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Lowell Hawthorne

CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill founder reportedly commits suicide in NY factory

NEW YORK, Dec 3, CMC – The founder and chief executive officer of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, Jamaican Lowell Hawthorne reportedly killed himself inside his Bronx, New York factory on Saturday .

According to police reports, Hawthorne, 57, shot himself inside the Park Ave. building, near E. 173rd St., in Claremont section of the Bronx, at about 5:30 p.m.

Lowell Hawthorne

The  New York Daily news reports more than a dozen current and former employees stood in disbelief outside the factory hours later.

“He was a good boss, humble and a good businessman,” said Pete Tee, 27, a former employee, “He never seemed sad. This is just terrible news right now.”

Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store on E. Gun Hill Rd. in the Bronx in 1989, going on to build the Jamaica beef patty purveyor into a US national empire by boasting more than 120 restaurants in nine states.

Pat Russo, who has worked with Hawthorne since the 1990s, was shocked by the news that his fellow businessman had taken his own life.

“It doesn’t make any sense. He had everything to live for,” said Russo, who is the president of Chef’s Choice food company. “He was a brilliant business guy. The perfect American success story.”

Hawthorne’s death sent shockwaves from the streets of the Bronx to government offices in Jamaica where Prime Minister Andrew Holness fired off a tweet offering his condolences.

Some of Hawthorne’s employees said they suspected something was amiss when they spotted his car, a silver Tesla 85D, parked oddly outside the factory – blocking a lane of traffic.

Longtime employee Everald Woods said he loved working under Hawthorne.

“He was a nice boss, a wonderful guy,” said Woods, an employee since 2003. “He’s the kind of guy you want to work for – for that long. He takes care of his employees.”

Family friend Wayne Muschamb said Hawthorne was an inspiration to his compatriot in Jamaica.

“Look how far he reached. He’s known from here to Jamaica,” Muschamb told the Daily News. “I’m kind of lost for words, man. This has got me shocked.”

Hawthorne’s rags-to-riches story was set in motion in 1981 when he followed several relatives to the US from Jamaica in search of opportunity.

He briefly worked as an accountant for the New York Police Department (NYPD) before deciding to build a business inspired by his father’s bakery back in Jamaica.

Golden Krust became the first Caribbean-owned business in the US to be granted a franchise license, according to its website.

In 2012, Hawthorne published “The Baker’s Son: My Life in Business,” a memoir.

“It’s a very humbling experience to know that the concept that began in Jamaica with our parents was able to come here,” Hawthorne told the Daily News at the time.

Hawthorne told the Wall Street Journal in 2015 that his goal was that, “by 2020, all Americans will have heard of Jamaican patties,” according to the New York Post.

He told the newspaper that it’s a family operation with Hawthorne’s wife, three sons and daughter, not to mention cousins. nieces and nephews, all involved.

Saddened employees gathered outside the Golden Krust factory, at 3958 Park Ave. Saturday night to pay their respects.

“He’s a nice man, a good man,’’ said John Harrison, who had been working there for three years. “The Jamaican people, they feel it. All of us are Jamaican. We lost a Jamaican, we feel it.’’

Hanaku Oxori, who had worked at the plant for 17 years, said, “he’s nice with everyone here.”

The suicide “was a surprise to me,” he added. “We saw him every day. He talks to everyone. He was always in a good mood.”

Hawthorne, on November 28, made a post on Facebook, reflecting on his life.

“I was always in search of the next honest means to make a dollar,” he wrote. “Like many transplanted Caribbean nationals, I struggled to work and raise a family. I can only thank God for everything I have achieved.”

“If my story here can inspire others to rise up and give it a go, I would have accomplished something meaningful,” he added.

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Courtroom detail with a gavel and scales of justice in the background

Other November assizes hearings this week

 

Courtroom detail with a gavel and scales of justice in the background

Lindon Fergus of St. Peters pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent. The offence from an incident which occurred on May 26, 2017 at the Little Bay basketball complex, carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The complaint arising out of the incident says, Venice Wilkins Jr. of Salem received a head injury following an altercation between himself and Fergus. As a result, Wilkins had to be medivac to Barbados.

 

The preliminary facts outlined to the high court trial judge Ian Morley on Friday as noted were that Wilkins received skull fracture with bone fragments entering the brain.

Sentencing for Fergus like Perkins is set for March ninth twenty eighteen. However, Fergus was remanded in custody pending his sentencing.

Posted in Court, Crime, Local, News1 Comment

Director of Public Prosecutions D.P.P. Oris Sullivan

Doctor guilty on indecent assault charge

Indecent assault guilty verdict against doctor

Dr Franklin Perkins

The East Caribbean High Court in Montserrat concluded the week’s criminal assizes with the unanimous guilty verdict returned in the matter where a medical practitioner was charged with indecent assault of a patient in March this year.

The verdict has and will surprise many as the whole question of trial by ‘jury’ gets into the spotlight once again.

Our report posted on March 3 read as follows: On Wednesday evening (March 1) in the ZJB evening news a report which turned out to be shocking on the one hand and not so surprising on the other. “Police say they have arrested a medical practitioner for allegedly indecently assaulting a patient. A senior police officer told ZJB News that the investigation is in an infancy stage and that the medical doctor is now assisting the police with their investigation.”

Director of Public Prosecutions D.P.P. Oris Sullivan

Today it’s been reported: “A medical practitioner who was in February this year charged for indecently assaulting a patient has been found guilty. The nine-member jury of five women and four men, returned the unanimous guilty verdict against Dr. Franklin Perkins…”

Dr Perkins who was charged for indecently assaulting a nineteen-year-old female in his private surgery at Cudjoe Head, has been granted bail pending sentencing in March next year.

Reportedly, the sixty-seven-year-old doctor told the court that he has been practising on Montserrat for the past 27 years most of which have been in the employ of the government of Montserrat as an anesthesiologist.

 

Senior Counsel David S. Brandt

The court heard from five prosecution witnesses while the defence called Dr Perkins and his wife as witnesses. Director of Public Prosecutions D.P.P. Oris Sullivan, senior Crown counsel Kenroy Hyman and crown counsel Cora Galloway presented for the crown. While Dr. Perkins was represented by senior counsels, David S. Brandt and Karl Marham.

 

Doctors in back in March had expressed concern at the arrest of Perkins after they heard the preliminary charge. The doctors revealed that while in court they learnt that the charges were brought  on the accusation that the Doctor had touched the woman’s breasts, her abdomen and her buttocks.

Senior Counsel Karl Marham

One doctor said: “If you have to walk into a doctor’s office and get examined and you come out and you can go to the police station and accuse this person who you went to see as assaulting you with the mere fact that you have been examined, is really serious.”

Meanwhile the concern expressed by another doctor said: “As medical professionals we spend a lot of time with patients and therefore we’re particularly vulnerable to accusations like this,” adding, “and therefore I think as a team we’ve got to put things in place to make sure that such things don’t happen again…”
One other doctor who reportedly has since left the island, had said, the allegations against Dr. Perkins was a serious against the ‘medical profession’ in Montserrat. He had said he was very uncomfortable with the thought that he can end up in the ‘lock-up’, “so, I’m leaving – its goodbye Montserrat.”

 (see: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/doctors-plan-strike-in-indecent-assault-arrest/)

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Rescue

Top of the week Regional round-up

Sailing vessel sinks – two rescued

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Nov 18, CMC – Two people were airlifted to safety via helicopter  after their sailing vessel – ‘Tyago’, sank between St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
RescueThe marine authorities reported that a search for the two began late Thursday.
Two ships in the area – the French flagged ‘Club Med 2’ and the Liberian registered container vessel ‘San Cristobal’, took part in the search and rescue operation along with the  French navy frigate ‘Ventose’.
The two men, whose identities have not been released, were hoisted to safety by helicopter after spending  five hours in the water clinging to a cooler.

 

 

Prince of Wales tours hurricane ravaged BVI

The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles made his first visit to the British Virgin Islands on Saturday for a first hand look at the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

photo credit : BVI news
photo credit : BVI news

Accomanied by British Member of Parliament Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for the Department for International Trade, the Prince briefly toured Tortola and met local communities to hear about the ways they have been recovering since the BVI was hit by the hurricanes.

Charles also visited the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), “which has fought back since the storms to get up and running.

“There, he met some of the young people who have been a part of new support programs, which encourage them to talk about storm experiences and equip them with practical life skills to cope with difficult living conditions,” said the BIV Government in a statement late Saturday.

Prince Charles who is also the President of Red Cross, visited the local branch where he was introduced to a  several volunteers, including Deniese Gardener, “who risked her life in the middle of the storm, along with two others, to rescue a local woman.

This was Prince Charles’ first official visit to the BVI  and the first Royal visit since the Duke of Gloucester in March 2012, the statement said.

“I was honored to welcome His Royal Highness to the Virgin Islands to show him the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” said Governor Augustus Gaspert.

“Their destructive force was unprecedented, and the lives of many on the island are still challenging. But, with the incredible community spirit and support from friends overseas, we are now on the road to recovery.

“It has been inspiring to see the resilience of our community over these last two months, and it was my pleasure to share this and a few stories of the heroic acts since then with His Royal Highness,” the governor added.

“It is important that the Virgin Islands, our challenges and our recovery remain at the front of people’s minds around the world,” Gaspert continued. “There is still a lot to do, and I continue to work with the premier to ensure we progress with the recovery plan.”

Caribbean island-nations take climate response into their own hands

BONN, Germany, Nov 19,  CMC – Caribbean and other island-nations, with no time to lose, are taking climate response into their own hands.

Following two weeks of negotiations on bolstering the Paris Climate Change agreement, leaders on Friday said their hopes that island issues would take center stage have mostly been dashed.

Climate ChangeThe New York Times reports that almost none of the measures to help their countries adapt to the impacts of global warming have been resolved, and few delegates said they were hopeful the final hours of talks would bring decisions.

“I’m anxious, and I’m fearful,” said Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of St. Lucia.

“It can’t be that a prime minister’s only resource is to get down on his knees on the side of a bed and pray.”

From rising seas to the loss of fresh water, islands are among the most vulnerable nations to global warming, the Times said, noting that hurricanes, expected to become more ferocious with climate change, pummeled Caribbean island-nations into crisis this summer.

Hurricane Irma destroyed nearly every car and building on the the island of Barbuda and swelled the population of Antigua overnight as thousands of Barbudans sought shelter. Hurricane Maria knocked out power across the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and left Dominica in tatters.

Small islands also are among the smallest contributors to climate change, producing less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and leaders of the industrialized world said they owe some recompense for the disasters these vulnerable nations will suffer in the years ahead.

“The very thing that makes them wealthy is contributing to our vulnerability,” said Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda. “It’s only fair that they provide some level of compensation.”

But it’s reported that hopes are waning that Caribbean island-nations will see a major increase in financial support to help address the consequences of climate change.

On Friday, here created an expert group to formally include the issue of helping vulnerable Caribbean and other countries with immediate needs, known as loss and damage, in the United Nations climate process.

But the Times said “there is no money attached to it, though, nor means to raise any.”

So far, it said the biggest news came midweek, when Germany and Britain announced funding for a long discussed partnership to promote insurance coverage   in island-nations vulnerable to disasters.

“It can help people recover from floods or cyclones. But it doesn’t help against slow onset events like sea-level rise — no one will insure against that,” said Harjeet Singh, global head of climate change for ActingAid.

He also noted that many of the details of the new insurance proposal were still vague, like how much relatively poor island countries would have to pay in premiums.

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) wrapped up, with delegations expressing a renewed sense of urgency and a need for greater ambition to tackle climate change.

The conference, which ran from November 6-17, was chaired by Fiji, an island-state particularly affected by the impacts of climate change. The Fiji Presidency announced an agreement on a Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action.

Apart from negotiations among Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) , the UN said several new climate action initiatives, commitments and partnerships were announced by states and non-state actors in the areas of energy, water, agriculture, oceans and coastal areas, human settlements, transportation, industry, and forests.

Climate finance and climate resilience were also at the center of the discussions at the conference, the UN said.

It said more than 20 countries, including the Canada, Finland, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, launched a new global coal alliance aimed at achieving the rapid phase-out of existing traditional coal power and at placing a moratorium on any new traditional coal power stations without operational carbon capture and storage.

The conference took place one year after the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. The agreement, which was adopted by the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015, calls on countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, the UN said. On Friday, 70 Parties have ratified the treaty.

A week before the opening of the conference, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere surged at “record-breaking speed” to new highs in 2016.

The UN said COP23 will be followed by a series of summits and conferences on climate change, which are scheduled ahead of the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, including the “One Planet” summit to be convened by France next month.

The “One Planet” summit focuses on financing, a gathering in California, bringing together non-State actors, and the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018, the UN said. Brazil has offered to host COP25 in 2019.

Britain providing more aid to hurricane ravaged Caribbean countries

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Nov 20, CMC – Britain is providing more financial assistance to Antigua and Barbuda as well as Dominica to help recovery and long-term reconstruction on the islands following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who accompanied Prince Charles on a visit to the two hurricane ravaged countries over the weekend, set out a new £15 million (One British Pound=US$1.32 cents) package for Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda. Dominica will receive £12 million and Antigua and Barbuda three million pounds.

Maria 55
Hurricane damage in Dominica (File Photo)

The visiting British government official said this in addition to a further £15 million recently allocated to the affected Overseas Territories.

“We can be proud that in their time of crisis the United Kingdom stepped up to provide the vital immediate relief that was fundamental in getting these islands back on their feet,” said Mordaunt.

“The UK aid mission was huge, covering small islands stretching more than 1,000 miles apart, where buildings, airports and infrastructure had been razed to the ground. I want to pay tribute to the governments of the Overseas Territories, our humanitarian staff and to the military effort, which has been absolutely essential in delivering relief.

“Now as we move on from the immediate response phase, on to the long-term future of the islands, Britain will continue to stand by people whose lives were devastated. We are also talking to the international private sector who can support the reconstruction efforts to make sure the islands can build back, and better,” she added.

The support package, which brings the total UK contribution to £92 million, will include £10m to help Dominica to rebuild critical infrastructure damaged during the hurricanes. The United Kingdom’s contribution to Dominica also includes an additional two million pounds for early recovery, building on the five million pounds committed in September.

London said that for Antigua and Barbuda, it stands ready to assist with a three million pound  fund which will be deployed once the priorities for reconstruction on Barbuda are agreed with the local government.

For the Overseas Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos, the £15 million is delivering accelerated power reconnection and support to prisons, repairs to air and sea ports and support for policing. This is short-term funding to aid the territories’ early steps to recovery.

At the World Bank meetings last month the UK announced a private sector task force will mobilise business to play a prominent role in the reconstruction in the Overseas Territories.

The task force will identify and drive forward practical ways of increasing flows of private sector financial support to reconstruction in the region.

Mother’s drugs conviction quashed but son gets extra six years

November 20, 2017
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HAMILTON, Bermuda, Nov 20, CMC  — The Court of Appeal has quashed a mother’s conviction for money-laundering, but has increased her son’s sentence for running a drug-smuggling operation by six years.

court rulDenise Morris, 55, was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence earlier this year after a jury found her guilty of possessing more than US$15,000 in criminal proceeds that prosecutors said her 26-year-old son Damon had earned from drug dealing.

The mother appealed against her conviction and the Crown appealed against the 12-year sentence given to her son on the grounds it was too low.

The son was initially jailed for 12 years for orchestrating a major drug smuggling operation to import large quantities of heroin and cocaine into Bermuda.

The Court of Appeal has overturned the mother’s conviction and ruled there was no evidence to suggest that the money found in her bedroom closet was the proceeds of crime.

The panel also found that trial Judge Charles-Etta Simmons had erred by not dismissing the charge against the mother at the end of the prosecution’s case.

The appeal judges also ruled that Justice Simmons should have added an extra 50 per cent to the son’s prison term due to the seriousness of the drug offences and increased his sentence to 18 years.

Jurors heard at the original Supreme Court trial that in December 2015 an airline passenger was stopped as he arrived at L.F. Wade International Airport.

An X-ray revealed that he had swallowed several items that he later excreted and were found to be 86.38 grams of heroin with a street value of US$253,380.

Police later arrested Damon Morris on conspiracy to import controlled drugs after an investigation.

Opposition party files new motion in a bid to have ballot boxes inspected

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Nov 20, CMC – Attorneys for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) have filed an amended motion for inspection of the ballots and counterfoils used in at least one constituency in the 2015 election that was won by the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

In addition, the lawyers have filed a supplemental affidavit in support of the amended draft order being sought by Ben Exeter, the NDP’s candidate in Central Leeward, who has brought one of two petitions challenging the outcome of the vote.

ball“The key objective is to clarify further for the court the particulars based on which it should make the order for inspection of the used ballots and counterfoils in all 15 ballot boxes,” a source with knowledge of the case told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

The motion comes up for hearing on December 12 and 13.

Exeter’s case is essentially that all ballots were designed contrary to how the election rules prescribed.

The NDP’s legal team is arguing that as a result of this alleged flawed design, the presiding officer handled the ballots improperly, and invalidated them by omitting to endorse the official mark and/or by the official mark appearing on them in such a manner that over 90 per cent of the ballot could not be folded so that the initials of the presiding officer and the official mark can be seen without opening them, as required under the Rules.

The NDP’s legal team is also arguing that the returning officer, Winston Gaymes, counted all these “invalid ballots” at the final count — against Exeter and his representatives’ objections.

The attorneys said the Organization of American States (OAS) report on the election confirmed this and that Gaymes swears under oath he counted the ballots despite his knowledge that all the ballots cast at polling station CLF were invalid pursuant to the rules.

The lawyers for the NDP are asking the court to order Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb to deliver to the Registrar of the High Court the documents relating to the election held in Central Leeward on December 9, 2015.

They are also asking the court to grant an order that the Registrar of the High Court open the ballot boxes in the presence of Exeter and/or his representatives and that permission be granted for the Registrar and the petitioner and or his representatives to inspect all ballot papers contained in the ballot boxes with a view to determining the accuracy of a number of allegations.

Gonsalves led the ULP to an 8-7 victory in the December 2015 polls for a fourth consecutive term in office.

POLITICS-CCM concedes challenges with implementing integrity legislation

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis, Nov 20, CMC – The leader of the ruling Concerned Citizen’s Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley, says his party if re-elected to office will bring into effect the Integrity in Public Life Ordinance “a matter of urgent priority”.

The CCM had come under criticism from the main opposition Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) regarding the delay in bringing the integrity legislation into effect following its passage in the Nevis Island Assembly (NIA).

Brantleyy
Mark Brantley (File Photo)

“I can assure the public this is a matter that is very important to us and will be operationalized in the next term of the Concerned Citizens Movement as a matter of urgent priority,” Brantley told WINN FM radio station here.

Brantley, who is also the Deputy Premier of Nevis acknowledged that “some issues raised in some quarters as to the scope of the bill …was quite extensive…

“So we had to go back to the drawing board in relation to that and so that ended up leading to considerable delay. There was of course legislation passed in St Kitts at the federal level and there was a question of how those two would interact,” he told radio listeners.

Former attorney Patrice Nisbett had been critical of the NIA for not implementing the legislation which the CCM had brought to Nevis parliament shortly after its election to office. He said under the CCM there is rampant corruption in government, which is what Integrity in Public Life legislation is designed to safeguard against.

“They told you that there was no decency, there was no integrity, they told you that corruption was rife within the NRP led administration. They told you that they were going to return integrity and honesty and decency to government.

“In 2013 the Nevis Island Assembly passed an Integrity In Public Life ordinance and you know up to today that ordinance has not commenced. It is there gathering dust on the statute books of Nevis, it was not meant to gather dust, it was meant to ensure that there was accountability, transparency and integrity in public life in Nevis,” Nisbett said, adding “and I’m sure you have heard from various quarters the rampant and open nepotism that is occurring over on the island of Nevis.”had campaigned on a good governance and transparency platform in the last election, but political observers note that the Integrity in Public Life Act passed by the then Denzil Douglas-led government in September 2013 has not yet gone into effect.

Colourful dancehall deejay Ninjaman guilty of murder

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Nov 21, CMC – Desmond Ballentyne, the colourful dancehall deejay known as “Ninjaman” will re-appear in court on December 15 for sentencing after he and two other persons including his son, were found guilty of murder on Monday.

The seven-member jury deliberated for more than three hours in the Home Circuit Court before returning the guilty verdict against the singer, his son, Janiel, and Dennis Clayton. The three were accused of the murder of Ricardo Johnson, also known as “Trooper”, in March 2009.

NinjamanNinjaman was found guilty of murder and shooting with intent, while his co-accused were convicted of murder after the jury heard testimony from the main witness whom the prosecution named only as “Witness A”.

He was arrested in 2009 and remanded in custody for three years before being offered bail.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn told reporters that the murder had its foundation in a domestic dispute between two tenants that escalated on March 16, 2009 and continued the following day.

“One tenant contacted her granddaughter, who was the babymother of Clayton. The other tenant basically had ‘Witness A’ dealing with the matter. Out of that threats were issued and the following morning, on the 17th of March, 2009, Desmond Ballentyne, his son Janiel, and Dennis Clayton returned to the scene,” Llewellyn said, adding that just before the shots were fired, Ninjaman and his son were seen with guns.

The DPP said that on March 17, Johnson, who had gone to visit his friend, who was inside the yard talking when Clayton and other men, including Seymour Samuels, who was also accused but has since died.

An argument developed between Clayton, Johnson and the key witness; however, Clayton and his friends left the yard. But shortly after there was a stone-throwing incident between the parties after which Clayton threatened to kill the witness, according to the DPP.

She said Clayton, who was armed with a cutlass, was seen among a group of people who were talking and pointing in the witness’s direction.

Shortly after, Janiel Ballentyne was seen in a motor car that drove to Johnson’s gate and stopped. He alighted and confronted Johnson and ‘Witness A’ .

Subsequently, the men went to their respective homes on Lower Marl Road. Minutes later, Johnson went to the witness’s house.

Hours later the car returned with Ninjaman, his son, and Clayton who all threatened to kill the men.

The DPP said that in an attempt to get away both men went through a hole in a fence. The witness said he saw Johnson, armed with a cutlass, chopping and pushing the fence to prevent his attackers from entering through the hole.

“So in all the circumstances, the Crown used circumstantial evidence to infer that not only were they properly identified, not only were Jeniel and Desmond Ballentyne armed with guns, but that they were the persons who fired, causing the demise of Ricardo Johnson,” Llewellyn said.

US government ends TPS for Haitians

By Nelson A. King

WASHINGTON, Nov 21, CMC – The United States government Monday terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 60,000 undocumented Haitian nationals living in the United States.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said she made the decision to terminate the TPS designation for Haitians, with a delayed effective date of 18 months, “to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019.”

TPS haitiaDuke said the decision follows then-Secretary John Kelly’s announcement in May 2017 that Haiti had made “considerable progress, and that the country’s designation will likely not be extended past six months.

“The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute,” Duke said.

“Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process,” Duke said, adding that she determined that “those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist.

“Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated,” she said, stating that she met with Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue and Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor recently to discuss the issue.

Duke said that, in 2017 alone, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) conducted “extensive outreach to the Haitian communities throughout the country.”

She said these included but were not limited to community forums on TPS, panel discussions with Haitian community organizers, stakeholder teleconferences, regular meetings with TPS beneficiaries, news releases to the Haitian community, meetings with Haitian government officials, meetings at local churches and listening sessions.

Since the 2010 earthquake, Duke said the number of displaced people in Haiti had decreased by 97 per cent.

“Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens. Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.”

In May 2017, Kelly, now White House Chief-of-Staff, announced a limited extension for Haiti’s TPS designation, stating that he believed there were indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continued at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018.

At the time, Kelly said that his six-month extension should give Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.

“To allow for an orderly transition, the effective date of the termination of TPS for Haiti will be delayed 18 months,” Duke said, adding “this will provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible.

“It will also provide time for Haiti to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens,” she said, noting that, during this timeframe, USCIS will work with the State Department, other DHS components and the Government of Haiti “to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition.”

Duke said Haitians with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods.

The decision, while not a complete surprise, set off immediate dismay among Haitian communities in South Florida, New York and beyond.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to rebuild from the earthquake and relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home, the New York Times reported on Monday.

The decision to terminate TPS for 58,000 Haiti nationals living in the US comes 14 days after DHS announced it was terminating TPS for 2,500 Nicaraguans and delaying a decision for 57,000 Hondurans, which automatically gave them a six-month extension after their current status expires in January.

The announcement, while pleasing to immigration hardliners who argue that the provision was never meant to be permanent, deals a hard blow to long time Haitian and immigration advocates, the Miami Times reported.

It said that, for months they lobbied the Trump administration to extend the status for at least 18 months. It had been set to expire January 22.

“Haiti is not ready to absorb 58, 000,” said Marleine Bastien, a South Florida Haitian activist who has pushed for at least an 18-month extension of TPS. “It’s going to be a disaster for the 58,000 families in the US and a disaster for Haiti.

“Clearly, they are not making decisions based on facts on the ground, but rather politics. This is purely unacceptable,” she added.

Members of the United States Congress from South Florida also reacted with dismay with Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, describing the decision “unconscionable,” and urging the administration to reconsider its position.

Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, and Frederica Wilson, a Democrat, both vowed to look for legislative solutions.

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Claude Gerald

Marijuana Discussion Denied

Freedom of Expression sought and denied, but full-scale forum discussion follows

Claude Gerald

It was only a few months ago when a social commentator lost his case, and yet again, in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme and Appeal Courts when he challenged for being disallowed to exercise his freedom of speech in presenting on the medical uses of marijuana.

Claude Gerald was speaking on the Warren Cassell show when he assured he was in fact not addressing the illegality of the use of marijuana, but merely highlighting a study which spoke to the medical benefits of the plant.

Management of the radio station ZJB Radio Montserrat cut the program at the beginning, while on another occasion had refused him the privilege to speak on another health promotion topic, the benefits of coconut oil and aloe vera.

Gerald provides an account captioned: “Another Defeat for Social Activist Claude Gerald”

Claude Gerald lost his second outing in a civil court on Montserrat as his lawyer, Dr. David Dorsett did not convince the three-man Appeal Court Judges of their case.

Gerald, a proven campaigner for human rights and the right to hold and air an opinion, won a land mark case in the appeal court when he sued the Governor of Montserrat and others, for removing him from his position as Director of Agriculture and placing him on a desk at the Ministry of Finance in 2004. 

This time he sued the management of the local radio station, ZJB and the Attorney General’s Office, following his immediate removal as a guest commentator on a program hosted by Warren Cassell, a feature facilitator on radio.

Gerald an agricultural economist and natural health promoter, extolled the highly touted virtues and attributes of Canabbis Sativa, marijuana, claiming its benefits are superior for the health of a population fitting ‘hand in glove’ with human body needs.

He relied on the Montserrat Constitution, Sections 2 and 13, which afforded a right to freedom of expression. This principle is recognized by courts in the Commonwealth and the Privy Council. It is especially so when it comes to conveying ideas that are contrary to the established order, including the established legal order.

Mr. Gerald argued that his right to freedom of expression was infringed by the ‘in mid-air’ removal from the mid-morning live broadcast, less than 2 minutes into being heard.

ZJB management through the Attorney General’s Office argued that ‘the discussion on marijuana, 29th January 2014, was stopped because it would have appeared that Radio Montserrat, a Government owned radio station was supporting or promoting the use of marijuana, a substance which is illegal on Montserrat.’ Its actions were defended on the grounds of public order.

The following week the Activist was again interrupted when he began to speak on the benefits of coconut oil and aloe aloe vera, food items that alternate health promoters revere. This time it was argued that no permission was rendered for Mr. Gerald’s return to the air waves.

The appeal judges on Tuesday, recessed for two hours and gave an oral judgement to seal a much anticipated outcome.

There is a kind of irony in this case as the day the appeal was heard in Montserrat TMR’s Facebook page carried a news item two days before about a consultation on Marijuana use which would have been taking place the same day. We commented. “On the same day there may be heard in the Appeal Court a move by the Attorney General’s office to throw out an appeal in the matter where the discussion on medical benefits of marijuana, or maybe more appropriately a presentation on ZJB was halted by the management. This was challenged in the Court and the judge ruled in favour of the Radio Station and that was appealed. The discussion needs to take place.”

One week later there was information announcing a town hall consultation surrounding the use of marijuana in Montserrat.

Gerald did not mention his surprise at the Appeal Court’s decision to dismiss his appeal upholding Judge Redhead’s decision that the Radio station’s management had every right to stop any discussion on the illegality of the use of marijuana.

Gerald has not confirmed that he will take this matter further, as he is known not to back down on his conviction and of course waits for the advice of his counsel.

He had challenged on his constitutional rights being denied as per: Section 13(1) of the Montserrat Constitution. “13. (1) Except with his or her consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of expression, and for the purposes of this section the said freedom includes freedom to hold opinions and freedom to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his or her correspondence and other means of communication.”

The court ruled in favour of the management in appears on “ensuring the proper performance of their functions,” on the following: “(2) Nothing in any law or done under its authority shall be held to contravene this section to the extent that it is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society—

  • in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health;

It is of serious note that following the discussions that took place as mentioned above, the ‘decriminalisation of marijuana use was discussed or received mention and explanation in the Legislative Assembly, yesterday. (see story “Montserrat promotes the marijuana discussion”}

ZJB Radio who had pulled the matter of its medical use on the station, in carrying the Legass discussion and excerpts from the CARICOM led discussion also carried an economist view point on the decriminalisation.

Indeed, the East Caribbean Court Supreme Court may well get a lesson on what was reasonably justifiable in all the circumstances today surrounding. Surely it ought not be possible to prevent anyone the freedom to express his or her disagreement with anything that is deemed illegal in a friendly and orderly manner. Was that even the issue in this case? The matter of creating disorder, that is!

TMR asks the question now, will Gerald be refunded his expenses in taking issue forward to protect the right taken away earlier. Perhaps it will take the Opposition to lead on this.

 

Posted in Court, Featured, Legal, Local, News0 Comments

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Police officers charged with murdering businessman

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Two police officers are due to re-appear in court on December 5, after they were charged with the murder of a businessman who was shot last month.

court rulPolice corporal Derwin Eastman and Jemison Williams appeared in the magistrate’s court charged with the murder of businessman, Godfrey Scipio, who was shot on October 12, as he left a hotel in the company of a lady friend.

Police had earlier charged a former convict with the murder. The man is alleged to have fingered the two police officers in the killing.

The attorneys for the police officers asked the court to ensure the safety of their clients since as detectives they would have been involved in investigating cases in which the suspects are now behind bars or on remand.

Eastman, had once been named and honoured as the Best Cop in the Guyana Police Force

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Court

Grenadian national jailed on drug charges

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Nov 17, CMC – A 31-year-old Grenadian national was jailed for more than five years after he was found guilty of trafficking, attempting to export and being in possession of more than 370 pounds of marijuana.

CourtRonald Thomas, appeared in the Serious Offences Court where he was jailed for 16 months for possession of 373 pounds of marijuana with intent to supply to another on November 13, this year.  He was also sentenced to 20 months for attempting to export the marijuana and 28 months for trafficking the illegal drugs.

Thomas and Reynold Humphrey, a St. Vincent and the Grenadines national, were arrested on Monday after the Coast Guard intercepted their go-fast boat in the waters, north east of here.

The court heard that both men were arrested after they were seen throwing nine nylon sacks and two plastic

bales of marijuana

bags from the speedboat. The bags were retrieved and the marijuana found.

When they appeared before the Kingstown Magistrate Court on Tuesday, Thomas pleaded guilty to all charges while Humphrey pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution asked that the matter be adjourned and transferred to the Serious Offences Court for Thomas to be sentenced. Humphrey was granted EC$20,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) bail. He will return to court on January 29, next year.

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COURT

Brandt loses appeal and must move on to the High court, unless…

Attorney-at-Law David S. Brandt, a former chief minister of Montserrat was arrested and charged on Monday, September 21, 2015, on sexually related charges allegedly involving minors dating back to 2010. On the matter being sent from the magistrate’s court to the high court for sufficiency hearing, Brandt appealed and lost.

The man known as ‘the man of the people’ and still popularly referred to politically as, ‘The Heavy Roller’ is second to former Premier Reuben T Meade who served for 25 years non stop from 1991 – 2014, and he for 23 years as the longest serving legislators alive. He was elected in 1983 until he opted not to contest the elections 2001 under a new system in 2001; then again from 2006 to 2009 when Chief Minister Dr. Lowell Lewis asked for elections to give the government a new start.

In January this year, the practising prominent lawyer David S. Brandt, faced charges in the Magistrate’s court under the Penal Code of Montserrat with the offences  of  sexual  intercourse  with  a  girl  under  the  age  of  16  years  contrary  to  section 122(1);  conspiracy with  persons  unknown to  have  unlawful  sexual  intercourse  with  a  girl under  the  age  of  16  years,  sexual  exploitation  of  persons  under  the  age  of  18  years contrary to  section  141(1)(a) and  conduct  for the  purposes  of  sexual  exploitation of  a  girl under the age of 18 years contrary to section 141(1)(d).

At that hearing Brandt applied to have the charges dismissed arguing that the charges were defective and bad both in law and in substance and form. The chief magistrate denied the application on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction to dismiss the charges, and he appealed.

In his appeal Brandt argued that the chief magistrate erred in finding that he did not have the power to determine the validity of the charges at an initial hearing, and that his constitutional right to a fair hearing had also been infringed.

On November 6, 2017 the Appeal Court comprising the The Hon. Mde. Gertel Thom Justice of Appeal, the Hons. Mr. Paul Webster and Mr. John Carrington, QC. both Justice of Appeal [Ag.] provided a judgment which dismissed the appeal, affirmed the decision of the chief magistrate and remitted the case to the High Court.

The appeal was heard on July 13 with Dr. David Dorsett and Mr. Karl Markham for the Appellant and Miss0 Anesta Weeks, QC and Miss Dee Connolly for the Respondent.

In dismissing the appeal, the judges held that:

1.The magistrate does not have the power to dismiss charges against a defendant at an initial hearing. Neither section 22 of the Magistrate’s Act nor section 67(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code affords a magistrate such power. In relation to initial hearings, the magistrate’s powers are limited to the matters listed in section 67(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Section 22 of the Magistrate’s Act, Cap. 2.02, Revised Laws of Montserrat 2013 applied; Section 67 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Cap. 4.01, Revised Laws of Montserrat 2013 applied.

  1. The Magistrate’s Court does not have jurisdiction to grant constitutional relief under section 7 of the Constitution of Montserrat. Any redress for alleged breaches of the Constitution must be sought in the High Court.
  2. The Court of Appeal does not have original jurisdiction to hear applications for breaches of the Constitution. The Court can only address breaches of the Constitution on appeal from the High Court.

According to the decision the judges said that “just  before  the  hearing  of  the  appeal  the  respondent  withdrew  the  charges  of unlawful  sexual  intercourse  and  conspiracy  ((a)  and (b)  in  paragraph  1  above) leaving the five charges of sexual exploitation , four of them contrary to sub- section (a)  of section 141(1)  of the Penal  Code and  one  contrary  to  sub-section  (d)  of section  141(1).”

Since the judgment Mr. Brandt has declined to pronounce much, but believes without elaborating, that the appeal court was wrong in some aspects. Mr. Brandt will have the opportunity to address some of the issues at the start of his sufficiency hearing, if he opts not to go further and appeal to the Privy Council. He could then be laying the foundation for an eventual plea to the court of appeal, again.

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Bungled arrests, Drug Charges, draw fines!

Bungled arrests, Drug Charges, draw fines!

Guilty pleaders free on fines, but held in detention, indefinitely

By Bennette Roach

The Director of Public Prosecution hints at appeal of sentence on charges which were compromised from Conspiracy to Engage in Drug Trafficking; Conspiracy to import a controlled Drug; Drug Trafficking; Possession of Cannabis Sativa with intent to supply; and, Possession of Cannabis Sativa; to a charge against Section 6 (3) (a) in contravention of Section 16 (ii) of the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act Cap 4.07.

The eventual charge to which the five defendants all pleaded guilty, was the offence of possession of a controlled drug to wit portions of the plant Cannabis Sativa for the purpose of drug trafficking. Novian Travis Mullings, however also pleaded guilty on another charge of possession of a controlled drug to wit 0.833 grams of the plant Cannabis Sativa, contrary to Section 7 (2) of the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act Cap 4.07 of the Revised Laws of Montserrat 2013.

The hearing dates according to court records were: 25 October 2017, 01 November 2017, 9 November 2017 and 10 November 2017, the last being the date when these men received sentences on what generally would have heavy fines and jail sentences, but for the explanation given by the Magistrate.

In his judgement on sentencing the Magistrate recorded: “I am satisfied on the facts provided by the Director of Public Prosecution that the question of sentencing can be disposed of before this Court and there was no need to exercise my power under section 26 of the Drug Prevention of Misuse Act Cap 4. 07. Their character and antecedents does not require a great(er) punishment that my jurisdiction in sentencing allows. The quantity and the street value in my opinion as regards sentencing can be disposed of in this Court.”

As police reports stated, the Magistrate found that two of the accused “Christopher and Richard Russel were found with Cannabis Sativa. They had ingested the packets and passed them out by vomiting and excretion.

Nothing was found on Shanardo Morrison or Allisteir Mighty but they all confessed to be a part of the scheme to get the drugs into Montserrat.” But the Jamaican resident Novian Travis Mullings on the other hand was guilty, in addition, with possession of 0.833 grams of Cannabis Sativa.

Sentencing

Novian Travis Mullings who had a prior conviction for possession of Cannabis Sativa was fined a sum of EC$3,500.00 for possession of Cannabis Sativa for the purpose of drug trafficking, in default one year imprisonment, time allowed one month. On the charge of possession of Cannabis Sativa Mullings was fined a sum of EC$750.00, in default nine months imprisonment, time allowed one month.

Allisteir Mighty was fined a sum of $3, 500. 00, in default nine months imprisonment, time allowed one month.

Shanardo Morrison was fined a sum $2,000.00 in default nine months imprisonment, time allowed one month.

Christopher Russell was fined a sum $3,500.00 in default nine months imprisonment, time allowed one month.

Richard Russell was fined a sum of $3,500.00 in default nine months imprisonment, time allowed one month.

Following the sentencing of the five young men, Mullings was the only one who went free. As many mulled how this matter had turned out the way it did with what they considered a let off, the attorneys said their clients were faced with additional problems as the others were held in detention at police headquarters up today. 

The Attorneys Warren Cassell and Lovetta Silcott said the detention was unlawful as were the processing of initial arrests and can cause an embarrassment to the OECS state, as may be deduced from the result of the hearings and fines.

Also the court in passing sentences heard hints of concern from the prosecution who hinted appealing. But the court had also heard from the attorneys that any jail term would have been challenged as unconstitutional.

The problem the police and immigration faced is that only one of the four was considered ‘landed’ in Montserrat as they were never processed to have been landed in Montserrat. Attorneys say that the men were not imprisoned and are therefore not subject to deportation. Meanwhile deportation might mean fines can go unpaid.

However, two men have paid their fines and have expressed a desire to leave Montserrat, but they are still held in detention where they complained up to Friday receiving only one meal per day.

On Friday by the end of day Attorney have filed writs of Habeas Corpus with the hope of obtaining the freedom the men having received sentences for their crimes.

So it is believed that the bungling continues, and the court having to convene soon to hear arguments on the writ, the matter may not yet be reaching closure, even after sentencing and payment of fines. There are hints that the authorities may even be considering approaching the Governor for ‘pardons’.

Posted in Court, Featured, Local, News, Police, Regional1 Comment

drug_bust

Bungling Drug Charges and arrests

Drug arrests – smuggling drugs into Montserrat

by Bennette Roach

Davy Hill – Nov 3, 2017

Police turned up at the John Osborne Airport on Saturday morning October 21, 2017, to continue what they later, but at first denied they had informed anyone of their actions as they investigated three young men and then another, all reportedly Jamaican nationals on drug related charges. By the end of this week the police may have bungled badly the case against these accused men, or some of them, as they reportedly coerced them, obtaining guilty pleas from them, while constantly, according to attorneys denying them their Constitutional rights to being able to consult with them in a timely manner.

TMR first learned on Saturday morning what the Royal Montserrat Police later reported, they apprehended four Jamaican nationals (one resident in Montserrat) who allegedly smuggled illegal drugs into Montserrat on Friday evening shortly after arriving at the John A Osborne airport.

The police were reported to say, “the Jamaican nationals were interviewed by members of the integrated border security unit when they began acting in a suspicious manner. As a result the men were taken to the police headquarters in Brades, where one of them started vomiting what appeared to be an illegal substance. The police then noticed that the substance was marijuana sealed in a saran wrap…”

The report continued that one or more of them “were taken to the Glendon hospital where they further threw up additional packages of the illegal substance…”

The report confirmed our earlier information of the apprehension and arrest of another resident Jamaican national who reportedly colluded with the men to ‘smuggle’ the drugs into the island.

As to the bungling of the matter by the police creates the potential, to lose before the courts, as attorneys who tried to meet with the detained and arrested, were repeatedly prevented from seeing or speaking to their clients.

Some of the men have already been to the courts and have pleaded guilty without the benefit of an audience with the Attorneys, who point out that they were denied their Constitutional rights. They cite Section 6 which in part states: “Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right, at any stage and at his or her own expense, to retain and instruct without delay a legal representative of his or her own choice, and to hold private communication with him or her…”

Their clients complain that they were denied access to contact their relatives, which the attorneys note violates the same section of the Constitution: “…Every person who is arrested shall be informed, in a language that he or she understands and as soon as possible after he or she is brought to a police station or other place of custody, of his or her rights under subsection (3); and that person shall also have the right, and shall be informed and that person shall also have the right, and shall be informed at the same time that he or she has the right, to remain silent and to have one person informed by the quickest practicable means of his or her arrest and whereabouts.

The accused were charged generally with the following: Conspiracy to Engage in Drug Trafficking. Conspiracy to import a controlled Drug; Drug Trafficking; Possession of Cannabis Sativa with intent to supply; Possession of Cannabis Sativa Contrary to varying clauses of Section 7 of the Drugs (Prevention  of  Misuse)  Act Cap 4.07 of the Revised  Laws of Montserrat 2013, and Common Law.

In one instance the resident accused was charged with Assisting in the commission of an offence  outside  of  Montserrat:  between the 1st day of October 2017 and the 20th day of October 2017 in a place outside of Montserrat namely , Antigua, assisted Shanardo Morrison,  Richard Russell and Christopher Russell , in the commission of an offence namely, drug trafficking.  Contrary to Section 21 of the Drug (Prevention  of  Misuse) Act Cap 04.07.

Towards the end of the week one of the attorneys reported and alleged that some or all of the accused had been encouraged or coerced in appearing at court after being charged without the opportunity to speak meaningfully with the attorneys in any way, where they pleaded guilty and were remanded to await sentencing.

The attorneys report that they will move to have those pleas reversed and will move that their constitutional rights had been violated.

The foregoing was TMR’s report up to October 30, but on the following day there was a surprising development.

 Press excluded from hearing Court proceedings

On November 1 the charged most of whom had already entered guilty pleas appeared in Court, this time with one of the Attorneys. When the matter was called with the temporary acting Magistrate Colin Meade (substantive ECSC High Court Registrar in Montserrat) on the bench, he was petitioned by the DPP Sullivan, to exclude the press from the proceedings and for reporting on them. The general ground for the request was for reasons of ‘National Security’ as the investigations were still ongoing. The Ag Magistrate with opposition arguments from Attorney Warren Cassell ruled accordingly in favour of the request from the DPP. The only press personnel present, Bennette Roach of The Montserrat Reporter was asked to leave the Magistrate’s Court.

Official court sources later informed that the matters were adjourned to a later date, while the accused were returned to jail, with bail refused the resident accused, on grounds that he would not be able to contaminate witnesses or assist other persons who may be charged with the ongoing investigations.

A request for permission to obtain photographs of the accuseds was denied but it was later discovered the request never reached the Magistrate.

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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