Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados

Rastafarians in Barbados will soon be permitted to use cannabis for sacramental purposes.

Attorney General, Dale Marshall made the announcement in Parliament during the debate on the medical cannabis Bill (2019).

Marshall admitted change have to be made to the way Government treats religious use of cannabis considering it does not fall into the category of recreational or medicinal

He also pointed to the legal precedent based on cases it was an infringement on the constitution rights of Rastafarians to criminalize them for using cannabis.

Marshall said the Bill is being drafted and should be presented in Parliament in the coming weeks.

Members of the Divine Order of the Nyabinghi Theocracy Reign recently delivered a position paper to Prime Minister, Mia Mottley calling for government to pass legislation to address their religious use of cannabis.

Cayman Islands

Citizens of the Cayman Islands are being urged to exercise their right to vote in a referendum scheduled for December 19, on the controversial cruise port project.

Governor Martyn Roper, who says the poll will be a “historic moment” for this British overseas territory expressed confidence that this will continue the territory’s track record of holding “free and fair” elections and referendums.

Roper said a large turnout of voters would be good for democracy.

The nature of the referendum rules, outlined in the Constitution and the bill for the poll, which was debated in the Legislative Assembly recently, means that more than half of Cayman’s registered voters must turn out and vote against the project for it to be halted.

Those who don’t show up at the polls will effectively be counted as a vote in favor of the cruise port.

The Governor said come countries make it compulsory to vote, seeing it as a civic duty, but the Cayman and the UK do not adopt that practice.

Grenada

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) office has advised the police to appeal a case in which a magistrate ordered a church elder to pay a five-year-old child EC$600 after pleading guilty to sexually molesting the child.

Magistrate Nevlyn John, presiding in the Grenville Magistrate’s court also fined Trevorsen Roberts EC$1,500.

The ruling angered child rights advocates and others, who expressed disbelief and shock over the sentences given the increasing number of child sexual abuse matters before the courts.

DPP Christopher Nelson said he had instructed the commissioner of police to file an appeal.

He noted that indecent assault as a criminal matter is not covered in the new sentencing guidelines developed by the courts in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The new guidelines went into effect on Oct. 1, 2019.

According to the Criminal Code, a person who indecently assaults another person commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years.

If the matter is heard as an indictable offence, the maximum term of imprison should exceed 10 years.

Guyana

The second annual Guyana Petroleum Business summit (Gipex) summit will be held in the South American country later this month, as the country prepares for oil production in the first quarter of 2020.

The event, scheduled for Nov. 20-22, is aimed at promoting the country’s up and coming petroleum sector.

Director of the Department of Energy, Dr. Mark Bynoe, stated that Gipex provides the opportunity to establish “partnerships, alliances, associations and joint ventures.”

He said this is an exciting time because as the country seeks “foreign direct investment that can both expand job opportunities, investment opportunities and further economic growth for our country, we continue to seek to ensure that the private sector is integrally involved in everything that we do.”

Bynoe said GIPEX 2019 will be an event that has accommodation not only for international partners but also for partners from the region and nationally.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia Police Commissioner, Severin Moncherry said while he is not calling the judgement of the courts into question, he believes the judiciary also has a role to play in combatting the crime problem in St. Lucia.

Speaking on a radio program in Castries, Moncherry said while in the past few weeks, police had been successful in taking several firearms off the streets, the battle against crime must be approached holistically.

“The police can do all they do but if we don’t have the support of other agencies and other unites in the criminal justice system, it makes very little sense. We must have the support of the judiciary,” he said.

The top cop also expressed concern at the caliber of weapons being recovered and the type of shell casings left behind at scenes of gun crimes.

He said in some instances people have been arrested with high power weapons and are released on bail of EC$4,000.

The commissioner said while he was not certain how much amending the existing legislation would help in the fight against crime, “amendments would have to be made.”

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago police have opened an investigation “with regard to damning allegations made by Canadian consultant Christopher Wylie in his book Mind…F*k, as it relates to spying by Cambridge Analytica on the people of Trinidad and Tobago leading up to the 2015 General Election.

Wylie is a former Cambridge Analytica data consultant.

National Security Minister Stuart Young has written to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith requesting a criminal investigation into serious allegations made by Wylie.

The probe concerns allegations that the former People’s Partnership (PP) government under Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar may have used data mining to spy on citizens and track their behavior leading up to the 2015 General Election.

The United National Congress (UNC) was the major partner in the PP coalition government from 2010 to 2015.

Speaking at a press conference Young focused on the claims in the book, Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America, written Wylie, in which he named Trinidad and Tobago as one of the countries involved in data mining.

Young called this “disturbing” and “an abuse of access of information belonging to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

However, the UNC has denied any knowledge of hiring, utilizing, or holding meetings in connection with Cambridge Analytica-type strategies to influence voter behavior but still ending up losing the election in 2015. The party said this revelation by Young is a distraction for the upcoming Local Government Election on December 2, 2019.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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