Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados

Barbados is considering a proposal to make it mandatory for school principals, church leaders, social workers, court officials and media workers, among others, to report knowledge of child abuse.

Persons who may be aware of instances of child abuse, but do not inform the authorities, could be brought before the courts and face possible jail, according to the law being proposed.

This was disclosed by Child Care Board Director Joan Crawford, who said; “there are no ifs or buts. It will be that you are bound to report. The only exception there is that lawyer-client privilege, but all others are not considered that way.”

Further explaining the proposal before cabinet, she said, “Failure to report a suspected case should carry a sanction in the form of a fine, with the alternative of imprisonment.”

Crawford’s revelation came during a symposium on student sexual abuse, where UNICEF Representative Knu-Sandi Lwin suggested that education officials and others involved in the delivery of education can be blamed for not disclosing all information on probable cases of child abuse.

Guyana

The Guyana government says it has settled the issue of its nationals wanting to study law and practice in the region.

A government statement said that President Donald Ramotar had discussed the issue at a meeting chaired by CARICOM Chairman St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Chairman of the Council of Legal Education of the West Indies, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, QC.

The statement said that the meeting, which was also attended by senior officials of the law schools of the Caribbean, was to address, specifically, the issue of the impasse affecting University of Guyana law students gaining entry into the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago generally, the review of legal education in the West Indies.’

“It was decided that the top 25 Guyanese national, graduates of the University of Guyana Law Program 2013, will enjoy automatic entry into the Sir Hugh Wooding Law School (T&T) for the academic year commencing Sept. 2-13, 2014 and that additional ten students who are non-Guyanese nationals graduating of the said program will enjoy automatic entry into Norman Manley in Jamaica or Eugene Dupuch Law School depending on which zone their territory falls,” the statement said.

Haiti

A key suspect in the murder of a prominent journalist in Haiti has been extradited from Argentina.

An investigating judge has described Philippe Markington as one of the main suspects in the death of Jan Dominique, the former director of Radio Haiti and his gatekeeper Jean-Claude Louissant, who were killed on April 3, 2000.

The suspect recently returned to Haiti, escorted by Haitian police who had been sent to arrest him in Argentina. Investigators have since been interrogating him.

Markington, is a close ally of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide appeared in court recently as part of the continuing investigation into the murders.

International arrest warrants have been issued for several other people, including a former legislator, who have been described as the mastermind of the crime.

Jamaica

The University of the West Indies has started a search for a replacement for Professor Nigel Harris who will demit office as vice-chancellor in April next year.

Professor Harris has been UWI vice-chancellor for the past l0 years.

The UWI has indicated that it has now started the process to find a replacement for Professor Harris.

The UWI said all qualified persons are eligible to apply, however, West Indian nationals, within the region and the diaspora will be given priority.

The closing date for application is July 28, 2014.

The successful applicant will take up office in May 2015.

The vice-chancellor is responsible for, among other things, the efficient running of the university.

St. Kitts

Former National Security Minister Dwyer Astaphan has questioned whether it is legal to accept the virtual currency Bitcoin as payment from someone applying for St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship through the citizenship by investment program.

“The Bitcoin thing is not an official currency. I don’t know that our constitution or our laws allow Bitcoin to be a currency to be used in any dealing to do with anything of St. Kitts and Nevis,” he said.

“It is being advertised that you could make your payment in relation to St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship. I suppose maybe buying real estate or whatever, by Bitcoin. What does the government has to say about this? What education program has the government engaged in, so that the public of this country will know what Bitcoin is, and to see how Bitcoin being used as an item of exchange in this system, is acceptable. What does the Central Bank have to say?

Astaphan, a veteran cabinet minister in the Dr. Denzil Douglas administration, resigned from the office just before the 2010 general election.

St. Lucia

Delta Airline has announced the introduction of a new Saturday service from New York’s John F Kennedy airport to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

The weekly service will start on Dec. 20, 2014 and will be operated using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a capacity for 160 passengers.

Delta said the introduction of the service was in response to an increased demand for more connections between United States cities and the best tourist destination in the Caribbean.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Foreign Affairs Minister Camillo Gonsalves says the process to allow nationals to travel to 27 countries in Europe visa-free is taking longer than expected and the initiative should become a reality early next year.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is among countries approved at the level of the European Parliament, to have Schengen visa waiver, but Gonsalves said Europe have to take various bureaucratic steps to authorize their foreign affairs people to negotiate with St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other approved countries in terms of a reciprocal visa waiver.

He said the process has taken longer than expected since originally a number of island stats were being considered for visa-free waiver.

Gonsalves said there is still need for negotiations on the reciprocal visa waiver to be started.

He noted that there are other countries in the Caribbean that already have Schengen waiver.

The foreign affairs minister said the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) representation in Brussels has indicated that everything should be completed “in terms of approving us negotiating and signing the arrangement” by early next year.

Trinidad

US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield said the murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal was an “organized hit.”

Ambassador Brownfield, who holds responsibility for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in the US Department of State pointed to a direct correlation between street crime and transnational drug trafficking as he addressed the killing of Seetahal during a media teleconferencing recently to discuss US/Caribbean security operations.

He said the senior counsel assassination was an organized hit since it was a carefully planned operation.

But he emphasized that he was not suggesting that it was an international player who ordered the killing.

“I am saying that it was a criminal organization that clearly had a presence in Trinidad and Tobago, which decided to perform this repulsive and repugnant act,” he said.

It is more than two months now since Seetahal was shot and killed in Port of Spain while on her way home around midnight on May 4, 2014 after leaving a casino in the area and no arrests have been made.

Barbados

The Barbados government is vowing to crackdown on the smuggling of guns into the country.

Attorney General Adriel Braithwaite said as of the end of May, 2014, there were six murders with the use of guns, compared to two for the same period last year.

“If firearms are coming into the country illegally, it is not just a police matter. It is a Customs matter, it is a Coast Guard matter,” he said.

The AG also proposed a combination of police and community intervention to deal with gun violence in the communities.

Braithwaite said although statistics reflect an overall decline in crime, gun-related murders is still cause for concern.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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