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Caribbean

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) is urging the Caribbean and other developing nations to maximize the use of its tools and services to fight crimes against children.

In a report here, Interpol said crimes against children “tend to be local crimes with the vast majority taking place within the home or family circle.”

It, however, said there is an “internatio­nal angle,” pointing out that Internet crimes against children are “facilitated by the Internet, the increased use of which in recent years has led to a huge rise in offending”.

“Not only can offenders distribute and access child abuse material more easily, but they can also come into direct contact with children via chat rooms and social networking sites,” the statement said.

Interpol said it runs a project in conjunction with Internet Access Service Providers to block access to child abuse material online.

In addition, it said “sex tourism” involves “the abuse of children in developing countries by people who travel there.”

Antigua

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer says his administration has no plans to follow its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member country, Barbados, and send home public sector workers in an attempt to revive the ailing economy.

Speaking at a public meeting of his ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) recently, Spencer assured supporters that “however we do it, we are not going to embark upon any kind of wholesale retrenchment of government workers, public sector workers.”

He said his government intends to hold on its obligation “because we recognize that in a situation where the private sector does not have the absorptive capacity to absorb all the workers that are required to be engaged in Antigua and Barbuda, we have a social responsibility as a government.

“What is happening in Barbados and in certain other countries, we could have adopted the same position here because the same issues do exist, but we have taken a different position,” Spencer told supporters.

Recently, the Barbados government announced a plan to cut public service jobs in a bid to save Bds143 million.

It said it would also institute a “strict program of attrition” across the central public service, filling posts only where it is absolutely unavoidable, over the next five years, ending 2018-2019.

Barbados

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says it is providing a loan of US$4.6 million to the Barbados government for a project to reduce flood hazard risks in the country’s second largest town.

The CDB said that under the project, the capacity of the main storm drain in Speightstown would be increased from a one in five year rainfall flow event to a one-in-20 year storm flow event.

The project also provides for technical assistance to improve the planning, execution, and funding of routine maintenance in Speightstown, and to develop and implement a community education program on flood reduction measures in the town.

CDB also announced it was providing a US$25 million loan to Guyana to fund a project which will protect a number of communities from flooding and other hazards brought on by the effects of climate change.

It said components of the project include the reconstruction and improvement of approximately 5.4 km of sea and river defenses, as well as for capacity in shoreline change monitoring and analysis.

Dominica

Dominica has recorded its first case of the chikungunya virus but health officials say there is no cause for alarm.

“We can confirm that we have the first local case of chikungunya in Dominica, (but) there is no need for any alarm at this time,” said Chief Medical Officer of Dominica Dr. David Johnson, adding that it was ”very importantly for us we want to establish if there are any other cases in Dominica.”

Recently Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) said it is working closely with the French and Dutch authorities after the region recorded its first ever case of chikungunya.

Late last month, CARPHA said it had received notification of 10 confirmed cases of locally acquired chikungunya virus infection on the French side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin.

Chikungunya is a viral disease, carried mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and causes a dengue-like sickness.

Grenada

Unless you know someone in Grenada, be wary of any calls you receive from a 473 area code.

That’s the word from police departments in Utah, USA, who say that Utahans across the state are answering their phones without recognizing the 473 number which comes from Grenada, Carriacou or Petite Martinique.

According to Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman Dwayne Baird, residents are reporting that regardless of whether or not they call back, they’re getting a US$19.95 charge immediately tacked on to their cell phone bill.

Baird explained that the scammers are able to use Utahans’ basic cell phone information gathered when they answer to add the charge to the bill.

When the residents answer, they hear “a commotion or sounds of moaning or someone in distress before the caller abruptly hangs up,” The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

While police said they didn’t know what was prompting the charges, Fox 13 reported the number is linked to a phone sex business.

Verizon is also urging caution to its customers – particularly those in Utah – who have been charged for returning a call to 473-520-9734, says a report on the channelpartnersonline.com website.

One person in Centerville, Utah, reported getting a call from the number, which rang only once or twice.

When he called back, he heard “a small child or person moaning ... it lasted for a short time,” the Standard Examiner reported that community’s police chief as saying.

Other reports have described it as sounding either like someone in distress or the sounds that one would expect on a porn line.

Guyana

Two people were killed after a small plane crashed in the South American country of Guyana.

Civil Aviation Chief Zulfikar Mohamed says Canadian pilot Blake Slater and cargo handler Dwayne Jacobs were abroad the single-engine Cessna Caravan when it crashed recently in the heavily forested Mazaruni area in western Guyana.

He said the plane belonged to domestic operator Trans Guyana Airways and was en route to pick up fuel and other cargo.

It was not immediately clear what led to the crash. It is the second plane crash in a week to occur in Guyana. A smaller Cessna 206 crashed shortly after takeoff on Jan. 11, injuring three people.

Haiti

Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has pledged that his government will provide the necessary means to the electoral council to facilitate the holding of legislative and local elections.

During a cabinet meeting recently, Lamothe reiterated the commitment of his team and President Michel Martelly to democracy and the rule of law, of which regularly organized free, fair and honest elections remain an inescapable corollary.

“The elections will take place this year and my government will provide the means to support the work of the electoral council,” said Lamothe.

“This will allow us to move forward on the path of democracy which this government believes in,” he advised.

Many feared the worst in Haiti because of allegations that a major political crisis would result from a failure by the Martelly-Lamothe government to find a political consensus to facilitate the holding of such important elections.

In an address to Parliament recently, Martelly also promised that the ballot will be held this year to elect one-third of the 30-member Senate and hundreds of entities of local governance.

The election date will be announced soon by the electoral council, tasked with organizing the vote.

Consultations are underway between electoral authorities and various political actors and civil society groups in order to reach a consensus on the electoral calendar and other important steps in the election process.

Jamaica

Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), a local human rights watchdog group, has raised alarm at the increase in the number of civilians who lost their lives in incidents involving the security forces in 2013.

Following the release of statistics from the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), which revealed that 258 persons had been killed in 2013 – up from 219 in 2012 – JFJ says the upward trend raises questions about the operations carried out by the security forces.

According to Susan Goffe, JFJ’s spokesperson, the organization is concerned about accountability in the police force and the use of lethal force.

JFJ has also called on National Security Minister Peter Bunting to address the country on the increase in the number of civilian deaths during police/military operations.

According to the report from INDECOM, an analysis by parish revealed that the corporate area, which includes the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew, recorded the highest number of fatalities with 76, representing 29 per cent of the total number of fatalities recently.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will travel to China next month to open an Embassy there.

While there she will discuss the Chinese-financed US$1.5 billion port in South Trinidad and encourage trade and investment.

Trade Minister Vasant Bharath said manufacturers have been invited on the trip saying the private sector would be welcomed.

He said the visit “will open new venues for doing business and allow for the private sector to form business ties and develop trading and diplomatic links with the Chinese.”

Bharath said the government will be focusing on the maritime sector as a rival to the energy sector in terms of revenue for the country. He said downstream projects and sport tourism were two other areas of focus on the government’s trade and investment agenda.

Haiti

Nine people have been charged in the 2000 killing of one of Haiti’s most renowned journalists, marking a huge step forward in a high-profile case that has otherwise seemed permanently stuck.

The daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that Judge Yvikel Dabresil submitted his findings the day before to the Court of Appeal.

His report, read aloud by a clerk in the courthouse, said a former senator named Mirlande Liberus Pavert was the intellectual author of the slaying of Jean Dominique.

Those charged include Pavert and Annette Auguste, a well-known folk singer otherwise known as So Anne.

Pavert was a member of the Family Lavalas political party of two-time President Jean-Bertrand Aristide while she served as senator in the early 2000s. Auguste at that time was a Lavalas activist.

Gabriel Harold Severe, a former mayor of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, was also charged. Dominique an agronomist-turned-radio commentator and his security guard were gunned down on April 3, 2000, in the courtyard of the journalist’s radio station, Radio Haiti Inter.

The assassination of the man affectionately known as “Jean Do” shocked the nation. He had gone into exile under earlier regimes but enjoyed proximity to power before his death, counting former presidents Rene Preval and Aristide as close friends.

Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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