Caribbean RoundUp

Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean, foreign minister for Barbados, addresses the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Associated Press / Frank Franklin II

Caribbean

Trade Ministers from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) recently attended the l0th Ministerial Conference (MC10) of the World trade Organization (WTO) which was held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Prior to the four-day conference, the ACP ministers and officials held a strategic preparatory meeting where Barbados Foreign Affairs Minister, Maxine McClean, highlighted several unresolved issues.

McClean, who chaired the deliberations, said that among the unresolved issues that would need to be resolved, include agriculture, flexibility issues, special and differential treatment in trade, and the continuation of the Doha Development Agenda.

An ACP statement said that ACP Secretary General, Guyanese-born Dr. Patrick Gomes was also among those making presentation to the strategic meeting.

Antigua

A call has been made for Caribbean people to be given the right to recall representatives or de-elect them before their expiry date of their usual term if they are performing badly or poorly.

It has come from former Dominica’s Attorney General Bernard Wiltshire and Antigua and Barbuda’s former Information Commissioner Alister Thomas, who both agreed that citizens should not be forced to accept a representative with whom they are dissatisfied.

Wiltshire said, “where is that recall process if the governments of any of these administrations of these island states are functioning in an incompatible way with the citizenry, the overwhelming majority of the citizenry.”

He contended that the current position where the people have to wait for a general election to remove those who are not performing “speaks volumes of a weakness in the administrative structure and it shows a total advantage to the parliamentary process.”

Thomas, who said he was uncertain whether there’s any nation where the power of recall is available to the people, said Caribbean leaders “have to be creative.”

Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Pesad-Bissessar during her campaign for the 2010 general election had promised that she would bring legislation to recall ministers who were not performing, but that was put on the back burner until she went out of office in September this year.

Bahamas

A report into the probe of the arrest of 11 Jamaican women in The Bahamas earlier this month is expected to be handed over to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell.

Police said that the women were detained when the Selective Enforcement Team, acting on intelligence went to a nightclub where they held the 11 Jamaican women whom they suspected to be involved in prostitution.

The Police Department is compiling a report to be sent to Mitchell and also Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs minister.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to Mitchell expressing concerns that the women may have been unfairly profiled for arrest and were not afforded proper treatment.

Bahamian women’s rights groups believe the Jamaicans were victims of misconduct by officers who allegedly discriminated against them based on their nationality.

The police said that the women were taken into custody for breach of the Immigration Act. The club’s managers were also held for Breach of the Business License Act.

Dominica

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and other government officials recently paid a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strengthen economic and political ties with Dubai — one of the fastest growing and most strategically important Middle Eastern countries.

He met with investors from Dubai as well as others from the rest of the Middle East to bring foreign direct investments to Dominica to create jobs and stimulate economic activity.

Skerrit also addressed a conference of service providers of Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment program in Dubai.

Dominica’s Citizenship Program has been taken around the world by Skerrit, who is also the island’s finance minister, with the hope of bringing large scale developments to the island.

Guyana

A High Court judge has thrown out a case in which former Guyana President Bharath Jagdeo had been accused of using statements that could have resulted in hatred or ethnic violence.

Justice Navendra Singh recently dismissed the private charge the former head of state that had been filed by Christopher Ram who alleged that statements made Jagdeo on March 8 this year about the beating of drums to drive one race out of office could have resulted in ethnic violence or hatred as cited in the Representation of the People’s Act.

Attorneys for Jagdeo argued that he was innocent of the charge and the magistrate did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

The private criminal charge followed statements during the general election campaign.

Grenada

The Canada-born Grenada university lecturer Linnea Veinotte, who went missing was found dead in the capital, St. Georges two days later.

A post-mortem examination revealed that she died as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest and lower body, caused by a car accident.

Akim Frank, 26, who gave himself up to police has been charged with non-capital murder.

Veinotte was reported missing after going for a run with the family dog on the morning of Dec. 6, 2015. The dog, Nico, was found injured at the side of the road, but the 36-year-old mother of two could not be found. The dog later died.

After a few days of searching and investigating, police recovered the vehicle involved in the accident and named Frank as a person of interest.

Less than 24 hours later, Frank turned himself in and took the police to the area where Veinotte’s body was found.

Frank appeared in court last week and was remanded in prison. The trial is set for Jan. 19, 2016.

Jamaica

The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is preparing to stage the first in a series of lectures on medical tourism in Jamaica, dubbed #DoBizJa Medical Tourism Lecture Series later this month.

The sessions aim to increase the number of local investors in the sector, while highlighting the opportunities available for local medical practitioners for this untapped market.

Discussions will be held by Dr. Jacqueline Watson, president and CEO of the Washington DC-based healthcare management and strategy firm, Health Concepts International LLC.

JAMPRO’s president Diane Edwards said the health and wellness tourism sector is a multimillion industry globally and the lecture series will provide an opportunity for practitioners to gain further insight for Jamaica and the region.

“This sector has evolved originally in Jamaica over the past few years, already attracting over $15 million euros in foreign investments through the Spanish Group, Hospiten, as well as developments such as G west in Montego Bay. We see this interest as an opportunity to discuss the inner workings of Medical Tourism and get feedback on its potential for development,” she said.

The national service sector strategy developed by the Jamaica Coalition of Services Industry (JSCI) identified health and wellness as one of the priority sub-industries for export.

The strategy projects a minimum of 15,000 medical and residential care patients and an annual income of US$15 million by 2020.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis Attorney General Vincent Byron said capital punishment remains on the books of the twin-island and any change in the policy must be preceded by a robust and comprehensive debate.

He acknowledged that the world has changed significantly over the years and that brought with it a different sensibility.

“It is something the United Nations has over the time been bringing to the table. Should the state be involved in taking life? Brown asked.

The Attorney General said there has been more pressure being put on governments around the world to adhere to the principle of sanctity of life and should we find alternative ways of punishing people who have done so ( taken a life).

That debate is expected to be taken up in various countries in the Caribbean, particularly among Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states.

Capital punishment remains legal in a majority of these countries and Byron, who also served as St Kitts and Nevis minister of justice and legal affairs, said it was a matter of sovereignty.

According to prison statistics, the last time the death sentence was carried out in St Kitts and Nevis was on December 19, 2008.

Suriname

The CEO of the Islamic Development Corporation of the Private Sector (ICD) Khaled Al Aboodi and the CEO of the Trust Bank, Maureen Badjoeri signed a cooperation agreement, the first of its kind between the private sector of Suriname and ICD, a branch of the Islamic Development Band in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Suriname is seeking to be the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leader in Islamic finance took a major goal in this realty recently.

The visiting officials were in Suriname recently to sign the agreement between the private sector of Suriname and a branch of the Islamic Development Bank.

In her speech, Badjoeri said this sort of cooperation is precisely what Suriname needs as a stimulus to its economy, which is in recession. The Trust Bank is a private entity in Suriname.

Suriname’s Minister of Finance and governor of the Islamic Bank, Gillmore Hoefdraad said his government seeks further investment capital from the Islamic Bank for a variety of projects. He told the audience that Islamic finance has become common globally.

Trinidad

A joint team of officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) discovered 44 liters of liquid cocaine in a container which were concealed in over 40 cartoons of Trinidad and Tobago-made orange juice in a container, full of food products destined for Toronto from Trinidad and Tobago.

A statement from the RCMP said investigations began on Nov. 16 by officers of the CBSA at the Port of Halifax inspected a sea container containing different food products that originated from Trinidad and Tobago.

The officers seized the cocaine and contacted the RCMP, triggering further investigations in the Toronto area.

Norris Williams, 46, of Whitby and 46 year-old Lincoln Strachan, of Mississauga, were subsequently arrested and each face charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking, importing drugs into Canada and conspiracy.

They will appear in a Brampton court on Jan. 22, 2016.

This is the second time that a major amount of cocaine has been found in North America in containers that originated from T&T.

In December 2014, more than US$100 million worth of cocaine was found in juice cans in a container by U.S. Customs Border Protection officers at the Norfolk, Virginia, USA port, which originated from T&T.

—compiled by Azad Ali

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