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Antigua

Former murder convict Ashworth Bunche who is facing a life sentence, had his sentence overturned by the Court of Appeal due to “trial judge errors” among other things.

Bunche, 41, had been sentenced in January 2011 for the 2007 killing of his good friend Jerry Manderville.

This was not the first time Bunche has been to prison. In 2004 he was released after serving ten years in jail on a manslaughter conviction in a different case.

Bahamas

Prime Minister Perry Christie says talks with China aimed at ensuring the completing of the US$3.5 billion Baha mar project ended without an agreement being reached among the stakeholders.

Christie said that his administration has, on the advice of its lawyers including those in the United States and the United Kingdom, filed a winding up petition in the Bahamas Supreme Court against the 14 Bahamian entities that filed for Chapter 11 protection in the United States at the end of June.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Allyson Maynard Gibson QC led a ten-member government delegation to the talks that were attended by officials from Bahar Mar Ltd, China Construction Engineering Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of China.

But Prime Minister Christie in a radio and television address to the nation recently, said that despite “working diligently around the clock to arrive at a solution acceptable to all parties and having made considerable progress, the talks nonetheless ended without agreement whereupon the delegation returned to Nassau”.

Prime Minister Christie said during the talks it was indicated that “Baha Mar’s additional funding requirements had increased considerably, and now included not only funding for completion off the construction, but funding to meet start-up and operating expenses; funding to cover other liabilities and deferral of principal and the initial balloon payments under the loan facility with Eximbank.

Dominica

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is defending the country’s Economic Citizenship Program, describing it as a vital part of growth and job creation in Dominica that should be embraced.

He says while criticism has been heaped on the initiative in Dominica, many countries across the world have done well through such programs.

“You hear people talking about the Economic Citizenship Program and all sorts of aspersions are cast but you hear nothing (about) Cyprus which has had the program for many years; the United States has a program which grants Green Cards and tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in the United States of American under the EB-5 Program,” Skerrit said.

“Malta has an Economic Citizenship Program, Portugal as well, Canada was a pioneer of the Economic Citizenship Program; they just stopped it about three years and at that time they had about 60,000 applicants in their system” he added.

The Dominican leader dismissed those who have suggested that the program “is this devil which we have to get rid of”.

He stressed that it a very important tool for economic activity, growth and job creation in the country and suggested that abandoning it would be blow to the economy.

Grenada

The Canadian government has agreed to take another look at its requirement for Grenadian citizens to have visa to enter Canada.

The assurance was given after talks between Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper on the margins of the Toronto Global Forum held recently.

During the discussions, Mitchell expressed his concern about the high costs and the inconvenience associated with Grenadians to travel to Trinidad for Canada visas, a statement from the government said.

“Prime Minister Harper, in expressing his understanding of the issue at hand, promised to look into it, with a view to reconsidering the visa requirements for Grenadian nationals”. The government statements said.

It added that Harper had indicated that if the government could not remove the visa restriction, then it would consider appointing a representative to travel to Grenada once or twice a month to provide visa and other consular services for nationals.

Guyana

The High Court has quashed the two term limit presidential limit in Guyana paving the way for a person who has already served two terms as head of state to seek election to become president unless the ruling is appealed or a referendum takes place.

The ruling by Chief Justice, Ian Chang, followed the December 2014 filing of a writ by private resident Cedric Richardson challenging the two term limit and the manner in which the Guyana Constitution was amended.

Richardson argued that the limit was unconstitutional and the amendment, which was done without a referendum but rather by a two/thirds majority in the National Assembly, was also illegal.

The Chief Justice said Guyana is a democratic sovereign state and the term limits “in substance and effect, undoubtedly diminishes the democratic right of the electorate in electing a person of their own choice as president by excluding from presidential candidature”.

Former president Bharath Jagdeo is the only former head of state alive who has served two terms and when the writ was filed Jagdeo denied any involvement and said he was not interested in being elected to a third term in office.

He had also said he was not pursuing any further appointment to an elected constitutional office or post in Guyana, but he is now expected to be the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly after the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) agreed it lost the May 11 general election.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s justice minister has signed an order to expunge some marijuana-related convictions now that the island has partially decriminalized small amount of “pot.”

Justice Minister Mark Golding said that he had signed an order to provide a path for people to get criminal records purged if they have minor convictions for smoking or possession marijuana.

In April, drug law amendments went into effect that partially decriminalized small amounts of “pot” and paved the way for a lawful medical marijuana sector in Jamaica.

The act made possession of up to two ounces of “weed” a petty offence that would not result in a criminal record.

Before that, officials estimated 300 young men each week got criminal records and sometimes life-long stigma for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

St. Lucia

The organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) for HIV/AIDS has been awarded a US$5.3 million grant from the Global Fund to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, St. Lucia’s Health Minister Alvina Reynolds has disclosed.

“It’s been hard work by the OECS team and off-course ministers who visited us to be part of that process. And finally today we got the good news that we have been awarded the amount of US$5.3 million to deal with the issues of HIV/AIDS in the region,” said Reynolds, who is also Chair of the OECS RCM.

‘We must continue to be strategic in using the funds where it is most needed to save lives and reduce HIV and AIDS infections in the region and especially in St.Lucia,” she added.

Director of the OECS, RCM Joan Didier noted that the OECS Commission, through the OECS HIV/AIDS Unit, has been working throughout the sub-region since 2005. But she said funding from the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) comes to an end this year.

Suriname

Suriname’s Parliament recently gave former military dictator Desi Bouterse a second term as the democratically-elected president of the South American country.

The action came without even a formal vote. There is no opposition in the 51-member legislature.

Bouterse, 69, led his National Democratic Party to victory in late May’s parliamentary elections, but fell short of the required 34-seat majority needed to immediately re-elect him as the country’s leader for the next five years.

In recent weeks, Bouterse has been negotiation with smaller parties to get those votes in Parliament.

In the end, the splintered opposition did not even bother with putting forth its own candidate.

Main opposition leader Chandrikapersad Santokhi said he decided not to stand in the way of his rival’s re-election since the country needs a new government in place “as soon as possible.”

Bouterse has loomed over Suriname politics for decades.

He first came to power in February 1980, when he led a military coup and suspended the constitution just five years after Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands. He led another coup in 1990, three years after allowing the return to civilian rule.

In 1999, he was convicted in absentia in the Netherlands on drug trafficking charges.

Trinidad

The Office of the Attorney General has received the United States’ formal extradition request for former FIFA vice-President and current Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner.

Attorney General Garvin Nicholas told a press conference last Wednesday; “the process is now for me to examine the documents and consider the evidence and decide whether to issue the authority to proceed.”

Warner, 72, who is currently on $2.5 million bail, is accused of 12 charges related to fraud, racketeering and money laundering offences dating back to some two decades ago when he was vice-president of FIFA.

He is one of 14 former executive of world football’s governing body who are indicted on a series of charges after an investigation into corruption in football conducted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice.

He was due to re-appear in court on July 27, 2015 to contest the extradition request.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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