure so that an adequate response would be given,” it added.

Many individuals and groups, including Amnesty International, have criticized the pace of investigations following Duvalier’s return to Haiti in January this year after 25 years in exile.

Haiti

Haiti’s justice minister has stepped down. National Palace spokesman Lucien Jura says Justice Minister Josue Pierre-Louis handed in his resignation recently.

The resignation comes after the Chamber of Deputies asked for his dismissal following the overnight arrest of Deputy Arnel Belizaire in October.

The lawmakers were outraged that the police jailed Belizaire even though he enjoys immunity as an elected official and there was no formal request to lift his immunity.

They believe Pierre-Louis was one of several officials who ordered Belizaire’s detention.

Jamaica

Government has revised its policy on imported used vehicles in the wake of a fall-off in the local industry.

It has increased the maximum age limit of certain categories of imported used motor vehicles from three to five years and from four to six years for light motor vehicles.

The extended age limit, which became effective from Dec. 1, 2011, will affect motor cars, sports utility vehicles, pick-ups and cargo vans.

The policy shift was announced recently by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr. Christopher Tufton, who explained that the industry had declined significantly, hitting an all time low in 2009.

He noted that the used car industry has been hard hit by the global recession, increased demand for other markets for three-year-old cars as well as unfavorable movements of the Japanese currency.

This, he said, resulted in a decline of over 57 percent between 2008 and 2009.

President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association Lynville Hamilton has welcomed the decision.

He said consumers should begin to experience the cost benefits from early next year.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago has been ranked 91 out of 183 with a score of 3.2 out of 10 in the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) rankings.

It is the lowest ranking T&T has ever attained since being included in the CPI for the first time in 2001.

In 2001 Trinidad and Tobago was ranked 31 out of 91 countries and scored 5.3 out of 10.

This statement was made by the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) Chairman Richard Joseph at the press conference in Port of Spain recently.

Last year T&T was ranked 73 out of 178 countries with a score of 3.6.

Joseph described the change in ranking from 73 to 91 as a “precipitous drop.”

The CPI ranks countries based on how corrupt their public service is perceived to be and is a combination of surveys drawing on corruption-related data collected by a variety of reputable institutions.

The surveys used to prepare the 2011 ranking covered the period from December 2011 to September 2011, Joseph said.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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