Caribbean RoundUp

Timothy Harris, prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, who is seen here addressing the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters has announced his government move to decriminalize marijuana for medicinal and scientific, religious and recreational purposes.
Associated Press / Frank Franklin II

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government says its future plans for the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, will fly as far north as Florida, stopping in places like Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Antigua and Barbuda is seeking to become the largest shareholder government of the airline and is in negotiations with Barbados to acquire most of that country’s shareholding in the Antigua-based airline.

The other shareholder governments are Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.

Antigua and Barbuda government currently holds 34 percent of the shares.

The government said it would seek to acquire shares owned by Barbados through a takeover of the liability of Barbados of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Instead of collapsing LIAT or reducing the size the Gaston Browne administration is aiming to enlarge LIAT’s routes.

Caribbean

The Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) has embarked on a study of human trafficking which is expected to provide a greater understanding of the problem within and across its borders.

The study is being conducted with funding from the Caribbean Regional Indicative Program under the Tenth European Development Fund.

A Canadian-based firm Dunn, Pierre, Barnett and Company, Canada Limited, has been engaged by CARIFORUM to conduct the comprehensive study.

The study will inform the methods that will be used to design interventions which are evidence-based and consistent with best practices in anti-trafficking including, but not limited to prevention, protection and prosecution.

A statement from the CARIFORUM Secretariat said it is hoped that the research will also provide useful information on, types, patterns and routes of trafficking; profile of trafficked persons; border law enforcement and information about the traffickers and anti-trafficking efforts currently being undertaken.

It said the research team is expected to meet with stakeholders including representatives of Ministries of National Security, Legal and Attorneys General, police, prisons and other public sector agencies as well as individuals from vulnerable communities and victims.

Guyana

The Guyana government is reviewing an agreement that Qatar state-owned oil company, Qatar Petroleum (QP) has reached with French-based energy giant Total to acquire a stake in the French company’s two oil and gas blocks offshore Guyana.

QP announced the deal recently saying it would hold 40 percent of Total’s 25 percent participating interest in the Orinduik block and 40 percent of Total’s 25 percent participating interest in the neighboring Kanuku Tullow Oil that operates Orinduik and Repsol operates Kanudku.

Dr. Mark Bynoe, head of the Department of Energy, said, “we have received the transacting letter from Total and the government is currently studying it, but until such time that we understand the full implications, because this is not a normal farm-in like we would have seen and so we are not about to pronounce thereon.”

Jamaica

Jamaica National Security Minister, Dr. Horace Chang is linking the billion dollar cocaine haul in Jamaica to criminals who are responsible for the illegal importation of hundreds of guns into the country.

Police recently seized more than 2,600 pounds of cocaine valued at Ja$4.5 billion (US$33 million), during an exercise in Morant Point in St. Thomas on the eastern point of the island.

Chang told legislators that up to 200 illegal guns are imported to Jamaica monthly and that the authorities are working to detain those responsible for organizing the trade.

Police said an international drug network is behind the cocaine, which originated from South America and was destined for the United States.

Chang said that despite the best efforts of previous police units, they could not operate effectively within the constitutional space they had to work with while dealing with international crime.

He said as a result, the island was forced to revisit and renegotiate cooperation agreements with long-standing international partners, including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, in order to continue the partnership needed to stop transnational crimes.

St. Vincent

The first female Governor General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Susan Dougan was sworn in on Emancipation Day by High Court judge, Justice Brian Cottle during a ceremony witnessed by state officials, as well as relatives and friends and the media.

As governor general, Dougan represents Queen Elizabeth II, who is also sovereign head of the country.

In her 30 years as a public servant, Dougan, who has a degree in chemistry, was also Principal of Girls High School and also served as chief education officer.

It was under her tenure as chief education officer that the Ralph Gonsalves government executed its “education revolution,” which saw every primary school leaver being guaranteed a place in a secondary school.

She thanked Gonsalves for giving her the honor of becoming the first female governor general of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

St. Kitts

The St. Kitts government is moving to decriminalize marijuana for medicinal and scientific, religious and recreational purpose.

Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris recently laid in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly the Drug (Prevention and Abatement of the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to pave the way for the regulated and controlled use of marijuana for medicinal and scientific, religious and recreational purposes in the twin-island state.

The amendment follows Cabinet’s establishment of a National Marijuana Commission to ascertain the views of citizens on cannabis use.

The commission which was headed by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, and found unanimous agreements for the decriminalization of marijuana in the Federation. The commission also recommended a phased approach to the establishment of a marijuana industry.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith says despite his achievements over the last year in office, murders and the fear of crime continue to be his biggest challenges.

The murder count for the year up to Aug. 19, 2019 (345) has equaled the last year’s figure.

Griffith acknowledged that had it not been for the good work of his officers, it could have been worse.

He said the homicide rate could well have been more than 1,000 per annum if it had not been for the hard work, dedication to duty where police officers have put their lives on the line to ensure they can actually reduce homicides that are taking place.

Griffith said there were several factors that are just more than the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

He noted that at least 50 murders had been conducted following orders sent form the nation’s prisons.

Griffith said despite the challenges, as head of the organization he had been making moves every week to improve the Police Service.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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