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Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

Prime Minister to sue member of Election Commission

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jul. 12, CMC – Lawyers for  Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica  say they will be filing a lawsuit against a member of the Election Commission for statements made on a radio programme that they determined to be defamatory .

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

The lawyers had written to Hillary Shillingford demanding a “prompt reaction and an apology  in terms to be agreed by him and his attorneys”.

The lawyers gave Shillingford a deadline of  July 5 at 12:00pm and also demanded payment of compensation and costs.

It was also noted that if Shillingford failed to meet the demands, a lawsuit would be filed.

The lawyers also demanded a retraction and apology from the management of the radio station Q95fm .

The radio station was given the deadline of July 7.

The legal team said if this was not done, legal proceedings will also be instituted against them.

According to the head of the Skerrit’s team of lawyers, Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, during a radio programme June 27, Shillingford made statements that implied that the Prime Minister abused his office.

“The words meant and were understood by the listeners of Q95 Radio on live radio and via the internet to mean that our client misused and abused the office and Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and unlawfully in breach of his duties, diverted and used public moneys and in particular moneys intended for use at the Princess Margaret Hospital, for the illegal and unlawful purpose of paying for the transportation of supporters in the Diaspora to travel to Dominica to vote.”

Hillary Shillingford
Hillary Shillingford

These allegations are not only completely false , disc hones and lies manufactured by you, but are premised on a factual impossibility,” the lawyers said in a letter to Shillingford.

In an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Astaphan said the Prime Minister has now decided on “zero-tolerance”.

“The Prime Minister of  the Commonwealth of Dominica has decided that after many years of tolerance and patience and non-stop smear campaign against him by the leader of the United Workers Party and his supporters and members that he appoints through various commissions  – he has decided on zero tolerance on matters such as this.”

Astaphan said the Prime Minister had no alternative to instruct his legal team to write Shillingford and a case will be filed in a matter of days

“This foolishness must stop – this prostitution of the freedom of the media, freedom of press and freedom of speech that you can use it as a platform to manufacture lies ad spread fake news and false news repeatedly has to stop. – somebody has to take action , and we are moving forward,” Astaphan said.

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court rul

High Court dismisses petition filed by well-known government supporters

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 29, CMC – The High Court has described as “an abuse of the process of the court” an attempt by two supporters of the government to remove two Nigerian students and all Commonwealth citizens from the Register of Voters.

Rupert Earle and William Liburd had by a claim form filed on January 13, 2014, petitioned the High Court seeking a declaration that the two Nigerian students – Oluwabunmi Jesufemi Ayorinde and Osanoto Akolade Samuel – who were studying medicine here were not qualified voters in the general election.

court rulThey also claimed that a person entering the twin island Federation as a student under the Immigration Act is not a person qualified to be registered as a voter; is not a resident under the Immigration Act and that a Commonwealth citizen entering St. Kitts and Nevis is not ordinarily resident here so as to be registered as a voter under the National Elections Act.

The two well-known government supporters, who were represented by attorney Jonel Powell, who contested the 2013 general election, also sought a declaration that a person entering St. Kitts and Nevis under a specific section in the Second Schedule of the Immigration Act is disqualified from being registered as a voter for the purpose of electing representatives.

Earle and Liburd also sought a declaration that persons entering St. Kitts and Nevis as students under the Immigration Act, in the Register of Voters is contrary to law and thus null and void and of no effect and sought an Order of Mandamus to remove the two Nigerian students and all other persons entered on the Voters Register.

But in her judgement handed down last week, Justice Marlene Carter noted that “the National Elections Act has been the subject of much discussion and discourse, much of which has led to the Court having to make determinations on various aspects of that most important piece of legislation.”

She said that that Earle and Liburd through their attorney have pointed to no instance in which the registration process has been curtailed or interrupted by the court in a manner that they now seek to have the court do now.

“The effect of a declaration being granted would be to effectively usurp the decision of the Registration Officer and to circumvent the procedure as laid down by the provisions of the National Assembly Elections Act and the Election Registration Regulations.

“If the Court is to intervene in an action before the Registration Officer/Supervisor of Elections is afforded an opportunity to make a determination, this would seriously undermine the entire election scheme and process. The acts and rights that the Act and Regulations seek to regulate are sacrosanct in a democratic society. This principle has been stated again and again by these courts,” said Justice Carter.

She noted that Earle and Liburd made clear in their submissions that the matter is neither a judicial review nor a constitutional relief claim.

 “The respondents seek by way of declaration to circumvent the clear provisions of the Act. Given the very nature of the matters with which this Act is concerned and the nature of the right that it seeks to protect, this Court is unable to agree with the submissions of the respondents that it can intervene in a manner that is sought on the claim,”

The judge said that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to intervene in the registration process in the manner sought by Earl and Liburd and referred to a ruling of Justice Ian Mitchell in the case Mark Brantley vs Joseph Parry in which Mitchell emphasized the importance of the notice provision with regard to objections of persons’ names on the Register of Voters and its vital function in the projection of the right to vote.

“This Court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the claim as filed…the claim form is struck as being an abuse of process of the Court. This Court makes no order as to costs,” Justice Carter ruled.

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Privy council dismisses case of murder convict

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 17, CMC – The UK based Privy Council has dismissed an appeal from a man who was convicted of the 2007 murder of his estranged wife.

Earlier this year Warrington Phillip approached the privy council after he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Shermell Williams Phillip.

COURTPhillip was convicted of the brutal stabbing death of his estranged wife in a Nevis court in 2008 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Phillip had previously made two  appeals to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Appeal Court, both of which were dismissed.

His application to the Privy Council was his last resort to appeal his conviction.

Both Director of Public Prosecutions for St. Kitts and Nevis Valston Graham and Prosecutor Dane Hamilton QC , represented the Crown in the UK.

The case was heard in London in January but the judgment was handed down Wednesday with the conclusion being –  “For all the foregoing reasons, the Board will humbly advise Her Majesty that this appeal should be dismissed.”

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Andre West arrested on charges of allegations of deception on the job

Fire Chief Andre West

In June last year authoritative sources were unwilling to disclose or confirm the reasons why Mr. Andre West of Barzey’s had been relieved of his duties as Fire Chief at the Royal Montserrat Police and Fire Services where he was also in charge of Search and Rescue Services.

Up to April last, with West not yet having returned to his duties, still, no one wanted to be quoted but confirmed that investigations were ongoing into allegations of activities conducted by West surrounding his duties. Eventually just under two weeks ago TMR learnt of charges and arrest being made in the matter, not published since for two weeks adequate resources have prevented the publication of the newspaper.

Now amidst questions of procedural correctness, the police on Tuesday, May 9 confirm magistrate court hearings that Andre West appeared before Chief Magistrate Lakmal Wickramasooriya, on several charges for allegedly using his position to illegally obtain services, to include obtaining services by deception and two counts of Evasion of liability by deception. West plead not guilty, and as such the matter is adjourned to September 4, 2017.”

According to one report, under the penal code of Montserrat a person who by any deception dishonestly obtains property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for ten years. A ZJB report had stated part of the offences is regarding Customs duty and shipping cost on items coming from the United Kingdom.

 Sources has said that West has opted to have his charges heard summarily in the Magistrate’s Court.

Fire Chief Andre West. The investigation into the suspected wrong doing began in June 2015 and resulted in West being charged with several offences in the Magistrates Court last Tuesday. Among the offences was obtaining services by deception and two counts of evasion of liability by deception. ZJB News understands that the offence of evasion of liability by deception is regarding Customs duty and shipping cost on items coming from the United Kingdom. West will appear before the court again in September, was appointed Chief of the Montserrat Fire & Rescue Service in 2014 he was reportedly sent on leave last year to allow for a full investigation into the allegations.

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illegal employment

St. Lucia clamping down on illegal workers

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 21, CMC – The St. Lucia government Tuesday said it had embarked on a drive to clamp down on foreign nationals working here illegally.

“It has been brought to the attention of the Labour Department, that there are individuals employed at various organizations here without a valid work permit. The country`s Labour legislation mandates that overseas nationals desirous of employment in St. Lucia, must first obtain a work permit or exemption where applicable,” the Ministry of Labour said in a statement.

illegal employmentIt warned local employers of employing foreigners who do not have the necessary documents to work here and quoted Labour Minister Stephenson King as saying that “this notification serves as a warning to employers and employees engaged in illegal employment.

“The laws of St. Lucia are clear when it comes to employment, we want people to adhere to the laws or face the penalties” said King.

The Minister of Labour said that the ongoing drive is targeted at people who do not have the necessary documentation and that employers and or employees who are currently in contravention of the law are asked to visit the Labour Department to regularize their employment status urgently.
“Failure to comply will result in the case being passes on to the Immigration Department for full enforcement of the law.

“Employers and employees should note that a foreign national who engages in occupation in St. Lucia or is employed in St. Lucia in contravention of the law is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding EC$5,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.

“Should the offence continue, the convicted is liable to a further fine not exceeding EC$500 for each day the offence continues and or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.”

King said the government will do what is necessary to ensure that Labour laws are upheld.

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Government to revisit controversial police legislation

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

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

Attorney General by Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.


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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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