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Jules Unicef

OECS and UNICEF sign five year agreement

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jun 28, CMC – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has signed a five-year agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to jointly promote child-centred programmes in the sub-region.

Under the agreement signed by OECS Director General, Dr. Didicus Jules, and UNICEF Representative, Khin-Sandi Lwin, the two organisations will cooperate on a number of activities including education, justice, child protection and social policies.

Jules Unicef
OECS Director General, Dr. Didicus Jules, and UNICEF
Representative, Khin-Sandi Lwin.

Data collection on child-specific issues is also part of the agreement.

Jules said that the agreement embodies the ongoing commitment of both organisations to safeguard the future of the region’s youth through empowerment programmes and data collection for development.

“As one of our key development partners, we share a common vision with UNICEF to ensure our youth are exposed to healthy atmospheres conducive to growth and optimal development.”

 “This is an opportunity to strengthen bonds as we work collaboratively to tackle the challenges facing many of the sub region’s youth,” he added.

Lwin said that this is the second multi-year agreement being signed with the OECS Commission and UNCIEF views the St. Lucia-based organisation as a very important partner and key player in influencing the child rights agenda.

“We have some very positive and tangible results from our previous collaboration and I have no doubt that this renewed partnership will continue to put the children’s agenda high on the priority of all member states,” she said, highlighting some of the past achievements as the OECS Model Child Bills, which several countries have adapted to reform and modernise their suite of child protection laws as well as the work in promoting quality early childhood development services.

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haiti children drugs

Haiti worried at abuse of illegal drugs in schools and homes


PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Jun 25, CMC – The National Commission for the Fight Against Drugs (CONALD), says it is perturbed at the “appalling” abuse of illegal drugs in schools, homes and in the country in general.

Haiti is joining the international community in observing the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and CONALD co-ordinator Lener Renauld said the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country is facing an uphill battle to deal with the drug epidemic here.

He said while the Commission does not intend to have any high profile activities to mark the occasion of it wishes to “invite everyone, in order to counter, as far as possible, the overwhelming consequences that strangle the Haitian youth”.

He said CONALD is “appalled” by the “abuse of drugs, in our schools, our universities, in the homes as in the streets” but it is nonetheless assuring the population of the fight “in accordance with the priorities established by the Head of State and in accordance with the general policy of the Government”.

The Commission said it welcomes the efforts of the law enforcement institutions working together to “stem the scourge of drugs and calls for the involvement of Haitian society, with a view to a citizen mobilization for a solidary and responsible contribution.

“It should be recalled that the World Drug Report (2017), published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), highlights new forms of correlation between the global cycle of drug trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism,” the Commission noted.

Renauld said he wanted to give the international community the assurance that Haiti would continue the fight against illegal drugs “and will actively commit itself in accordance with agreements on combating drugs, money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.


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Cocaine found inside back seat cushion of wheelchair

Arriving passenger from St Lucia arrested at JFK after cocaine found hidden in wheelchair

June 14, 2017  
NEW YORK, USA — US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on June 11 stopped Yoncela Stanley, a United States citizen, who was arriving on a flight from Saint Lucia.

Cocaine found inside back seat cushion of wheelchair

During the course of the inspection, CBP officers noticed that the back seat cushion of her wheelchair appeared unusual. The back seat cushion was removed and felt unusually heavy. CBP officers probed the cushion producing a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

Stanley was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

The total weight of cocaine seized was approximately 27 lbs, with an estimated street value of $468,000.

“This latest seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our CBP officers, and their excellence in detecting those who would try to smuggle these illegal substances,” said Leon Hayward, acting director, field operations New York.

Stanley now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in the US Eastern District Court of New York.

All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.


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AIDS Haiti

Regional legislators to meet in Jamaica to discuss HIV/AIDS issues

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 29, CMC – Jamaica will host a five-day conference that will allow regional parliamentarians to assess their role in promoting healthy living and well-being for all ages in the Caribbean.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck will deliver the feature address at the May 30 to June 3 PANCAP Regional Parliamentarians Forum that has attracted legislators from  Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

AIDS HaitiThe forum will also be attended by the Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat; Manorma Soeknandan, the Assistant Secretary-General, Directorate for Human and Social Development; Dr. Douglas Slater as well as Dr. Edward Greene, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean; Canon Garth Minott, Chair of The Regional Consultative Steering Committee for the Implementation of Recommendations to end AIDS by 2030

Officials from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS), Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC) and the Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV (CRN+) will be in attendance.

The organisers said that the focus of the forum will be a discussion on the targets of the Political Declaration of June 2016 and the implications for parliaments in the Caribbean.

Parliamentarians are also expected to establish the foundations for increased engagement with national parliaments and national parliamentary committees on Health/Social Protection and on Justice especially in countries such as Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, which have higher HIV prevalence rates.

The delegates will also use the forum to assess their role in promoting healthy living and well-being for all ages in the region; identify the constitutional challenges posed by the criminalisation of sex between consenting adults and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation and suggest strategies that parliamentarians can adopt to advocate for the end AIDS by 2030.

 Parliamentarians will also be updated on global best practices related to parliamentarians’ engagement on these issues.

The forum will take into consideration the targets established in the United Nations High Level Meeting Political Declaration June 2016 on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) approved by 192 nations at the United Nations (UN) in September 2015.

The five-day forum, which is funded by the Global Fund and facilitated by the PANCAP Coordinating Unit and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), forms part of a wider intervention programme created by PANCAP within its Justice For All (JFA) Roadmap.

The JFA was initiated in 2013 by PANCAP, based on consultations with faith leaders, civil society, youth, the private sector and parliamentarians.

The organisers said that the Regional Parliamentarians Forum is expected to result in the formation of significant strategies, which will inform the critical steps regional parliamentarians can implement to contribute effectively to ending HIV transmission and deaths from AIDS.

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CRIME-Dramatic jump in arrest of Caribbean immigrants across the US

 WASHINGTON, May 18, CMC – The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency says in the 100 days since US President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Orders (EOs) regarding immigration enforcement priorities, immigration agents have arrested more than 41,000 Caribbean and other immigrants who are either known or suspected of being in the US illegally.

On Wednesday, ICE said this reflects an increase of 37.6 per cent over the same period in 2016.

arrestsBetween January 22 and April 29, ICE said its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) deportation officers administratively arrested 41,318 individuals on civil immigration charges.

Between January 24 and April 30, 2016, ERO arrested 30,028.

“These statistics reflect President Trump’s commitment to enforce our immigration laws fairly and across the board,” said ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. “ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens [immigrants].

“However, when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law,” he added. “As the data demonstrates, ICE continues to execute our mission professionally and in accordance with the law, and our communities will be much safer for it.”

ICE said nearly 75 per cent of those arrested during this period in 2017 are convicted criminals, with offenses ranging from homicide and assault to sexual abuse and drug-related charges.

The arrest of immigrants at-large in the community increased by more than 50 per cent, from 8,381 last year to 12,766 arrests this year during the same period, ICE said.

It said the arrest of convicted criminal immigrants climbed nearly 20 percent, from 25,786 last year to 30,473 this year, adding that violent crimes, such as homicide, rape, kidnapping and assault accounted for more than 2,700 convictions.

In total, since Trump signed the EROs, ICE said its immigration enforcement activity has resulted in more than 400 arrests per day, “including the capture of egregious and violent offenders.”

While these data clearly reflect the fact that convicted criminals are an immigration enforcement priority, ICE said Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has made it clear that ICE will no longer exempt any class of individuals from removal proceedings if they are found to be in the US illegally.

ICE said this is evident by the rise in non-criminal arrests over the same period, which increased from about 4,200 in 2016 to more than 10,800 in 2017.

“All of those arrested will receive the due process afforded to them under the law,” Homan said. “ICE will take action to remove individuals subject to a final order by a federal immigration judge.

“We are a nation of laws, and ignoring orders issued by federal judges undermines our constitutional government,” he added.

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Dr. james Hospedales

CARPHA says CRS will help improve patient care in the Caribbean

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 10, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says the establishment of a Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) will improve conditions for patients in the region to receive safe, efficacious, high quality drugs.

“Access to safe, efficacious and good quality drugs is a human right which CARPHA as the regional public health organisation is committed to facilitating,” CARPHA executive director told a Capacity-Building workshop on the Regulation of Medicines.

CARPHA, in collaboration with the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), has established a CRS.

Dr. james Hospedales
Dr. James Hospedales

Hospedales explained that the CRS will focus on providing regulatory assurance to essential generic medicines for the region.

“Through the CRS, CARPHA will be able to help countries perform functions such as reviewing, approving and monitoring medicines, in a timely manner, allowing patients faster access to quality drugs,” he said, adding that it would also help to reduce cost of medicines to consumers and the health system, thereby improving accessibility and affordability.

With only five CARICOM countries currently conducting a review of safety, quality, and efficacy of drugs, PAHO Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, emphasised the need for strong regulatory systems for medicines.

She said that limited capacity in the regulation of medicines can have several negative results, including the proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines, warning this “can injure and kill people”.

The CRS is a new value added service provided by CARPHA and endorsed by the CARICOM Ministers of Health.  It is not intended to replace already established national regulatory authorities, but rather to augment and support them.  It will also coordinate reporting and analysis on medicine safety and quality issues within CARICOM.

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Barbadians warned about taking unproven and unscientific cures for health problems

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 22, CMC – Barbados health authorities have expressed concern about a number of advertisements appearing in the media which promote “unproven and unscientific” cures for cancer, diabetes and other chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs)

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, says while the Ministry of Health supports people’s right to explore alternative medical treatments, it is important that people exercise caution and not be swayed by “untried and untested” products which promised “a quick fix” to their health issues.

medicineShe advised that persons continue to consult their medical practitioners and follow their counsel before making decisions which will impact their health.

She warned that failure to do this could result in serious medical consequences which also often proved very expensive.

Dr. St. John stated that the Paramedical Professions Council was established by the Barbados government in 1975 to provide for the registration of members of recognised professions allied to health.

“The Council regulates safe practices within the paramedical professions, and paramedical professionals are given a certificate of registration which the public may ask to see,” the Chief Medical Officer said.

The Council also handles queries related to paramedical professions and these may be addressed to the body in writing.

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corn beef

More Caribbean countries place ban on corn beef and meat products from Brazil

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 22, CMC – The number of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)countries placing a temporary ban on the importation of corn beef or meat products from Brazil increased by two with Barbados and the Bahamas joining their CARICOM partners from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

The Bahamas government said that it is aware of the meat scandal unfolding in Brazil relative to food inspectors taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats and that the South American country has suspended exports from 21 meat-processing units.

corn beefIt said to safeguard the Bahamian population it is placing a “precautionary ban of meat imports from Brazil.

“Until further notice, no permits for the importation of processed meat products from Brazil will be issued. This includes corned beef as well as other beef products and beef by-products.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources will continue to monitor this issue over the next 60 days and should we be satisfied that imports from Brazil be resumed, it would be with the following proviso that beef must be slaughtered and processed at an approved Government abattoir and processing facility”.

In addition the Bahamas said there would be need for a Sanitary certificate to accompany all imports from Brazil an inspection of all batch containers be done at the Port of Entry, an import permit must be sought by all importers from the relevant Government Agency and a registry must be compiled of all importers of beef and beef products from Brazil.

Meanwhile, Barbados has implemented its own temporary ban with Senior Veterinary Officer, Dr. Mark Trotman, indicating that the ban had been effected pending further investigation as to whether any of the product had come into the island.

He is also advising retailers to withdraw all Brazilian meat products from their shelves and warned consumers not to purchase corned beef or other canned meats manufactured in Brazil until the investigation was completed.

 “As part of our investigations, samples of product are being collected and will be analysed by the Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Government Analytical Services Laboratory,” he added.

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CARPHA signs MOUs with Guyana and OECS

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 15, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency Caribbean Regulatory System (CARPHA/CRS) says it has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with Guyana and the sub-regional Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The CARPHA/CRS is a new value-added service to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states to help them review and monitor the efficacy, safety, and quality of medicines sold within their borders.

medicineThe initiative aims to fast-track the approval of known high-quality essential generic medicines, through faster review timelines, and by giving companies a single portal of entry to CARICOM markets of roughly 17 million people.

CARPHA said CARICOM states face capacity challenges in regulation of medicines, including having large backlogs and wait times for product approvals, and limited to no quality/safety monitoring of medicines in use by patients.

“The signing of the MOU with the Government of Guyana allows for stronger engagement with the CARPHA/CRS, including on sharing information and processing decisions.

“The MOU with OECS/PPS is important because many in the OECS group do not have regulatory authorities of their own, and the MOU allows the OECS/PPS to both procure CRS recommended products, and to share quality/safety related information,” CARPHA/CRS said.

It said further, the OECS/PPS MOU gives industry using the CRS access to the OECS/PPS pharmaceutical procurement market with an annual value of an estimated eight million US dollars.

The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

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Narcoitics report

US names a number of Caribbean countries as major drug-transit countries

WASHINGTON, Mar 3, CMC – The United States Friday named several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as major illicit drug producing and  major drug-transit countries with some regional countries also being major money laundering countries,

The US Department of State’s “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR),” notes that the Bahamas, Belize, Haiti and Jamaica, are among 22 countries worldwide considered major drug producing or major drug transit countries.

Narcoitics report“Haiti remains a transit point for cocaine originating in South America and marijuana originating in Jamaica, en route to the United States and other markets. This traffic takes advantage of Haiti’s severely under-patrolled maritime borders, particularly on the northern and southern coasts.

“Haiti is not a significant producer of illicit drugs for export, although there is cultivation of cannabis for local consumption. Haiti’s primarily subsistence-level economy does not provide an environment conducive to high levels of domestic drug use,” Washington noted.

The report notes that Jamaica remains the largest Caribbean supplier of marijuana to the United States and local Caribbean islands.

“Although cocaine and synthetic drugs are not produced locally, Jamaica is a transit point for drugs trafficked from South America to North America and other international markets.”

Washington noted that in 2016, drug production and trafficking were enabled and accompanied by organized crime, domestic and international gang activity, and police and government corruption.

The report noted that illicit drugs are also a means of exchange for illegally-trafficked firearms entering the country, exacerbating Jamaica’s security situation.

“Drugs flow from and through Jamaica by maritime conveyance, air freight, human couriers, and private aircraft. Marijuana and cocaine are trafficked from and through Jamaica into other Caribbean nations, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“Jamaica is a transit point for cocaine moving from Central America to the United States, and some drug trafficking organizations exchange Jamaican marijuana for cocaine. Factors that contribute to drug trafficking include the country’s convenient geographic position as a way point for illicit drugs trafficked from Latin America; its lengthy, rugged, and difficult-to patrol coastline; a high volume of tourist travel and airline traffic; its status as a major trans-shipment hub for maritime containerized cargo; inadequate educational and employment opportunities for at-risk youth who engage in crime; and a struggling economy that encourages marijuana cultivation in rural areas.”

The report also named the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, as major money laundering countries.

“A major money laundering country is defined by statute as one “whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking.”

But the report noted that the complex nature of money laundering transactions makes it difficult in many cases to distinguish the proceeds of narcotics trafficking from the proceeds of other serious crime. “Moreover, financial institutions engaging in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds of other serious crime are vulnerable to narcotics-related money laundering.”

Washington said that this year’s list of major money laundering countries recognizes this relationship by including all countries and other jurisdictions, whose financial institutions engage in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from all serious crime.

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