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Social Justice and Women’s organizations, in Jamaica and the Caribbean have come out in support of abortion law reform in Jamaica, which they say mostly discriminates against poor women.

In a statement, the organizations have congratulated Jamaican parliamentarians and social justice advocates who have placed the issue on the legislative agenda.

Last June, Jamaican Member of Parliament, Julia Cuthbert-Flynn tabled a motion calling for a debate on the law that criminalizes abortion.

She also tabled a private members’ bill calling for the sections criminalizing abortion in the Offences against the Person Act to be removed and replaced with civil law.

The women’s organizations are urging the Jamaican parliament to guarantee women’s enjoyment of their rights to equal treatment, privacy, integrity of the person and non-discriminatory access to sexual and reproductive health rights and services.

The statement noted that data coming to those groups have shown that “unsafe abortions are one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in Jamaica.”

It further noted that 70 percent of all unsafe abortions in the Caribbean are carried out on women below 30 years old.

“Within CARICOM, Barbados (1983) and Guyana (1995) have led the way with legislation that decriminalizes the termination of pregnancy. Belize, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have expanded the exceptions that allow for abortion under the criminal law,” the advocates noted.

Guyana

Guyana has been named the number one “Best of Ecotourism” destination in the world.

The award was presented to the Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority, Brian Mullis, at the ITB global travel trade fair in Berlin, Germany recently.

The second annual “Best of Top 100” Awards is a selection of the finest top l00 destinations selected by a panel of experts who reviewed sustainability success stories submitted by destinations worldwide.

The newly created “Best of Ecotourism” category was added this year and put Guyana against very well-known and experienced ecotourism destinations like Sierra Gorda in Mexico, Tmatboey in Cambodia and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

Director of Tourism, Brian Mullis said Guyana has expanded considerable effect in recent years not only to develop new and innovative eco-friendly tourism products as a part of the national Green State Development Strategy, but to also to incorporate sustainable tourism best practice into all its strategy, planning and programming while educating the world about its deep commitment to maximizing the positive socio-economic and conservation outcomes from tourism.

Grenada

Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell said the Dubai-based Range Development is to undertake two new hotel projects in Grenada estimated at US$130 million.

He said the Range Development is well known for the high quality of its hotels and for the ability to deliver results in the region.

Range Development is an investment and hospitality company operating across the Eastern Caribbean. It has been involved in the construction of the Park Hyatt in St. Kitts and Cabrits Resort Kempinski in Dominica.

Dr. Mitchell said his government’s policy is to bring investment and sustainable jobs to the country and “our partnership with Range Development is irrefutable proof to this.”

He added, “The project will be based in a rural part of the country, St. David, showing our commitment to ensuring that every Part or our tri-island stage is developed.”

The prime minister said that the two projects would result in an estimated 600 jobs during construction and many more during the operations.

Jamaica

Jamaicans will be paying J$14 billion less in taxes as the government reduces the tax burden as part of measures to stimulate greater business and economic activity and boost growth.

This was revealed by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke when he opened the 2019 / 2020 budget debate in the House of Representatives recently.

The measures, which will take effect from April, 1, 2019, include abolishing the Minimum Business Tax, payable by all registered companies.

In addition, there will be an increase in the annual General Consumption Tax (GCT) threshold to J$10 million, up from the current J$3 million.

This will mean that approximately 500 small businesses that currently file GCT will no longer be required to do so.

Other measures in the budget include a reduction of the transfer tax payable on the transfer of real property and financial instruments. It is proposed to reduce the transfer tax to two percent, down from five percent.

Montserrat

A judge with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court was among six women honored in Montserrat recently for their “selfless contribution and commitment to the development and advancement of Montserrat.”

Justice Esco Henry received the second highest national award — the Order of Excellence — at the 5th National Honors Awards Ceremony for her service in the field of law and public service.

The judge, prior to her appointment to the bench in 2014, served as attorney general in Montserrat, as well as the legal adviser to the St. Kitts and Nevis based Eastern Caribbean Central Bank that she was accepting “an award which belonged to all of the people of Montserrat.”

The Order of Excellence was also bestowed on Dr. Icilima Fergus-Rowe for her service and achievements in the field of medicine, while three other people were awarded the Order of Distinction for their distinguished and outstanding contributions — they are Rev. Rosalind Morgan (Education), Soni Charles (Medicine), Claudette Weekes (Education and Public Service).

The Order of Merit for meritorious service was awarded to Geraldine Mason for her contribution to culture and community development.

St. Lucia

The Allen Chastanet administration said there is need for fresh and fair elections in Venezuela.

In a statement, the government said that due to the escalating situation in the South American country, St. Lucia has seen an influx of arms and drugs from Venezuela as well as illegal entry of Venezuelan nationals.

“The people of Venezuela must be allowed to decide their own future in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter- non-intervention, non-interference, prohibition of the threat or use force, respect the rule of law, human rights and democracy,” the statement said.

It added that in order for the objective to be attained,” there has to be a meaningful and internal dialogue between the contending parties.”

“Based on St. Lucia’s known position on the issue on May 2018 election and statements by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) St. Lucia has hoped that the current regime would move towards fresh and fair elections to solve the crisis,” the statement ended.

Trinidad

A total of 19 countries have confirmed taking part in the premier festival of the arts from Aug. 16-25, 2019, according to a news release from the Carifesta XIV Secretariat.

Sixteen Caribbean member and associate member states have responded to the official invitation to participate in the festival, which was issued on Dec. 7, 2018.

In addition, Canada, Venezuela and Curacao have also signaled their intention to be part of the event.

“Locals and guests alike will have the unique opportunity to experience many of the Caribbean’s culture in one mega arts festival through 150 evebnts throughout the Trinidad and Tobago,” the release said.

Unlike many of the internationally known festivals, Carifesta XIV brings delegations representing the dance, music, craft, visual arts, theatre, film and food from the entire Caribbean to one stage for 10 days in Trinidad and Tobago,” it said.

Compiled by Azad Azad

Updated 4:39 pm, April 2, 2019
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