Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is observing its l0th anniversary this year, with Justice Adrian Saunders saying the “CCJ has come a long way over those 10 years.”

The CCJ, established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, began operations on April 16, 2005.

The CCJ has both an original and appellate jurisdiction, but while most of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to the Orignial jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana and Belize are members of the appellate jurisdiction.

The CCJ also acts as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

President in the first court proceedings for 2015, Justice Saunders noted that the CCJ had come a long way from the solitary case that was filed in 2005.

He told the court that last year the CCJ delivered 21 judgments, six of which were from Barbados, four from Belize and 11 from Guyana.

Speaking about the court’s plan for its tenth year of operations, Justice Saunders said throughout this calendar year, the CCJ will be embarking on a variety of activities to mark the occasion.

“These activities will unfold over the following months and details of them will be published in due course,” he said.

Bahamas

More than 90 participants representing defense, law enforcement, government and international organizations from the Caribbean, North America, South America, Central America and Europe recently attended the Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), co-hosted this year by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) and the United States Military Southern Command (Southcom).

The Miami-based Southern Command, otherwise known as Southcom says strengthening capabilities, inter-operability and information sharing to effectively counter transnational organized crime in the Caribbean will be the focus again for military and civilian leaders from 21 countries.

Southcom said international security leaders who met recently discussed the threat and ways to effectively reduce the presence and impact of organized crime.

This was the fifth consecutive year the topic was the central theme of the CANSEC, underscoring the importance of the issue for regional leaders and their commitment to addressing it by working together.

Barbados

The Barbados government has announced a seven million dollar initiative aimed at bringing relief to businesses on the west coast suffering from a shortage of natural gas.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart told Parliament recently that the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC) has agreed that industrial users of natural gas should switch immediately to alternative fuels for the short term.

The new proposals followed a joint meeting between the technical subcommittee and boards of the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) and NPC.

It followed an outcry by customers, including several hotel and restaurant chains, that they were experiencing low gas pressure since last December.

Stuart said that NPC had discovered that the production of some wells had fallen below the economic threshold, but that two other wells had now been identified that would be connected to the BNOCL’s existing gathering system.

The prime minister said four small air mix plants are scheduled to come on stream by month end, while another plant would be set up.

The natural gas suppliers also agreed to transport compressed natural gas by trail-mounted vessels. Stuart estimated it would take three to four weeks to put the necessary infrastructure in place at the facility and import the necessary equipment.

Stuart also revealed that in an effort to increase gas production and reserves,”the BNOCL will finalize the relevant contracts and other arrangements in order to resume its expanding drilling program early in the third quarter of 2015.”

Grenada

A man who robbed former Prime Minister Tilman Thomas, after he gave him a ride last December was jailed for six months.

The court heard that Amron Mitchell stole EC$600 from Thomas on Dec. 19, 2014.

Thomas, who lost the last general election three years ago, said Mitchell was among four people, he gave a lift to St Andrew east of the capital, St George’s.

“They were standing at the Temple Junction hitching ride and because I was going to Grenville I decided to give them a lift,” he told the court.

Thomas said when he reached home he saw the pouch open and out of the bag. He did not realize that the money was gone until the police called him.

Thomas said he became aware of the robbery when a police officer, whose son was among those he had given a ride, called to inform him of the theft.

Mitchell, an unemployed man pleaded guilty to the charge.

Guyana

Former Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) judge Professor Duke Pollard is questioning the validity of the May 11, 2015 Guyana election announcement by President Donald Ramotar.

In a letter to the Guyana press, Prof. Pollard said “a definitive determination of the election date in the meaning of Article 61 of the Guyana constitution is yet to be made.”

Prof. Pollard, who currently lectures at the University of Guyana argued that lawful appointment of an election date must follow announcement of the dissolution of Parliament.

President Ramotar recently announced the holding of elections, but remained mum on the dissolution of the 65-member National Assembly.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, however, said there was no requirement for the dissolution to accompany announcement of an election date.

“There is absolutely no obligation on the president to dissolve Parliament at the same time when a date for National Elections is announced,” Nandlall was quoted as saying.

Haiti

United Nations Security Council members recently paid a visit to Haiti aimed in part at urging the government to hold long-delayed municipal and legislative elections.

Representatives of the council’s 15-member states met with government officials during their three-day stay, including President Michel Martelly. He began ruling by decree recently when Parliament was dissolved after legislators’ terms expired amid a political stalemate.

The UN had said in a statement it will assess the implementation of council resolutions such as the strengthening of Haiti’s police force.

Council members last year extended the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti by a year and except to cut the number of troops from 5,021 to 2,370 by June.

The visit came just days after a new Haitian Cabinet and other government officials were sworn in. Haiti, recently swore in nee Prime Minister Evans Paul, prompting supporters of the opposition factions to announce new protests to force Martelly out of office.

He became president in 2011 and is scheduled to step down next year.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s tourism authorities are putting together packages to offer Venezuelan government as part of a move to reduce the country’s approximately US$3 billion debt with the oil-producing country under the trade component mechanism of the PetroCaribe agreement.

Former Director of Tourism John Lynch has been engaged as a consultant, and will be chiefly responsible for the development of the tourism segment of the trade-component mechanism.

Lynch can earn up to $12 million, inclusive of fees and overseas travel, to provide consultancy in the area of airlift and special projects.

The arrangement, which was signed in September, months after he left office as director of tourism, saw the direct-contracting method used to procure his services.

Jennifer Griffith, permanent secretary in the tourism and entertainment ministry said, “there is a tourism component and what we hope to do is to package vacation experiences for Venezuelans in Jamaica, as if we package them right, they can be used to offset the loan.”

She said the Jamaica Tourist Board would buy tourism packages from local hoteliers and seek interest the Venezuelan government to take up the package as part of Jamaica’s oil debt.

Lynch, the former director of tourism is also tasked with assisting in the marketing of the Montego Bay Convention Center, a project which has been given a US$550,000 marketing budget.

Trinidad

Former Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General and Opposition parliamentarians are calling on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Wade Mark to resign for misleading the House by saying that he had received a notification from the High Court of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago about a pending libel case between Finance Minister and the Sunshine Newspaper which was untrue. Opposition MP Jack Warner had filed a no-confidence motion in Howai, but it collapsed when the speaker said the Chaguanas MP could not debate the matter since it was sub judice.

The Speaker later admitted that he made an “error” and said it was Minister Larry Howai who had informed him by letter about the defamation action against the newspaper, which Warner is the publisher.

Mark has since apologized to the judiciary.

Maharaj said what the speaker did was not an ordinary error and called on Mark to resign.

“I find the action of the speaker unprecedented in preventing a Member of Parliament from moving a motion of censure against the minister,” he said.

Warner has filed a motion of no-confidence in the speaker.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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