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Attorney-Jean-Kelsick

Justice Morley spotlighted for ‘recusals’

Recusal is not a word heard often in Montserrat and probably not before the turn of the century, and probably only once before recent occurrences. Now from mid-2019 to now.

Justice Iain Morley

From then there has been a spathe of ‘recusals’ of High Court judges in the Montserrat High Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court mostly involving His Lordship Justice Iain Morley.

We thought it might be beneficial to you at this time to know the general meaning of the word, ‘recusal’: “To disqualify or seek to disqualify (a judge or juror) from participation in the decision in a case, as for personal prejudice against a party or for personal interest in the outcome.” In another but similar meaning: (law) the disqualification of a judge or jury by reason of prejudice or conflict of interest; a judge can be recused by objections of either party or judges can disqualify themselves.

We recall in our welcome to Mr. Morley via an exclusive interview regarding his tour of duty with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). https://www.themontserratreporter.com/new-high-court-judge-iain-morley.

Attorney Warren Cassell

The interview sought his reaction to the welcome he received in Montserrat, and “generally how he plans to address his work; his vision for the court in Montserrat; in light of the new vision that the Hon Chief Justice has been encouraging – equal justice and fairness.”

It is Justice Iain Morley who has now found himself a subject of recusals over the past year.

Justice Morley was the first installed for the trial, The Queen vs David Brandt long-standing case from 2015, and once again set for a hearing some time next year. Morley recused himself willingly, but his replacement, retired Justice Gareth Evans QC flown in from the UK to replace him after revoking Brand’s bail and remanding him to prison, was later also requested Attorney Dr. David Dorsett to recuse himself from the Brandt matters.

He refused to be recused in a 90-clause-long Ruling which was delivered within half an hour of the end of the hearing. See – https://www.themontserratreporter.com/second-judge-off-the-brandt-trial/

Judge Gareth Evans, QC

Brandt’s Attorney had applied to the Court, after Judge Morley had been recused from the case, for Judge Gareth himself to be recused as well.

Meanwhile, over the years, Morley has by virtue of being the judge assigned to Montserrat in most high court matters civil and criminal has seen several of his judgments ending before the East Caribbean Court of Appeal, much ending disfavorably to him.

Last year Keston Riley had several outings before Justice Morley and in matters evolving therefrom.

As the appellant, Keston Riley, was charged with and pled guilty to fraudulent evasion of duty, following which he was sentenced by the learned judge Morley to a term of imprisonment. Riley successfully appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal, following which the Public Prosecutions sought to appeal to the Privy Council.

Upon his release from prison, Riley had filed a fixed date claim seeking damages and declaratory relief from the State, flowing from the circumstances surrounding his successful appeal against conviction. The damages claim was set down for hearing before the same judge who presided over Riley’s criminal matter.

In light comments by the judge Morley and prior involvement in the criminal matter, Riley’s Attorney Warren Cassell applied to the learned judge to recuse himself from hearing the damages claim on the basis that he would not bring an impartial mind to bear on the matter. He refused to recuse himself from hearing the matter, at which point Riley appealed, alleging, in the main, that the learned judge erred in law by refusing to recuse himself.

The respondents being the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions applied to strike out the notice of appeal arguing that the grounds of appeal among other things that the grounds that the judge’s prior involvement in the matter and his remarks made in open court would not cause the fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real danger that the judge was biased.

The matter turned out an interesting judgment by the Court of Appeal which ordered Morley be recused, dismissed the application to strike out the appeal; allowing the appeal; setting aside the decision of the judge not to recuse himself; ordering that a different judge is to be assigned to conduct the hearing of the matter; awarding costs to the appellant to be assessed by a master if not agreed within 21 days.

Judge Morley would only this week accede to a request, challenging him to recuse himself in a matter, where Dunstan Lindsey of Baker Hill is involved before the court for a criminal matter stemming from words allegedly published of Henry Gordon and Ryan Kohli. The learned Justice Ian Morley was currently the adjudicating judge in this matter.

Following in or about the month of June 2020 Lindsey says he was charged with two offences of Criminal Libel alleging that “I committed libel against Henry Gordon the Prosecutor within the office of the DPP. The matter was eventually committed to High Court for trial and I appeared before Justice Iain Morley on at least three occasions for the management of the case.”

Attorney Jean Kelsick

On July 21 this year in support of an application for Justice Morley to recuse himself, Lindsey deposes in an Affidavit that the learned Justice Morley is a buddy of Crown Prosecutor Henry Gordon who is the virtual complainant in the criminal matter and one of the Claimant in the civil suit brought against the Applicant in the High Court.

He also deposed in paragraph 10 of his Affidavit that the learned Judge and Henry Gordon along with the Attorney for Henry Gordon were having dinner at a local restaurant. Moreover, Henry Gordon comes as a Prosecutor before Justice Morley on a regular basis.

According to the Affidavit by Lindsey in support of his application, the virtual complainant (VC) appears before the said Judge on a regular basis. Attorney Jean Kelsick (who also often appears before the Judge) is the Attorney-at-law for the said VC. A photograph with all three parties having dinner at a local restaurant was brought to the attention of the Applicant who is alleging apparent bias.

Judge Morley complied with the request in the face of a 44-clause response submitted by DPP Sullivan opposing Lindsey’s application. In his final clauses at clause 42 he said: “…It should be clear to this honorable court that [what] is being pursued by the applicant, in this case, is what can be considered as judge shopping… we invite this honorable court to dismiss the application with cost.”

In the next clause, he submits: “Prior involvement and knowledge does not disqualify a judge from hearing a matter. Critically, however, a judge must not predetermine or prejudge the matter or for or give the impression that he or she has formed a firm view adverse to the credibility of a party hearing the evidence.
“Finally,” the DPP said, “I remind this honorable court that by itself there is nothing wrong with the bench having dinner with the bar ad vice versa…”

Experienced lawyer Dr. David Dorsett, led on Constitution matters in David Brandt’s case

Then comes a successful application by David Dorsett on September 7, 2020, for Attorney Warren Cassell where Justice Morley has recused himself from the case of The Queen vs. Warren Cassell after hearing arguments from both the Attorneys-at-law representing the Crown and Dr. David Dorsett, Attorney-at-law.

Mr. Cassell is before the court after the same charge of Money laundering that was laid in 2007 was brought again 12 years later in May 2019.

Cassell was convicted in 2012 of the offence of Money Laundering under the 2010 Proceeds of Crime Act. 15 other convictions were quashed by the Privy Council in 2015 and the court of Appeal refusing to order a retrial stating that it was not in the interest of justice to retry Cassell. The money laundering conviction was quashed by the court of appeal after lawyers for Cassell argued that he could not be convicted under a 2010 law when the offence allegedly took place in 2007. This is because the constitution says that no person could be convicted under a law that was not in force when alleged offending act took place. The court of appeal ordered a re-trial and the privy council set aside the order for re-trial.

In an Affidavit in support of the Application for Morley’s recusal, Cassell cited some 14 grounds; Justice Iain Morley is the presiding judge on Montserrat and presides over all criminal and civil matters in Montserrat’s High Court; citing also the same grounds on which he recused himself in the David Brandt matter currently before the Court. Mr. Gordon also is a litigant in a civil matter in which I am the counsel; and associates and appears before him in numerous matters; Henry Gordon is a practising Attorney-at-law who regularly comes before the High Court Criminal division in his capacity as Senior Crown Counsel with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) being his immediate Supervisor.

He is also the Attorney-at-law who has appeared as Crown Counsel in this matter. Justice Morley has made unflattering remarks in relation to me in judgements. For example he described me as “a lawyer of moderate ability ” in a preliminary ruling in this matter dated on or about the 25th of October 2019.

[11] Nonetheless, the said Justice Morley indicated that he would be minded to recuse himself but was never requested to do so.

In announcing this latest recusal in Court Order dated 13th November, 2020 Dr. Dorsett informs that the Director of Public Prosecutions has now brought the single charge of Money laundering 12 years later (different from the single charge of Concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct contrary to section 33(1)(a) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1999, CAP 4.04, by virtue of an indictment filed on or about 19th of May 2020.

Dr. Dorsett says, “Given the recusal of Justice Morley, a new judge will have to be appointed as the trial judge in the matter.”

The Order also stated that a “tentative trial date is set to commence on 19th April, 2021, during a four-week trial window.”

It is already being speculated that from other statements in the Order that because of the British interest in these trials (to include Brandt’s) another British Judge will be foisted in for the trials.

In an interesting note regarding our ‘recusal’ observations, DPP Sullivan notes, contrary to our thought that recusals have been rare, he submits: “It is my experience that full recusal applications are routinely made to trial judges both in criminal and civil matters.

DPP Oris Sullivan

Obviously there may be cases where out of common courtesy such as when material that may be potentially scandalous or highly embarrassing to the judge or where really serious allegations are made against a trial judge that the “letter “route raising the matter, would be kinder and preferable and allow a judge to recuse himself without litigation or disclosure of his wrongdoing. Otherwise, such applications, particularly in criminal matters where a trial date is imminent are invariably dealt with as expeditiously as the circumstances allow in respect of his case.

Posted in CARICOM, Court, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

BEAUTIFUL CHAOS

BEAUTIFUL CHAOS

A June 17, 2020 press release re BEAUTIFUL CHAOS: PASSION, POETRY, AND PERSEVERANCE, says as follows: Beautiful Chaos, a collection of poetry by Jo-Annah Richards is launched on Amazon.

Beautiful Chaos, a collection of poetry by Jo-Annah Richards is launched on Amazon.
Montserrat, W.I. – Jo-Annah is proud to debut her first collection of poetry and her second publication on Amazon.

With a passion for the Creative Arts, second-time author, Jo-Annah Richards releases an enchanting and eclectic collection of captivating poetry. The topics ranging from love to politics, with each poem effortlessly and vividly embodying the beauty and chaos in each situation.
Beautiful Blackness, a stand-out poem in the collection conveys a positive message about the beauty and power of being black. It evokes the importance of self-love, pride, and self-acceptance. One stanza powerfully reads:
“Too afraid to be displayed in negative stereotypes of blackness, mute
We need to discover our own power, our essence, our truth
We are the descendants of Kings and Queens, royalty
The blood of warriors and survivors flows through our veins, fluidly”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jo-Annah Richards has been writing poetry since the age of ten and the release of her poetry collection “Beautiful Chaos” is the result of passion and perseverance. She has a passion for writing and regularly expresses it through creating speeches, poetry, short stories, and proses. Her love for the Creative Arts extends to drama, dance, and music, which led her to create Fenyx Creations in 2015. The organisation’s objective is female empowerment and pageantry development, which is facilitated by providing training and workshops for young girls. Jo-Annah knows the benefits and impact of self-expression; as well as gaining personal development and life skills. The organisation also allows her to be creative as she utilises her skills to conceptualise the annual pageant and related events.

She is guided by the principle that you are able to achieve anything through passion and perseverance.

Beautiful Chaos is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Chaos-Miss-Jo-Annah-Richards/dp/1093171510/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=beautiful+chaos+jo-annah+richards&qid=1592416025&sr=8-1

Her first publication, The Ill Concepts of the Caribbean Woman is also available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Ill-Concepts-Caribbean-Woman/dp/1456399292/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1592415938&sr=8-1

Website/Blog and Social media handles
Instagram: @joannah14
Facebook: @joannahrichardsauthorClassifiedGovernment NoticesLand NoticesLegal NoticesReal EstateVacancies

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Classified, Entertainment, International, Local, News, OECS, Poems, Regional0 Comments

The receives the governor-general of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason, in March 2018. (Getty Images)

Queen responds after Barbados removes her as head of state – ‘it’s a matter for the people’

by Rebecca Taylor · Royal Correspondent – Wed, September 16, 2020

Watch: Here’s why Barbados wants to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state

Scroll back up to restore default view.

The Queen has said the decision to remove her as head of state in Barbados is one to be made by the country’s people and government.

On Tuesday, Barbados announced it intended to “fully leave our colonial past behind” and said, “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state”.

A speech written by prime minister Mia Mottley and read by governor-general Dame Sandra Mason said the country would aim to make the move ahead of its 55th anniversary of independence, which is November 2021.

Dame Sandra added: “This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.

The receives the governor-general of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason, in March 2018. (Getty Images)
The Queen receives the governor-general of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason, in March 2018. (Getty Images)

“Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”

A statement from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday said: “This is a matter for the government and people of Barbados.”

Read more: Is Prince Harry right to take a pop at the Queen’s Commonwealth?

The Prime Minister’s Office agreed it was a “decision for Barbados and the government there”.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “We obviously have a shared history and remain united with Barbados in terms of history, culture, and language, and we will continue to have and enjoy a partnership with them as members of the Commonwealth.”

Barbados gained independence in 1966, and in 2016, the Queen praised the island nation saying: “Since you became an independent country in 1966, you have continued to flourish and grow into a strong and confident nation.

The greeted by the public during a walkabout in Barbados in November 1977. (Getty Images)
The Queen greeted by the public during a walkabout in Barbados in November 1977. (Getty Images)

“The extraordinary talents of your people, from the cricket field to the music industry have been admired and recognised throughout the world.”

Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Dominica have all made the same move of removing the Queen as head of state after independence.

They are still in the Commonwealth, a voluntary network of 54 nations that work for common ideals.

The Commonwealth’s role and function has been raised in recent months following the Black Lives Matter movement across the UK and the US.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, who remain president and vice president respectively of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) despite not being working royals, have raised issues in recent weeks, as they forge their new path in California.

Watch: What is the Commonwealth?

Read more: Nine things the Queen has said about the Commonwealth she gave ‘heart and soul’ to

In July, on a call with representatives from the QCT, Harry said: “When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past, and guess what, everybody benefits.”

Meghan said: “We’re going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now, because it’s only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships.

“Equality does not put anyone on the back foot, it puts us all on the same footing – which is a fundamental human right.”

Barbados’ decision could trigger other nations to make the same move. The issue has been raised on several occasions over the years by Jamaica, but the country’s constitution makes it difficult.

The Queen on a walkabout in Bridgetown, Barbados, during her Silver Jubilee tour of the Caribbean in 1977. (PA Images)
The Queen on a walkabout in Bridgetown, Barbados, during her Silver Jubilee tour of the Caribbean in 1977. (PA Images)

According to the University College London: “The difficulty lies in the Jamaican constitution, which has very high thresholds for constitutional change: two-thirds majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and any change to the monarchy must also be submitted to a referendum.”

Australians have also debated the same issue, but in a referendum in 1999, the majority of people voted to keep the Queen as their head of state.

Nations that have the Queen as head of state have a governor-general who represents the Queen in that country.

Watch: How does the line of succession to the throne in Britain work?

TRENDING

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Posted in CARICOM, Features, International, Local, News0 Comments

Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur passes away

Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur passes away

Reprint – July 27, 2020

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur

(Barbados Today)

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has passed away at the age of 70,  a Government statement has confirmed.

Arthur, the island’s longest-serving Prime Minister, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 12:26 a.m. He was hospitalised last week with heart complications. The statement said that Minister of Labour and Social Relations and St Peter MP  Colin Jordan will be the coordinating minister for the funeral arrangements.

“The Government of Barbados extends sincerest condolences to his wife, Julie, his daughters, Leah and Sabrina and his extended family,” it added.

Posted in CARICOM, International, News, Obituaries, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Good_to_go_certificate-

Travelers to face Negative COVID-19 Test to enter Antigua

by Bennette Roach

While entering Montserrat has taken on visa-styled requirements to enter the island, leaving  Montserrat is equally involved as health certificates become necessary to enter Antigua.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services is notifying travelers from Montserrat to Antigua, of the need to have a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling.

This became necessary as advised in a release today from the Government Information Unit (GIU) whereby, “In accordance with the Government of Antigua public health protocols, all passengers arriving in Antigua must have a negative COVID -19 test taken within seven days of their arrival. This includes passengers transiting through Antigua to other final destinations.”

To facilitate the established protocols; The Ministry of Health and Social Services will facilitate the testing of prospective travelers.  As such “Residents who are booked to travel must contact Dr. Georgette Skerritt at telephone number (664) 496-9724 to make an appointment, to be sampled for testing.

“Sampling will occur each Friday, and test results are anticipated to be available by Wednesday of the following week. At present, there is no cost associated with sampling and testing.”

The public is asked to review their travel dates and be guided accordingly to ensure a smooth transition through Antigua.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, COVID-19, Health, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

visa-trave

COVID-19 forces Visa-styled requirements to enter Montserrat

by Bennette Roach

As the Government of Montserrat continues to remove and amend COVID-19 suppression restrictions, and the phased reopening of the economy continues, a release from the Government Information Unit (GIU) advises:  

“As of Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. the maximum number of persons allowed to gather in a public place will increase from 10 to 50.

  This is outlined in the ‘Public Health (COVID-19 Suppression) (No.4) Order, S.R.O. 44 of 2020’ which will be in effect until August 4, 2020.

Additionally, the categories of persons allowed to travel to Montserrat now “includes a person” who owns a habitable house or home in Montserrat.  However, persons traveling to Montserrat must register by completing and submitting the declaration form on the government of Montserrat website (www.gov.ms) no later than three days of their intended date of travel.”

Aircraft owners have seemingly (non-criminalised) responsibilities

The owner of an aircraft or vessel must also ensure that the person has been granted approval to travel to Montserrat prior to departing. All persons arriving on Montserrat must self-quarantine for 14-days commencing on the date of arrival.

The Order also “makes provisions for child care centers, nursery schools, primary schools, secondary school, tertiary school, and any other school(s) to open.”

“However, the Head or owner of the school must submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  The Head or owner of the school must also ensure that staff, students and customers practice social distancing, and comply with any direction or guideline issued by the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions. Failure to comply with the directives from the Minister of Health may result in the school being ordered to close.

“As it relates to the operations of gyms and sports clubs, these entities will be allowed to offer services, but must first submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  Once approved to operate, owners of gyms and sports clubs must ensure that customers maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from each other and must comply with any direction of guideline from the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions.

“Although the six feet physical distance is specified for gyms and sports clubs, the Order also makes provisions for ‘contact sporting’ activities but individuals must comply with the restriction on the number of persons allowed to gather.” 

The release concludes that all other measures which were previously announced guiding the operations of businesses such as restaurants, cookshops, barbershops, beauty salons, bars, spas and bus, and taxi operators still remain in effect.

For those so able, the full S.R.O may be downloaded at http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SRO-44-of-2020-Public-Health-Covid-19-Suppression-No.4-Order-.pdf

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, COVID-19, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

PM-Dr-Ralph-Gonsalves-1

St. Vincent PM says recount votes in Guyana should be honoured

by staff writer

KINGSTOWN, ST. Vincent, Jun 11, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he remains satisfied that the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping “will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside” in the disputed March 2 regional and general elections in Guyana.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is yet to announce officially the winner of the polls after the re-count exercise was concluded on Sunday in the presence of observers from CARICOM and other international organisations.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves appearing on radio programme (CMC Photo)

Both the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National unity (APNU) headed by President David Granger and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) headed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have claimed victory.

The PPP/C said that the recount has shown that it won the election by more than 15,000 votes, while the APNU has claimed that a number of irregularities and anomalies took place during the voting exercise and has called on GECOM to make a statement on the matter.

Gonsalves, speaking on a programme on the state-owned NBC Radio St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said “we expect the CARICOM observer mission to deliver its report and we expect that what is the recount would be honoured and the Guyana Elections Commission would honour that recount and declare the winner in accordance with this recount”

He told radio listeners that “anybody who wants to challenge anything afterward can go to court but you have to declare the winner in accordance with the recount,” he added.

Gonsalves, who is expected to take over the chairmanship of CARICOM in July, said that there had been “no complaints” about the first two processes involved in the elections, namely “what happens before the election day, process of registration, putting the machinery in place for free and fair elections, secondly what happens on election day.

“: Nobody said it was a sham elections or irregularities were such that so as to undermine the efficacy of the poll. The third question which was outstanding is the counting of the votes.

“That’s why the first statement that (Prime Minister of Barbados) Mia Mottley made as chair of CARICOM…is that each vote must be counted, each vote has to be counted. Well, this is where you had the basis for the recount and the reason why it is an election and not a selection, you have to count the votes and you have to count them honestly”.

Gonsalves said that he is “satisfied that CARICOM will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside

“St Vincent and the Grenadines stands firmly for democracy and reflecting the will of the people. That will tell you where we are. I don’t have to say anything straight and plain. CARICOM is not going to tolerate anybody stealing an election,” he said.

Gonsalves said he is aware of a number of opposition parties when they lose an election make a number of complaints.

“It is almost a boring repetition. We get the reports, follow the law and who win, win. When you take part in an election there is always a chance that you may lose and if you lose …you take your licks like a man,” Gonsalves said, telling listeners that he is a friend to both Granger and Jagdeo.

Coalition says a statement by incoming CARICOM Chair could undermine the legitimacy of the recount process

by STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 11, CMC –  The coalition –  A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)  has expressed concern with statements made the incoming Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; describing it as a taking a “prejudicial” stance on Guyana’s elections.

The APNU+AFC via a press statement said they were “surprised” at  Gonsalves’s statement since the national recount process of votes cast in the March 2, General and Regional Elections, is still ongoing.

Gonsalves who is the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has urged the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to declare a winner of the elections based on the figures from the first phase of the recount.

The recount is comprised of four stages.

However, the APNU+AFC in its statement highlighted that they are “concerned as the incoming Chair of CARICOM, Dr. Gonsalves has chosen to pronounce on a process that is still ongoing, and proposes to a direct constitutional body in another CARICOM Member State in the execution of its duties.”

The coalition reminded that the four-stage process which is gazetted was agreed to by all political parties and CARICOM.

The first stage of tabulating the votes recently concluded and the second stage is now in progress. That is the compilation of a matrix of the tabulated results along with a summary of the observation reports, by the Chief Elections Officer.

According to the coalition, the reports will highlight the 7,929 instances of irregularities which directly affected the validity of 257,173 votes.

Additionally, it was also pointed out that the CARICOM scrutineering team has not yet submitted a report of its findings as mandated by the gazetted order. This will then be followed by a review of the reports by the Elections Commission and finally a declaration of the results by the Chairperson of GECOM after having studied the report.

With that, the coalition further reminded that “the ongoing process is significant and important not only for democracy in Guyana but the wider CARICOM.  It is expected that CARICOM leaders would refrain from any actions or utterances that could undermine the legitimacy of the process and its credible conclusion.”

Posted in CARICOM, Court, Elections, International, Legal, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Safe & Sound

Safe & Sound

Reprint       News        Covid-19 is NOT a virus!

Health

Find out what Covid-19 really is and how you can protect yourself

One thing COVID-19 isn’t is a virus. There – I said it! Not that you would know from everything that’s buzzing around the media right now.

So if it’s not a virus, what is it?

COVID-19 is the disease you develop from being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Imagine it like HIV which is the virus that causes the disease AIDS.
Or the Streptococcus bacterium that causes tonsillitis.

So what does SARS-CoV stand for and how did it start?

SARS-CoV stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome caused by the Coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2 is the latest strain of the virus.

Scientists have been looking at the genome sequencing of this virus and have traced its origins back many tens of thousands of years. Coronavirus is part of a family of viruses that cause various diseases in various animals and, more recently, humans.

Scroll forward thousands of years. The first human Coronavirus was discovered by Tyrrell and Bynoe, back in the 1960s. They took respiratory tract swabs from human volunteers who were suffering from the common cold. They discovered a common infectious agent and the story of human Coronavirus began.

Whilst this was a fantastic discovery, it only answered a few questions about an otherwise innocent disease. Oh, and also to gain its name due to the crown-like projections emanating from the virus cell’s membrane. Coronavirus!

Forward again to the 21st Century. The first strain of SARS-CoV appeared in 2002 in a small city in the Guangdong Province of China (population of around 7.2 million) on the border with Hong Kong where a farmer became ill with a severe respiratory infection. The virus spread around the world infecting 8,000 people (as far as we know) and was attributed to 774 deaths in 17 countries.

SARS-CoV came and went without a huge global concern given the overall numbers affected.

Fast forward to 2012: Saudi Arabia. The first case of MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) was reported. This spread around many countries and even reached the UK in 2015. Its official name is MERS-CoV. Since its discovery, it has infected around 2,494 people (laboratory-confirmed cases) and 858 reported deaths over 27 countries. Again, no global crisis because of such low numbers.

Now jump forward to late 2019 and back to China. This time an outbreak in the sprawling capital of Central China’s Hubei Province, Wuhan (probably from a meat market). The first example of the current mutation of the virus, SARS-CoV-2. Let’s dive in and look at why this strain of Coronavirus is causing worldwide chaos when SARS and MERS did not.

Lots of people say that flu is a huge global killer, so what’s the big deal about Coronavirus?

The World Health Organisation estimates the global deaths from seasonal flu at a minimum of 290,000 annually,

This is clearly a big number. So why the panic around Coronavirus? As we will see, for various reasons, left unchecked, the science around this new disease is that it would kill far more people than the flu. Why is this?

First up, It’s not about how many people die from it. It’s about how many catch it and survive!

In the case of SARS, there were 774 deaths out of 8,000 infected. This is a mortality rate of 9.7%.

Turning to MERS, there were 858 deaths out of 2,494 deaths, a staggering mortality rate of 35%! That means that if 100 people catch it, 35 will die.

Initially, the data suggests that this new strain of Coronavirus, SARS-COV-2, has a mortality rate of between 2-4%. On the face of it, the new virus doesn’t sound like a big deal.

However, this ignores the likely number of people infected worldwide. 2% of 1,000 would be a minor public health issue. However SARS-COV-2 is incredibly infectious and without massive interventions, many millions will be infected and 2% of millions is a huge loss of human life.

The Infection Rate

In order to understand why SARS-CoV-2 is so infectious, we need to understand something called the infection rate, calculate it for this virus and then work out how many people could potentially contract the illness and thus work out how many could possibly die.

The infection rate is how many people can a single person infect if they have the illness. We call this the R0 (R nought) number or reproduction number.
For example, flu has an R0 1.3.

So for each person that has the flu, they will pass that on to another 1.3 persons. Then they, in turn, will pass that on to another 1.3 people. And on it goes.

To add some context, measles has an R0 between 12-18 depending on various factors. So measles is incredibly infectious which is why public health authorities are so concerned to ensure close to 100% of the population are vaccinated. Without mass vaccination, millions would die from measles each year.

So with this data can we predict how many will catch this new virus and how many may die?

Well, no, not quite. There is something else we have to factor in and that’s the incubation time.

Incubation Time

Incubation time determines how many people will get sick over what timeframe. The flu has an incubation period of just a few days. And you may not show any symptoms over those few days but are still passing the virus on.

In just a few days the flu can infect many people. However, you know you have it sooner and can isolate so as not to infect others. In fact, most of us are too ill to want to go out once we have the symptoms. So we often stop spreading it as widely, at that stage, because we naturally travel less through the community.

So, in the case of viruses with long incubation periods, the longer the period we can infect other people. In the case of viruses where some or a large proportion of those infected have no symptoms during the incubation period, the more people we unknowingly infect.

Putting it all Together

We can now understand why SARS-CoV-2 is posing a worldwide pandemic and an unprecedented public health emergency not seen since the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic which killed an estimated 20-50 million people globally.

This new variant of SARS-CoV has an R0 of 2-2.5, has an incubation period between 1-14 days and, particularly in young people can be completely symptomless.

So can we now see how a) it will infect more people, b) they won’t know they are infected until they have had the virus for a while.

The combination of these factors means that if societies do not take extreme measures to socially isolate citizens, the virus will spread extremely rapidly and widely. Public Health England and other reputable medical sources estimate infection rates where such measures are not taken of approximately 80%

Even if the estimated death rate for SARS-CoV-2 of 2-4% is exaggerated – let’s apply an overall death rate of 1% – this would mean around 54 million of the UK population would be infected and around 540,000 would die. Taking the lower of the 2-4% range, over a million people would perish in the UK.

The idea that SARS-CoV-2 is just like the flu is dangerously wrong. This virus is a very dangerous beast and requires the huge and urgent international response it has generated.

How does the SARS-CoV virus work?

This virus can’t walk and it most certainly can’t fly. What’s more, it can only use those little crown projections coming out of it to bond to very specific cells. It can’t just bond to any old cell in your body.

It’s a respiratory tract infection. It can only bind to those special cells.

How does the SARS-CoV virus get into our body?

Usually, you put it there! Viruses are very intelligently adaptable. They have been on this planet longer than we have. They need to reproduce and then get out to find new hosts. Not just new host cells within the first animal they find: if they infect too many cells that the animal will die taking the virus along with it. Somehow they have to find a way to get out of this host animal and into another one. It’s incredibly difficult to infect another species, so it needs to find lots of the same species of animal in one place.

With this in mind, viruses tend to infect areas where they can easily get in but also get out. It’s no coincidence that Norovirus makes you expel all your bodily contents from both orifices of your digestive system! Its evolutionary capability is to reach as far and wide as possible.

The same mechanism drives coughing and sneezing when we have the flu. This enables the virus to reach other potential hosts.

On the other hand, when the virus leaves the body, it is under threat. It can’t live for very long outside the body. So it needs to find a new host before it dies. If the environmental factors are right, some viruses can live outside a host for many days. SARS-CoV 2 mostly relies on you coughing out large droplets of water to carry it and give it some temporary accommodation. Depending on what it lands on, its survival is a matter of hours or several days.

Direct contact can allow the virus to be passed from one person to another. The closer the contact, the more likely. Kissing is a virus’ best and easiest route. But the most likely route is usually your hands. That’s where the tyres meet the tarmac, so to speak. It’s how we interact with our surroundings.

An infected person touches another person or a hard surface and the virus waits for you to touch your face to facilitate migration into its new host animal – YOU!

What happens once we become infected by SARS-CoV?

Once inside your body, the virus binds to cells that have similar receptors to itself.

This is what’s called an enveloped virus – it has a special fat layer around the outside. This helps protect it between host cells but it also looks like a protein that should not be attacked by the immune system. Initially anyway. The virus is not of human origin so our immune system doesn’t recognise it. The infected cell is then fooled into accepting the virus.

This is where the virus gets to work. It has found a new host and the new cells are healthy. So the virus starts to hijack the cell. The virus then uses the cell’s factory to start printing out millions of copies of itself. But it has to hide these new copies so they don’t get attacked. This is another vulnerable stage for the virus. It uses our cells to coat the new copies, to hide them and releases them in search of new hosts. The virus ruthlessly keeps printing copies until it kills the host cell that it’s hijacked. It hopes that the new copies have infected new cells and thus the cycle continues.

As more and more cells are destroyed in the production of new viruses, the system begins to break down. So, in the case of a respiratory tract infection, lung cells. Obviously, fewer functioning lung cells means reduced functionality of the lungs.

In the case of SARS-CoV 2, the evidence suggests that this is the most likely cause of death. Those with existing reduced lung function, like the elderly or those with lung diseases, are at the most risk. But any underlying health condition that reduces your body’s ability to fight infections, increases the risk.

But it’s not all bad. The clock is ticking for the virus. As it kills more cells, our immune system will be enlightened to that and start to react. Actively looking for and killing new viruses that are released from damaged host cells. Now it’s the battle of the fittest. This is why those who are young, fit or healthy have strong immune systems and their systems are best able to fight the virus and kill it off. Those people either have no symptoms or mild or moderate symptoms. They will not need medical treatment although drinking lots of fluid and taking paracetamol can be used to reduce headaches and aching limbs. Those who are less fit, older, with less strong immune systems will experience much more serious symptoms and may need to be hospitalised.

Symptoms of SARS-CoV-2

The reports of symptoms are far and wide. Ranging from no symptoms at all, all the way up to death.

However, the 2 most common symptoms are:

• a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
• a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

The only way to know if you really have SARS-CoV 2 is by testing.

The UK is currently only testing hospital admissions that are displaying the common symptoms. There is no test available at the moment for people who have already contracted the illness but recovered. And until we have one it’s very difficult to accurately calculate the mortality rate, infection rate and incubation period. It may be that many more have had this virus than first thought, which would significantly reduce the mortality rate. The UK Government has announced that it is very close to the release of mass self-testing to see whether individuals have had the illness because the test will detect whether they have developed antibodies (prior to last December, no human had had the virus so no-one was immune).

I think I have Covid-19 – what should I do?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), use the 111 coronavirus service: NHS 111 Service

DO NOT go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

What can I do to prevent getting Covid-19?

At the moment, there is no vaccine or anti-viral drug for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Once you are infected and develop Covid-19 all you can do is alleviate symptoms. So if you have a fever, for example, try to reduce it.
Government advice is changing daily with daily bulletins, updates and advice.
But as with any virus, we can take certain basic precautions.

Hand Washing is Your Best Weapon

Soap and water will remove the virus. Alcohol hand sanitiser can damage the fatty shell and make the virus more vulnerable. Washing robs much of the natural oils from our skin causing it to dry out. Dry skin is incredibly difficult to clean, so moisturiser is just as important as soap! After washing, try to moisturise to keep your skin hydrated and make it easier to clean.

Should I wear a face mask?

Surgical face masks won’t stop you contracting the virus. The mask is to stop the healthcare worker coughing onto their vulnerable patients. Evidence has shown that face masks can increase the risk as they get wet (remember this virus needs those water droplets) and human behaviour. Those not accustomed to wearing them touch their face more frequently than they would normally have done. Although if you have the virus you can prevent others from contracting it by using a mask or covering your face when coughing or sneezing.

Social Distancing

I’ve already mentioned how water droplets can’t travel far. So social distancing is another great weapon to combat the increased spread of the virus.
The droplets from coughing and sneezing can reach up to 2 meters from the infected host. So maintaining at least that distance in an open space should prevent infection.

Isolate Yourself

Stay at home as much as you can. Only leave for essential items or to help someone who is vulnerable and cannot care for themselves. And remember that you can be infected and spread this virus with little or no symptoms.
Understand the R0 factor and incubation period as I discussed earlier.
If one member of your household contracts it, the chances are the rest will.

Symptoms usually last for 5-7 days. But in those where they have been complications, it can take several weeks to recover.

What About Herd Immunity?

So if most of us will be ok, then why not just go get it?

Herd immunity does work. But it works much more safely if we can vaccinate rather than take the gamble people will survive the illness. It’s estimated about 20% of those that contract this virus will require hospitalisation. With about a quarter of those which will require Intensive Care.

In number terms, it is estimated that instead of 540,000 plus dying if nothing is done, using herd immunity and then protecting the vulnerable would reduce the number of deaths by around half to 250,000.

This is why the UK Government has introduced a significant lockdown of the country. The experts have estimated that if the UK population follows the guidelines strictly, the number of overall deaths could be substantially limited, possibly as low as around 25,000.

So what is the difference between the herd immunity model and the lockdown model?

Whilst our healthcare system is currently coping, we are only in the very early stage of the epidemic in the UK at the moment.

If the growth of those catching the virus is not strongly controlled by changing the population’s exposure to each other over the cycle of the virus until there is a vaccine available (estimated at 1 year to 18 months) or effective anti-viral medication (period unknown), the health service will rapidly become overwhelmed in terms of human resources, beds, oxygen, ventilators and personal protection equipment. Many, many thousands of people will needlessly die both from the virus and also from other illnesses which the health system will not be able to treat.

Herd immunity involves allowing 80% of the population to carry on with business as usual whilst the most vulnerable are in lockdown. However, this will mean that too many people will catch the virus and get ill at the same time. Around 20% of those catching it will become seriously ill and the health service will rapidly become overwhelmed.

Hence the new model: everyone apart from essential workers are placed into periods of home lockdown. This is designed to ensure that the virus spreads in as controlled and limited way as possible so that over the medium term the health services can cope and the maximum number of lives can be saved.

If most people recover after 7 days, then our beds should clear relatively quickly and will be ready for the next wave. It would be easier to deal with many small waves than one big one. Any good sailor will tell you that.
Each country has to deal with this in a different way. Individual demographics (some cultures have more people living in a single homestead), social demographics (elderly populations are more vulnerable), transport systems (better transport the larger the infection rate). I could go on. But the variables will make timing and tactics very different from country to country.

When will this end?

The truth is, we don’t know. What we do know about viruses is that they die off either by lack of hosts (because they are dead or too far away to infect so the virus naturally dies) or by having antibodies against the virus in our immune system via vaccination or surviving the virus.

But even then this could change seasonally and our antibodies may only offer short term protection like the flu.

The better question perhaps is how will this end? Here our answer is driven by what we know about the virus as summarised above. If through lockdown, the spread can be reversed, if the reversal is maintained eventually the population will be virus-free. How does the spread reverse: the answer is the R0 becomes less than 1. We know that uncontrolled the SARS-CoV-2 has an R0 of 2.3 meaning one person will on average infect 2.3 other people. If we successfully self-isolate, the R0 will drop. In a strange hypothetical world where every person the entire world self-isolated for six weeks, the R0 would eventually hit 0 i.e. no-one is infecting anyone else!

In the real world, the likelihood of the virus dying out in the human population is highly remote because different countries are imposing different degrees of lockdown. Thailand is an example of a country which has closed its borders, internal curfews, etc. It has had 1,045 cases and 4 deaths in an overall population of around 69 million. It is of course much closer to the original epicentre of the illness, China, than the UK which has a population of around 67.7 million, 9,529 cases and 465 deaths. The UK’s policy has shifted from a more liberal herd immunity approach initially to a much greater degree of lockdown in the last week.

We must bear in mind that European countries, a group of liberal democracies, will be balancing restrictions against the constraints on these actions in free societies. Even within Europe, the UK is more permissive than, say, Italy and Spain.

Bottom line, given different approaches, the virus will not disappear anytime soon. So the virus will not be totally defeated for many years to come. The threat it poses can be substantially reduced if we all follow the UK Government’s directions and, we hope, many of these restrictions can be reduced and subsequently totally lifted once vaccines and anti-viral medications are in place within the next year to 18 months.

Wishing you all well. Stay home, stay safe.

Mark Waterfield

Infection Control Lead for Safe and Sound

Posted in CARICOM, Climate/Weather, COVID-19, Environment, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

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CARICOM mounts Election Observation Mission for St. Kitts and Nevis General Elections

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)

At the invitation of the Government of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has fielded a CARICOM Election Observation Mission to monitor the General Elections which will be held in that country on Friday, June 5, 2020.

The three-member Mission will be headed by Mr. Gasper Jean Baptiste, Chief Elections Officer of Saint Lucia, who has served as a member of CARICOM Election Observation Missions to some other CARICOM Member States.   The other members of the Mission are:

  •    H.E. Mr. Arley Gill (National of Grenada); and
  •    Mr. Chester Arlington Humphrey (National of Grenada).

The CARICOM Election Observation Mission proposes to meet with the electoral officials, leaders of political parties and other stakeholders of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and will monitor the voting process including the opening of the poll, the casting of votes, the closing of the poll and the counting of the ballots.

The members of the Observation Mission arrived in St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, and will depart on Sunday, June 7, 2020.

The Election Observation Mission will issue a Preliminary Statement based on its observations and findings.  A Report on the General Elections will be subsequently prepared and submitted to the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community. For CARICOM, election observation serves as a platform to support existing democratic traditions within the Caribbean Community as part of its wider policy of supporting democracy and good governance. In this regard, at the request of the Government of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the CARICOM Secretariat conducted virtual training in election observation for a group of local election observers.

Posted in CARICOM, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

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ZIZ St. Kitts Government Radio Station under fire from Opposition Political Party – Labour

With just over a week to go to general elections in St. Kitts, the St. Kitts-Nevis opposition Labour Party has sued the Government and the Radio Station, ZIZ.

Elections are due on June 5, 2020.

Posted in CARICOM, Elections, Labour, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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