Britain has warned travelers to the Caribbean about contracting the Chikungunya virus, based on the dramatic increase in the number of people affected by the disease in the last year.
Public Health England (PHE) said according to its latest annual data, there has been a 12-fold increase from 24 cases in 2013 to 295 cases in 2014 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The majority of cases, 88 percent, were acquired on trips to the Caribbean and South America. The outbreak, which started in December 2013 in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin, has now affected most of the countries and territories in the Caribbean and Americas.
“Chikungunya is an unpleasant viral illness that can cause fever and joint pains, which, in some patients may persist for a prolonged period,” said Dr. Hilary Kirkbride, head of the PHE’s Travel and Migrant Health.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda recently announced the formalization of diplomatic relations with the tiny republic of Fiji, stressing the similar challenges the two countries faces as Small Island Developing States.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s government said in a statement that Antigua and Barbuda’s permanent representative to the United Nations Walton Aubrey Webson, and Fijian counterpart Peter Thompson signed recently the Joint Communique establishing diplomatic relations.
The statement said the two countries will support each other in the quest to diversify their economies which rely mainly on tourism.
The small Caribbean nation of about 90,000 inhabitants will also collaborate with Fiji in areas such as climate change, debt reduction and ocean conservation.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) says it will form a commission to analyze the social economic, health and legal impact of decriminalizing marijuana use.
The announcement comes as CARICOM awaits a report on how medical marijuana could help boost the region’s economy.
Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said recently that leaders would not be rushed into a decision. He spoke at a two-day CARICOM summit held in The Bahamas.
Recently, Jamaica’s parliament approved a bill that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana and establishes a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry.
Activists in St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands have been pushing to legalize marijuana use.
The Dominican government has confirmed that talks were being held with its Jamaican counterparts on a settlement regarding the deportation of dancehall artiste, Tommy Lee Sparta last February.
Lee, whose real name is Leroy Russell and three others — Tiasha Oralie Russell, Junior Fraser and Mario Christopher Wallace- were deported one day after they arrived to perform at a show.
Attorney General Levi Peter, speaking on the state-owned DNS radio said, “there have been communications between the Attorney General’s Chamber and Dominica’s Attorney General’s Chamber in relation to the matter.”
“I can confirm there has been communication between the two officers,” he said.
Earlier this month, Jamaica’s Deputy Solicitor General and Director of International Affairs Division, Dr. Kathy Ann-Brown had indicated that Roseau was seeking a friendly resolution to the matter.
The Jamaica government announced recently that it will be one of the beneficiaries of a $15 million grant from the government of Japan to help Caribbean islands improve their capacity to cope with climate change.
The fund is part of the Japan-Caribbean Partnership for Climate Change, which aims to assist Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean region to overcome their vulnerability to the challenges associated with climate change, the government said in a statement.
“Taking lessons from our own experience, the people and government of Japan see the dire need to work in partnership with other countries,” Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica Yasuo said recently in Kingston.
“The long-standing partnership between Jamaica and Japan has yielded significant benefits towards building efficient equipment and human resource capabilities in the field of disaster risk management,” Local Government Minister and Community Development Minister Noel Arscott said at the book launching event for disaster management.
St. Kitts and Nevis has become the second Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to impose a ban on the importation of poultry products from several U.S. states following reports of an outbreak of Bird Flu.
Like Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda said the ban applies to poultry products from the U.S. states of Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and British Columbia in Canada.
The list includes all poultry products, by-products and eggs and the authorities said the ban is intended to safeguard the poultry industry.
The ban is expected to remain in effect for three months and officials in St. Kitts said the restrictions are necessary to minimize the introduction of the Bird Flu virus into the twin-island federation, where more than 22 poultry farms would be at risk.
St. Lucia’s Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Victoria Clarke-Charles says she intends on following the law and constitution of St. Lucia as her office deals with a report of alleged extrajudicial killings by police officers.
“Any matter referred to me will be received and treated in accordance with our laws; I do not act on emotion or public opinion so I do not wish to join the discussion,” the DPP said.
Recently, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, in a nationwide radio and television broadcast, said Jamaican investigators probing alleged extrajudicial killings by members of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) had found a “blacklist or death list” existed.
Anthony also said the investigators had found police had staged “fake encounters” to legitimize their actions and “all police officers involved in the unlawful killings of citizens in respect of the files reviewed must be prosecuted.”
But Anthony said his administration would not be making any statement regarding the guilt or innocence of the police officers involved and “the question whether anyone is to be prosecuted is solely for the director of Public Prosecutions to determine after evaluating and assessing the probative value of the evidence placed before her.”
In 2013, the St. Lucia government enlisted the help of the Jamaican police to investigate the TSLPF, following a decision by the United States to withdraw security-related assistance after claims of human rights violations.
As a result, Police Commissioner Vernon Francois was prevented from traveling to the U.S. to represent the Regional Security Service at a conference of Black Police Chiefs.
The DPP told television viewers she would not join in the public debate on the matter.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has called on the St. Vincent and the Grenadines government to pay former police commissioner Randolph Toussaint more than EC$360,000 after ruling that the acquisition of his land some years ago was “unconstitutional, unlawful and null and void.”
The Court also said the acquisition was “a contravention of the fundamental rights” of Toussaint to the enjoyment of property guaranteed by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution.
In its ruling, the court ordered that the attorney general pay Toussaint RC$361,779.30 plus interest at the rate of six percent per annum from December 2002, the date of first publication of the declaration of the acquisition in the gazette, until full payment of compensation.
The case stemmed from the acquisition by the government in 2002 of 12,957 square feet of land owned by Toussaint in the southern Grenadine island of Canouan.
In November 2002, Toussaint attempted to sell the lands for EC$268,820 and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves accused him of seeking to profit from the assets of the state. Toussaint had acquired the land in 1990 through the Development Corporation when the New Democratic Party (NDP) formed the government.
During the budget debate on Dec. 5, 2002, Gonsalves told Parliament that the sale of the land to Toussaint was an “injustice” or a “scandal,” which required the government and the Cabinet to correct it.
On that same day in an extraordinary issue of the Government Gazette notice was given that the lands belonging to Toussaint had to be acquired “for a public purpose…for the people of Canouan.”
On March 3, 2013, the Land and Surveys said it had deposited EC$9,717.80 at the Treasury Department in Toussaint’s name being payment for the lands that he acquired in 1990.
At least 25 political parties have signed up to contest the May 25 general election in Suriname, electoral officials said.
They said 15 of the parties have formed various coalitions, while the other 10 are contesting the polls as individual parties.
Chairman of the Central Voting Bureau Eugene Merkus, said that signing up the documents does not necessarily mean that the political parties will be automatically allowed to contest the election.
The Bureau will announce the final lost and parties will then have two more days to file a final appeal at the Office of the President of Suriname.
The National Democratic Party (NDP) President Desi Bouterse, who is seeking a second consecutive term in office, has the largest registered number of members, totaling 50,000.
Trinidad and Tobago was successfully elected to the Peace Building Commission of the United Nations, New York, USA, recently.
Trinidad and Tobago was among six new members elected to the 31-member commission for the period 2015 to 2017.
The Peace Building Commission was established in 2006 with the clear mandate to propose integrated strategies for post-conflict peace building and recovery and to design reconstruction efforts and institutions that facilitate the sustained resolution of conflict.
T&T Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran in a news release explained that the role of the commission is critical in ensuring countries which have experienced conflict do not suffer reversals that could not only undermine efforts at peace-building, but also have a deleterious effect on the long-term sustainable development of the affected states.
compiled by Azad Ali