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Be careful how you complain the justice system!

Be careful how you complain the justice system!

It can never enough, certainly not currently, to have the conversation relating to sexual, child and women abuse. But because of how Miss Shirley Osborne an organiser of women’s affairs, who also functions as a dominant person as Speaker of the Montserrat Legislature has recently and prior address issues surrounding issues as above, we think it important to touch on her posture on the issues.

December 23, 2017

Miss Osborne has come out and is critical of the ‘justice system’, unfortunately using recent matters that appeared before the High Court during the last criminal assizes. Her take on the matter: “…the terrifying thing for me is that the court, the judicial system which is what you look to when all else fails, or we should look to when all else fails, by some accounts and in some people’s informed opinion has failed this time… We’re going to talk about this last high court session,” speaking in the end as to planned meetings and perhaps consultations going forward.

She stressed the point further. “There’s too many questions too much disappointment too much anger too much failure there.”

In fairness to her she had preceded those words with an admission, which we believe is exactly what needs to be fixed, these issues having gone through many interventions. “Clearly, we’re not doing nearly enough to protect women not just adult women but young women and our more vulnerable women also and our more vulnerable girls,” she said.

Since 2010 and earlier these matters surrounding women, girls and children; sexual abuses, were brought out into the public. HMG joining almost the rest of the world poured monies into the region to address the issues. Montserrat has not been left out, and it is one of the areas, under the heading of ‘Child Safeguarding’

She refers to a domestic violence bill before the house which like several other matters surrounding the issues is one of the mistakes being made on the issues.

How familiar is the public with what that domestic violence bill seeks to do for the ‘people’ of Montserrat? The same question can be asked about various pieces of legislation surrounding ‘Child Safeguarding’. Going to the people who will be affected by the outcomes of the legislation to tell them what it is, cannot be called consultation.

That issue, by the way, is a serious issue in Montserrat. Take the discourse at and coming out of the recent ‘consultation’ on the Economic Growth Plan.

The issues that Miss Osborne took up with the court and the ‘justice system’ were clearly not studied. When they do, it is hoped that a double back will be taken if and when they discover that the approach at attempting to show that somehow the system is rigged against the interests of women, is simply because the facts are not truly or even honestly being considered, preventing the kind of preparations needed to create a solid foundation.

Sometimes and often the personal agendas all round are not sincere, taking the matter at hand with the proper focus obviously skewed.

There are issues promoting one thing and then backing away or looking at the issue only because of who is involved and not really the situation at hand, which is supposed to be for the benefit of good. That is a serious issue facing this country, one that must be corrected if good is going to fall over this land. It is the goal that is important, always.

“You can’t remedy what’s already been done, but we could look really intentionally purposely look for ways to ensure as far as that’s possible that we don’t have this occurring again,” Hon. Shirley said.

That she will find has been overlooked time and time again and will continue if serious examination is made into the motives of those seeking to promote what we believe is not ‘women domination’ but rather correcting and if necessary punishing, what has been for far too long a kind of scourge; that fact being an issue in itself. Full support is forthcoming but that can only bring success if ‘proper’ discussions and consultations take place.

With that a blessed Christmas is our wish to everyone, whichever side of love you may be. And if we do not see you again before the new year, may 2018 bring nothing less than joy and more blessings.

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Harold Brady

Disbarred attorney arrested on fraud charge

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC -The police on Wednesday arrested disbarred attorney Harold Brady on a fraud charge.

The police report that Brady was charged with fraudulent conversion that reportedly involved just over J$4-million  (One Jamaica dollar =US$0.008 cents)related to the sale of a real estate property.

Harold Brady
Harold Brady

According to police reports, the attorney turned himself over to the Fraud Squad on Wednesday afternoon after being questioned by investigators.

He is also scheduled to face further questioning on Thursday regarding another alleged case of fraud.

This surrounds the sale of property owned by Factories Corporation (FCJ) of Jamaica for approximately  $150 million.

The FCJ had complained to the General Legal Council (GLC) that it is still owed approximately  J$110 million from the transaction.

Earlier this year,Brady, who is also a senior member of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), was struck from the list of licensed legal practitioners in Jamaica .

He was disbarred after being found guilty of professional misconduct in relation to allegations that he misappropriated funds belonging to the FCJ.

Brady has denied the allegations.

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Court

Guyanese teen used last breath to tell cops who shot her

NEW YORK, CMC – Police here have testified that a Guyanese-born teenager in Brooklyn used her last few breaths to tell cops the name of the man who shot her after she spurned his advances, as she struggled through an agonizing 20-minute wait for an ambulance.

Sixteen-year-old Shemel Mercurius was fatally shot inside a Brooklyn apartment last year by a 25-year-old man who wanted to date her.

CourtEarlier this week, at the trial of Taariq Stephens — who is charged with murdering Shemel — the Brooklyn Supreme Court heard from the hero patrol cop who tried to keep her alive.

The police reported that Shemel, a junior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, was babysitting her 3-year-old cousin on May 31, 2016, when Stephens allegedly showed up at the Brooklyn Ave. apartment and shot her three times with a submachine gun.

Responding New York Police Department (NYPD) officers kicked down the apartment door to find a horrifying scene.

“There was a 3-year-old male child covered in blood crying next to the victim,” said Sgt. Ryan Habermehl, who testified that he immediately called the Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

“It took about 20 minutes for EMS to arrive,” Habermehl testified.

Officer Kyle Thomas Daly found Shemel, bleeding heavily, seated on a toy car and leaning against the wall, said the New York Daily News .

“I put on gloves, took her off the car and laid her down and began rendering aid,” said Daly, who has since left the NYPD to join the Suffolk County police department in Shirley, Long Island, a New York City suburb. “She regained consciousness, gave me her name and date of birth.  “It took a very long time for the ambulance to come, about 20 minutes.”

While Shemel was in and out of consciousness, the dying teen told another detective that Stephens wanted to be “boyfriend and girlfriend,” but she wasn’t interested, Daly said.

Shemel and Stephens reportedly met at a daycare center a week before the murder and exchanged phone numbers.

An ambulance arrived at 6:55 p.m. and Mercurius died at Kings County Hospital at 7:57 p.m., according to testimony.

Shemel, who lived with her aunt after moving to the US four years ago from Guyana, had buzzed a friend into the East Flatbush building where she was babysitting moments before she was shot.

It said Lona Junien took the stand to describe what she saw happening between Stephens and Shemel when she showed up to visit her friend.

“The person pushed her. The person said ‘Don’t ever lie to me.’ She was screaming, he took out the gun and shot her,” said Junien, 18.

Junien admitted on cross-examination that a detective told her Stephens was the shooter before she identified him.

If convicted, Stephens faces 25 years to life in prison for second-degree murder and weapons charges.

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curfew

Dominica lifts curfew on capital

ROSEAU, Dominica, Dec 9, CMC- Dominica has lifted a curfew in the capital that had been imposed since Hurricane Maria tore through the Caribbean island on September 18 killing at least 28 people and leaving damage estimated at millions of dollars.

A brief statement from the Ministry of National Security noted that the curfew had been lifted with immediate effect and followed on the advice of the Police Commissioner.

curfew“The City of Roseau is returning to a state of normalcy with electricity being restored in a number of area and therefore, there is a need to create an environment that encourages economic activity bearing in mind that we are in the Christmas season,” the release stated.

In October, Dominica announced a lifting of the mandatory curfew in some areas, but kept the measure in place in the capital.

It said then that the decision to lift the 6.00 am to 6.00 pm (local time) curfew in some areas was taken after a national security assessment was conducted by the Chief of Police.

“The main reasons for lifting the curfew in the town of Portsmouth and other communities across Dominica are to allow for economic activities to be undertaken, such as fishing, farming and retailing of goods and also to facilitate those students who will be returning to school,” the statement noted.

In the aftermath of the Category 5 storm hitting the island, the authorities imposed a 4.00 pm to 8.00 am curfew in a bid to deal with the looting of several businesses, but relaxed the measure several days ago.

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Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

Government critical of Opposition over defeat of Anti-Gang legislation

PM Rowley: “And we’re seeing an exponential rise in gang activity,”

 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 7, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Thursday blasted Opposition legislators after they failed to provide the necessary support for the Anti-Gang Legislation that the authorities said was needed to deal with the rising gang activities in the country.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley told a news conference that all objections to the bill had been addressed and amended before it was put to the vote and accused the Opposition of supporting criminality by objecting to the legislation that had required a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

At the end of it all…there was not a single impediment standing in their way…every single thing they raised including the (comments by the) Chief Whip (David Lee) (were addressed).

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

“On December 7, 2017, in the wee hours of the morning, (Opposition) refused to use their vote to defend the lives of the people,” a visibly upset Rowley told reporters.”

“The business of Trinidad and Tobago was gutted and undermined. We have a scourge of gang activity in many if not most of our communities, there are thousands of families where the quality of life is being severely impacted by illegal activity.

“For some inexplicable reason, our colleagues in the Parliament found it difficult or impossible to convert the scourge of gang activity into an illegal activity,” he added.

The Anti-Gang Bill 2017 seeks to make provision for the maintenance of public safety and order through discouraging membership of criminal gangs and the suppression of criminal gang activity and for other related matters.

It seeks to make it an offence to be a member of a gang, to be in possession of a bullet-proof vest, to participate in, or contribute to, the activities of a gang, to support or invite support for a gang, or to harbour or conceal gang members or recruit persons to a gang.

The legislation also contains a ‘retaliatory clause’ which protects persons who have left gangs from retaliatory actions by gang members.

Opposition legislators voted against the bill that had first been introduced here during the term in office of the People’s Partnership government headed by Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Former Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar abstained when the vote was taken during the early hours of Thursday morning and has promised to outline his position at a news conference  on the weekend.

Rowley told reporters that he had spoken to the Lee seeking to determine the objections of the Opposition saying that the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) was seeking to benefit from the crime situation in order to attain power.

“Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her UNC gang and cabal voted to maintain that status quo….so that crime and criminality can remain a chronic state of affairs, so that those politicians can point to the crime and call Trinidad and Tobago a failed state and hope that you will be disgusted with those in office and put them in office

“That is the most cynical, wicked and pernicious act,” Rowley said, adding that citizens should hold their representatives to account.

“You put them in office and you have to get them to work for you, because right now they are working for themselves. I could not believe…I served with people who would do something like that.”

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who had earlier told legislators during the debate that between 2014 and this year, gangs in Trinidad and Tobago had increased 129 per cent and gang members have increased 60 per cent,

“And we’re seeing an exponential rise in gang activity,” he said, noting that in 2014 the acting Police Commissioner had said there were 92 gangs with 1,500 members.

“In 2016 it grew to 172 gangs and 2,358 members – today it’s 211 gangs and 2,458 members,” he said, adding that gang-related murders totalled 998 between 2010 and this year and the number of gang-related guns seized stands at 4,674.

According to Al-Rawi an estimated 1,195 firearms were seized since 2016 alone, reiterating that the number of gangs and their members in the nine police divisions ranging from 49 (Western) to nine (Eastern). There are also 221 members in the Witness Protection Programme, he noted.

Al- Rawi said that when the bill was first introduced here by the previous government, 463 were arrested under the law during the 2011 state of emergency (SoE).

Speaking at the news conference Al-Rawi said he was ‘shell-shocked’ by the Opposition’s behaviour, saying “we went over it bit by bit…when we came to take the final vote… all 21 PNM (People’s National Movement) members present voted yes. When we came to the vote from the Opposition it started with no…a big fat no.

“Suffice it to say it was shell-shocking to see what happened yesterday after 14 hours of work,” he said, telling reporters that he had observed that some Opposition legislators were in disagreement with the decision adopted by the Opposition Leader.

“I saw the look on the faces of those opposite me last night. I saw shock. I saw fear, I saw disgust. I saw a member of the UNC bench have some very heated words with his leader and storm out of the Parliament,” Al-Rawi added.

Prime Minister Rowley said his government would continue to seek to criminalise gang activity and will seek to use other laws in the interim in order to crack down on gang activity.

“I realised that Opposition was hell-bent on not making gang activity in Trinidad and Tobago an illegal act….we have one hell of a problem because Opposition has decided to come down in support of criminality in Trinidad and Tobago.”

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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.

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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.

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Court, Crime, Entertainment, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Police, Politics, Regional0 Comments

EGYPT-UNREST-SINAI

At least 235 killed in Egypt mosque attack

CBS News

EL-ARISH, Egypt — Militants attacked a crowded mosque during Friday prayers in the Sinai Peninsula, setting off explosives, spraying worshippers with gunfire and killing at least 235 people in the deadliest ever attack by Islamic extremists in Egypt.

The attack targeted a mosque frequented by Sufis, members of Islam’s mystical movement, in the north Sinai town of Bir al-Abd. Islamic militants, including the local ISIS affiliate, consider Sufis heretics because of their less literal interpretations of the faith.

The ISIS affiliate has been waging a stepped-up campaign of violence in northern Sinai for years and has claimed deadly bombings on churches in the capital, Cairo, and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. It also is believed to have been behind the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 226.

But this was the first major militant attack on a Muslim mosque and the startling bloodshed eclipsed any past attacks of its kind, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s.

EGYPT-UNREST-SINAI

Egyptians walk past bodies following a gun and bombing attack at the Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, on November 24, 2017. A bomb explosion ripped through the mosque before gunmen opened fire on the worshippers gathered for weekly Friday prayers, officials said. 

Stringer / AFP/Getty Images

The militants opened fire from four off-road vehicles on worshippers inside the mosque during the sermon, blocking off escape routes from the area by blowing up cars and leaving the burning wrecks blocking the roads, three police officers on the scene said.

Victims including some 130 wounded were rushed to local hospitals, they added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.

No one claimed responsibility immediately following the attack, but ISIS has targeted Sufis several times in the area in the past, notably beheading a leading Sufi religious figure, the blind sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, last year and posting photos of the killing online.

President Donald Trump condemned the “cowardly” attack on Twitter, and took the opportunity to tout the need for a border wall and travel ban, even though his most recent ban doesn’t affect Egypt. He also said he would be speaking with Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, later Friday.

Images circulating on social media showed dozens of bloodied bodies wrapped up in sheets laid across the mosque floor, while others revealed dozens of relatives queuing up outside the hospital as ambulances raced back and forth.

Resident Ashraf el-Hefny said many of the victims were workers at a nearby salt firm who had come for Friday services at the mosque, which had contained some 300 worshipers.

“Local people brought the wounded to hospital on their own cars and trucks,” he said by telephone.

Egypt’s state news agency reported the casualty toll, citing “official sources,” revising it upward several times following the officials’ initial reports.

MENA reported that Egypt’s presidency declared a three-day mourning period, as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi convened a high-level meeting of security officials.

Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has condemned the extremist attack on a mosque in the troubled Sinai Peninsula, calling it “criminal” and “cowardly” and expressing condolences to the victims and their families.

In a statement after the meeting, el-Sissi said the attack “will not go unpunished” and that Egypt will persevere with its war on terrorism. The suffering of the victims was not in vain, he added, and will only “add to our insistence” to combat extremists. Addressing the nation later on television, he repeated his view that Egypt was fighting a battle for the rest of the world.

Cairo’s international airport boosted security following the attack, with more troopers and forces seen patrolling passenger halls, conducting searches and manning checkpoints at airport approaches.

 

State condolences poured in for Egypt, including messages from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., Russia, France and Britain condemning the violence.

Security forces have been battling militants in northern Sinai for years, but attacks to date have focused on military and police assets, although assassinations of individuals ISIS considers government spies or religious heretics are not uncommon.

Hundreds of soldiers and militants have been killed in the conflict, although exact numbers are unclear as journalists and independent investigators are banned from the area.

In September, ISIS militants ambushed a police convoy in Sinai, killing 18 police and wounding seven others in one of the deadliest attacks this year in the restive region bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip. 

The ongoing violence in Sinai shows the resilience of the militants there in the face of a years-long campaign to eradicate them by the military and police, which between them command far superior firepower, air support, heavy armor and larger numbers.

Egypt is also facing a growing number of attacks by militants in its Western Desert, including an attack last month that killed 16 police, according to an official tally issued by the Interior Ministry. Security officials have told journalists that dozens more, including high-ranking counterterrorism officers, perished in the Oct. 20 attack some 135 84 miles southwest of the capital, Cairo.

Posted in Crime, Featured, International, Local, Politics, Regional, Travel0 Comments

house

Body of woman found in burnt house

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Nov 24, CMC – The body of an unidentified woman was discovered Friday in a burnt out house that two days earlier had been raided by police and a quantity of guns and ammunition found.

housePolice in south Trinidad say they believe that the woman was shot and killed and the house set on fire as residents had earlier reported hearing gunshot in the early hours of Friday in the house at San Fernando.

Crime scene investigators and Fire Prevention Unit officers have visited the house that on Wednesday had been searched by the officers of the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit.’

Police said they had seized over 500 rounds of nine millimetre, 5.56, and .380 calibre, and 12 guage cartridges as well as a firearm silencer, six firearms, several magazines and 12.5 kilogrammes of marijuana.

No one had been arrested following the police exercise.

Posted in Crime, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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