Caribbean RoundUp

From left, Prime Minister Mia Mottley standing with cabinet ministers, Dale Marshall, Jerome Walcott and Trevor Prescod.
Photo by George Alleyne

Antigua

A former British police officer was sent to jail for 15 years for raping a woman when the two met on a vacation in Antigua more than four years ago.

Lee Martin-Cramp, 26, who was a member of the UK Metropolitan Police Force, will spend his jail time at the former US Naval Base on the island, in keeping with an agreement between local and UK authorities.

According to the evidence during the trial, Martin-Cramp raped the 22-year-old woman, a foreign student nurse, during his vacation in May 2015.

The two had met on a dating app Tinder and went to a bar before going to her apartment where they chatted and drank wine before deciding to watch a movie.

The woman told police the police officer spiked her drink and when she left the room to change her clothes and she noticed the wine had a strange taste when she returned, but Martin-Cramp told her he had added some vodka to it, so she took a few more sips.

She said she subsequently started feeling dizzy when Martin-Cramp forced himself on her and when she woke up later, she was bruised and in pain.

The woman said she maintained WhatsApp contact with her rapist so she could eventually get him to admit to the crime but he pretended that it never happened.

She then reported the incident to the police. Martin-Cramp was extradited from the UK to Antigua and Barbuda last September to face trail for the crime and after a seven-day trial two months ago, he was convicted. He was sentenced last month. Following his conviction, he was dismissed from the Metropolitan Police which he joined the year before.

Barbados

The Barbados government is welcoming support from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to stop the crime wave in the country where 32 persons have been killed so far for the year.

Attorney General, Dale Marshall said he recently held talks with US Ambassador, Linda Taglialatela during a courtesy call where he asked her to pursue the FBI coming to Barbados.

Taglialatela led a delegation that also included Legal Attaché from the US Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Dempsy; Director of Narcotics and Law Enforcement section of the US Embassy, Jeanette Juricic and Economics / Commercial Officer at the US Embassy, Rachel Myers.

According to a statement issued by the AG’s office, Marshall has also requested that training assistance be extended to the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Financial Intelligence Crime Unit (FICU) and the Fraud Investigations Unit.

The statement said that Marshall admitted that the 32 murders committed so far for this year were a “tremendous concern” for the Mia Mottley government, some of the cases were quite horrific.

He said the government was equally concerned about corrupt practices in the country.

Caribbean

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is urging Caribbean countries to enhance disease surveillance at ports of entry and at health facilities following the categorization of the current outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) as a public health emergency.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the current EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a Public Health Emergency of International concern.

The declaration followed a message of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for EVD in the DRC.

The committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost two millions people on the border of Rwanda and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

Grenada

Grenada recorded a slight increase in visitor arrivals during the first six months of this year when compared to the same period in 2018, according to figures released by the island’s tourism authority.

The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) said on the heels of double-digit growth and a landmark total visitor arrival of 528,077 in 2018, the authority is delighted to report positive growth in total visitor arrivals of one percent for the first half of 2019.

It said the stayover market, which represents the sector’s most lucrative visitor, grew by 3.81 percent with 82, 399 staying in hotels, guesthouses and villa accommodations. The average length of stay of these visitors from the source markets is 8.5 days.

GTA said that United States accounted for 45 percent of the market share, followed by the United Kingdom with 17 percent and Canada 12 percent.

The GTA also said the cruise ship sector also experienced growth for the same period.

Jamaica

Jamaica is reporting a further reduction in the unemployment rate to a new record low of 7.8 percent.

This is contained in the Statistical Institute of Jamaica ‘s Labor Force Survey, the figure is two percentage points lower than the 9.8 percent recorded for the corresponding period last year, and 0.2 percent lower than the out-turn for January.

Director General, Carol Coy, said the number of unemployed persons as of April, fell by 25,900 or 19.7 percent to 105,900, relative to 2018.

She said male unemployment rate declined by 18 percent points to 5.5 percent, while the corresponding figure for females, fell by 2.1 percentage points to 10.6 percent.

Coy said the number of unemployed males decreased by 13,000 to 39,900 in April 2019. Over the same period, the number of unemployed females was 65,600, which was a decline of 12,900.

The total labor force increased to 1,349,900 persons, which is 4,000 more than in 2018.

St. Vincent

Two men have filed court proceedings challenging St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ buggery law and gross indecency laws, which criminalizes homosexuality.

The men are arguing through their attorneys, Queen’s Counsel Jeremy Johnson and British-based Peter Laverack that the laws strip them of their dignity and autonomy.

According to their affidavits, as a result of the legislation, they have been exiled from the Caribbean island due to the severely draconian and damaging effects of these laws.

Javin Johnson, 22, successfully claimed asylum in the United Kingdom in 2017 having established that he could not live as a gay man in St. Vincent, while Sean Macleash, 33, who resides in Chicago, USA, has failed in his public advocacy to Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves for the removal of the laws so that he may return home with his partner.

LGBT visitors, however, could be arrested and jailed or up to 10 years if convicted on charges out of their actions.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago police got a major boost in its fight against crime with the passage of the controversial Bail (Amendment) Bil,l which was supported by the Opposition in the House of Representatives last week.

The government had called Parliament out of recess to debate the bill, in the height of the recent crime crisis, which saw July as one of the bloodiest months with 53 murders recorded.

The legislation restricts bail for 120 days if someone had a conviction for serious offences and is charged for one of them again. Bail will also be restricted if someone is charged for a serious offence, is out on bail and get charged for the same category of offence.

Offences include those which carry a penalty of l0 years’ jail, concerning the Offences Against the Person Act, Dangerous Drugs Act, Kidnapping Act, Sexual Offences Act, Trafficking in Persons and Firearms Act. Those charged will have to prove “exceptional circumstances” where they fail to get bail.

Attorney General, Faris-al-Rawi said he was taking steps to have the bill proclaimed as law “immediately.”

The government has used the alarming crime statistics (315 murders so far for the year) to convince the Opposition that locking away gang members, out on bail for serious criminal offences, can give” the police and law-abiding citizens a fighting chance.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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