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Caribbean countries sign historic Escazu Agreement

Caribbean countries sign historic Escazu Agreement

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 28, CMC – Caribbean leaders were joining their counterparts in Latin America in signing the Escazu Agreement that seeks to protect the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

The leaders of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Lucia were the latest to affix their signatures to the accord that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said is poised to be the new environmental instrument synonymous with non-discrimination, transparency and greater democracy for all.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet singing the Escazú Agreement on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

“This agreement will help fight crime, poverty, inequality and is crucial to the protection of the environment in general. The agreement is sometimes referred to as ‘environmental democracy,’ which is a new legal term that implies the participation of all in protecting the environment,” according to an Antigua and Barbuda government statement.

It quoted Prime Minister Gaston Browne as outlining the importance of Antigua and Barbuda taking the bold step in becoming signatory to the agreement.

“The island is regarded as one of the front runners within the region with a progressive climate agenda, with the hope of transforming Antigua and Barbuda into a climate smart country,” it said.

Or its part, St. Lucia said it has put itself safely at the vanguard of sustainable development with equality at its core, when it joined other countries in signing the agreement that will be open for signatures until September 26, 2020.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, joined his Antigua and Barbuda counterpart as well as the leaders of Guyana, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay in signing the agreement.

The Escazú Agreement was adopted on 4 March 2018, in Escazú, Costa Rica and ECLAC said that it reflects regional ambitions, priorities and uniqueness, while addressing environmental protection and management in sustainable leveraging of natural resources, preserving biodiversity, combatting desertification and climate change, and building disaster resilience.

The Escazú Agreement is the only treaty to emerge from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Río+20). It is also the first regional environmental treaty of LAC countries, and the first with binding provisions on defenders of human rights in environmental matters.

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UWI opens new faculty of engineering

UWI opens new faculty of engineering

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sept 14, CMC – The University of the West Indies (UWI), has opened a new Faculty of Engineering at its Mona campus here, hoping to train more professionals to satisfy the growing demand of Jamaica’s booming construction and industrial sectors.

“I can’t graduate enough for [our] industry. Engineering has the advantage over medicine and law, where our programmes are seeking international accreditation. It means that our students, upon graduation, can work anywhere in the world,” said Dr. Paul Aiken, Dean at the Faculty of Engineering.

Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Dale Webber (left); Managing Director, Global Public Affairs, Jake Suski; Deputy Principal, Professor Ian Boxill and Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Dr. Paul Aiken, examine a cake with the logo of the new Faculty of Engineering

He said the UWI is aware of the high demand for local engineers, and wants to help with satisfying this demand, thus the reason they decided to make this investment.

“I know the banking sector is hiring our computer systems engineers. They are hiring electronics engineers. They are saying banking is an information and communications technology (ICT) company now, because of all the technologies involved. Civil engineers go to firms, to companies with electronics, telecommunication, manufacturing [and] all industrial sectors in Jamaica,” he added.

Aiken said the new faculty will offer Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Power Engineering and Electronics Engineering.

“They are three-year degree programmes with foundation courses in Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science (for full-time students). We have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Systems Engineering, but we are about to merge that with Electronics, because the graduates tend to go into the same sector,” he said.

Aiken said the faculty will be open to train students with basic high school education up to the fifth form level, who are interested in pursuing a career in the area of engineering.

“For students who find it a little hard to be qualified to go into these Bachelor of Science programmes, we do have the preliminary engineering [course]. It’s a one year qualifying period that we pretty much take you from fifth form, as long as you have English, Mathematics [and] Science. We mould you, we transform you and get you ready to take on the three-year Bachelor of Science Engineering programmes,” Aiken said.

“We have research in all engineering programmes. We have research partners that are willing to give us access to their multimillion dollar laboratory facilities, and we intend to be involved in cutting edge research, and we are going to transform Jamaica,” he said.

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MCC begins a new college year

Beginning with the principal, staff and students of the Montserrat Community College processing in through the rear door of the St. James Anglican Church, Salem promptly at 9.00 a.m. on Monday, September 3, 2018, to a hymn played by Miss Anne-Marie Dewar at the organ; followed by the singing of the Territorial Anthem, then by an Invocation led by Pastor Peter Buffonge, the MCC began in its fourth Convocation.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding – in all your ways acknowledge him and He will direct your path,” the pastor quoted from Solomon, and then prayed, “…You are still God of Montserrat and you are still in charge, and today we ask that You will guide throughout this physical school term, through Jesus name…” The term runs from September 2018 to June 2019.

Then the singing of a popular hymn ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ preceding the Welcome by new principal Mrs. Geraldine Cabey, appointed, 

beginning August 27, 2018, according to BY DISCOVERMNITEAM · August 10, 2018.

See https://discovermni.com/2018/08/10/former-politician-and-educator-named-as-principal-of-the-community-college/

Mrs Cabey in her welcome to the attendees, official and otherwise, addressed the students congratulating them for making the decision to pursue post-secondary education at the Community College.

“I feel as excited as you do today,” she began. “…We are both charting new territory. The only difference is, that my life’s experience would have better prepared me for the challenges ahead, but together and with yours truly as your leader, I will be pulling you along this journey.”

Saying to the students, “We are mindful that you had alternate choices but let me assure you have made the best choice. Why is that so? You get to spend an additional two years with your parents, with Montserrat – You get that time to grow a little more in preparation for the external world. 16 years plus in my estimation is still a bit young to send you abroad.”

She assured further: “In addition, you have today of faculty, administrative staff, to look out hostelry for you. You will not be in an environment where you will you will just merely be a statistic. We will get to know you by name; we will look out for you; we will seek you when we think you are falling behind. It will only happen for you at the MCC.”

Boasting of the Colleges exam achievements – “We boast one of the highest in the region’” amassing a pass rate for the past three years over 90%, “in fact this year 92%.

In closing her welcome remarks Mrs Cabey promises that at the next gathering, “we will welcome our technical and vocational students.” A call that has been made over and over.

Miss Stevikha Foster, 2nd-year student introduced the guest speaker to deliver the feature address. Miss Sonia Smith, Miss Foster announced Miss Smith as having hailed from Cork Hill, receiving a Certificate in Public Administration from the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) followed by a Bachelor of Arts degree in Library and Information studies at the Mona campus, Jamaica. She is currently the Librarian the Montserrat Public Library. Stevikha welcomed Miss Smith whose very involved in church and community activities, with a motto = “With God all things are possible.”

Beginning by addressing two questions to the students, thus, with some suggested answers: – First: What is your purpose for being here?

I want to remind you, you are just beginning the journey into lifelong learning because we never stop learning…

“Purpose is the essential element of you.  It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfil.” So knowing your purpose is important.

My second question is this – what are your core values?  What do you believe in?  Who do you believe in? What drives you to want to achieve your very best?  What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

“ – we may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” Today I am not ashamed to say that my belief in God has helped me to be where I am now. You must have that strong fighting instinct at your core that says no matter what I face I will push forward to accomplish my dreams.

Miss Smith then offered some suggestions as she outlined – The Four C’s of Success – Creativity and Innovation; Critical Thinking; Communication; and Collaboration.

“Remember to develop the 4C’s’” she said – “The possibilities are endless as you use these tools with your core values at your center.

This is your opportunity to write the sentences of your life. Sentences make up paragraphs.  Paragraphs become chapters and chapters eventually become books. What will the book of your life look like when it is written? 

“Remember that life is a journey with many stops and interruptions along the way. Take the opportunity and move forward in spite of the interruptions.” 

The proceedings continued with the hymn ‘I give my hands’ followed with brief remarks by Hon. Delmaude Ryan, Minister of Education, Health, Social Services, Youth affairs and sports.

A presentation of the full-time students 2018-19, the recital of the Students’ Pledge by the CAPE and Nursing Assistants and the Convocation preceded the presentation of gifts to the speakers and the principal before the recessional march of faculty and students to end.

Mrs. Cabey had informed that the school Body contains 17 first-year student and 27 returning students enrolled in the Caribbean Advanced proficiency examination (CAPE) programme. Eight students are enlisted in the Nursing Assistant Training programme.

College to offer technical and vocation programs

In closing her remarks Mrs Cabey pledged. “Am truly committed to the vision and mission of our institution the Montserrat community college.  I hereby confess. That I view the principalship our institution, not as a job. For me it is a lifestyle being part of the teaching profession has always been a lifestyle.

I intend to ensure that it continues to be the cornerstone one of sustainable development in Montserrat. That is why at our next gathering I would love to extend Welcome to our technical and vocational students we are gonna to make it happen this year.

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Private sector group wants an end to breaches of confidentiality

Private sector group wants an end to breaches of confidentiality

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Aug 22, CMC – The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture (SLCCA) s warning both private and public sector workers of engaging in breaching confidentiality. which it said is hurting the country.

SLCCA executive diretor Brian Louisy said he was urging the political parties here to speak out against the practice, which he said is hurting the economic interest of the country.

Brian Louisy

“We are concerned about frequent breaches of confidentiality in the public service and private sector, as this practice could inevitably result in harm to this country’s economic interests,” Louisy wrote in the latest issue of ‘ED’s Perspective’, the official publication of the private sector group.

He described confidentiality breaches as ‘a disturbing issue’ within the public and private sector, noting that “employees are now flippantly “leaking” documents of a private nature regularly without concern for the ramifications.

“The impact on business people’s confidence, both foreign and local, as to respect of privacy when doing business in Saint Lucia is now real.

“Will my competitor soon know my every business detail once I do business with the government of St. Lucia? Will my personal and business banking information make its way to social media?”  Louisy asked.

He said leaders in the country need to speak out and bring this practice to a stop, “or we will all pay the price”.

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Region to benefit from re-launched climate change project

Region to benefit from re-launched climate change project

BELMOPAN, Belize, Aug 23, CMC – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) says it expects to roll out its “1.5˚ to Stay Alive – An Educational Initiative’ programme across the region in 2019.

The CCCCC Tuesday completed a teachers training workshop here as part of its education and outreach work to embed climate change in the region’s education sector.

CCCCC executive director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, addressing teachers at the workshop

It said the four-unit curriculum -the Warming Climate, Sea Level Rise, Pine Forest and Social Impacts of Global Warming –  includes teaching and learning activities and a range of supporting materials such as worksheets, photographs, posters, suggestions for power point presentations, and videos.

Teachers conduct experiments that simulated some of the impacts of climate change using safe household items and the CCCCC said that through this means of engagement, the educators examined ways in which climate change can be incorporated in their syllabus, with the intent to increasing sensitisation and awareness of climate change impacts and community vulnerability; heighten ability to link personal actions to the broader climate change discussion and increase capacity to conduct vulnerability assessments of communities.

In addition, it is also intended to identify practical adaptation measures to reduce vulnerability.

The CCCCC said that the training workshop here emphasised the need to educate children to build climate resilience through sustainable practices and development by utilising new-aged climate-smart technology and alternative energy sources.

It said educators who completed the programme have been provided with teaching materials, manuals and workbooks and will be awarded a certificate for eight Professional Development hours towards their licence by the Teacher Education & Development Services (TEDS).

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Three will leave to pursue Chevening Scholarship

L-R: Miss Jamiel Melissa Greenaway, Miss Tanisha Christopher and Miss Deidre Allen

The Governor’s Office is pleased to announce that Miss Jamiel Melissa Greenaway, Miss Tanisha Christopher and Miss Deidre Allen have been awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship for the 2018/19 academic year.

Miss Greenaway of the Attorney General’s Chambers will be studying for a LLM in Banking and Finance Law at Queen Mary University of London.

Miss Christopher of ZJB Radio will be studying for a MA in Global Communication and Development at Loughborough University in London.

Miss Allen who is based at Environmental Health will be completing a MSc in International Development – Envirionment Climate Change and Development at the University of Manchester.

His Excellency the Governor, Andrew Pearce, who met all three scholars at the Governor’s Office earlier today said:

“I’d like to offer warm congratulations to Jamile, Tanisha and Deidre on being awarded the Chevening Scholarship this year. This island has been sending scholars to the UK to study since the 80s and this is the first time we have received three in one year. Montserrat has a lot to offer, including its bright and talented young people and the three of you are evidence of that that legacy. You all do your family, friends and the rest of the country proud. Congrats once again.”

The Chevening Scholarship scheme is the UK Government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. They are geared to students with at least first degrees enabling them to study for Masters programmes or equivalent and who show the potential to become future leaders and decision makers in their home countries.

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Dominica Opposition party wants answers on Ross University departure

Dominica Opposition party wants answers on Ross University departure

While St. Vincent PM says no blame should be afforded to his regional colleagues on Ross University

ROSEAU, Dominica, Aug 14, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is calling on the Dominica government to make public the recent 25 year agreement it signed with the US-owned Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) that still allowed for the school to be relocated in Barbados.

“Given the apparent support of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit for the relocation of Ross University to Barbados, the people of Dominica have a right to full disclosure of the 25-year agreement that allowed this to happen without notice. We need to know what are the unmet government obligations under the agreement that allowed Ross to relocate without breaching the agreement,” the UWP said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Skerrit announced Ross University, which had been forced to relocate its operations to St Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the United States following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, would be leaving the Eastern Caribbean nation after 40 years.

His announcement was followed by a press conference in Bridgetown where Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the president Adtalem Global Education and chief executive officer at Ross University,  Lisa Wardell, announced that Bridgetown would be the new home of the American university by January 5, 2018.

The Skerrit administration said it had informed the RUSM that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.

The island’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Vince Henderson, speaking on a radio programme last Tuesday night, read from a three-page letter Prime Minister  Skerrit had sent to the university in July indicating that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes in Portsmouth, north of here.

“It is my fervent hope that all things considered there will be a much earlier re-opening of the campus that has been indicated in your earlier communication and during your visit in April 2018,” Skerrit wrote in the July 9 letter to Wardell.

Opposition Leader Lennox Linton

But in its statement, the UWP said that after 40 years of serving as a major engine of economic activity in Dominica, “the Prime Minister found it impossible to negotiate even a phased withdrawal that would give the country at least 12 months to cushion the devastating blow and prepare for adjustments”.

It asked “what exactly does the agreement provide?”

The party said that the circumstances of the termination “allow us to conclude that the Prime Minister failed to deliver on the investment support and public infrastructure improvements that had to be addressed satisfactorily within the context of the agreement to facilitate a return of Ross. What exactly does the agreement provide?

“There was a particular concern about accreditation by the Dominica Medical Board and the future of Ross in Dominica. What exactly does the agreement provide?”

It said that the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation in the United States  is authorized to evaluate the standards of accreditation applied to foreign medical schools and to determine their comparability to standards applied to medical schools in the United States.

“This determination of comparability of accreditation standards by NCFMEA is an eligibility requirement for foreign medical schools to participate in the US government’s student financial assistance program and is therefore extremely important to Ross.

“Yet, under the watch of the Prime Minister who made himself directly responsible for Ross, there has been no determination, for more than 10 years, that accreditation standards in Dominica are comparable to those of the United States,” the UWP said.

The opposition party said “instead of coming clean with the people of Dominica to facilitate learning the lessons that will avert a similar catastrophe in the future, the Prime Minister is busy confusing the issue and creating distractions.”

The party said it has also taken note that both the chief economic and political advisor to Prime Minister Skerrit are Barbadian Avinash Persaud and Hartley Henry, both of whom serve in the same capacity to Prime Minister Mottley.

“These advisors had the inside track on the challenges faced by Ross in Dominica and were no doubt asked to advise both Prime Ministers. What was their advice to their Dominica boss about facilitating Ross to stay in Dominica?

“What was their advice to their Barbadian boss about facilitating Ross to relocate to Barbados? Did they even advise their bosses that they should, as CARICOM partners, meet with the owners of Ross to work out the best way forward for Dominica – a CARICOM Single Market and Economy country that stands to lose the significant development benefits of a 40-year investment relationship?

“Only Barbados is benefitting from this glaring conflict of interest in which the same political and economic advisors serve masters in Bridgetown and Roseau,” the UWP said.

On Monday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said he would not blame either his Dominican or Barbadian counterparts for the controversy surrounding the decision of the US-owned Ross University to re-locate to Barbados.

Speaking at a news conference, Gonsalves told reporters that he had received information “from different sources” and he does not believe that ‘anyone can reasonably blame Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit (of Dominica) of losing Ross University neither can one reasonably blame Mia Mottley of poaching Ross University.

“The matter which comes out stark to me first of all is that the business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium term long term interest,” Gonsalves said.

No blame should be afforded to regional colleagues on Ross University

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Aug 13, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Monday said he would not blame either his Dominican or Barbadian counterparts for the controversy surrounding the decision of the US-owned Ross University to re-locate to Barbados.

Speaking at a news conference, Gonsalves told reporters that he had received information “from different sources” and he does not believe that ‘anyone can reasonably blame Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit (of Dominica) of losing Ross University neither can one reasonably blame Mia Mottley of poaching Ross University.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

“The matter which comes out stark to me first of all is that the business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium term long term interest,” Gonsalves said.

Over the weekend, the Dominica government called for an end to the “unwarranted verbal attacks” against the Barbados government as a result of the decision of the university to re-locate after 40 years there.

“The decision to relocate to Barbados was a decision taken solely by Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). The relationship between Barbados and Dominica is longstanding and amicable. The people and Government of Barbados have always stood with us both in good times and most recently in difficult times,’ Skerrit said in a radio and television broadcast.

The Skerrit administration said it had informed the Ross University School of Medicine that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.

The island’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Vince Henderson, speaking on a radio programme last Tuesday night, read from a three-page letter Prime Minister  Skerrit had sent to the university in July indicating that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes in Portsmouth, north of here.

“It is my fervent hope that all things considered there will be a much earlier re-opening of the campus that has been indicated in your earlier communication and during your visit in April 2018,” Skerrit wrote in the July 9 letter to the Adtalem Global Education president and chief executive officer at Ross University,  Lisa Wardell.

“I wish to assure you that all the arrangements we discussed for the accreditation for Ross by the Medical Board have been acted upon to meet the desired expectation,” Skerrit added.

Last week,Prime Minister Mottley denied there was anything underhanded by her administration into accepting the Ross University School of Medicine’s move to the island.

“Barbados came into the picture, only when, for Ross University, returning to Dominica for the start of the January semester in 2019, was not an option. This is not and has never been a case of poaching or enticing anyone away from Dominica,” she said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Skerrit announced Ross University, which had been forced to relocate its operations to St Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the United States following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, would be leaving the Eastern Caribbean nation after 40 years. Hours later, Mottley and Wardell held a press conference in Bridgetown indicating that Barbados would be the new home of the American university by January 5, 2018.

In her statement, Mottley said while she could not speak for or on behalf of Ross, “the hands of the Barbados Government are clean in this matter”.

Gonsalves said Ross University was built in Dominica, recalling that “when Ross went to Dominica in 1978 …they started with 80 students, they would have had a hurricane in 1979…that did not stop them, they were just up and running, they came back.

“They have had other hurricanes. The Barbados government, nobody could tell Ross that there will be no hurricane in Barbados. Barbados has had hurricane in the past.

“They (Ross) have assessed where they are. The back to back hurricanes were probably the occasion, the spark for them having consideration for moving. But they would have assessed that their immediate, long term interest is no longer with Dominica”.

Gonsalves said the decision by Ross was “clearly” not based solely on the weather.

“Look, Grenada is outside the hurricane belt more than Barbados. They say Grenada is south of the hurricane belt but what happened in 2004. Ivan blow down the whole place including the medical school and they build it back better because they saw their long term interest being there in Grenada….”

Gonsalves recalled that when the off shore medical schools were first coming into the region, some Caribbean countries campaigned against them saying “they are bad for the medical profession.

“Now their thinking is clearly different,” he said, adding he is unaware if the medical professionals in Barbados “are yet convinced about having it (offshore medical school).

“It is going to be interesting to see how those medical doctors going to work with the medical students at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I am sure they would be working out all of those problems and I don’t want to be negative about that, but I come back to the fundamentals that you can’t reasonably blame Roosevelt Skerrit or Mia Mottley.

“The thing is this between the decision to leave somewhere and to go somewhere else is always some period of uncertainty and that has to be sorted out…and they decided they going to Barbados. But basically 40 years of Ross in Dominica, clearly they did not consider that to be of any importance to them,” Gonsalves told reporters.

 

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Government reviewing dress code

Government reviewing dress code

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Aug 15, CMC – Less than a week after the Jamaica government announced it had suspended the no sleeveless policy after reviewing the longstanding practice of prohibiting women wearing sleeveless attire from entry into government buildings, another Caribbean island is following suit.

The Antigua and Barbuda government said it had appointed Social Transformation Minister Samantha Marshall to undertake a comprehensive review of the policy that prohibits people from wearing certain types of clothing when accessing services at government departments.

Marshall said that her ministry has already started the process and is also holding discussions with other Caribbean islands to learn from best practices.

“In the past, we have used what is the old-time sort of thinking in terms of dress code. Right now, we have to appreciate that we serve the people and we have to accept that there are ways in which persons may present themselves,” Marshall told the OBSERVER Media.

She said that if an individual is not dressed in a vulgar manner, he or she should be allowed to conduct their business.

Marshall said that the present policy is not mandated by law, but is a rather a rule that was adopted a few years ago.

“We are in consulting stages, we are hoping that within two to three weeks we can have an initial report to present to the Cabinet and we are hoping very shortly that there will be a change in the policy,” Marshall said.

Last week, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a statement said he has formally given instructions for the suspension of the no-sleeveless policy and instructed a full review of government dress code practices.

“It has been found, that while the practice exists to prohibit persons who wear sleeveless from entering Government buildings through “dress codes” established within particular Ministries, Departments and Agencies, there is no law or official government policy on which these are based. “

“To ensure the formulation of a proper policy, in the medium term, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has been mandated to formulate, subject to consultation, a government dress code policy that is aligned with modern considerations as well as the climatic realities of Jamaica,” the statement noted.

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Former Attorney General urges country to put aside partisan politics ahead of referendum

Former Attorney General urges country to put aside partisan politics ahead of referendum

ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA, Aug. 16, CMC – Former Attorney General Justin Simon QC, has called on the population to put aside partisan politics in the runup to a referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), scheduled for later this year.

During an interview on state media, Simon this is what he will be pushing while on the trail to promote the Trinidad based CCJ.

Justin Simon

“I am not saying that people will not have their political difference, but let us sink them in respect to this particular cause.”

Simon, who served as AG under a previous administration of the United Progressive Party (UPP), made comments following  calls by the UPP – now the main opposition party, for the referendum to include more than one item in the context of constitutional reform.

However, the former Attorney General believes that the referendum should remain a one issue initiative.

“I am of the strong opinion and view that the CCJ should be dealt with on its own by itself. We look at the experience of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines which placed other issues of constitutional reform on the table and that was rejected,” Simon said.

The London-based Privy Council presently serves as the island’s final court and the referendum on November 6 will allow for the population to indicate whether they intend to join the CCJ that was established in 2001.

While many of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the court that also serves as an international tribunal that interprets the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

CMC/kb/2018

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Caribbean broadcasters meeting in Jamaica

Caribbean broadcasters meeting in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Aug 14, CMC –Caribbean and international broadcasters are meeting here amidst calls for regional governments to adapt to the new media environment of which social media is now a critical part.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid, addressing the 49th annual General Assembly of the Barbados-based Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Tuesday, said that it was also necessary for Caribbean societies to guard against insularity as well as to take their place in the discourse in the global geo politics.

“I encourage our governments to adapt to our new media environment of which social media is now a critical part – embrace social media as an additional means to engage with our citizenry, encourage youth participation in our democracies and build trust in our systems.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid

“We see the power of the media in the #MeToo Movement – and it is from advocacy against gender based injustices in the West to campaigns for girls to access to education in the East that now cannot be muted given the coverage through multiple media platforms.”

But Reid said that the shift to the online world has also brought many new social problems.

“For example, children and young adults are particularly vulnerable to cyber-bullying, revenge porn, internet addiction disorder and other forms of deeply problematic internet use. One of the worst problems is that some gangs now record their criminal acts, including murders and rapes, which they then post on social media and share via WhatsApp in order to exult in their ‘success’, humiliate their victims, devastate their families and intimidate others. These posts/shares encourage imitation and retaliation, resulting in a vicious cycle of reciprocal violence. “

He said that a less-obvious but equally troubling problem is that as traditional news outlets have become less profitable, they are also losing some of their primary news-gathering and fact-checking capacity.

“The loss of authoritative and independent sources of news means that many people now obtain their information from closed loops of like-minded people, which encourages political tribalism and increases vulnerability to fake news and manipulation via social media.”

Reid said that a number of state agencies, criminal and terrorist organizations and mercenary hackers now have the ability to destabilize countries by penetrating their communications, compromising their infrastructure and manipulating elections with fake news.

He said the cost of a cyber-hack/fake news attack has fallen dramatically as the necessary skills have spread through the hacker community, which means that these attacks are likely to be much more common in future.

“So the critical issue for our countries now is that our regulatory framework must focus on protecting vulnerable persons such as children, adolescents and young adults against malign content; our States must take steps to improve national media literacy.

“Media must ensure that it maintains high media quality with particular regard to factual content, support national and citizen security, and protect the integrity of our democratic systems,” he told the delegates.

Reid recalled that while there had been the Ferguson riots in the United States against the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager Mike Brown in 2014, Jamaica was grappling with the Mario Dean tragedy.

Deane was reportedly beaten while in police custody and later died. That matter is still before the courts. Reid said that the ordinary citizen’s perspectives were amplified alongside traditional broadcast journalists and media houses’ coverage ensuring appropriate focus on the issues attendant on both security and justice.

He said tools available to journalists, civil society and the public at large, such as access to information (ATI) legislation must not be underused.

“Just recently, use of our ATI Act exploded the widely held view that women were not allowed to wear sleeveless shirts and or dresses to conduct business in government establishments, effectively proving a barrier to access timely government services.

“Human rights activist and blogger Susan Goffe utilized the Access to Information Act to request from a number of government Ministries, whether this enforced dress code was originated from any policy document. Following the request it was revealed that no policy prohibited women’s access to government buildings in sleeveless shirts or dresses. The national discourse again ignited, and this is where these discussions can influence policy,” he said.

Reid noted the challenges to the survival of indigenous Caribbean media recognising that the global media industry is in the middle of a profound transformation.

“We have left behind the era in which the media industry was organized and regulated by infrastructure -radio, television, telephone, print etc.-. Today, content flows over many different networks and technologies.”

He said that news, information, entertainment, education, directions, home management and shopping, translations and many other services are all now digital streams that can be directed to the nearest screen.

“Many different services can now be handled on the same networks, and different services can be transmitted on a number of competing networks using different and combined technology platforms. This means that the flow of content is no longer controlled by infrastructure.

“In addition, it is now possible to provide media services without the need to have any local presence at all, or ownership of any infrastructure – other than access to the internet- , which makes it increasingly difficult to regulate effectively within a single jurisdiction, let alone by a given technology.”

Reid said that these changes mean that the traditional divisions by region and infrastructure are becoming less and less relevant.

He said in the new era, consolidated content is the heart of the media world, while infrastructure and devices are delivery channels.

“This has implications for how we will regulate, paying particular attention to what flows through an increasingly diverse array of pipes.

“The media and communications sector today is in the business of conveying both specialized and mass information across the rapidly eroding borders of broadcasting. Television and radio, business and market information, education, entertainment, publishing, advertising, telecommunications, motion pictures, home videos, video games, computer databases, and other information products are all now digital streams which run across different networks, including many that flow through some of the currently unregulated spaces”.

Reid said that content, defined broadly, is now a most critical factor and it is where value is generated and added.

“Content is now the critical determinant of the economic dynamism and prosperity of an economy.

We in the Caribbean must take note that media firms are now competing against technology firms that can operate in unregulated and untaxed spaces while accessing advertising revenue. The traditional media organizations therefore are losing both audience and income.”

Reid said between  2012 -2014 the audience for radio fell from 21 per cent to 19.6 per cent; the audience for Free-to-Air TV fell from 25 to 23.2 per cent and newspaper readership fell from 22 to 20.6 per cent as people switched to the internet and international cable.

He quoted from a 2015 document by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that argued that the creative economy of which Film and Television and Media Arts & Communications are apart, is an important part of global trade.

“The global market for traded creative goods and services totalled US$547 billion in 2012.  Growth rates stood at 8.6 per cent annually from 2003 – 2013, showing the strength and resilience of the sector despite the economic deceleration of the world economy,” the document stated.

But Reid said that there are advantages to some of the profound changes in the media landscape with one of the most significant gains being the shift from traditional to non-traditional platforms and stimulated many new creative and business ideas, as many people are now both consumers and providers of content.

“News, information and entertainment are no longer the sole province of the traditional creators and distributors of content, the broadcast and print media. In an era of citizen journalists, Facebookers, Tweeters, bloggers and vloggers, the average person is both consumer and creator of content. “

The Assembly which is being held under the theme “Building Resilience to Climate Change: Business, Technology & Content Options for Caribbean Media,” ends on Wednesday.

 

 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Education, Entertainment, International, Labour, Local, News, Regional, Technology, Youth0 Comments

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