Caribbean Round-Up

Antigua

A major poll is suggesting the ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) has a major lead just weeks ahead of the June 12 General Election in Antigua and Barbuda.

The CASURO poll gives the UPP an eight (8) percent advantage over the opposition Antigua Labor Party (ALP).

For the question, which party will you vote for its elections are held today – 46 percent said the UPP while 38 percent said ALP.

Fifteen (15) percent of voters are still undecided according to the CASURO poll, which was conducted over a two-week period ending

The pollsters say 1,228 people were questioned over 15 constituencies and the poll had a margin of error of three (3) per cent.

The pollsters say similar to their February poll, strong support is evident for the UPP and in three (3) constituencies it lost in 2009.

Bahamas

U.S. Charge d’Affaires John Dinkleman said recently he could not confirm or deny allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is recording and archiving every cell phone conversation in the Bahamas.

But Dinkleman said the relationship between the United States and The Bahamas has never been stronger. “The United States government is working closely with the government of the The Bahamas to meet any queries that the government of The Bahamas may have regarding any programs that the United States is engaged in” the U.S. Charge d’Affaires said.

Dinkelman was joined by Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes and Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage for a wreath-laying ceremony at Clifton Pier in commemoration of Memorial Day.

The government of The Bahamas has demanded an explanation from the United States over the documents, which were leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

According to the documents leaked by Snowden, the NSA is using a surveillance system called SOMALGET to collect and store “full-take audio” of every mobile call made in The Bahamas and storing it for up to 30 days.

The story first appeared on the news website The Intercept.

According to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the only other country where the NSA records and archives every cell phone conversation is Afghanistan.

Cayman Islands

Four Cuban migrants were arrested and three remain in custody after yet another near-riot among detainees in the Cayman Islands, who are awaiting deportation.

The Cayman News Service (CNS said police, immigration officials, prison officers and even fire crews were all called to the Fairbanks Immigration Detention Center recently after the disturbance broke out at the facility.

The CNS said the men were said to be threatening staff and to burn down the facility as tensions among the migrants mounted as a result of deportation problems.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said local authorities are due to meet with Cuban officials this month (June) to review the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), stating that the reparation timelines need to be addressed.

He warned that any more arrivals of Cuban migrants could matters even worse.

Guyana

An Australian company announced recently that it plans to open a large-scale gold mine in the South American country of Guyana this year.

Perth-based Troy Resources Limited said it plans to produce an initial 90,000 ounces of gold annually.

Minister of Mining Robert Persaud said the company expects to invest about $90 million to develop the mine and that it already has imported a $5 million grinding mill.

The mine would open in Guyana’s northwest Cuyuni region and would employ about 500 workers.

It would be the first gold mine to open since Omai Gold Mines Ltd, a consortium between Guyana’s government and a Canadian company, ceased operations in 2005.

The mine was once considered one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world and it closed after waste overflowed into a nearby dam causing an environmental disaster.

Jamaica

A 14-year-old boy was arrested and charged with the murder of a nine-year-old boy in the western parish of St. James recently.

The teenager appeared in court in the western city of Montego Bay and the case was adjourned to later this month.

The charge came after police discovered the body of Romain Robinson in some bushes last week.

Police investigators say the teenager and his brother were taken into custody and questioned but released the same day.

Investigators returned to the community and arrested the 14-year-old after he reportedly confessed to killing Romain, who was said to be his close friend.

St. Lucia

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has advised that there are EC$100 counterfeit notes in circulation in the Eastern Caribbean.

The bank states that in circulation is a fake money bill which is photo copied or printed poorly.

“They will appear smaller than regular bills and lack the unique security features of the ECCB issued bank noted,” it said.

The bank has advised that some of the existing security features of EC bank noted include a see-through feature.

The EC bank notes are in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

Suriname

Suriname, which has announced plans to remove the death penalty from its criminal books, says it will increase the maximum jail term for life sentences from 20 to 30 years.

Justice and Police Minister Edward Belfort said in addition to increasing the jail term for life sentences usually reserved for heinous crimes, the government is also moving to increase the jail term for criminals convicted of committing lesser crimes from 15 to 20 years.

Belfort said the amendments are related to a draft modification of the Criminal Code that will soon be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.

The revised code will no longer feature the death penalty that Belfort described as an outdated piece of legislation that is irreversible once it is carried out.

The justice minister has been vocal about scrapping capital punishment, saying in March that “countries that apply it would be expected to be the safest countries in the world, yet still have many murders committed on a daily basis.”

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government has ordered 20 specifically outfitted armored vehicles to assist the country’s law enforcement in the fight against crime.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith said the vehicles will be used in the protection for law enforcement agencies, mainly the police and Defense Force, adding, that these agencies need to have the vehicles for extra protection “in the fight against crime.”

The minister said it is important to ensure that security agencies are well equipped and modernized to perform their duties.

The 15 armored vehicles are being outfitted with safety gear designed to withstand various forms of attack.

The vehicles will also have specialty equipment including GPS, gun ports and computerized systems, which will be linked to various national security agencies.

Jamaica

The Jamaica Bar Association says the firing of former director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Resource Training Network (CHART), Professor Brendan Bain may be viewed as an act of contempt of court.

Professor Bain provided expert testimony in a case brought by a gay man who is challenging Belize and Trinidad and Tobago’s anti-sodomy laws.

Recently the University of the West Indies terminated Professor Bain’s contract following complaints by some 35 advocacy groups, which said they had lost confidence in him as a result of his testimony.

However, the Jamaica Bar Association president, Donovan Walker, believes Professor Bain’s dismissal could be considered as a wrongful interference in a judicial process.

The bar association believes Professor Bain is being treated unfairly.

Walker says Professor Bain is clear in his written statement that the opinion expressed in the report was in a personal capacity and should not be attributed to any institution to which he is associated.

Walker further says Professor Bain is an expert in his field and persons are free to agree or disagree with his opinion.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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