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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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Opposition legislator suspended for “four sittings” of Parliament

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 12, CMC – Opposition legislator Bishop Juan Edghill was Tuesday suspended from four sittings of the National Assembly after the government used its majority to table and pass a motion suspending him  for his “gross misconduct” during the Monday’s sitting of the Assembly.

Government Chief Whip and Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally successfully moved a motion, noting that “following the gross disorderly conduct of the Honourable Member, Juan Edghill of the 79th sitting of parliament, I wish to move that this member be suspended from the service of the Assembly for the next four sittings of this Assembly, that is December 15th, 2017”.

Members of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) later walked out in solidarity with Edghill, who on Tuesday had defied by the Speaker Dr. Barton Scotland that he be removed from the Chamber.

Opposition legislator Bishop Juan Edhgill prevented
from entering National Assembly building.

Scotland himself had signalled that Edghill would remain suspended when he told a news conference on Monday night that “the 79th sitting of the Assembly…will continue tomorrow (Tuesday). The Honourable Member Juan Edghill remains suspended”.

Following the government’s move on Tuesday, the Speaker announced the suspension of Edghill , who was prevented from entering the Parliament building on Tuesday by police officers.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who raised concern over the suspension took his seat after he was asked to do so by the Speaker.

“I just to wish record our significant dissatisfaction with what you just said in this Chamber. You spoke about the unprecedented behaviour but you did not speak about the unprecedented presence of police in this House. The police assaulted people and you yourselves said you did not invite into this House. I believe this is an attempt to muzzle Juan Edghill.”

Jagdeo said that Edghill, a former finance minister, had been targeted because he is one of the “more aggressive questioners” in “decimating” the estimates.

Jagdeo accused the Speaker of colluding with the government in shielding government from scrutiny of the estimates.

“We believe that was an attempt to denude us from some of our best speakers but we cannot cede our responsibility,” he added.

But the Speaker, who later explained that the motion does not allow for debate, said the four sitting suspension was very lenient since the Standing Orders allowed for suspension for the entire parliamentary session. He said said so grave was Edghill’s misconduct that he could have been suspended for the entire session of the current parliament.

Following the passage of the motion, legislators went back to the Committee of Supplies to consider the budget estimates.

The Speaker said he would continue from the point on Monday when the Assembly was suspended and reiterated that he would not allow on those estimates.

The Opposition legislators then sought to ask questions as the Speaker moved through the Ministry of the Presidency estimates, but the questions were not allowed with the opposition staging a walkout.

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Guyana Paaal

Guyana parliament suspended after Opposition legislator refuses to follow Speaker’s Order


GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 11, CMC – Guyana and opposition legislators Monday differed on the position adopted by the Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Barton Scotland, to suspend the sitting until his orders are followed after an opposition legislator refused to leave the Chamber.

Bishop Juan Edghill, a member of the main opposition people’s Progressive Party (PPP) refused to leave the Chamber even after the Speaker had ordered the Sergeant at Arms to eject him from the session.

Guyana Paaal
Guyanese legislators wait to see what follows next following
the refusal of an opposition legislator to leave the Chambers

“I will not be leaving”, Edghill shouted forcing Scotland to suspend the sitting until his orders are followed, and as police officers moved to have the opposition ejected from the building, fellow legislators formed a human circle around their colleague making it clear that they were not going to allow him to be forced to leave the Chamber.

The Speaker had earlier indicated that he was sticking to the agreed timeframe for the examination of the budget for the Ministry of the Presidency.

Legislators had been told that two hours had set aside for the exercise but when the time elapsed Edghill rose to his feet and demanded that more time be provided for the scrutiny of the Ministry of the Presidency’s estimates.

The Speaker reminded the National Assembly of the earlier agreement but Edghill kept demanding that he be allowed more time even as he was repeatedly asked to take his seat.

With the opposition legislator refusing to leave the parliamentary Chambers, the lights, air condition and the wifi services were turned off.

Minister of State Harmon Joseph later told reporters that all legislators had to abide by the ruling of the Speaker regardless of their personal position on any issue.

“It is not a matter between the Speaker and the MP. It is a matter of what is the lawful position. The Member of Parliament took a certain position, the Speaker made a ruling after several warnings to him (and) even after the Speaker gave his ruling the Speaker told him to leave the Chambers and all of you heard him say I will not leave in complete defiance of what the Speaker said”.

Joseph said that the situation is about “the rule of law,” telling reporters “the Speaker is the person who controls the business in this House and Mr. Edgill or no other member of the House can decide they can violate these rules of the House by refusing to take action when the Speaker tells him to do so.

“If this were allowed to go like that we will have chaos because no one respects the Speaker’s ruling anymore and we could do as we wish,” he said questioning the purpose of legislators here.

“So Mr. Edgill must know, the PPP must know that the Speaker’s ruling must be obeyed and they can stay there for as long as they want but it has to be obeyed, that is the Speaker’s ruling,” Joseph said, accusing the Opposition of adopting a pattern that was highlighted when President David Granger addressed the National assembly earlier this year.

“The Speaker came subsequently and made a written ruling on their behaviour. So what you seeing here is a pattern that is continuing and I believe we have to take a stand and I believe the Speaker has done the right thing in taking a stand on this matter”.

But Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who spoke with reporters after holding talks with the Speaker said “I don’t think we have gone very far in resolving the issue.”

Jagdeo said he had made certain recommendations to the Speaker including the possibility of adjourning the session for today “until tomorrow so that we can diffuse the entire situation.

“I pointed out to him about the frustration on our side in relation to the constant attempt of the government to avoid scrutiny. Now, consideration of the Estimates is provided for by the Standing Orders (and) could take as much as seven days. They have reduced it to five days although we are dealing with a budget that is over GUY$265 billion (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents”.

Jagdeo said that the fiscal package “keeps getting larger yet the time for consideration of the Estimates is being shortened.

“And so we pointed out about this restriction, the need for Members of Parliament to do their duty that is to question the Estimates. We already know that these Estimates are not accurate and most likely illegal and they should be withdrawn because they do not reflect the 18 or 20 million dollar signing bonus that this government collected from ExxonMobil which should have been in the Consolidated Fund.

Jagdeo said he had informed the Speaker that the issue “has gone beyond his ruling on whether Edgill should remain in the Chamber or not”.

He said “subsequent actions of the agents of the parliament have led to the police coming here and the assault on our members of the parliament.

“So it is not a straight forward issue of a breach of the Standing Order any longer. It has several dimensions and the only thing we can do to diffuse this situation is to adjourn for the day,” Jagdeo said, adding that the Speaker “did not agree to the adjournment”.\

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Children rightss

Barbados joins other Caribbean islands in signing ILO initiative regarding child labour

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 11, CMC – The International Labour Organization (ILO) says Barbados has become the ninth Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to join the Regional Initiative, Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour.

It said that the island’s Labour Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo handed over the signed agreement to José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ILO Regional Director of the Americas and Caribbean in the margins of the Organization of American States (OAS) XX Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour held here earlier this month.

Children rightssIt said as a result of Barbados signing the agreement, it now brings the total  number of participating countries in the region to 28, all aligned in pursuit of a common objective: to accelerate the rate of reduction of child labour in the region and by 2025, to eliminate all forms of child labour.

“The adhesion of Barbados reflects the commitment and importance attributed by the Caribbean countries to the tripartite collaboration and partnership among governments, and employers and workers organisations, as the region works towards achieving Target 8.7 of the 2030 Agenda,” the ILO added.

According to the ILO, Barbados has ratified the commitments set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and has also ratified ILO Conventions 138 on the minimum age for admission to employment and 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.

It noted that in Barbados, the minimum age established for employment is 16 years, however, according to estimates done in 2014, the incidence of child labour in the country was 3.5 per cent between 5-14 years of age.

“As part of the country’s efforts to combat the issue, Barbados has established the National Committee for Monitoring the Rights of the Child, which seeks to generate recommendations on policies that favour the rights of children and sensitizes communities on the matter. Among the challenges faced by Barbados is the creation of lists of light work and dangerous work for minors,” the ILO added.

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How Trump signed a global death warrant for women

Katharine O’Brien, from the Texas-based 40 Days for Life, which has been working in the region since 2011, said the centres were vital: “It’s just so simple. The amount of training that is required to really be inspired by this is very little. You can explain that in one session.”

O’Brien trains locals on how to lead “prayerful” clinic protests. Activists are trained in “sidewalk counselling” outside abortion clinics to give women “other options” and “help them through what must be the most difficult time in their life”.

Representatives of the two main abortion providers in Colombia said this put lives at risk. “Women don’t stop seeking abortions,” said the Bogotá clinic director. “Instead, they seek out those services at clinics where there isn’t a heavy presence [of these protesters] … Many of these places aren’t legal and they aren’t safe.”

An estimated 75% of all abortions in the region are illegal and each year 760,000 women are treated for complications arising from unsafe abortions.

“If there is one thing we’ve noticed about the way that these anti-rights groups operate it is that they blame women for being women. They start to question which life is more important, and the final conclusion they come to is that the lives of women don’t matter,” said Sandra Mazo Cardona, director of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir – Colombia, a Catholic feminist organisation.

“People have a right to have their beliefs and to work toward a goal that they think is laudable and fair. But it cannot be based on intimidation.”

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Anti-abortion laws called ‘draconian

Anti-abortion laws called ‘draconian

US groups pour millions into anti-abortion campaign in Latin America and Caribbean

Guardian investigation reveals anti-choice groups using sophisticated methods to combat potential easing of draconian abortion laws in the region

US anti-choice groups are coordinating and financing a campaign to restrict access to abortion across Latin America and the Caribbean.

A Guardian investigation has found that organisations have poured millions of dollars into the region, which has some of the most draconian abortion laws, to combat efforts to decriminalise the termination of pregnancies and to obstruct access to clinics providing services.

In July, the Guardian reported that Human Life International (HLI), a Catholic not-for-profit group from Virginia, had given more than $600,000 (£450,000) to support its work in Central America between 2008 and 2014, and that one group in El Salvador, Fundación Sí a la Vida, had received more than $47,000 over a seven-year period.

At 11 years old, they’re getting pregnant’: the women smashing Catholic taboos in the Philippines

But it has now emerged that at least two other US-based organisations – 40 Days for Life and Heartbeat International – are also training anti-choice activists, opening centres and ploughing money into the region.

Natalia Acevedo Guerrero, of Profamilia, the largest reproductive healthcare provider in Colombia, said: “We’re used to opposition. But in the last few years, we’ve seen anti-rights groups become more organised. They’ve professionalised. They aren’t old ladies with rosaries any more. They’re lawyers engaged in sophisticated discourse, they’re doing lobbying … They have money, they have people in the courts, they have people in the congress.”

Abortion is banned in countries in Latin America including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua, with many others allowing it only in limited circumstances. But moves to liberalise laws are having some success. In August, Chile overturned its absolute ban on abortion to allow it when a women’s life is at risk, and discussions have taken place in El Salvador to do likewise.

The bulk of the US funding is being used to develop a network of “crisis pregnancy centres”, which critics claim are designed to persuade women not to have terminations. The number of centres more than doubled between 2012 and 2015, to 130.

HLI brought the crisis pregnancy centre model to Latin America in the 1980s and is one of the most active supporters of the anti-abortion movement in the region.

Between 2010 and 2015, HLI channeled more than $1.3m to anti-abortion partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to IRS tax documents seen by the Guardian. Over four decades, HLI has helped develop a network of groups that now spans 20 countries.

Adolfo Castañeda, HLI’s education director for Hispanic outreach, said each centre in the network operates independently, providing access to many Spanish-language “educational materials”, such as online training courses, video and radio programmes, as well as workshops and conferences.

“We do not run the network, but we collaborate strongly with it in the sense that we provide them with educational materials that the folks that work in those centres use to educate pregnant women, abortion-bound, to convince them to desist from having the abortion,” he said.

“We serve as a go-between for other organisations that have money to fund [crisis pregnancy centres],” Castañeda added. “For example, if there is a Catholic foundation that wants to donate, say, $10,000 to a [centre] in Bolivia, we help get in touch with that foundation, translate whatever forms the foundation requires and serve as a channel so that the money can go to them.”

Foetus models used by US anti-choice groups in Bogotá. Photograph: Angelika Albaladejo

Castañeda said HLI works with US legal advisors who provide local lobbyists and lawyers with strategies they can use “to educate and fight politically against anti-life laws and in favour of pro-life laws”.

Heartbeat International, which runs one of the largest crisis pregnancy centre networks in the US and internationally, expanded its global outreach efforts to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013. Jay Hobbs, its marketing and communications director, said it focused on education and training “so that women in localities all over the world can have life-affirming alternatives to abortion”.

Between 2013 and 2015 it gave $15,925 to Latin American partners, according to US tax filings. It also helps receive and transfer donations from other US anti-abortion groups and individuals.

Reproductive healthcare providers and rights advocates in Colombia, where these organisations are establishing a stronghold, said many of the centres are built to look like regular clinics. The director of a legal abortion clinic in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, who asked not to be named, said her staff had documented multiple cases of patients mistakenly visiting local crisis pregnancy centres, where anti-abortion activists “made them feel guilty, stigmatised, harassed and pressured to continue their pregnancies”.

“Misinformation is a way to create barriers and obstacles to access,” said Cristina Rosero Arteaga, a lawyer with advocacy group Women’s Link Worldwide.

“There are lots of women who don’t know their rights. Our concern is that women need to have access to information that is true and not distorted.”

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Claude Gerald

Marijuana Discussion Denied

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

Claude Gerald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Most St. Lucians in favour of decriminalisation of marijuana-Opinion poll

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Oct 14, CMC – Most St. Lucians are either in support of the legalisation or partial decriminalisation of marijuana according to a poll conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES).

CADRES said that it conducted the poll between September 8-11 and interviewed approximately 1,000 people across the island.

marijuuuIt said survey was conducted face to face and respondents were selected to conform to three distinct age cohorts (18-30; 31-50 and Over 50) and in each instance a 33 per cent quota was sought with equal quantities of males and females also being interviewed. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus five per cent.

CADRES said respondents were asked their “views on the decriminalization of Marijuana in St. Lucia” and provided with three response options as well at the option not to respond.

According to CADRES, which also conducted similar polls in several Caribbean islands including Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the results of the surveys tell an important story that is likely to be applicable across the region which is that public opinion is generally moving in the direction of greater support for decriminalisation and an increasing opposition to the status quo.

It said in the specific case of St. Lucia an estimated 38 per cent of those questioned opted for the maintenance of the status quo (illegal), while cumulatively 51 per cent of respondents supported either the full legalisation or partial decriminalisation, “which essentially means that most St. Lucians are opposed to the maintenance of the status quo.

“It is interesting to note that the attitude of St. Lucians on this issue is similar to that of all other Caribbean countries surveyed, especially as the margin of error associated with these surveys is plus or minus five per cent.

“St. Lucia therefore shares the same attitude towards full legalisation with St. Vincent, while Barbados, Dominica and Antigua all have a slightly larger quantity of persons who are supportive of full legalisation. Similarly, the 38 per cent of St. Lucians that opted for the status quo is consistent with the level of opposition to decriminalisation in St. Vincent Dominica and Barbados.”

But CADRES noted that the critical statistic; however, is support for partial decriminalisation, which is the route that is being pursued in Antigua and has already been taken in Jamaica, and in this regard “all islands surveyed report a similar level of support .

“Although this summary report does not permit a full exploration of the demographic factors impacting on support for or opposition to marijuana decriminalisation, the case of St. Lucia does provide a unique deviation from the region-wide custom that has noted higher levels of opposition to decriminalisation among women.

“In the case of St. Luca; however, similar quantities of women and men support the status quo which leads to the conclusion that gender does not impact on support for, or opposition to marijuana decriminalisation here, while the same cannot be said for age.

“In that regard St. Lucia is very much like all other countries surveyed in that older persons are more inclined to support the status quo, while younger persons are more disposed to decriminalisation or full legalisation,” CADRES added.

It said in the coming months it intends to be able to explore these attitudes in other Caribbean territories.

Caribbean government have already indicated a willingness to decriminalise the use of small portions of marijuana for medicinal purposes but have so far taken a cautious approach to the matter.

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court rul

ONDCP welcomes Court of Appeal ruling

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Sept 13, CMC – The Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Antigua and Barbuda’s civil forfeiture regime, which provides for the forfeiting of the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime without the need for a criminal conviction.

The appeal had been brought by Ahmed Williams after a forfeiture order was made by Justice Clare Henry against his two parcels of real property.

Williams had previously been convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to sell. During his trial, Williams had maintained that his assets were not obtained through money laundering activity, but the Court ruled to the civil standard, that he had engaged in money laundering activity and that the property was on the balance of probabilities the proceeds of crime.

court rulIn his appeal, Williams represented by attorney Dr. David Dorsett, argued that forfeiture under Section 20A(2) of the MLPA amounted to a finding of criminal guilt in civil proceedings in which he had not been criminally charged.  He also argued that civil forfeiture constituted inhumane treatment.

But in its decision delivered by Justice Louise Blenman, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of Williams challenging the constitutionality of the forfeiture.

ONDCP director Lieutenant Colonel Edward Croft said he was pleased with the recent decision saying it reinforces the precedent previously established that the AML/CFT Civil Forfeiture Regime in Antigua and Barbuda is on a solid foundation.

In the newsletter titled DISCLOSURE, by Nicola Suter, the Financial Crimes Advisor, US International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Section stated, “This judgment is specifically relevant to Antigua and Barbuda however the issues addressed will be relevant to civil recovery cases across the Eastern Caribbean.”

In a statement, the ONDCP said that the Court, upholding the argument by Justin Simon, QC on behalf of the Supervisory Authority/ONDCP, held that civil forfeiture is separate and distinct from criminal confiscation, the latter requiring a conviction in a criminal court.

“Under the civil forfeiture regime, there is no criminal charge, property may be forfeited if the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that a defendant’s property was obtained from money laundering activity. The Court of Appeal held that civil asset recovery is civil in nature.

“It does not therefore infringe protections under sections 15(2)(a) of the Constitution concerning the presumption of innocence and 15(5) of the Constitution concerning double jeopardy,” the ONDCP statement noted.

It noted that on the argument that civil forfeiture constituted inhumane treatment, the Court said that it had been long established that the protections under section 7(1) of the Constitution from inhuman treatment  was a fundamental protection concerned with a person’s protection from bodily impairment and therefore was not related to property rights.

“The Court held that the civil forfeiture regime provides extensive due process guarantees which Mr. Williams took full advantage of. He had a full trial and was given the opportunity to oppose the property freezing order, lead evidence and cross examine witnesses. He was granted the full due process of the law,” the ONDCP statement added.

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TRINIDAD-CRIME-Former attorney general formally charged

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 30, CMC – Former attorney general Anand Ramlogan was on Wednesday formally charged with misbehaviour in public office more than 30 hours after he was picked up at his southern home by police.

Anand Ramlogan

A statement issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) stated that Ramlogan, who served as attorney general here from 2010-15, was charged “with misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice arising from allegations contained in a report made by Mr. David west to the Commissioner of Police on January 28, 2015”.

The statement said that the charges were laid against Ramlogan, 45, following consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution and that he will appear in court on Friday September 1, “to answer the charges”. He was released on TT$750,00 (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) bail.

Earlier, one of Ramlogan’s attorneys, Senior Counsel Pamela Elder, told reporters that she was disappointed at the lengthy period it had taken to lay charges against him and that ““it is becoming oppressive now because he has been in continuous detention since 6o’clock yesterday and he has been cooperating fully with the police officers”.

The police picked up Ramlogan at his residence in Palmiste, south of here, early Tuesday morning as they continue their probe into allegations that he had sought to pervert the course of justice by asking West, the director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to withdraw a statement he had made in support of the then Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in a lawsuit more than two years ago.

In 2015, then Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar fired Ramlogan and her national security minister Gary Griffith over the allegations.

The lawsuit followed statement allegedly made by Rowley during a news conference relating to the failed extradition involving businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh, who are reported to be financiers of the United National Congress, and are wanted to the United States on corruption charges.

Ramlogan has denied that he asked David West to withdraw his witness statement in support of Rowley six days before the PCA director took up his new post.

Persad Bissessar said that Griffith had failed to inform her that he had been allegedly asked by Ramlogan to telephone West asking him to withdraw the statement.

Meanwhile, the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) Wednesday urged members of the public to refrain from making comments on the detention of Ramlogan. As it chided two politicians for expressing an opinion on the matter.

In a statement, the LATT sought to remind the public of the importance of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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