Caribbean RoundUp

Bahamas

Two Bahamian pastors are accused of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy on Feb. 15 last year.

Arsenio Butler, 27, pastor of the People’s Assembly Word Center and his youth pastor David Sears, 25, are accused of cruelty to a child by allegedly getting the juvenile drunk and sexually assaulting him. They will re-appear in court next month.

The men pleaded not guilty when they appeared in court before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt.

Butler was placed on $8,000 bail and Sears $6,000. As a condition of bail they have to surrender their passports to the court.

Barbados

The European Union (EU) says it is willing to provide BDS$100 million to Barbados in grant funding.

A statement issued following talks between Barbados and EU delegations, noted the funds would become available once certain macro-economic and public finance criteria were fully met.

The European Union last year released Bds $28 million for the Barbados Human Resource Development Program, while another Bds $15 million was provided through the Barbados Renewable Energy Program, all in the form of non-reimbursable grants.

The EU delegation was led by Ambassador Mikael Barfod, while Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler led the Barbados team.

The Barbados government has begun laying off employees as part of a program to revive the ailing economy and has also indicated that it would not be rushing to fill vacancies within the public service.

The EU diplomat had also called for more information on how the government intends to manage its debt in the medium term and that he also wanted to hear more about the package of reform that the government had begun undertaking.

Dominica

Dominica says abolishing the death penalty is not among its immediate priorities even though London-based human rights group Amnesty International has urged the island to take the lead in the ongoing discussion top abolish the death penalty in the region.

Last October, Chiara Sangiorgio, who coordinates Amnesty International’s campaigning initiatives to abolish the death penalty worldwide, said during a visit to Dominica that it could take the lead in the discussion to abolish death penalty since “there has been only one executive and the crime rate is really low.”

Amnesty International said the last execution took place in l986 and that as of December 31, 2011, there were no people on death row.

But Attorney General Levi Peter said the death penalty issue was not a priority for the Roosevelt Skerrit administration.

He said if a poll were conducted here “you would find that majority of the population believe not only that it should remain on the books, but it should be carried out.”

Grenada

The Grenada government will sign a Letter of Intent to implement the International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed home grown structural adjustment program by the end of this month even if trade unions fail to reach an agreement with regards to a three-year wage freeze.

This was disclosed by Grenada Economic Affairs Minister Oliver Joseph, who said that while the Dr. Keith Mitchell government has given the assurance there would be no job losses as a result of retrenchment once the program goes into effect, the promise can only be a reality if the unions accept the wage freeze.

“If the government was to go ahead and sign without an assurance from the union that there will be no increase in salaries for the period of the three-year program, which commenced officially as of Jan. 2, 2014, then government will have to use the option of retrenching workers in order to reduce on government’s monthly wage bill,” Joseph told a post Cabinet news conference.

Education Minister Anthony Boatswain said if the government didn’t go through with structural the adjustment program there would be some uneasiness with regards to the social and economic development of Grenada.

Late last year, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell told nationals that while the international community was willing to restructure the island’s debt, the country would have to make sacrifices.

Haiti

A long forsaken island north of Haiti is getting help from the Caribbean nation’s government.

The office of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said in a statement that it has begun a six-month program to help the people of Lle de la Tortue, some of the poorest people on the already impoverished island nation.

This program will create seven restaurants and yield 1, 000 jobs through a sanitation program.

Farmers will receive free seeds and others will receive goats.

The national police force will also send 30 officers to crack down on illegal migration.

Because of it remoteness, the mountainous island has long been a popular spot for smugglers to organize migrant trips to the United States, Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s first marijuana growers association has begun to take shape, but potential members are being advised not to start cultivation of the weed, until the legal green light has been given.

The backers of the Ganja Future Growers and Grower Association have proposed that, as a condition of membership, interested parties sign a declaration that “they will not take any part, directly or indirectly, in the growing/cultivation of ganja until there is a legal and regulated framework for the growing of ganja.”

The association, which was launched in January this year, is an initiative of the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Task Force, the Ganja Law Reform Coalition and the National Alliance for the Legislation of Ganja.

The National Alliance has proposed that small ganja farmers or traditional cultivators get special protection at the outset of the establishment of a formal cannabis industry in Jamaica, after fears that big growers could sweep them aside.

“For the first three years of a regulated industry, licenses should only be given to plots of one acre or less,” the Alliance suggested.

Suriname

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights says it has filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against Suriname over violation of the rights of members of the Kalina and Lokono indigenous peoples of that country.

The commission in a statement said Suriname has failed to establish the regulatory foundations that would allow for recognition of the right to collective ownership of the lands, territories, and natural resources of the Kalina and Lokono indigenous people.

The commission said the violation of the right to collective property as a result of this situation continues to this date and “neither the granting and continued existence of mining concessions and licenses nor the establishment and ongoing operation of the nature reserves have been submitted to any consultation process designed to obtain the prior, free and informed consent of the Kalina and Lokono people.”

The commission, a principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), said all these developments have occurred in a context devoid of judicial protection, since no effective remedies exist in Suriname by which indigenous peoples can claim their rights.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will this week open a new Trinidad and Tobago Embassy during her five-day official visit to China.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said Persad-Bissessar will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Several agreements proposed to be signed following bilateral discussions include a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the General Administration of Sport of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Sport for cooperation in the field of sport.

Also included is a MoU on cooperation in energy and energy-related matters; a bilateral air services agreement and the protocol between Trinidad and Tobago and China concerning the posting of a Chinese medical team to work in Trinidad and Tobago.

Barbados

Barbados police say they have detained a captain and crew of a Guyana registered ship for questioning in connection with a quantity of cocaine and marijuana found on the boat.

The police statement said the people were detained after a search of the vessel, “Rudisa Global” that had arrived at the Bridgetown port.

The search was carried out by members of the Drug Squad, Customs and Excise Department, supported by the Police Canine Unit and the Barbados Coast Guard.

Dominica

Dominica has recorded more than 31 cases of the viral disease, Chikungynya that is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

The first case was discovered on Jan. 16 this year. Health authorities say while the numbers keep changing on a daily basis, the last count of confirmed cases was 31 cases.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Johnson said the disease have spread to several areas across the island. He said most of the cases could be “managed at home without having to admit them to the hospital.”

Dr. Johnson said there was no cause for alarm for the disease, whose symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, rash and joint pain.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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