Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

A Caribbean Community (CARICOM) national has been elected as the new vice-president of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR).

The Costa Rica-based hemispheric body announced in a statement that Guyana-born Wendy Singh will take up the post from April for four years.

Singh, a human rights advocate who currently resides in Puerto Rico, was formerly general coordinator for eight years for the Human Rights Network when it was based in Barbados. She previously lived in Trinidad.

In a media statement, the IHR gave a background of Singh’s academic and professional work that included graduations with various degrees from regional and international institutions, including the University of the West Indies and Havana, the University of London and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

She has more than 30 years experience in human rights and private sectors.

In announcing Singh’s appointment as new vice-president, the institute explained her work experiences included, in addition to the Caribbean / Latin American region, countries in Africa and Latin America, as well as with specialized agencies in the USA and with Penal Reform in the United Kingdom.

The IIHR was created in 1990 through an agreement signed between the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the government and the Republic of Costa Rica.

Today, the IIHR is known as one of the world’s leading centers for research and training in human rights.

Antigua

Antigua police are investigating a report of sexual assault made against a sitting member of Parliament.

The MP is accused of fondling an 18-year-old girl April.

According to a report, the victim lodged a complaint at Langfords Police Station on Holy Thursday — days after discussion with her family.

The incident is alleged to have occurred at a gathering after a funeral where witnesses reportedly intervened.

The young woman who was hired to serve food at the event, immediately expressed disgust and told her close relatives.

Family members say the teenager recently moved to Antigua.

Bahamas

CLICO policy holders in The Bahamas are set to receive their long overdue payments in April.

After failing to make payments back in January, the government issued a statement recently assuring that qualified policyholders will receive three tranches of payments this year in April, July and November.

The Perry Christie government had initially planned to finance the second phase of CLICO (Bahamas) payouts through a $45 million bond issue, with the money raised to compensate former Executive Flexible Premium Annuity (EFPA) holders and those who had surrendered their pension policies.

The payments will total $5,000 per policyholder and be enough to payout $70 percent or 1,595 claims from surrendered policyholders.

The 30 percent not fully paid out will receive promissory notes (bonds) carrying a 4.5 percent interest rate, which Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie will distribute the balance over a four years.

In March 2016, the government made the first payment totaling about $11 million.

The former Colonial Life Financial chairman of CLICO, Lawrence Duprey’s giant insurance company collapsed a few years ago leaving policy holders being unable to collect their monies.

Dominica

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, two government ministers and a senior police officer have called on a United States blogger and a local radio journalist to apologize and retract a statement made about them in April.

In addition, Kenneth Rijock and journalist Matt Peltier are also being asked to pay compensation and cost for the legal action being taken against them,

The lawyers who are representing the prime minister and others claim that Rijock, who resides in Florida and Peltier made defamatory accusations against Skerrit, Foreign Affairs Minister Francine Baron, National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmore and Police Inspector Pelham Jno Baptiste, who is in direct charge of immigration.

The lawsuit stems from the ongoing controversy in Dominica regarding the Citizenship Investment Program (CIP) through which foreign nationals are afforded citizenship in return for a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the island. They are accused of making defamatory remarks against the top government officials on the radio program.

Grenada

Grenada police said the decomposing body found on a yacht drifting seven miles south of St. George’s has been identified as German national Bernd Ludwig Ottogottel.

Police said a group of Grenadian divers saw the yacht on April 3 sailing without professional guidance and alerted the Coast Guard whose members found the body in a cabin.

The yacht which carried the name “VAMP” has been taken in by the Coast Guard base.

The authorities said that a search of the 40 feet yacht with badly damaged sail led to the discovery of a German passport in the name 62-year-old Ottogottel.

Jamaica

Jamaica has lifted its ban on the sale and importation of corned beef from Brazil.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda recently announced lifting of the ban.

He said the Bureau of Standards Jamaica and the Veterinarian Services of the Ministry of Health, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries carried out testing and found the product not to be contaminated.

Samuda said teams from the Ministry of Health visited two plants where most of the corned beef destined for Jamaica is manufactured and found that they were in compliance with the necessary standards.

Following the announcement by Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago has also lifted the ban of and importation of corn beef from Brazil

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government is ready to re-introduce the property tax, which was disbanded when the former People’s Partnership came into office after the 2010 general election.

The Property Tax was first introduced in 2009, and was intended to replace the Lands and Building Taxes Act since 1920, last emended in 2007 and suspended when the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration came into office in 2010.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said property tax in T&T is not new and has been around close to 200 years.

When the controversial tax was first proposed by the Patrick Manning led PNM administration, the leader of the Congress of the People (COP) Prakash Ramadhar, was among critics of the intended tax leading a campaign to “Axe the Tax” as he sought to collect more than 200,000 signatures to protest the tax.

The government has started issuing forms to enable calculation of a property annual rental value to work out the rate of the property tax.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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