A Dominican fugitive described as a “serial rapist” who fled his country to Antigua was shot dead by police during an exchange of gunfire recently. Kurt “Shabba” James was shot dead in his apartment at Carlisle.
Antigua police said James has several rape convictions and had three sex crimes pending in court in Dominica.
The Dominica national was due to appear in the High Court in Dominica last July, but he failed to show-up and an arrest warrant was issued for his arrest.
It is believed that he may have fled to Barbados and then to Antigua.
Police intelligence led them to James’ apartment where he allegedly opened fire on the police when they announced their presence.
There was a shoot-out and when the smoke cleared he was found dead with gunshot wounds to the body.
When police searched the apartment they found two handguns which they seized.
Police in Dominica say James has a long rap sheet, which includes convictions for rape, threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend’s new partner, burglary and wounding among other crimes.
James who was classified as a “serial rapist” in Dominica, was reportedly arrested and charged with murder over a decade ago after he allegedly slashed the throat of a female in Dominica.
The Barbados government is moving to table legislation amending the Proceeds of Crime Act so as to allow the authorities to seize the assets of people with no legitimate source of income.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite in addressing a ruling Democratic Labor Party (DLP) recently said that drug barons and others engaged in criminal activities would not be allowed to flourish in Barbados.
Braithwaite, who is also minister of Home Affairs, said that Caribbean countries have been hard-hit by an upsurge in criminal activity, not only because of economic challenges but because the region is now being used as a transshipment point for drugs.
“I want to ensure that if (you) see a fellow with a big fancy car and he doesn’t work, we will seize it and give it to the police. If I see him living in a big fancy house and he doesn’t work anywhere, we will seize it and turn (it) into halfway house for people who are drug dependent,’ he told supporters.
“Over the last year we have without doubt an upsurge in violent crime in this country. We read our newspaper every day and see the heavy use of firearms and it concerns all of us,” Brathwaite added.
A call has been made for a change in leadership in the fight against crime following the setting of a new murder record in The Bahamas in 2015, and several serious crimes already recorded for 2016, including two murders and three shootings.
The call has come from former deputy commissioner of police Quinn McCartney who did not identify anyone in his remarks, but his comments are viewed as a criticism of Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade.
Last week the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas issued a new crime warning, singling out operators of personal watercraft or jet skis following the sexual assault on a U.S. citizen.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) said a 26-year-old man was taken into custody in the Jan. 2, 2016 attack.
The embassy noted that there have been five sexual assaults of U.S. citizens by jet-ski operators in Nassau since July last year. The embassy has banned its staff from using jet-ski rental companies because of insufficient regulation and is also recommends U.S. citizens not use them either.
The embassy expressed similar concerns last year about jet-ski operators as well as rising crime in general in The Bahamas.
After six year of unprecedented crime records, McCartney suggested that the police force needed a change in leadership.
His call for new leadership comes exactly six years after Greenslade assumed command of the RBPF and one year after McCartney retired as deputy after more than 30 years of service.
There were 120 murders in 201, 123 in 2014 and a record 149 last year.
A Jamaica woman living in the Cayman Islands has been convicted for her part in a permanent residency scam which involved two other women.
Marcia Hamilton was convicted on six counts of obtaining property by deception, which she appeared in court recently.
Another woman Judith Douglas pleaded guilty to similar offences. The third woman, Kathleen Davis, also a Jamaican fled the country before she could be charged.
The fraud took place between October 2009 and April 2010. Hamilton and Douglas would be sentenced on Feb. 25, 2016.
According to police reports Hamilton who received permanent status during 2003, denied the charges, claiming she was not part of a conspiracy because she believed the permanent residency offer she assisted with was a legitimate one.
However, trial Judge, Justice Charles Quin, ruled that Hamilton knew that the people she and her co-accused scammed for US$2,500 each were never going to get permanent residency.
Guyana could become the first member state to benefit from a new country assistance program (CAP) under the CARICOM Development Fund’s (CDF) 2015-2020 funding cycle, since the South American country is already eligible to receive further support by virtue of having paid up its full assessed contribution to the organization.
This was revealed by CEO of the CDF Rodinald Soomer who said CDF is ready and willing to make this possible and wishes to thank the government of Guyana for its demonstration and commitment to, and confidence in, the CDF.
He said the CAP allocated in the first cycle, which went towards a major road program to improve access to farms and expand agricultural production by bringing new lands under cultivation, received a high grade from independent evaluators and was recommended for expansion.
Soomer said the program was assessed to be well managed, and to have been characterized by a significant level of local ownership and participation.
He added that a team from the CFD commenced discussions with the national focal point in Guyana during the last monitoring mission, which included preliminary discussions on possible projects for funding in the upcoming cycle.
Soomer advised that Guyana is in the process of internal consultations to be in a position to present a formal program early this year for the CDF’s consideration.
“Immediate future assistance to Guyana will be framed within the context of implementation of CDF’s new strategic plan through the execution of which we project to distribute resources to an estimated total value of US$86 million,” he said.
Jamaica’s National Security Minister, Peter Bunting said recently that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) will increase its efforts to rid the nation of acts of criminality, while focusing more on community policing.
He said the country has witnessed an unwelcome increase in murders in 2015, but the government will not be deterred or daunted by this setback.
“The nation cannot allow a minority of heartless and selfish individuals to rob citizens and children of their right to live and grow up in safe and peaceful communities,” the minister said.
He pointed out that the ministry through “Unite for Change” and other initiatives has put significant efforts into building stronger partnerships between the police and the citizenry, which “are bearing fruit.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police, Dr Carl Williams, encouraged Jamaicans to continue partnering with the JFC to provide a safer environment.
He stated that several initiatives, which started in 2015, should manifest in a reduction in murders and other crimes.
The murder toll in 2015 was 1,192.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has accused some Vincentians living overseas of using social media to encourage terrorism in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Speaking at a press conference recently, Gonsalves told reporters that United States officials have been notified of such social media posts.
“We notice that a context for the propagation of information is being inflamed by a number of persons who are on social media, most of them living in the comfort of overseas. There are calls to assassinate Ralph and his family. There are calls to burn down Ralph’s dwelling house — his personal property. They are encouraging people in the act of terrorism, to burn down the city. I want to know what the leader of the opposition is saying about this,” Gonsalves said.
The prime minister did not identify the persons who he said were committing these acts, but said some of them were in St. Vincent and the Grenadines campaigning for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in the lead up to the Dec. 9, 2015 general election.
He said some of these persons use what they believe “is the safety of their home in Brooklyn (USA) or wherever, to encourage this kind of lawlessness.”
In a response, NDP’s Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace issued a statement saying “without providing any single evidence, Ralph Gonsalves accused Vincentians living in the United States of terrorism and is seeking to put American authorities on his own people.”
The United States Embassy in Barbados has called on the St. Lucia government to ensure the rule of law is upheld.
The embassy noted that in 2014 the government of St. Lucia invited CARICOM’s implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to conduct an investigation into allegations that members of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force committed extra-judicial killings from 2010 to 2011.
In a statement the embassy said: “Unfortunately, progress on pursuing justice in these killings halted after the report’s issuance in March 2015. Despite the significance of the IMPACS report for human rights, national security concerns, and St. Lucia’s international reputation, the government of St. Lucia has made no meaningful progress towards criminal prosecution in 10 months.”
The embassy added that it is concerned that four years have passed since these allegations of human rights violations first surfaced and due process is yet to be served.
The embassy encouraged the St. Lucian government to activate the promised implementation oversight committee under the prime minister’s chairmanship.
Trinidadians and Tobagonians will have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for basic food items, which have been removed from the zero-rated Value Added Tax (VAT).
The commonly used food items, which included butter, cooking oil, flour, rice, cereals, smoke herring, tuna, all sausages, pasta, milk, fruit juices, ketchup, biscuits, mauby and soft drinks, which were previously VAT-free will now be increased by 12.5 percent from the overall reduction of 15 percent.
VAT on more than 7,000 food items were removed when the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led PP government took office in 2010.
Some school books were also removed from the zero-rated list, which will take effect from Feb. 1, 2016.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert said more food items would be removed from the non-VAT list will come by April this year. The government was forced to review the VAT list in the wake of falling oil and gas prices.
He said the Dr. Keith Rowley led PNM Government faced with severe constraints that has led to “a paradigm shift” was seeking to amend the zero-rated list. He said 50 percent of all imports currently were not subject to VAT.
Prime Minister Dr. Rowley said that VAT being added to hundreds of times will push citizens to eat healthier.
— compiled by Azad Ali