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Benji

Government to revisit controversial police legislation

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

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

Benji
Attorney General by Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Orlando Smith

Premier calls for overseas help in crime fight

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands , Mar. 19, CMC – Premier Dr Orlando Smith has vowed to leave no stone unturned as security officials in this British Overseas territory deal with an upsurge in crime.

In a recent press release, Smith said that if necessary, overseas help sought be sought and highly trained cops should be pulled from retirement.

Dr. Orlando Smith
Dr. Orlando Smith

“No stone should be left unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice of all crimes, and particularly the heinous crimes that have been committed in this territory. If this calls for bringing in assistance from abroad, let’s do so immediately.”

The Premier’s resolve follows a directive issued by Governor John Duncan late Friday in which he used his constitutional power to force the Government to add US$800,000 to the police budget for this financial year.

The government, in its budget had allocated US$161 million to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.

Duncan, told journalists that he was reluctant to resort to his constitutional power, but said the police force is currently under funded at a time when crime is a big concern.

Governor John Duncan
Governor John Duncan

The Governor’s announcement has been endorsed by the Premier.

“Yes, we must provide the police with financial resources. In addition, the Commissioner (of Police) and the Force must continue to be innovative and creative in carrying out their duties….” He said.

However, a member of the main opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP),Julian Fraser – said the order issued by Duncan has set the territory back in its constitutional advancement.

“I didn’t think the day would come when I would see a governor exercise a monarchical take-over of our Treasury. This is what I call a soft takeover of the democratically elected Smith government. The governor was wrong and he has to be stopped,” Fraser said in a post on his Facebook page.

According to Fraser, who the governor recently removed as opposition leader – the Governor should stay out of “our local politics”

“He has the Protocols for Effective Financial Management to hold the government accountable with. That is an administrative arrangement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Government of the Virgin Islands to keep the government frugal in its financial affairs,” Fraser noted.

Since the start of the year three persons have been murdered across the territory – with two being murdered in less tan 24 hours.

According to police statistics, last year, four people were murdered and 18 gun robberies were reported.

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Rowley KK

Trinidad PM supports death penalty

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 16, CMC – Prime Minister Dr, Keith Rowley Thursday said he supports the death penalty and that his administration is working towards having it implemented as it moves to deal with those citizens bent on committing murder ‘with impunity” in Trinidad and Tobago.

Rowley, speaking at the end of the weekly Cabinet news conference, told reporters that “this fight against the criminal element is a national crusade” and urged the public to assist the police in carrying out their investigations.

Rowley KK
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

“This just require that we stay on the job and do what is required. There are people in this country who has chosen crime as a way of life,” he said, adding that “we are being traumatised by a very small minority and we are going to take the best chance in law to protect us”.

Rowley said that even when people are incarcerated “they are running criminal empires from inside the jail and we are going to take steps to ensure that this does not go on”.

He told reporters he does not care whatever the backlash could be from his position but he wanted to make it abundantly clear that he is a “firm believer in capital punishment.

“It is the punishment for the crime,” he said, noting that “it is my view that people acting with impunity that nothing will happen” when they commit the crimes including murder.

Rowley said that the Attorney General Faris Al Rawi has set up in his office the mechanism to monitor persons who have been convicted of murder and is moving to ensure that they pay the penalty keeping in mind the Pratt and Morgan ruling of the Privy Council that persons on death row for more than five years can’t be executed.

Despite Trinidad and Tobago hosting the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the oil rich twin island republic still uses the London-based court as its final court.

Rowley said that former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj is also assisting the government so that “persons of recent vintage (convicted of murder) will pay the ultimate penalty”.

Rowley said that his administration is providing all the necessary resources to the security forces to deal with the crime situation here and reiterated a call for the law abiding public to help the police in their investigation.

Rowley said there were some people who were bent on committing crime not as a result, for instance of having lost their jobs, but who believe that it is their right to take lives and property from other nationals.

The last execution in Trinidad and Tobago occurred on July 28, 1999 when Anthony Briggs was hanged after being convicted for the August 1992 murder of a taxi driver, Siewdath Ramkissoon during a robbery in August 1992.

Briggs was hanged just over a month after the members of the Dole Chadee gang were hanged over a three-day period.

Dole Chadee, Joey Ramiah and Ramkelawan Singh were executed on June 4, 1999, while Clive Thomas, Robin Gopaul and Russell Sankeralli were hanged on June 5, 1999.

On June 7, 1999 Joel Ramsingh, Steve Eversley and Bagwandeen Singh were hanged.

The Chadee gang were hanged for their involvement in the murder of the Baboolal family in 1994.

Posted in Crime, International, Legal, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Security0 Comments

It is time ‘good and proper communication’ be given importance

Editorial – March 10, 2017

As Montserrat tries to find its place in a world that is beginning to believe it Is not the only living planet, life and all its assortments and departments of thrills and disappointments for the past twenty plus years, may have its starts and stops, but as of today it continues to retrogress.

The feeling is that it is difficult trying to be positive as much as negativity surrounds us. For just about any venture or relationship pursued, it has been stressed inexhaustibly that without good or proper communication, success will be remote. Today, it is a course that must form part of almost every discipline.

There is a serious lack of appreciation that good, effective communication plays importantly in the conduct of life overall, socially, economically, and spiritually.

This past week saw abrasions in presentations and reactions. Worst of all is the potential libel and slander that developed in social media, serving for mischief, entertainment and gossip.

Dr. Ingrid Buffonge along with surgeon specialist Dr. Bramiah Kassim, other medical doctors Gopal and wife Asha Gopal appeared live on ZJB Radio and pledged their strong support for a colleague whom they named, an unfortunate error.                                                                                     

ZJB’s Basil Chambers was the host. “We are here as a team, as a group of doctors, in support for our colleague, Dr. …” Dr. Buffonge began, expressing disappointment for what she said is, “the way the whole thing was managed…” further said: “

Except for breaking the protocol regarding how such matters of a sexually nature involving young women the doctors by expressing their concern about the quick action of charging was their right, and there is nothing wrong with even commenting publicly or otherwise of their belief in the actions of their fellow doctor. However, we do not know what consultation they though necessary as to how far or how much they can say.

But for the Director of Public Prosecutions to refer to the doctors’ pronouncements especially without being specific, saying, “I think it’s highly improper and downright wrong for any doctor or anybody else to go on public radio and comment on a matter that is pending before the court.” is itself more improper and even ill-advised.

That seems to us obvious actions without thought of communication and is itself challenging persons’ right to comment on issues as human as this one. What did the doctors say that had to do with, “…One has to be mindful of the right to a fair trial… to go on the radio to me [is] tantamount to trying to influence potential jurors in this matter…” which as he said has to do with the accused as well. Really? Surely, he too must be mindful of the context of the matter and indeed consider the potential outcome of police actions if they may have acted hastily. As DPP he should also be mindful of what and how he speaks.

Those who the DPP should mostly be addressing are those who resorted to social media, who may have been encouraged by their, also not so thoughtful request to ‘come forward’.

We should caution that nothing here is intended to discuss the allegations as to truth or its falsehood, but merely to draw attention to those who often are may need to provide information to the public of whatever nature. 

Likewise, the pronouncements of the Women Resource Centre while spoken in seemingly general nature of the problem facing women in particular, was in our view also untimely.

So it says, directing attention to the issue, “stands in support of this young woman and all other victims and alleged victims of gender based assault.”

What can be wrong for anyone else to express their support for an accused person. Does that in any way suggests if the actions complained of are true that they are condoned. In this case they went on to state their concerns of issues raised and should serve as further advice as to how those entrusted with the care of such matters should operate.

We submit that communication here was also untimely: “It is very unfortunate and discouraging that the onus is always on the girls and women in Montserrat to prove their allegations rather than on the alleged perpetrators to disprove them.”

Did the DPP not think after citing the matter, that this might be influencing potential jurors?

He seems conflicted as he speaks about ‘justice’ from time to time, struggling as he perhaps more than defence attorneys must always consider that the law is not just for one side, but everyone, just as he intimated in his comment, about a fair trial. Justice is for the complainer as the accused.  His office as that of the Attorney General should pay attention to the many times they face the Appeal Court, an example the just concluded Warren Cassell Case, and they are asked, “is that fair, is that justice?”

Telling the public that the doctors were “highly improper and downright wrong,” to state their concern in any matter where they are accused, is in our view is poor communication. They may have miscommunicated as well, but generally, they were not wrong or improper.

They were representing the public entitled to a view point on any matter, however the circumstances may dictate.

 

Posted in Editorial, Legal, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

Christie-finger

PM regrets, but opposition calls on him to name date for general election

NASSAU, Bahamas, Mar 3, CMC – Prime Minister Perry Christie has apologised for flashing his middle finger as part of an obscene gesture at a public meeting earlier this week even as the main opposition Free National Movement (FNM) called on him to name the date for the general election.

PM Christie gives the ‘finger’

In a statement to Parliament on Thursday, Christie, who is leading the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) into the general election in May, said “I really stand to express my regret, to indicate specifically that it related to specific attacks by specific individuals.

Prime Minister Perry Christie makes offensive gesture at public meeting

“I have seen my family respond in magnificent ways where they have invited people into our home, had meetings with them, who said bad things, and where the spirit of forgiveness was afoot before everyone,” he said.

“I just want to say that…I take responsibility, and I indicate that there was never any intention to speak to any person or issue other than those who were attacking me or my family and that the balance that should exist at all times ought to prevent in full consideration, the gesture, whatever it is described that I did, and I hope that those who may have been offended by it who were present would accept that that is a matter I would not have wished that I did,” he said.

Christie told legislators “and to those who are people in our country, who would wish to understand what I did, would accept my deepest expression of regret”.

On Monday night, Christie made the gesture at a PLP public meeting saying this is how he responded to an allegation he had heard earlier during the day.

He was making reference to a man, whom he described as a “lunatic” that had been insisting that he acknowledge ownership of a condominium.

“This is what I told (told) him,” Christie said, lifting his middle finger.

But the FNM in a statement described the action as “vulgar” and called on the prime minister to name the date for the election.

‘Callousness’, ‘dismissive’ and now ‘vulgar’, are words the Bahamian people use to describe the embattled Prime Minister. As the election draws near he is becoming more and more unhinged. His offensive gesture in front of women, children and seniors is not something even his own party members should be defending, but they do,” said FNM chairman, Sidney Collie.

“The country is exhausted by all these antics and is clearly ready to turn the page. The only thing stopping us is the embattled Prime Minister’s refusal to call the election.,” he said , adding that the government had engaged in several measures to hoodwink the population ahead of the election.

“Enough is enough.It is time to call the election so the people can have their say. The people are tired of watching their embattled Prime Minister continue to find new ways to embarrass himself and The Bahamas. If he’s truly sorrowful for his latest meltdown he would give the people hope, and a chance to voice themselves by calling the election, Collie said.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), Branville McCartney, has announced his resignation from the Senate “with immediate effect”.

“To the people of The Bahamas, we say that if you want a government serious about fighting crime and putting the fear of God into these savage criminals who apparently have free reign on our streets, look to the DNA; if you want an end to this corruption that pollutes and perverts governance in our country, look to the DNA;

“if you want real accountability for where in the world our billions of tax dollars have been funneled without our knowledge, look to the DNA; if you want a government that stands for you and will return power and prosperity to the rightful owners of The Bahamas, look to the DNA,” McCartney said in a statement.

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Jason Jones

Gay activist files lawsuit challenging Sexual Offences Act in Trinidad and Tobago

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 24, CMC –  A Trinidad-born gay rights activist has filed a lawsuit challenging Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, which criminalises buggery and serious indecency even between consenting adults in Trinidad and Tobago.

In his lawsuit filed in the High Court on Thursday, Jason Jones claims that the “very existence of these sections continuously and directly affects the claimant’s private life by forcing him to either respect the law and refrain from engaging – even in private with consenting male partners – in prohibited sexual acts to which he is disposed by reason of his homosexual orientation, or to commit the prohibited acts and thereby become liable to criminal prosecution”.

Jason Jones
Jason Jones

The United Kingdom-based Jones is also claiming that the legislation contravenes his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of thought and expression in addition to being in direct contradiction to this country’s international human rights obligation.

He is also contending that the legislation opens him up to public prejudice and ridicule as it labels him and other homosexuals as criminals.

“He is accordingly the subject of extensive societal prejudice, persecution, marginalisation, a lifelong entrenched stigma that he is an unapprehended criminal by virtue of being homosexual and he experiences the lifelong fear of being punished for expressing his sexuality through consensual conduct with another adult,” the lawsuit notes.

Jones is seeking to side step the “saving clause” feature of the Constitution which precludes a court from striking down and reviewing legislation which were in existence when the Constitution was drafted and that have been marginally changed since.

The lawsuit claims that the legislation amended in 1986 and 2000 repealed and replaced pre-Independence sexual offences legislation, covered by the savings clause, and thus is open to review. A date for the hearing of the constitutional motion lawsuit is yet to be set.

Jones told reporters that he took the decision to file the lawsuit due to his personal experience as a homosexual in Trinidad and Tobago including him being disowned by his family forcing him to migrate to the United Kingdom.

“I don’t wish to shove a gay agenda down you (the public) throat or attack your morals, religion or spirituality, I am doing this for the betterment of our nation, and for our feature generations,” Jones said.

Jones said in Trinidad and Tobago, members of the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) community face high levels of discrimination and for this to change, the law must be changed.

He added that the laws were originally British colonial laws, but Britain had removed the laws and is this year celebrating 50 years since de-criminalising homosexuality.

Posted in Court, Legal, Local1 Comment

court rul

Canadian national pleads guilty in the death of four-year-old boy

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Feb 24, CMC – A High Court has ordered a Canadian national to pay EC$75,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) in compensation to the estate of four year-old Terrel ‘TJ Elibox, who drowned in 2015.

court rulSahab Jamshidi was given the alternative of spending three years in jail if the fine was not paid. He has since paid the money and is due to leave here this week.

The former medical student Tuesday pleaded guilty to causing death by recklessness or gross negligence, 14 months after he pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance.

The prosecution had alleged that Sahab had carried the four-year-old into the sea on a kiteboard on February 22, 2015, without the consent of his guardians, and caused his death.

But Sahab told the court that he kitesurfing with friends in Vieux-Fort, south of here, when he spotted Elibox, who was on a church organised beach outing, in the water and called for help.

The Canadian was formally charged after the boy’s body was discovered two days later.

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Donald Trump

President Trump expands rules to deport more Caribbean nationals

By Nelson A. King

WASHINGTON, Feb 22, CMC – United States President Donald Trump has expanded the nation’s immigration rules requiring expanded deportation of undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants.

In a revised executive order, captioned “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement  Improvements,” Trump said that US federal immigration law both imposes the responsibility and provides the means for the federal government, in cooperation with the states, to secure the nation’s borders.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

He said the purpose of the order is to “direct executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the nation’s southern border with Mexico, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently and humanely.”

The US president said the order includes returning Caribbean and other immigrants to their respective countries pending formal proceedings.

The order also directs the US Secretary of Homeland Security to hire an additional 5,000 border agents and to “empower state and local law enforcement to support federal enforcement of immigration law, to the maximum extent permitted by law, and to ensure that prosecution guidelines place a high priority on crimes.”

Last Friday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency released a list detailing the offenses of 680 immigrants who were recently detained and slated for deportation, adding that 75 per cent had criminal convictions.

In the largely Caribbean community in Brooklyn, New York, rumours of immigration sweeps at a popular department store and a sprawling hospital, frequented by Caribbean nationals, spread like wildfire last week, prompting the intervention of a Caribbean American legislator.

New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn, told the Caribbean Media Corporation that he and his staffers have been following up on “the many rumours, as we can.”

Williams has been among the Caribbean community’s most vocal critics of the Trump’s administration immigration policies.

Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke had warned that the Trump travel ban would extend to the Caribbean. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, represents the 9thCongressional District in Brooklyn.

Last weekend, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders expressed concern that Trump’s immigration policies could result in a reduction of travel to the Caribbean.

“We must obviously be concerned with the recent issue related to immigration, and the impact it will have on our citizens and on tourism,” said Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

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Carnival2017

St. Vincent singer dropped from finals of Calypso Monarch finals

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 22, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Unified ­Calypso Association (TUCO), apparently bowing to a threat of legal action by a disgruntled calypsonian has removed the St. Vincent-born singer Lornette “Fya Empress” Nedd Reid from the Calypso Monarch finals scheduled for the Queen’s Park Oval on Sunday night.

Attorney Gerald Ramdeen said that his client, Lynette “Lady Gypsy” Steele will now participate in the finals as Trinidad and Tobago celebrates the annual Carnival celebrations.

Carnival2017Ramdeen had earlier sent a pre-­action protocol letter to TUCO, giving it 24 hours to respond and which could have led to an injunction being sought in the High Court preventing Nedd Reid from performing in the finals.

In the pre-action protocol letter, Ramdeen had called for the immediate disqualification of Nedd Reid, who he argued did not fit the nationality criteria to perform at the competition.

“The nationality criteria for a competition such as the National Calypso Monarch Competition is a requirement that is grounded in logic and reasonableness having regard to the status and nationalistic persona of the person holding that title,” Ramdeen said, adding the “rules of the competition could not have been made to be honoured in breach”.

Steele, who contested the semi-finals last Saturday, placed 16th with a total of 389 points and Ramdeen, in his letter to TUCO, said Steele secured the same score as Anthony “All Rounder” Hendrickson who placed 15th.

Ramdeen said there was no explanation from TUCO as to how All Rounder – with the same score – ranked above Lady Gypsy who placed 16th.

This is not the first time that Nedd Reid has competed here, reaching as far as the semi-finals in previous TUCO administered competitions.

Media reports said that she had also won a calypso queen competition.

Steele, the sister of former culture minister, Winston “Gypsy” Peters, who is also a finalist in the competition, will face six former calypso monarchs in the Dimanche Gras finals.

According to the line-up, the six former monarchs are Winston “Cro Cro” Rawling, former culture minister, Winton ’Gypsy’ Peters, Dr. Hollis Liverpool (Chalkdust), Kurt Allen, Karene Asche and Chucky.

Allen’s tune “Forking Up Meh Corn Tree” is a double-entendre political ­commentary, while Chalkdust’s tune “Learn From Arithmetic” addressed the issue of child marriage.
Cro Cro in his tune, “Final Send-Off,” paid tribute to the late former prime minister Patrick Manning who died last year.

The other finalists are Queen Victoria, Terri Lyons, Sasha Ann Moses, Rondell Donowa, Miguella Simon , Lady Adanna,  Heather McIntosh and All Rounder.

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ICE-US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration raids target Indo-Caribbean community in New York City

 

 

by Staff byWriter

Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) have expressed concern over recent raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens, New York, targeting members of the Indo-Caribbean community, many of whom are Hindu.

The raids targeted an area which is home to a vibrant Guyanese and Trinidadian population, causing fear and concern among a tightly-knit community that has worked hard to become part of the American social fabric.

“The borough of Queens is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse places on the planet; it is fundamentally a community of immigrants,” said Mat McDermott, New York City resident and HAF Director of Communications, in a statement. “Both our Caribbean community members, and all immigrants, need to be aware of and informed about their rights, and we are willing to help in any way we can to allay further fears and concerns.”

HAF added in a statement: “ While HAF recognizes the need for enforcement of immigration laws and that ICE has conducted targeted enforcement for many years, the recent aggressive nature of enforcement activities is worrisome. Though the stated intent of such raids is to target undocumented immigrants with criminal records, in casting so wide a net as is being done there is a very real risk of sweeping up individuals who, though they may have entered the United States illegally, have committed no other offense and pose no threat to their communities nor American society more broadly. Similarly, there is a risk of those with legal status being impacted by these types of raids.

“HAF encourages everyone to review our Know Your Rights guide, as well as the American Civil Liberty Union’s guide on what to do if you are stopped by police, the FBI, or immigration authorities.”

HAF also advised anybody seeking help to reach out also to the following organizations provide resources to help community members locally: Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, New York Civil Liberties Union, and the Indo Caribbean Alliance.

Posted in International, Legal, Local, News, Police, Politics, Regional1 Comment

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