Caribbean Roundup

Bahamas

The Bahamas government will continue to implement programs aimed at reducing the opportunities for young Bahamians joining gangs of criminal groups.

This was revealed by National Security Minister Dr. Bernard J Nottage, who told an Anti-Gang Workshop recently that far too many young people see violence as a way to make a statement and that the new policies and procedures will help ensure “that our young people are not crossing the line from law-abiding citizens to budding criminals.”

Nottage said “organized gang crime” is posing a serious threat to the security of citizens within the region” and “we in the Bahamas are not immune to the impact of gang-related crimes.”

“The presence of the organized gang culture is a serious impediment to regional communities. The gangs are well-organized and sophisticated and are involved in activities such as drug smuggling, human trafficking, gun smuggling and money laundering.

Haiti

Hundreds of people in Haiti have protested against the high cost of living and called for the resignation of President Michel Martelly.

In a march through the capital, Port-au-Prince recently, opposition supporters and other demonstrators accused the president of corruption. They also said he had failed to deliver on his promises to alleviate poverty.

Martelly took office last year promising a fresh start for Haiti, devastated by an earthquake in 2010.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. President Martelly came into power in May 2011, with 68 percent of the vote in a run off.

The former pop star vowed to bridge the gap between Haiti’s tragic past with the aspirations of a new generation. But opposition demonstrators say he wasted public money in luxury vehicles and international trips.

Jamaica

A Magistrate Court in Jamaica has dismissed one of two counts of perversion of justice against a United States-based televangelist who had been acquitted of carnal abuse and indecent assault charges in 2011.

Dr. Paul Lewis, the founder and president of the New York-based The Messengers for Christ Ministries World Healing Center, had been accused of two counts of perversion of justice related to carnal abuse case.

The prosecution had alleged that, Lewis, an author and ordained minister, had attempted to bribe girls who were involved in the carnal abuse and indecent assault case, for which he was found not guilty by a seven-member jury.

Lewis, who is on J$300,000 bail, will reappear in court on March 25, 2013 for the trial, which is expected to last three weeks.

Jamaica

Jamaica National Security Minister Peter Bunting has warned that thousands of jobs could be lost if the illegal lottery scam operating in the second city of Montego Bay is not brought under control.

In an address to the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, Bunting said the persons most likely to be affected are those employed in call centers and the tourism industry.

“Certainly the whole call center is going to be threatened and 10,000 or so jobs. Certainly tourism is going to be at risk as well, people are going to be fearful that they come here and if they run a credit card, information is skimmed and they might become victims of fraud,” Bunting said at the Chamber function organized to address crime in the western parish of St. James.

The National Security minister said there is no specific law in Jamaica that deals directly with scamming, as a result most of those detained for their involvement in the scam are not charged.

In commending the police for clamping down on some of the major players in the illegal activity, Bunting announced that additional security personnel have been deployed to the tourist resort town and the government is considering upgrading nearby police stations.

St. James has the highest number of murders per capita in the country fuelled largely by the predominance of the lottery scam.

St. Lucia

A Barbadian national was recently jailed for seven years after he pleaded guilty to gun and illegal drug charges in a St. Lucia, Castries court.

Police said that Irone Bascombe was arrested along with three other persons, including Lennox Andrew of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, during a police roadblock in the southern town of Vieux Fort recently.

The authorities said all the occupants of the vehicle, including nationals Pamela Dorville and Wilson Alcide, were charged with being in possession of a controlled drug, possession with intent to supply, possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession of ammunition after a pistol was found in the vehicle.

Bascombe pleaded guilty to all charges and was jailed for seven years on each charge. However, the sentences will run concurrently.

The charges were dropped against the two other accused.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia government averted a shutdown of the vital tourism industry informing workers that they will not be asked to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on service charges.

“The government of St. Lucia wishes to reassure workers throughout the hotel industry that the service charge owned by workers will not attract VAT,” said the Dr. Kenny Anthony.

National Workers Union (NWU) president Tyronne Maynard said that putting VAT on service charges would have a devastating economic impact on the hotel and tourism workers, who rely on the charge to improve their wages.

But in a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister said the government is surprised and disappointed by the statement of the NWU and assured workers throughout the hotel industry that the service charge will not attract VAT. Further for purposes of income tax, service charge is not taxable and hotel workers have had significant tax relief from the provision over the years.

The new tax measure (VAT) recently went into effect.

St. Maarten

A judge in St. Maarten ordered a Jamaican security guard held as a suspect in the killing of a South Carolina couple who were stabbed to death in their Caribbean vacation home.

Meyshane Johnson recently made his first court appearance since his arrest on suspicion of killing Michael and Thelma King of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

His white T-shirt was pulled over his head as he was led into the courthouse. The hearing was closed to the media and public, but Solicitor General Taco Stein said later that the magistrate ruled there was enough evidence to hold Johnson for at least 10 more days pending further investigations.

Prosecutors must return to court after that if they want to keep holding Johnson. His lawyers say he denies killing the couple.

Police and prosecutors in St. Maarten have been in contact with the FBI, which offered assistance in the investigation.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government will pump TT$70 million into the Police Service to increase its fleet of vehicles.

Among the vehicles to be bought are marked and unmarked sedans, marked sport utility vehicles, dog vans, two ambulances and two trucks.

These proposals are contained in the 2012/2013 budget document entitled Stimulating Growth, Generating Prosperity: Public Sector Investment Program 2013 – 2015, which stated that the fleet of the Police Service will be increased by approximately 200 vehicles.

“The vehicles will be ‘fit for purpose’ and custom-built to facilitate the continued standardization of the fleet and to allow for improved mobility, as the vehicles will be sturdy enough for police use,” the document said.

It said they would facilitate patrols, implementation of the transformation initiative, deploy canine services throughout the country, medical emergency response involving its officers and community policing.

In a bid to technologically upgrade the Police Service, information technology systems have been earmarked that are expected to provide the police with accessible, critical and reliable capability to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Expansion of the computerization of the Police Service is expected to cost TT$51 million, the document said.

It said the transformation of the Police Service would continue over the medium term (2013 to 2015) at an estimated cost of TT$50 million.

Trinidad

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) with headquarters in Trinidad has rejected an application to free a Barbadian national on a murder charge and has ordered the registrar of the High Court in Barbados to fix the trial date for November.

Frank Errol Gibson was charged with the murder of Francine Bolden in January 2002.

With the exception of a 10-month period while he was on bail, Gibson remains incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Prison in Barbados.

In June, the CCJ stayed the matter and ordered that there could not be a fair trial if Gibson was deprived of the services of a forensic odontologist.

An odontologist is a person who studies teeth and their surrounding tissues, along with the prevention and cure of the disease.

The CCJ considered then, that the proper course was to allow the parties to hold discussions in relation to funding of an odontologist and those negotiations should culminate in the State paying for assistance of an expert.

Gibson was granted bail in the sum of $10,000.

On Aug. 17, 2012, Gibson filed an application that the murder charge against him be dismissed on the grounds that the state had failed to provide or make any reasonable offer to provide funding to secure an odontologist.

The court ruled that there was no basis for Gibson’s claim and asked the registrar of the Barbados High Court to fix a date for his trial.

Compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC

>