Caribbean RoundUp

Mervyn Taylor, reknown mas man and poet, portraying ‘Havana Joe’ in the ole mas costume band “Havana Nights” at Brooklyn J’Ouvert 2016.
Keith Getter

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government had denied allegations it is turning a blind eye on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBT) community.

The group has warned that a recent report by a member of the community to the international media could have negative repercussions for the island.

But the government in a statement said: “All persons irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity are entitled to enjoy in Antigua and Barbuda the protections provided by our constitution and by international human rights”.

The statement titled, “Policy and Protection from violence and discrimination of persons of the LGBT community,” states that “Antigua and Barbuda does not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against members of the LGBT community and maintains their right to protection under local law and international law.”

Bahamas

The Bahamas government is looking to tap into the billion dollar disabled travel sector and will now begin to place accessibility at the heart of tourism development in the country.

Director in the Office of the Ministry of Tourism Janet Johnson said that accessible tourism caters to visitors and residents alike and it also seeks to remove all barriers that would hinder and deny disabled persons from enjoying easy access to everyday activities.

She said, “It’s a win-win for everyone. It’s a good initiative because we are doing the right thing while potentially benefitting from a relatively new and lucrative revenue stream.”

Johnson noted that Barbados is leading the charge and benefiting with creative measures for disabled guests to experience the country and incentives for businesses that make accommodations for the segment.

She said in 2014, the Persons with Disabilities Act was passed in Parliament to eliminate discrimination against disabled people, allow access to public buildings, transport and education. It also mandated that businesses that employ 100 or more must employ a minimum of disabled people.

A government statement said the infrastructure audits of the country’s facilities, such as hotel, public spaces and ports of entry, were being taken to see how the Bahamas measures up.

Barbados

More than 50 Jamaicans have been deported from Barbados during the first six months of this year.

According to immigration statistics released by the Division of Defense and Security of the Prime Minister’s Office show that 53 Jamaicans have been deported during the period January to June this year.

For the first six months in 2013 a total of 34 Jamaicans were deported: 48 the following year and 101 last year.

In 2013, a total of 10,816 Jamaicans arrived in Barbados; 10,031 in 2014 and 10,557 last year. So far this year, 5,332 Jamaicans have arrived in Barbados.

Guyana

Guyana’s Health Minister Dr. George Norton has apologized to the nation for the incorrect statements he provided to Parliament about payments for the New Guyana Pharmaceutical operation.

Last month, the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) called for Norton’s dismissal, claiming that his management of the health sector was way below par.

PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee then said that the opposition was not interested in getting an apology from the health minister.

Norton said the issue has already had an impact on his life and career.

He has promised to hand over a written apology over statements made to the speaker of the National Assembly.

Controversy recently erupted in the National Assembly when the Opposition asked Norton about government’s plan to rent a building for a storage bond facility for Guy$12.5 million per month.

The move forced the new Guyana Pharmaceutical Company out of a possible storage contract.

The pharmaceutical company, which never charged for storage under the previous PP government, said it would not be charging for storage of medical supplies imported for government.

Jamaica

Violent crime in Jamaica is on the decline in Jamaica, according to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) which is reporting a 22.8 per cent reduction in six of the seven categories of serious and violent crimes committed between January and June 2016 when compared to the corresponding period last year.

The PIOJ said these include aggravated assault, break-ins, larceny, rape, robbery and shootings.

PIOJ Deputy Director General Richard Lumsden said the number of offences committed decreased from 151 per 100,000 persons to 117 per 100,000.

He was at the time speaking at the weekly media briefing where he provided an update on the figures.

Lumsden said there was a 2.4 percent increase in the seventh category, murder, which rose to 22.2 per 100,000 during the review period, up from 21.7 per l00, 000 in 2015.

Besides murder, he said the figures reflect the “continued downward trend in overall crime rates that began in June 2010, into a sixth consecutive year.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government has warned that attempts to use the export of agricultural products for the trafficking of illegal drugs would frustrate efforts by the Allen Chastanent administration to revive the agricultural sector.

Agriculture Minister Ezechiel Joseph was responding to a report out of Britain recently that a consignment of cocaine was discovered in a shipment of breadfruit and plantain that arrived at the Gatwick Airport from St. Lucia.

A search of the 93-box consignment by UK Border Force officers found 6.8 kilos of cocaine concealed in nine hollowed out breadfruits.

The minister said he was happy that British authorities were able to find the drugs and that the Ministry of Agriculture would assist in the investigation.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris is taking legal action against his predecessor, former prime minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, in relation to what he claimed was “false. malicious and libelous” statements.

According to Harris, former Prime Minister Douglas, leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labor Party, which was defeated in general elections last year, made defamatory public statements on Freedom FM 106.5.

In a press release Harris said “Freedom FM 106.5 published false, malicious and libelous statement on its Facebook page.”

The prime minister’s attorney has commenced legal action against both Freedom FM 106.5 and Douglas for the publication of the allegedly defamatory statements.

Trinidad

The Court of Appeal has set Oct. 17, 18, and 19, 2016 to hear the United National Congress (UNC) challenge to the People’s National Movement (PNM) win in five constituencies in the 2015 general election.

During the Sept. 7, 2016 general election, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) extended the voting time by one hour because of inclement weather.

The UNC is challenging the legality of this move after the party lost at the polls.

The former PP government challenged the PNM’s victories in six constituencies and last November the Appeal Court ruled in the UNC’s favor and paved the way for a legal challenge. One of the constituencies was struck out due to late filing.

Last month, the High Court dismissed the five election petitions, even though the judge found that the EBC acted outside its remit to extend the voting time.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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