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Sold Into Sex Slavery

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by Mark Bassant and Hema Ramkissoon

May 18 2019

SOLD A LIE

Maria There­sa, a 19-year-old nurs­ing stu­dent from Tu­cu­pi­ta, saw the promise of a new be­gin­ning.

Like oth­er places in Venezuela, the econ­o­my of her small town in the Orinoco Delta had col­lapsed, caus­ing thou­sands of res­i­dents to flee.

Maria saw her chance when a friend told her about peo­ple who could take her to find a bet­ter life in Trinidad.

Some traf­fick­ers, an or­gan­ised net­work of Trinida­di­ans and Venezue­lans, promised Maria and her friends that they would loan them mon­ey for the trip. When they land­ed in Trinidad, the same peo­ple would find them jobs as hair­dressers or house­keep­ers.

So, one night in Jan­u­ary, Maria climbed on­to a pirogue from a hid­den in­let on the Orinoco Riv­er. About six hours lat­er, she land­ed in an area she be­lieved to be Ch­aguara­mas, where she and oth­er pas­sen­gers on the boat were met by a man they didn’t know. From there, they were tak­en to a house oc­cu­pied by oth­er mi­grants.

For three days, Maria and eight oth­er Venezue­lans were crammed in­to a room where day­light bare­ly crept in. Their pass­ports were tak­en from them and they were fed a di­et of Crix and wa­ter. One day, they had no food at all.

It was on­ly then Maria re­alised that the traf­fick­ers had sold her a lie.

On the third day, the door to her room opened and one of her han­dlers told her to get pret­ty; that some vis­i­tors would be ar­riv­ing soon. Maria was con­fused and afraid but did as she was com­mand­ed.

When a strange man came in and leered at her, she un­der­stood her fate.

“They said that we (were) go­ing to be pros­ti­tutes and if we didn’t like it, it didn’t mat­ter, be­cause they brought us here and we had to do it.”

Dressed in a green track suit, Maria gave this de­tailed ac­count from a safe house in Pe­tit Bourg.

“I would have worked in any job be­cause there is noth­ing in Venezuela. There is no op­por­tu­ni­ty. You can’t sur­vive. But not pros­ti­tu­tion,” Maria said, bury­ing her face in her hands.

BONDAGE DEBT PAID WITH SEX

Venezuela’s eco­nom­ic col­lapse has trig­gered an ex­o­dus of some five mil­lion peo­ple from the South Amer­i­can na­tion. By some es­ti­mates, some 60,000 have sought refuge in Trinidad.

A three-month Guardian Me­dia in­ves­ti­ga­tion has re­vealed how hu­man traf­fick­ers have swooped in to prey on Venezue­lan women seek­ing eco­nom­ic sur­vival. These traf­fick­ers have placed hun­dreds of young women in­to mod­ern-day sex slav­ery.

The net­works in­volve an en­tan­gled web of Trinida­di­an and Venezue­lan traf­fick­ers who smug­gle these women, cor­rupt po­lice of­fi­cers who fa­cil­i­tate the trade and pro­tect wrong­do­ers, and im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials who of­ten times take bribes to turn a blind eye to the women’s ex­ploita­tion. Un­der­world Venezue­lan fig­ures with il­lic­it arms and Asian crim­i­nal gangs are of­ten part of the crim­i­nal net­works.

The il­lic­it sex trade seems to span the en­tire coun­try, from the re­mote port of Ce­dros to high-ris­es in West­moor­ings, where sex slaves—some as young as 15 years old—are held against their will, locked in rooms and forced to have sex with men. Some vic­tims are drugged so old­er men can have their way with them.

The traf­fick­ers rou­tine­ly take these women to bars and night­clubs in search of clients. The younger the women, the high­er the price.

For a 30-minute ses­sion, traf­fick­ers charge $300, about the price of a doc­tor’s vis­it. The rates dou­ble to $600 for an hour. For the en­tire night, the traf­fick­er pock­ets $6,000.

The women are giv­en a mere pit­tance to sur­vive. They are forced to work night af­ter night un­til their bondage debt is erased; a debt owed to traf­fick­ers for their pas­sage to this coun­try.

These women are trapped in a cy­cle of debt with no re­lief in sight. And the traf­fick­ers find ways to keep the women en­slaved by adding the cost of food, cloth­ing, shel­ter, med­ical and pro­tec­tion fees to the orig­i­nal fig­ure.

SIX YEARS LAT­ER, NO CON­VIC­TIONS

Since the in­cep­tion of the Counter Traf­fick­ing Unit un­der the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty six years ago, on­ly 56 peo­ple—a lit­tle more than nine a year—have faced the courts for this of­fence, ac­cord­ing to a top law en­force­ment of­fi­cial. To date, no one has been con­vict­ed, au­thor­i­ties say.

In the last six months, po­lice have made some high-pro­file ar­rests, but hu­man rights ac­tivists con­tend that not enough is be­ing done.

The re­cent ar­rests in­clude:

On Feb­ru­ary 6, Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith lead an op­er­a­tion that res­cued 19 young South Amer­i­can women from two homes in West­moor­ings and a restau­rant along Ari­api­ta Av­enue. The young women, ages 15-18 years, were locked in rooms and made to take drugs and have sex with men for mon­ey. Po­lice al­so round­ed up at least 18 sus­pects for ques­tion­ing. A Chi­nese man, Jin­fu Zhu, and his 23-year-old Venezue­lan ac­com­plice, Solient Tor­res, were lat­er charged with 43 sex charges un­der the Sex­u­al Of­fences Act. The young women, most­ly of Venezue­lan na­tion­al­i­ty, were lat­er tak­en un­der the State’s care and kept in a safe house.

Mere days af­ter this ma­jor bust, a 24-year-old Venezue­lan woman who had es­caped from hu­man traf­fick­ers was re­cap­tured by them in Diego Mar­tin. Po­lice in­ter­cept­ed the al­leged traf­fick­ers along the Solomon Ho­choy High­way in the Clax­ton Bay area. Bat­tered and bruised, the shak­en woman was tak­en to the Wood­brook Po­lice Sta­tion. Akeem James, a 28-year-old spe­cial re­serve po­lice of­fi­cer and 39-year-old Kevin Houl­der a truck dri­ver were lat­er ar­rest­ed .

In Oc­to­ber last year, a 19-year-old Venezue­lan woman was se­vere­ly beat­en in a house in Debe. A video of the beat­ing was post­ed on so­cial me­dia by her al­leged per­pe­tra­tor who be­rat­ed her. A Diego Mar­tin man, Aval­on Cal­len­der was lat­er charged with kid­nap­ping and wound­ing with in­tent.

Au­thor­i­ties ac­knowl­edge that the hu­man traf­fick­ing prob­lem in­volv­ing sex slav­ery is a mas­sive one.

Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young said the res­cue of the 19 women last Feb­ru­ary had trig­gered a flood of tips about il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ty in­volv­ing hu­man traf­fick­ing across Trinidad and To­ba­go.

THE WORLD TAKES NO­TICE

Sev­er­al in­ter­na­tion­al agen­cies have fo­cused on the sex traf­fick­ing prob­lem dur­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Venezue­lan mi­grant sit­u­a­tion in Trinidad.

Melanie Teff, who is UNICEF UK’s se­nior hu­man­i­tar­i­an ad­vo­ca­cy and pol­i­cy ad­vis­er, re­called in­ter­view­ing about 50 Venezue­lan vic­tims who re­count­ed how traf­fick­ers en­trapped them in­to lives of sex and drugs.

In an in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia, Teff said, “We heard about these women and girls read­ing ad­ver­tise­ments for what seemed like jobs in bars that did not ap­pear to be pros­ti­tu­tion. Their doc­u­ments are tak­en away leav­ing them trapped in a for­eign land.”

Teff said the height­ened de­spair of these Venezue­lan women left them at the mer­cy of heart­less traf­fick­ers.

“They want to sur­vive and send back mon­ey to their fam­i­lies, who they feel a re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to sup­port. If they are not al­lowed a way of be­ing le­gal in Trinidad and To­ba­go, then they are go­ing to be at much greater risk of be­ing ex­ploit­ed,” she said.

‘COPS IN­VOLVED IN HU­MAN TRAF­FICK­ING’

PCA di­rec­tor David West con­firmed re­ceiv­ing many re­ports about po­lice of­fi­cers be­ing in­volved in hu­man traf­fick­ing and hold­ing girls and young women cap­tive.

Young girls are at the mer­cy of rogue po­lice of­fi­cers, West said.

“These young girls do not know the sys­tem and there­fore they are afraid to re­port it,” he said.

West said that the PCA had re­ceived a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of com­plaints in 2019 when com­pared to pre­vi­ous years.

“It is very wor­ry­ing, the sto­ries that the girls tell are…,” West said, paus­ing to com­pose him­self.

A fa­ther of two girls, West said, “I do not wish it on any­body’s daugh­ter, what they have al­leged­ly done to those girls.”

West said vic­tims should know that his agency will in­ves­ti­gate com­plaints against of­fi­cers. “Come to the PCA and we will take their com­plaints and in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter and bring those per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice,” he said.

Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith said he could not com­ment on pend­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­to po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in hu­man traf­fick­ing.

Grif­fith said he was mov­ing quick­ly to adopt poli­cies to tar­get and stamp out cor­rupt cops with the in­tro­duc­tion of poly­graph tests.

“Like any oth­er kind of il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ty hu­man traf­fick­ing we will treat through sting op­er­a­tions,” Grif­fith said. “If they don’t (stop),we will get enough ev­i­dence to put them be­hind bars.”

‘YOU’LL BE­COME PROS­TI­TUTES’

Cas­es in­volv­ing Maria and oth­er women im­pli­cate po­lice of­fi­cers who not on­ly held them cap­tive but fa­cil­i­tat­ed sex­u­al ex­ploita­tion of the women.

Maria was adamant that an of­fi­cer was the mas­ter­mind be­hind the hu­man traf­fick­ing ring that held her cap­tive for al­most six months.

An­oth­er woman who was held at the house in Debe, south Trinidad, said a po­lice of­fi­cer rou­tine­ly raped her and forced her to have sex with cus­tomers. “He col­lect­ed and kept all of the mon­ey.”

Guardian Me­dia spoke to their vic­tims…

Like Maria, Ju­marie Car­oli­na fled pover­ty and star­va­tion in her home town of Cara­cas.

She en­dured a nine-hour jour­ney from her home to Tu­cu­pi­ta. Car­ry­ing on­ly a knap­sack, she board­ed a fer­ry to Ce­dros.

A friend from her home town told her of the op­por­tu­ni­ties in Trinidad. The is­land at the South­ern tip of the Caribbean was de­scribed as an ide­al es­cape from the crum­bling Venezue­lan so­ci­ety.

At Ce­dros, she met a man iden­ti­fied as James who picked her up and took her to a house in Princes Town. James told her she would be there for a few days be­fore she could start work­ing as a wait­ress at a near­by bar.

Af­ter three days, one of the traf­fick­ers en­tered her room and raped her. Over sev­er­al days, he re­peat­ed­ly raped her. “He would force me to take (mar­i­jua­na), then rape me,” said Ju­marie, tears welling up in her eyes.

James made it clear that she owed him $1,000 for the trip and would have to work as a pros­ti­tute to re­pay him.

He bought her a back­less hal­ter-top and tight-fit­ting jeans and took her to a well-known San Fer­nan­do night­club fre­quent­ed by men, from all walks of life; hop­ing their mon­ey could buy them a good time with young Span­ish-speak­ing women.

When­ev­er Ju­marie seemed un­will­ing to com­ply with James’ wish­es, he would threat­en to harm her fam­i­ly while bran­dish­ing his firearm, she said.

Ju­marie said she knew she had to es­cape. A taxi dri­ver hired by James to take her to and from the club was her on­ly con­nec­tion to the out­side world. One evening, she asked him how much it would cost to take her to meet a Venezue­lan friend in Port-of-Spain. He agreed to help her.

Af­ter hear­ing Ju­marie’s sto­ry, her friend—de­ter­mined that it would be too risky to keep her—con­tact­ed an­oth­er woman who gave Ju­marie refuge.

But it seemed as though she was un­able to es­cape James’ reach. He sent a se­ries of men­ac­ing mes­sages, show­ing pic­tures of her fam­i­ly mem­bers in Venezuela, she said.

“You can’t hide here and you can’t hide in Venezuela,” he told her via text mes­sage.

Ju­marie had ini­tial­ly agreed to take Guardian Me­dia re­porters to sev­er­al lo­ca­tions where men had abused her. But on the day of the meet­ing, Ju­marie texted a friend, “I’m gone. He will find me.”

She then left on a boat from Ce­dros.

ES­CAP­ING CAP­TORS

One day in Feb­ru­ary, Maria es­caped from her cap­tors when she jumped through a bath­room at a bar in Wood­brook. She ran as fast as she could with no idea of where she was head­ed. She met some Venezue­lans on the street and bor­rowed a phone to con­tact a friend. Maria end­ed up in the same safe house as Ju­marie.

Af­ter ex­chang­ing sto­ries, Maria and Ju­marie re­alised they were vic­tims of the same sex traf­fick­ing ring. They had even stayed in sep­a­rate rooms of the same Debe house rent­ed by the po­lice of­fi­cer.

The sin­gle-storey house, paint­ed in brick red, had raised con­cerns among lo­cal res­i­dents who point­ed out that the house’s win­dows had been plas­tered over and ro­bust steel door kept oc­cu­pants in­side.

Many neigh­bours told Guardian Me­dia how Span­ish-speak­ing women would leave the house at night and re­turn in the wee hours of the morn­ing.

The same house was the scene of sev­er­al ques­tion­able in­ci­dents over the last year, in­clud­ing the vi­ral video of the beat­ing in­volv­ing the Venezue­lan woman.

PO­LICE OF­FI­CER DE­NIES IN­VOLVE­MENT

Both Maria and Ju­marie claimed that an of­fi­cer known as He­mant “Crix” Ram­sumair, who had ties to the po­lice of­fi­cer known as James, rent­ed the Debe home where they were once held cap­tive.

Peo­ple who live in the area said Ram­sumair resided ten min­utes away from the house in ques­tion.

Guardian Me­dia ap­proached Ram­sumair a few weeks ago out­side the Bar­rack­pore Po­lice Sta­tion where he worked. Ram­sumair was asked to ex­plain sev­er­al in­ci­dents at the house, in­clud­ing the beat­ing of the Venezue­lan woman last Oc­to­ber and the use of the prop­er­ty to en­slave Maria, Ju­marie and oth­ers.

Ram­sumair had been sus­pend­ed for some time from the po­lice ser­vice be­cause of a do­mes­tic mat­ter and had on­ly re­cent­ly re­sumed du­ty. He ac­knowl­edged tak­ing charge of the house about two years ago, but said he re­lin­quished it af­ter the beat­ing cap­tured in the vi­ral video.

Ram­sumair dis­tanced him­self from the al­leged beat­ing in­ci­dent at the house and de­nied any part in any hu­man traf­fick­ing ring that in­cludes the in­volve­ment of po­lice of­fi­cers.

He chalked up the in­ci­dent to noth­ing more than a lover’s quar­rel. He said, “That was the guy’s girl­friend and some­thing hap­pened and he could not take it and that is the gist of it. Se­ri­ous­ly.”

While Ram­sumair claimed to have giv­en up rental of the prop­er­ty, lo­cal res­i­dents con­tra­dict­ed that claim.

A rel­a­tive of the own­er, who re­sides in Cana­da, said they had been try­ing to evict Ram­sumair for sev­er­al months now with­out suc­cess.

Asked to com­ment on the as­ser­tions by Maria and Ju­marie and their or­deal, Ram­sumair said: “I would like to see that be­cause I knew all the peo­ple who stayed there. They were my friends. They can’t say any­thing bad. I think I have a good re­la­tion­ship with one or two of the girls I know who came to Trinidad.”

When asked if po­lice of­fi­cers in the area were part of this il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ty?

Ram­sumair said, “No, that is not so. It could nev­er be so.”

Ram­sumair said he had nev­er been un­der any in­ves­ti­ga­tion for hu­man traf­fick­ing.

Ram­sumair said, “Hon­est to God, I don’t know any­thing about the stuff, that pros­ti­tu­tion thing. My fam­i­ly taught me bet­ter than that.”

In the last sev­er­al months, dozens of Venezue­lan women have en­tered the coun­try in the hope of a new life. Many have been duped in­to sex slav­ery.

Un­like Ju­marie who es­caped, these women re­main be­hind trapped.

Hema Ramkissoon is the top ed­i­tor for the Guardian Me­dia Lim­it­ed broad­cast di­vi­sion. She has been with the com­pa­ny for more than a decade. Hema is the host of CNC3’s Morn­ing Brew pro­gramme which high­lights pol­i­cy and pol­i­cy­mak­ers in T&T.

Mark Bas­sant heads the in­ves­tiga­tive desk at Guardian Me­dia Lim­it­ed. He has more than two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in jour­nal­ism and is a grad­u­ate of Ry­er­son Uni­ver­si­ty in Toron­to, Cana­da. He has won six Caribbean Broad­cast­ing Union awards for Best In­ves­tiga­tive Re­port­ing in tele­vi­sion.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Court, Crime, Featured, International, News, Police, Regional, Youth0 Comments

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How this overdone ‘laudation’

by Claude Gerald

This is ridiculous. It’s been overdone. It should never ever been conceived. Redhead is a tiny dot on the map in terms of contribution to growth of the law in this region…

We do not value what is valuable! That is our problem. And our institutions in government behave just like him in acknowledging him.  This hopefully is the last mention of his name in a public fora on Montserrat!

Justice Morley presides over special sitting

To honour Redhead is to dishonor what is moral, decent and proper. The man made a mockery of his role as an impartial adjudicator, imposing his personal views as the law itself, rather than be guided by it. He corrupted the process and sided ahead of time despite evidence.

This man has got a history of impropriety on the bench. Is that what we are celebrating? Notice how politicians in neighbouring Antigua worshiped him? Why you have to ask? What about the deceased ‘Justice’ that attracts such glamour and celebration and praise and adulation?

John Stanley Weeks, Warren Cassell and many others where he injected himself to determine their matters. Questions still persist on his handling of the missing ballots in the 1987 election on Montserrat and the Montserrat Printery where he sided with John Osborn and his lot. His pattern stunk.

We are lauding who is NOT laudable. Anything said about REDHEAD that is worthy is a big stretch of the mind. Notice no other judge who has left this world, not even an officer of the court at the level of a practitioner, anywhere in the Caribbean ever attracted such verbal glow. It is a big laugh but it is not funny at all.

To conceive of this sends the wrong signals to the society on a whole. We should all be thankful that he is not in our lives as a Justice. We should be breathing relief instead. This is all so hypocritical. It is nauseating.

Life is fulfilling without Redhead in our midst. And I wish that his adherents, the Redheadites   of this world could tell him (he lives in their soul) that I was never impressed with his demeanour on the bench, his value system and he devalued and discredited the philosophical virtues and standing of the practice of law. In fact he was a disgrace to decency…. he did what certain interest groups wanted despite what was before him….

Nature rids itself of the no good and the good and accepts their physical bodies in a recycling process for our good.  I wonder if Nature in its perfection could not have pressed the selective button and determine the quality of organisms that returns to its compost heaps. Certain remains need to be screened.  But then Nature is not discriminating in its overall judgments of issues before its courts!

Claude Gerald is a social commentator on Montserrat. Ceegee15@hotmail.com.

Posted in CARICOM, Court, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Opinions, Police1 Comment

Jus Wonderin...

Jus Wonderin…

Jus wonderin why de magistrate charge $2500 forthwith for some individual and why de Custum Officers jus search out the gel dem panties who come here for St. Patricks festival.

Jus wonderin if these things should no stap and wonder what the Premier goin do bout it and if dey not going decriminalise de marijuana and free up the people  dem.

Jus wonderin when de people in Davy Hill for de spanikin house dem a go get dem key.

Jus wonderin if Gregory is a follower or a leader.

Jus wonderin if dem nar do discipline de honourable doc.

Jus wonderin if de honorable opposition was there when dey outsource the cleaning services and now a pretend he don’t know nothing. I callin on him to stap fool de people dem and buy vote carze Montserrat people dem no foolish.

 Jus wonderin why de hon minista o agriculture and he acting PS demolish de nursery at Brades and move it to where Sankofa was above Public Works.

Jus why de premier and de FS late wid de budget for three years in a row, if dem no need fu come to d people and explain why three years in a row de budget late.

Jus wonderin why de PDM govment so incompetent and also de opposition members also so incompetent.

Jus wonderin if disunity carze dat fu de P D M and de others dem jus ignorunt o stupid.

Jus wonderin why Montserrat people dem no come together and save this country f deterioration.

Jus wonderin if nobady a go say anything bout de Customs offica dem behavia tumbling out de gei dem underwear and brazier dem and spreading dem out in front o everybady.

Jus really wonder if dat a true and why we hear bout marijuana and no bady hear bout de people dem rites and de marginalisation. 

Jus wonderin if dat will continue when Kristmus come.

Jus wonderin wha a happen bout de new hospital if awe a go get wan u not.

Jus wonderin if a new Attorney General appointed yet.

Jus wonderin if now awe get a PMO if the rest of the Premier’s important office is staffed.

Jus wonderin if Saga Gregory mi a fire shots at de FS who really ha the responsibility fu de budget preparation.

Jus wonderin whu much trouble de siam FS carse Montserrat and if he an de Career Govna who appoint him an give him big bonus.

Jus wonderin if dem shudn’t do im de same lek de PMO but definitely fu carse.

Posted in Entertainment, Joke Corner, Jus Wonderin, Local, News, OECS, Police, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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Judge Redhead Eulogised

by Bennette Roach

He was lauded at his retirement in Montserrat in 2016

Justice Morley opens special sitting to honour Judge Redhead

By invitation from the Registrar of the High Court office in Montserrat it stated that we (media) were “invited to attend a Special Sitting of the High Court of Justice on Friday, 5th April, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. – In Recognition of the Late Justice Albert Redhead.

Judge Redhead on the bench at his retirement in 2016
Mrs. June Redhead

It showed that the late Judge was born in 1938 and died in 2019. This tribute was in honour “… to his fearless contribution to justice in the OECS and his long service in Montserrat.

Justice Ian Morley who replaced Judge Redhead when he retired (before returning to assist at various times as he did prior), presided over the special sitting where he, in his welcome read the names and titles where required of the long list of persons who were in attendance in the small now packed make-shift courtroom at Government Headquarters, upstairs the High Court Registry.

The order of the addresses as shown on a programme was adhered to by His Lordship Morley. Order of Addresses; – The Honourable Attorney General – Mrs. Sheree Jemmotte Rodney; Mr. Kenneth Allen Q.C. O.B.E – Inner Bar;  Mr. David S. Brandt – Senior Counsel Utter Bar; Mr. Jean Kelsick – President, Montserrat Bar Association; Mr. Oris Sullivan – Director of Public Prosecutions; Mr. Kharl Markham – Utter Bar; Ms. Amelia Daley – Public Bar; and, Reply by His Lordship the Honourable; Mr. Justice Iain Morley Q.C.

A quick change to that order was allowed when Antigua veteran Attorney Ralph Francis, on court duty in Montserrat was granted permission to speak as he had missed the events and opportunity to do so during the events surrounding the deceased ceremonial events and his subsequent burial.

Judge Morley named a long list of persons in his opening welcome at the sitting. They included a list similar to the sitting at which Justice Redhead presided with a junior female judge Agnes Actee beside him.

(see: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/judge-redhead-retires-in-montserrat/).

QC Kenneth Allen, OBE
David Brandt, Senior Counsel
AG Sheree Jemmotte Rodney

He named them: His Excellency Governor Pierce; Premier Romeo, other Ministers of Government, Delmaude Ryan, Paul Lewis; other Legislative members to include Ag. Minister Claude Hogan and wife Cherlyn Hogan, and other hon members of the Legislative Assembly; Government Claude Hogan and Hon Deputy Governor Mrs. Lyndell Simpson and Mr. Roger Simpson; Attorney General Mrs. Sheree Jemmotte-Rodney, Hon Financial Secretary Colin Owen and Mrs. Owen, Professor Sir Howard Fergus; Senior magistrate Miss Pyumini Weeratunpga and Director of Public Prosecution Mr. Oris Sullivan. Then members of the public service commission, permanent secretaries, heads of departments Commander of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force, Major Alvin Ryan; Commissioner of Police, Mr. Steve Foster; President of the Montserrat Bar Association, Mr. Jean Kelsick; members of the Inner Bar, and members of the Utter bar. Members of the clergy, invited guests; Ladies and gentlemen. The judge then said, “welcome and what a long list here to honour Mr. Justice Redhead.

The judge recounted what had taken place already in Antigua for the judge and his funeral. “Albert had the most extraordinary send off on Antigua. There was a special sitting with the Chief Justice and chief justices from other parts of the Caribbean on Monday, 25th March,” he said which lasted for three hours and seven minutes. “And there was a service,” which lasted three hours and 43minutes. And a procession to Parham where I along with my brother and sister judges walked behind Albert in his hearse.”

Clearly impressed with those proceedings, he concluded, “And it was a wonderful day.”

Jean Kelsick, President Bar Association
Kharl Markham
DPP Oris Sullivan

Before calling on the bar members to address their tributes, Judge Morley noted the picture of Redhead on his right and a book of condolence to his left in which he invited guests to enter their names, at the end of the siting and also noting that names had already been entered; as the book  had already been at the entrance to the court room.

The AG Mrs. Jemmotte Rodney, began the tributes, and put the proceedings well into perspective. She had along with few others attended those proceedings in Antigua, where she told colleagues there, that Montserrat had already made tributes to Redhead at his retirement special sitting in Montserrat.

“…it’s unfortunate that as Caribbean people we wait Caribbean people we wait until after someone has passed to basically give them their flowers…in Montserrat we didn’t wait until Justice Redhead had passed…we had a special sitting for Justice Redhead upon his retirement. I was pleased to be able to say that,” she said.

She added an explanation for the reason of “this special sitting.” “My lord that notwithstanding it was still necessary for us to have this sitting. Mainly because we as counsels, we want to pay our final respects. And it also gives Mrs. Redhead and the other members of the family who are here, an opportunity to hear from us. What we thought of Justice Redhead and again, the impact that he had in us as counsels,” adding also, the impact that he had on the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

Amelia Daley, public bar
Judge Iain Morley, Presiding

The AG noted making the point of deviation from not just the usual platitudes, but representing some of the Montserrat recollections of the judge. “Now the people of Montserrat have fond and not so fond memories of…” she declared, adding, it all depends on the circumstances in your interactions with him….”

“He was famous for his harsh sentences. Especially in relation to persons who came before him on child abuse and were convicted of sexual offenses… So basically, you came before him sitting in the dock, then you don’t have very fond memories.”

Immediately following was QC Kenneth Allen OBE, eldest member of the bar in Montserrat. He informed that the judge was called to the bar in the UK in society of the Middle Temple in 1972 returning to his home in Grenada. He gave an outline of Redhead’s career as a judge which began in 1985, following his first meeting with him in St. Kitts in 1975 when he served there as a Registrar. In 1985 he was appointed to serve Montserrat and Antigua.

QC Allen was brief as he continued to speak more of Mr. Redhead’s upward movement in the ECSC where he also served in the appeal courts.

He recalled as he reflected on the great life of Mr. Redhead, a thought that would not leave his mind, “how quickly memories of even very great men fade away.” After citing a story of Harry Belafonte who was a guest speaker at an event in St. Kitts which he attended, it brought him to say, “I hope and pray the memories of Mr. Justice Redhead would never fade away.”

Mr. Allen recalled incidents and remember the judge’s statement, cited by others, when he would win an appeal against Judge Redhead, he would react, “Well, you cannot always be right.”

From the inner bar to the utter bar, senior counsel David S. Brandt was next, and in his tribute, he pronounced: “Abraham Lincoln said “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power”.

 “Albert Redhead was one of the most powerful men I’ve ever known. His power derived from extra-ordinary intelligence, eloquence, charisma and wit, not to mention 34 years as a Judge. Yet the legacy he leaves is not about power. It’s about character,” he said.

He saw the judge as a role model, mentor and best friend to many.  He was fearless and stood up to power, as he cited one trial which involved former deceased Chief Minister John Osborne, where the Governor made certain requests, but refused vehemently by Redhead.

He said the judge had respect for lawyers, prosecutors and defence, and disagreements were not held over.

As he concluded, “…But I can’t help thinking that the Judge would want us to concentrate on what we have been given and what we can give, to celebrate life and carry on his legacy.”

Visiting Antigua Attorney Ralph Francis


The other attorneys who addressed as listed earlier all spoke in the same terms as much was said by the main earlier speakers. All present heard from Mr. Jean Kelsick – President, Montserrat Bar Association; Mr. Oris Sullivan – Director of Public Prosecutions; Mr. Kharl Markham – Utter Bar; Ms. Amelia Daley – Public Bar; and Antigua veteran Attorney Ralph Francis. Then the Reply by His Lordship the Honourable; Mr. Justice Iain Morley Q.C. He informed the rest of the proceedings for the departure from the court room, repeating the availability of the Condolence book and a gathering after in the Administration building meeting area.

 

 

HE Governor, Premier Romeo, Deputy Governor –
Mrs. Redhead leads procession at end of sitting 

 (These addresses may be heard as they become available at www.themontserratreporter.com or on soundcloud in due course).

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Jamaica records near 30 per cent decline in murders so far this year

Jamaica records near 30 per cent decline in murders so far this year

by staff writer 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 4, CMC – Jamaica has recorded a 29.7 per cent reduction in murders during the first five weeks of this year, according to figures released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

It said that there were 109 murders between January 1 and February 2 as compared with 155 for the same period last year.

JCF also reported that a decline in other categories of major crimes during the same period this year, with the number of shootings totalling 112, a 17 per cent reduction when compared with last year.

The police said that rapes declined significantly from 57 last year to 27 this year, while the number of aggravated assaults were reduced from 32 last year to 20 this year.

The figures show that there was a 15.3 per cent reduction in robberies during the first five weeks of this year, while the number of break-ins and larceny declined by 29.6 per cent and 5.3 per cent, respectively.

The overall reduction in murders is reflected in the statistics for all police divisions across the island, excepting Portland and Manchester. In Portland, two persons have been killed so far this year, compared with one during the same period last year.

For Manchester, five persons have been murdered so far this year as compared with three last year.

In 2018, more than 1, 200 people were killed in Jamaica.

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Police investigating kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelans

Police investigating kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelans

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jan 30, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) Wednesday confirmed that it is investigating the kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelan nationals but said it would not comment on whether or not a US$200,000 ransom had been demanded.

Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith, speaking on a radio programme here, said that the situation has been complicated by the fact that the Trinidad and Tobago nationals are believed to be held in the South American country.

“We at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service are doing all that is required. It is a very difficult situation. Initially reports are that they (those kidnapped) were actually outside of our waters when it is they were actually held by these individuals.

“It does not take away the fact that these are citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and there is a concern. It puts us in a  very difficult position to do much more than we are doing because of the situation where they are not in Trinidad and Tobago waters., Griffith said, adding “I am not saying our hands are tied, there’s a lot that we are doing from our end.

“Hopefully there will be something positive by the end of this,” he added.

Media reports here said that the kidnappers have given the relatives until Friday to pay the ransom or face the prospect of the hands of those detained being chopped off.

A photograph of the six men, identified as Jude Jaikaran,16; brothers Jason, 38, and Jerry O’Brian, 36; Ricky Rambharose, 35; Brandon Arjoon, 29; and Linton Manohar, 36, has been circulating on social media showing them sitting on the floor while being surrounded by men pointing machine-guns at them. The photo was sent to relatives on Monday.

In an audio clip that is also being circulated on social media, the families are warned that the kidnappers intend to make good on their demands.

Griffith was asked to confirm whether a ransom had been demanded.

I am sorry but I will not be able to make any revelations pertaining to this while the investigations are still ongoing,” he told radio listeners.

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Guyana-murder-cocaine-seizor-gunned-down

Surinamese rice exporter gunned down in Guyana

By Ivan Cairo

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Jan 15, CMC –A Surinamese national, who was being sought by police for questioning in connection with the seizure of a large quantity of cocaine, has been found dead in neighbouring Guyana.

Guyana police at the scene of the murder (Guyana Chronicle newspaper Photo)

Relatives have positively identified the body of Nitinder Oemrawsingh, a rice exporter, after it was discovered with a single bullet wound to the head on the Corentyne Beach in Guyana on Monday.

The relatives said they were able to identify Oemrawsingh, from photographs that were circulating on social media.

His attorney, Irvin Kanhai has also confirmed to reporters here that he had been reliably informed that his client had been shot and killed in Guyana.

Oemrawsingh was named a person of interest by the Surinamese police in the investigation of 2,300 kilos of cocaine seized last Tuesday in the Jules Sedney port in Paramaribo.

While he wasn’t regarded as a suspect as yet, acting Police Commissioner Roberto Prade told a news conference weekend that the exporter was wanted for questioning.

The drugs were found in one of eight freight containers with rice that were being prepared for export through Guadeloupe to France. The Port Control Unit discovered the cocaine during a routine check.

The Guyana police said that spent shell case believed to have been fired from a caliber .32 pistol and a cell phone supposedly belonging to the victim were found near the body.

A post mortem is expected to be conducted on Tuesday and Lyndon Alves, head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Guyana Police Force, said that he is in contact with his counterpart in Suriname.

The Guyana police have ruled out robbery as a motive, noting that less than US$400 had been found near the body.

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Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration

Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration

By Greg Miller
January 13

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is thought to be in the final stages of an investigation that has focused largely on whether Trump or his associates conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The new details about Trump’s continued secrecy underscore the extent to which little is known about his communications with Putin since becoming president.

After this story was published online, Trump said in an interview late Saturday with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro that he did not take particular steps to conceal his private meetings with Putin and attacked The Washington Post and its owner Jeffrey P. Bezos. Trump and Putin had undisclosed meeting at G-20

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7 had an undisclosed meeting that followed a first conversation during the G-20 summit in Hamburg. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

He said he talked with Putin about Israel, among other subjects. “Anyone could have listened to that meeting. That meeting is open for grabs,” he said, without offering specifics.

When Pirro asked if he is or has ever been working for Russia, Trump responded, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”

[A beefed-up White House legal team prepares for battle with special counsel]

Former U.S. officials said that Trump’s behavior is at odds with the known practices of previous presidents, who have relied on senior aides to witness meetings and take comprehensive notes then shared with other officials and departments.

Trump’s secrecy surrounding Putin “is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous,” said Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state now at the Brookings Institution, who participated in more than a dozen meetings between President Bill Clinton and then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. “It handicaps the U.S. government — the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president] — and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump.”

President Trump greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting in Helsinki. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A White House spokesman disputed that characterization and said that the Trump administration has sought to “improve the relationship with Russia” after the Obama administration “pursued a flawed ‘reset’ policy that sought engagement for the sake of engagement.”

The Trump administration “has imposed significant new sanctions in response to Russian malign activities,” said the spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and noted that Tillerson in 2017 “gave a fulsome readout of the meeting immediately afterward to other U.S. officials in a private setting, as well as a readout to the press.”

Trump allies said the president thinks the presence of subordinates impairs his ability to establish a rapport with Putin and that his desire for secrecy may also be driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency.

The meeting in Hamburg happened several months after The Washington Post and other news organizations revealed details about what Trump had told senior Russian officials during a meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office. Trump disclosed classified information about a terrorism plot, called former FBI director James B. Comey a “nut job” and said that firing Comey had removed “great pressure” on his relationship with Russia.

The White House launched internal leak hunts after that and other episodes and sharply curtailed the distribution within the National Security Council of memos on the president’s interactions with foreign leaders.

“Over time it got harder and harder, I think, because of a sense from Trump himself that the leaks of the call transcripts were harmful to him,” said a former administration official.

Senior Democratic lawmakers describe the cloak of secrecy surrounding Trump’s meetings with Putin as unprecedented and disturbing.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview that his panel will form an investigative subcommittee whose targets will include seeking State Department records of Trump’s encounters with Putin, including a closed-door meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki last summer.

“It’s been several months since Helsinki and we still don’t know what went on in that meeting,” Engel said. “It’s appalling. It just makes you want to scratch your head.”

The concerns have been compounded by actions and positions Trump has taken as president that are seen as favorable to the Kremlin. He has dismissed Russia’s election interference as a “hoax,” suggested that Russia was entitled to annex Crimea, repeatedly attacked NATO allies, resisted efforts to impose sanctions on Moscow, and begun to pull U.S. forces out of Syria — a move that critics see as effectively ceding ground to Russia.

At the same time, Trump’s decision to fire Comey and other attempts to contain the ongoing Russia investigation led the bureau in May 2017 to launch a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was seeking to help Russia and if so, why, a step first reported by the New York Times.

It is not clear whether Trump has taken notes from interpreters on other occasions, but several officials said they were never able to get a reliable readout of the president’s two-hour meeting in Helsinki. Unlike in Hamburg, Trump allowed no Cabinet officials or any aides to be in the room for that conversation.

Trump also had other private conversations with Putin at meetings of global leaders outside the presence of aides. He spoke at length with Putin at a banquet at the same 2017 global conference in Hamburg, where only Putin’s interpreter was present. Trump also had a brief conversation with ­Putin at a Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires last month.

Trump generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations with Putin, although Russia has often been first to disclose those calls when they occur and release statements characterizing them in broad terms favorable to the Kremlin.

In an email, Tillerson said that he “was present for the entirety of the two presidents’ official bilateral meeting in Hamburg,” but he declined to discuss the meeting and did not respond to questions about whether Trump had instructed the interpreter to remain silent or had taken the interpreter’s notes.

In a news conference afterward, Tillerson said that the Trump-Putin meeting lasted more than two hours, covered the war in Syria and other subjects, and that Trump had “pressed President ­Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement” in election interference. “President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson refused to say during the news conference whether Trump had rejected Putin’s claim or indicated that he believed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered.

Tillerson’s account is at odds with the only detail that other administration officials were able to get from the interpreter, officials said. Though the interpreter refused to discuss the meeting, officials said, he conceded that Putin had denied any Russian involvement in the U.S. election and that Trump responded by saying, “I believe you.”

A White House spokesperson, responding to this detail from the Hamburg meeting, said: “The President has affirmed that he supports the conclusions in the 2017 Intel Community Assessment, and the President also issued a new executive order in September 2018 to ensure a whole of government effort to address any foreign attempts to interfere in US elections.”

Senior Trump administration officials said that White House officials including then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster were never able to obtain a comprehensive account of the meeting, even from Tillerson.

“We were frustrated because we didn’t get a readout,” a former senior administration official said. “The State Department and [National Security Council] were never comfortable” with Trump’s interactions with Putin, the official said. “God only knows what they were going to talk about or agree to.”

Because of the absence of any reliable record of Trump’s conversations with Putin, officials at times have had to rely on reports by U.S. intelligence agencies tracking the reaction in the Kremlin.

Previous presidents and senior advisers have often studied such reports to assess whether they had accomplished their objectives in meetings as well as to gain insights for future conversations.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been reluctant to call attention to such reports during Trump’s presidency because they have at times included comments by foreign officials disparaging the president or his advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a former senior administration official said.

“There was more of a reticence in the intelligence community going after those kinds of communications and reporting them,” said a former administration official who worked in the White House. “The feedback tended not to be positive.”

The interpreter at Hamburg revealed the restrictions that Trump had imposed when he was approached by administration officials at the hotel where the U.S. delegation was staying, officials said.

Among the officials who asked for details from the meeting were Fiona Hill, the senior Russia adviser at the NSC, and John Heffern, who was then serving at State as the acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment from the interpreter. Heffern, who retired from State in 2017, declined to comment.

Through a spokesman, Hill declined a request for an interview.

There are conflicting accounts of the purpose of the conversation with the interpreter, with some officials saying that Hill was among those briefed by Tillerson and that she was merely seeking more nuanced information from the interpreter.

Others said the aim was to get a more meaningful readout than the scant information furnished by Tillerson. “I recall Fiona reporting that to me,” one former official said. A second former official present in Hamburg said that Tillerson “didn’t offer a briefing or call the ambassador or anybody together. He didn’t brief senior staff,” although he “gave a readout to the press.”

A similar issue arose in Helsinki, the setting for the first formal U.S.-Russia summit since Trump became president. Hill, national security adviser John Bolton and other U.S. officials took part in a preliminary meeting that included Trump, Putin and other senior Russian officials.

But Trump and Putin then met for two hours in private, accompanied only by their interpreters. Trump’s interpreter, Marina Gross, could be seen emerging from the meeting with pages of notes.

Alarmed by the secrecy of Trump’s meeting with Putin, several lawmakers subsequently sought to compel Gross to testify before Congress about what she witnessed. Others argued that forcing her to do so would violate the impartial role that interpreters play in diplomacy. Gross was not forced to testify. She was identified when members of Congress sought to speak with her. The interpreter in Hamburg has not been identified.

During a joint news conference with Putin afterward, Trump acknowledged discussing Syria policy and other subjects but also lashed out at the media and federal investigators, and he seemed to reject the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies by saying that he was persuaded by Putin’s “powerful” denial of election interference.

Previous presidents have required senior aides to attend meetings with adversaries including the Russian president largely to ensure that there are not misunderstandings and that others in the administration are able to follow up on any agreements or plans. Detailed notes that Talbot took of Clinton’s meetings with Yeltsin are among hundreds of documents declassified and released last year.

John Hudson, Josh Dawsey and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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Bulgarian - stole from ATM Antigua

Bulgarian charged with stealing more than $25K from ATM in Antigua

 

Police over the weekend charged Mark Vas Nelsen, a Bulgarian/Canadian citizen with stealing more than $25,000 from a local bank. The authorities did not name the bank but said the man used fraudulent means to obtain the funds from the ATM.

The alleged offences took place over the period of one month from November 27 to December 27, 2018.

Nelsen was arrested last Friday after police searched his hotel and found what appears to be a machine used in the act. Several credit cards were also found.

Earlier this year, another Bulgarian, Martin Dimitrov Dachenski was charged with larceny in connection with another ATM fraud. He was ordered by the court to repay close to $25,000.

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Government back bencher defends his vote that topples coalition

Government back bencher defends his vote that topples coalition

Government back bencher Charandaas Persaud, said his conscience had been “stifled for long” as he defended his decision to vote with the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and topple the three-year-old coalition government of President David Granger late on Friday night.

With the coalition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)- commanding just a one-seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly, Persaud’s vote was crucial and he told reporters that he had not been offered any money or position by the opposition to vote against the coalition government.

Charandaas Persaud speaking to reporters after voting to bring down the government

“My conscience was stifled for long…they voted for things that should not have happened, period”, Persaud told reporters.

Media reports quoted Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, as saying that security arrangements will be put in place for Persaud, who is due to leave the country on Saturday.

The vote by Persaud means that Guyana will hold fresh general elections by March next year.

His colleagues, who were caught by the surprise vote, believe that he had made a mistake in the voting.

But the attorney gave a strong “yes” when the Clerk of the Assembly re-started the process.

He told reporters he voted to clear his conscience and now that his conscience is clear, if he dies, he knows that he would die a happy man.

Persaud said he will be offering his resignation to the Parliament and the Alliance for Change (AFC) a partner in the coalition government, and that he would not be returning to the House as a Member of Parliament for the AFC.

He told reporters that he had become tired of voting along party lines and had become disenchanted with his party for always voting for issues brought up by its coalition partner.

He said there were a number of issues that forced him to vote against his own party and side with the PPP, a party that he has long criticised as being corrupt and out of touch.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said that he intends to meet with the President Granger on the issue and several other matters.

Under the Constitution, the Government has to call elections within three months or at a time agreed to by two-thirds of the National Assembly. The President is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment following a cancer diagnosis. That treatment schedule is expected to continue for five more months.

Meanwhile, Britain’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn Saturday called on Guyana to respect government’s loss of the no-confidence vote.

“Members of Parliament must be allowed to undertake their constitutionally mandated roles in the absence of fear or favour,” he said, urging politicians to campaign on the issues facing the country.

“We urge calm on all sides and look forward to a free and fair election and a campaign fought on the issues that confront Guyana and it’s future development,” he said, adding that he was hoping that any protests that followed the vote on Friday night would be peaceful.

“Maintaining the fundamental tenets of democracy is paramount to us all and whilst everyone has the right to protest this must be peaceful,” he said.

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