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National Security Minister, Robert Montague (file Photo)

Jamaicans urged to show more support for police

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 22, CMC – National Security Minister, Robert Montague, has called on the population to be more appreciative of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) role in safeguarding the country’s security.

National Security Minister, Robert Montague (file Photo)

Addressing a ceremony here where a vehicle valued at J$7.6 million (One Jamaica dollar =US$0.008 cents) was donated to the Jamaica Police Federation, Montague said that the JCF’s members often worked under severe conditions “that leave much to be desired”.

He said against this background, the government is taking steps to effect improvements, to include repairing more police stations and boosting the organisation’s mobility.

He said the latter intervention will entail the acquisition of 200 additional motor vehicles at a cost of J$418 million and would augment the 114 motor cycles that were recently repaired after being side-lined since 2012.

Montague told the ceremony that the JCF is among some of the most “under-appreciated” institutions in Jamaica, and emphasised the need to “place on record, our thanks and appreciation for the work and worth of the members.

“We need to show more appreciation, as a nation, for the persons who put on the uniform of the constabulary force… or who simply serve this country in the many ways that they are called upon to serve.”

Police Federation Chairman, Sergeant Raymond Wilson, noted the “arduous and challenging” environment under which the JCF’s members work.

But he welcomed the government’s undertaking to improve the conditions under which the police work, and expressed gratitude “for your unrelenting support given to the men and women of the JCF”.

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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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Guyana prevents cartons of tuna from entering country

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 22, CMC – Guyana has refused entry of 2,000 cartons of tuna imported from China saying the action was prompted by an Inspector’s  report  on samples taken from a container  on March 9 this year.

The Government Analyst- Food and   Drug Department (GA-FDD) said it was advising consumers and the general public that the exact address of the manufacturer in the country of origin of the tuna labelled   “BUIWICK” instead   of “BRUNSWICK was not stated.

TUNAThe authorities have since advised consumers “ to always take a second look at  labels/brands  and to ensure the country of origin and  the exact name  and address of manufacturers  are stated  on the  label.”.

The GA-FDD serves as a regulatory body, ensuring that consumable goods including drugs, food and beverages meet international standards and requirement.

The Department has since written to the Commissioner of Customs to suspend  the  processing of documents of a known third party agent out of the United  States that “knowingly and deliberately facilitates the importation of products into Guyana that are substandard and/or are with inadequate labels”.

The department said that the company has on numerous occasions exported items of food to Guyana in the absence of documentation in the prescribed form from the country of origin.

“The department will notify the  regulatory agency of the People’s  Republic  of  China on their findings and action, because official   documentation   with  attestation was used to facilitate  the shipment of falsely labelled Tuna to Guyana.”

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st luciaexplo

Four killed, several others injured in explosion

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 22, CMC – At least four people were killed, more than 20 injured and at least four others airlifted to the neighbouring French island of Martinique as police launched an investigation into an explosion at a construction site in Cul de Sac, east of here on Tuesday evening.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has called on the nation to pray for the families of the victims.

st luciaexplo“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and those who are still waiting to find out information about their family members. You are all in our prayers in this difficult time. We must all support each other at this time and pray for our fellow St. Lucians,” Chastanet said.

“We must say thanks to the emergency personnel, the police and fire officers, who responded to the incident and who are still working tirelessly … at the site to find persons. The staff, the nurses and doctors, of the Victoria Hospital, who responded, some without being called and who are working overtime to attend to the injured must be thanked for their selfless dedication in the wake of this crisis,” he said, adding that the incident has taken the nation by shock.

The explosion was heard miles away, shattered glass windows and doors of nearby businesses, and destroyed offices and several pieces of heavy duty equipment on site.

It remains uncertain as to what caused the explosion but a supervisor told reporters that it may have been triggered by workers engaged in a welding operation in close proximity to a container loaded with explosive material, including dynamite.

Initially, many persons in communities further away from the blast, called state radio saying that they mistook the explosion for an earthquake, as another section of the capital engaged in a major regional tsunami response exercise referred to as “Caribewave 2017”.

The exercise held across the Caribbean and Latin America stimulated a widespread tsunami watch and warning situation throughout the region requiring the activation of local tsunami response plans.

According to health officials 22 persons had been brought to the Victoria Hospital (VH) with four people, including three at the site confirmed dead.

The officials said that four persons had to be airlifted by military aircraft to Martinique and that one person is reported missing following the incident that occurred at Rayneau Construction.

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Police to investigate government seasonal programme

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Mar 21, CMC – The Grenada police have launched an investigation into a multi-million dollar government seasonal programme amid allegations that “phantom workers” were benefiting from the scheme.

Minister of Works Gregory Bowen, speaking to reporters after the weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, said that Audit Department as well as the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) will also be involved in the investigation into the “debuhing programme” of the Ministry of Works.

Gregory Bowen

The government debushing programme, usually conducted during the Easter, August and Christmas periods, employs more than 3, 500 workers under the EC$1.9 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) programme per season.

“It’s been reported that certain persons are getting contracts because of their closeness with certain officials, be that as it may, we are not saying that all the allegations are true but when persons come forward and say to me I have reported this years gone by I say to them you also have to take the steps and give assurance that if called upon and substantiate the claim,” said Bowen, noting that most of the allegations are on contracts that are not tendered.

“The audit, the police and FIU will just do what they have to do,” said Bowen, adding that apart from the debushing programme, the authorities will also be investigating the Physical Planning Unit, which approves residential and commercial architectural designs for construction.

Bowen said that there are allegations that the staff of the PPU are offering private service to persons and ensuring that the plans are approved quicker.

Bowen said that there is no time line for the investigations.

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earthquake tt

Trinidad jolted by strong tremor

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, May 20, CMC – An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.9 jolted Trinidad and Tobago on Monday but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

earthquake ttThe Seismic Research centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said that the quake, which occurred at 3.01 pm (local time) had a depth of 10 kilometres.

It said felt in Port of Spain and Arima, east of here as well as in Scarborough, the capital of Tobago.

The location of the quake was given as Latitude 11.26N and Longitude: 60.92W.

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Government to revisit controversial police legislation

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar 20, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government Monday said it was prepared to re-examine the amendment to the Police Act that has been described as “unconstitutional”.

Attorney General by Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, speaking on Observer radio here, said that he had the opportunity on Sunday to listen to some of the critical comments of the Police Amendment Bill 2017 that critics, including a former commissioner of police say put too much power in the hands of the politician.

Attorney General by Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin.

“Yesterday, I listened to the debate and the discussions on (radio programme) “Big Issues”…I am satisfied that there are areas which can be looked at again and must be addressed appropriately.

“I have already spoken with the prime minister (Gaston Browne) on this matter and with the Commissioner of Police. I have done some research last evening …and I am satisfied that Section 23 (a) must be looked at again”.

That section seeks to impose ministerial control over the transfer of police officers.

“The case law is quite clear that that cannot be so. So what we propose to do is to get that amendment and make it quickly into compliance with the Constitution.

“It is intended that the Police Service Commission upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Police may transfer the officer to the appropriate area,” Benjamin told radio listeners, agreeing that the Police Service Commission must maintain its independence.

The main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Spokesman on Legal Affairs, Leon Chaku Symister said the amendment passed last Friday “violates the Constitution” and “creates dual jurisdictions for the transfer of high ranking officers”.

On the “Big Issues” radio programme, Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Security Professionals ,Oral Reid, described the legislation as  “a dangerous step” which “serves to extend greater control over the police commissioner” and which “emasculates the police service commission”.

Former commissioner of police, Vere Browne, told radio listeners on Sunday that the Constitution makes sufficient provision for the transfer of officers by the authority of the Police Service Commission and advised that the government re-visited the legislation.

The Chairman of the Police Service Commission of Barbados, Richard Guyson Mayers, who also appeared on the programme, said at the least, the Bill “comes very close” if it does not violate the Constitution.

But Benjamin said Monday it was never the intention of the Browne government to put any power in the hands of the minister.

He said as the panellists had indicated, they understood the intention of the amendment.

“It was to take full advantage of our scarce resource,” he said adding “I want to thank the panel of yesterday….for the very constructive insight.

“It was a very important debate and it showed that that is how democracy works,” Benjamin said.

Posted in Legal, Local, Police, Politics, Regional0 Comments

court rul

Two charged in the death of a police woman

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 20, CMC – Two persons, including a 36-year-old woman, will return to court on April 18 after they were charged with murder and illegally disposing of the body of woman police officer Nyasha Joseph, whose body was fished out of the sea last week.

Melissa and Kenneth Browne, (not relatives) appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers Caesar in the Port of Spain Eighth Court on Monday, less than 24 hours after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) had given police the go-ahead to charge them.

court rulKenneth Browne, 36, is charged with knowingly assisting in the murder of the police officer illegally disposing of a body, while Melissa Browne, 36, charged with murdering WPC Joseph sometime between March 8 and March 16, at Sea Lots, just on the outskirts of the capital. She was not required to plead as the charge was laid indictably.

The police woman had been reported missing on March 8, and her body was found by a fisherman in Gulf of Paria on March 16. The cause of her death could not be determined by the pathologist.

Police said that the accused are not married but have a relationship.

Meanwhile, defence attorney Criston J Williams told the court that he had written to the Commissioner of Police and the head of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) requesting an investigation into the conduct of the police officers during their probe.

He said the officers used unfair interrogation techniques and were disrespectful to the lawyers representing the accused.

Williams said that when he and other attorneys attempted to meet with the accused during the investigation, the officers resisted and claimed that one police officer placed his hands on Williams in an attempt to push him away.

Williams said his clients’ fundamental rights had been breached.

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Government delays presentation of budget

BRADES, Montserrat, Mar 20, CMC – The Montserrat government Monday said it has been forced to delay the presentation of the annual budget due to a delay by the United Kingdom in approving the island’s “Financial Aid Business Case”.

budgetsThe budget was originally scheduled to have been delivered on Thursday, but a statement from the Office of the Premier noted that “it had become necessary to postpone the tabling of the Budget Appropriation Bill until the 13th of April” with the debate schedule for five days later.

“The postponement is occasioned by the change in UK Ministerial responsibility, which has caused a delay in the approval of Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case by the Uk Minister,” the statement said.

It added that Premier Donaldson Romeo, who is also  of Finance will authorise funds through the Consolidated Fund “to allow government spending to continue until the passing of the Appropriation Act in April”.

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Allen-Chastanet (web)

St. Lucia’s PM brushes aside concerns by Opposition over multi-billion dollar project

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 20,  CMC — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says he  is ‘absolutely confused’ about reports that the main opposition St. Lucia Party (SLP) is planning street protests over the multi-billion dollar Desert Star Holdings Limited (DSH) project to be situated in Vieux Fort, south of here..

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

He told reporters that he is confused as to what the opposition is protesting about and expressed the view that other people are in the same position.

“I have no idea,” Chastanet said Monday during his weekly news conference.Last July, the authorities here announced that the US$2.6 billion project will occupy a 700-acre site and will include a marina, a racecourse, a resort and shopping mall complex, casino, Free Trade Zone, extensive entertainment and leisure facilities, as well as architecturally designed villas and apartments.

“Overall, the Pearl of the Caribbean Development is designed to be a well-balanced project with open space making up over 50 per cent of the overall development. It is designed to be a sustainable and self-contained development and is expected to generate between 500 to 800 jobs in construction during its initial phase of implementation,” according to the statement by Invest St. Lucia

The Hong Kong-based Desert Star Holdings (DSH).project has attracted both supporters and detractors with former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony warning in January that there will never be peace in Vieux Fort and St. Lucia if the deal is not renegotiated and the project redesigned.

The SLP said that the government has shown “it is insensitive to the cries of the people of the country and appears determined to ram down the throats of our citizens without any meaningful consultation, major projects that can significantly transform the lives of the people.

“From leasing prime lands at EC$1.00 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) per acre to the destructions of our eco system at Maria Islands, the Prime Minister continues to show scant regard for the welfare of St. Lucians.”

The party said that even while Chastanet was assuring St. Lucians that only a Framework Agreement existed and that negotiations were ongoing, the developer was already clearing lands though no DCA approval had been given and no Environmental Impact Assessment has been undertaken.

Referring to the SLP’s calls for the DSH agreement to be renegotiated, Prime Minister Chastanet said he wanted to know what specific aspect of the deal the opposition wanted renegotiated.

“We have indicated that the lease side of the project has been restricted to the horse racing track and the other thing that was to be leased was space inside of the mangrove to build a museum,” he said, explaining that there is agreement that all the other land that is being discussed would be sold at between US$60,000 to US$90,000 an acre.

Chastanet said that this represents substantially more money than the previous government had with its two previous deals in the same area.

“I don’t remember once the Labour Party coming to the country while in government and saying days before the election ‘you might win and we would like you to be part of this conversation’, “ Chastanet said, noting that in one case it was three days before the elections that the then  government entered into and signed  a contract with no ‘out’ clause.

“So I am confused when they say they want to participate in this process because to go by their protocol that they have established, even the dialogue that we have had would not be there.”

But Chastanet made it clear that he was not in agreement with what the SLP has done in the past and would not prescribe their modus operandi moving forward.

He said all the parcels of land that have been identified have been identified for development by both political parties over the last 20 years.

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