The Bahamas Customs Department is increasing measures for the upcoming festive season in an effort to maximize its return on customs revenue over the next two months – a period where hundreds of thousands of dollars are lost.
Comptroller of Customs Glenn Gomez said personnel will be increased and greater attention will be paid to customs forms to ensure that Bahamians are declaring all of their goods purchased abroad.
“We will be more vigilant during the holiday season and the only way to stop it is to slow down the process and look at ways to minimize the number of people trying to beat the system,” he said.
“It is a move to eliminate the number of Bahamian travelers who try to bypass paying duties on their items by not completely filling our customs forms,” he added.
Gomez noted that the number of goods that go undeclared puts a dent in customs revenue.
The promotion and protection of human rights remain a top priority for the Barbados government.
This assurance was given by acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Christopher Sinckler when he paid a courtesy call on the head of the Human Rights Unit (HRU) of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Purna Sen.
Sen, who was in the region recently to conduct a training seminar for CARICOM countries, which will be participating in the Universal Periodic Review 2011, told the minister that the HRU was particularly interested in the development of a national human rights institution.
During her brief trip she also met with other officials from government ministries and departments that are involved in compiling reports for the various human rights conventions to which Barbados is a party.
Sinckler told the Human Rights head that government was exploring the possibility of training personnel in short-term sources and graduate programs on human rights education.
The acting foreign affairs minister further pointed out that the Commonwealth Secretariat might be able to assist the Royal Barbados Police Force with producing a manual for its operations, as well as source training for officers of the Barbados Prison Service.
A call has been made for the Dominica government to impose stiff penalties for persons convicted of child abuse after a United Nations report indicated that sexual abuse was on the rise in the island and in five other Caribbean countries.
Chief Welfare Officer Martin Anthony in making the call said that a report by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) showed that there were empirical and anecdotal evidence from the Caribbean to suggest that reports of abuse were increasing, which implied a growing awareness and willingness to confront the problem.
However, the report also noted that the actual number of child sexual abuse cases is increasing, which seemed to indicate an acceptance of the problem.
The study, Child Sexual Abuse in the Eastern Caribbean, was conducted between October 2008 and June 2009 in Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Anthony said that the data on Dominica continue to show high increases of child sexual abuse.
He said the problem needs to be tackled at the level of the courts.
Condemned prisoners on death row should not expect their sentences to be commuted to life imprisonment any time soon, according to Cabinet’s Press Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon.
There are 312 prisoners on death row waiting for their sentences to be commuted.
The Guyana Human Rights Association said it intends making a case for the death sentences of convicted murderers on death row to be commuted to life.
The country’s amended Criminal Law Offences Act makes convicted killers eligible for parole after serving 20 years.
Dr. Luncheon said whether the legislation applied retroactively was something that had to be determined.
Anti-U.N. riots spread to several Haitian Cities and towns, as protestors blame a contingent of Nepalese peacekeepers for a deadly outbreak of cholera, which has killed more than 1,250 people so far.
They exchanged gunfire with U.N. soldiers as protestors continue to barricade some roads.
The protest left two people dead.
A demonstrator was shot dead by a U.N. peacekeeper during an exchange of gunfire in Quartier Morin, near Haiti’s second largest city of Cap-Haitien, the United Nations Missions said.
Haiti Senate President Kelly Bastien told Radio Vision 2000 that the second demonstrator was killed in Cap-Haitien.
The 12,000-member force reported that at least 12 U.N. personnel were wounded in protests at Hinche in the central plateau, while local radio Metropole reported that at least 12 Haitians were injured in Cap-Haitien.
Local reporters said a police station was burned in Cap-Haitien and rocks were thrown at peacekeeping bases.
The British government plans to cut the cost of maintaining prisoners and is planning to send foreigners held in U.K. prisons home to finish their sentences.
In Jamaica’s case, that could mean close to l,000 convicts being returned to the island.
Jamaica’s National Security Minister Dwight Nelson said that this action by the British government would contravene existing arrangements, including a stipulation that convicts cannot be returned home without consent.
Nelson said he would expect that British Prime Minister David Cameron to have discussions on the matter with his Jamaican counterpart Bruce Golding ahead of such a move.
The national security minister said the Jamaican government would not accept any plans by the U.K. to unilaterally change the existing deportee arrangements.
Tourism officials in St. Kitts and Nevis are trying to contain any fallout from an incident in which a busload of cruise ship passengers were robbed by gunpoint by masked men.
This has resulted in two cruise ships canceling their calls to St. Kitts recently following the incident in which 17 tourists had their cash, jewelry, cell phones and other personal items stolen.
Among those who have condemned the attack was the country’s Opposition Leader Mark Brantley, who said the incident had tarnished the image of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Trinidad and Tobago government is moving to crack down on the illegal guns and ammunition by introducing stiff penalties for the offences.
Minister of National Security John Sandy introduced legislation in the senate recently to also deal with rogue elements in the Police Service who sell or transfer firearms and ammunition.
Under the new law, a member of the protective services “can be liable on indictment to imprisonment for 20 years.”
The Firearms (Amendment Act) Bill, which began in the senate recently requires a constitutional majority and is one of a comprehensive package of legislation, which Sandy said demonstrates government’s “affirmative action is seeking to reduce the level of lawlessness and criminal activity, which pervade our society.”
He said a high percentage of crime in the country was gang-related, adding that a harsher measure of gun control was required.
Sandy said repeated offenders can face up to life imprisonment.
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has apologized over a recent statement she made regarding emergency aid to CARICOM states affected by Tropical Storm Tomas.
In an interview with Jamaica’s RJR News recently, the prime minister said; “I do apologize that my statements have been taken in this regard. I remain committed to the regional integration movement and to our CARICOM brothers and sisters.”
The prime minister said T&T is currently preparing to send emergency aid supplies to Haiti but the logistics were proving to be difficult.
Persad-Bissessar reiterated that when she spoke about sending aid to countries affected by natural disasters it was with the view that Trinidad and Tobago would benefit from the provisions of that aid.
Jamaicans were calling for a boycott of Trinidad and Tobago manufactured goods.
The prime minister said T&T would assist affected islands with relief supplies.
She noted, however, that in terms of long-term aid to help rebuild the islands’ economies that this should result in benefits to Trinidad through the use of local skilled laborers.
Compiled by Azad Ali