Antigua and Barbuda
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne warned of possible retrenchment in the public service if trade unions continue to demand unrealistic higher wages for workers in the country.
“We know there will be many challenges, but we will not be daunted by those challenges. We remain focus on transforming this country into an economic powerhouse, but I say to you as workers that we must all grid our loins and join the battle, that there is no room for loafers and must all contribute.”
Addressing the Labor Day rally to mark the international day of workers, Browne said that workers can be assured that his administration, which gave a five percent increase to workers in 2018, “remains committed to do more than five percent.”
“We are about to conclude those negotiations and I am absolutely sure that at the end of the say when we would have resolved the issues, that we would be able to maintain the positive parity of workers.”
Adding, this would be done “amid very difficult circumstances” brought on by the pandemic. “We could have said to public sector workers because of the devastating effects of COVID that we do not have the capacity to give an increase.
“But I ask our workers to be reasonable. I ask you to engage us constructively because we are not taking the position that we are not giving increases. The issue is how much and again we ask you to be reasonable.”
“Because if you ask or make demands that are unreasonable that’s beyond the means of the government it will be self defeating because you will force the government to retrench,” Browne added.
The Bahamas government has defended its asylum and refugee policy in light of recent criticism from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that they should not be detained or punished for unlawfully entering a country.
“The only thing I would say to that is that it appears to me that they do not fully understand the process in the first place when they make such a statement. That’s all I will say. It’s apparent to me that they don’t understand the process,” Minister of Immigration, Keith Bell said.
The UNHCR has urged Nassau not to detain asylum-seekers and to find alternative ways of accommodating them. In a report, it said that the government should detain asylum-seekers and refugees only under “circumstances where it is necessary, reasonable and proportionate to the legitimate purpose achieved and justified by international law.”
In 2021, seven asylum-seekers sued the government over their detention, including a mother separated from her young child for over a year. The Cameroonians had fled their African country fearing prosecution, but they were kept at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre from May 2019 and were released in April 2021. Bell said that it was unclear whether there are currently asylum-seekers detained here and that he is certain there are none at the Detention Centre in a similar position to the Cameroon nationals.
President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, welcomed St Lucia as a full member of the regional court that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the Caribbean’s final court.
In a statement, Justice Saunders said that the CCJ, which has both an Original and Appellate jurisdiction, had taken note that the Constitution of St Lucia (Amendment) Act had been assented to by the Governor General Errol Charles.
He said as a result, St. Lucia has ” now officially acceded to the CCJ’s Appellate Jurisdiction” extending his “sincerest congratulations to the people of St Lucia on this momentous occasion.”
St. Lucia now becomes the fifth Caribbean Community (Caricom) country, joining Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana, in becoming a full member of the CCJ. The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governments the 15-member regional integration grouping.
While most of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the CCJ’S Original jurisdiction, Trinidad and Tobago, where the CCJ is headquartered is among regional countries not full members of the court.
“The CCJ looks forward to serving the people of St Lucia as we do all the states and people of the Caribbean Community and in particular, those of Guyana, Barbados, Belize and the Commonwealth of Dominica, whose final appeals we hear,” Justice Saunders said. Adding, “the CCJ looks forward to more Caricom states accessing the CCJ’s Appellate Jurisdiction in the future.”
The Guyana government has taken an aggressive approach towards ending the scourge of human trafficking, with the passing of the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill 2023 in the National Assembly recently.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, who said the bill received extensive work from local and international bodies as well as wide consultations, ” The objective of this bill is to provide measures to combat trafficking in persons including children and it sets out a litany of criminal offences with extraterritorial effect and this extraterritorial effect facilities partnership and cooperation between Guyana and other states to prevent and suppress trafficking in persons and of course, it gives a wider scope to punish offenders,” she said.
Under the new legislation, anyone who commits the offence is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for five years. Conviction on indictment carries a penalty of life imprisonment. Minister Persaud added that there will also be significant fines, charges and convictions relative to attempts of conspiracy or complacent acts of trafficking.
Endorsing the bill, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall indicated that restitution is an approach that must be persued to hurt by perpetrators of human trafficking.
Meanwhile, the human service ministry’s Counter-Tip Unit has trained 2,003 people to better recognise those victims of human trafficking.
Vigilante killings are surging in Haiti where at least 18 people have been recorded killed by crowds in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas within a week, although videos and pictures shared on social media suggest the number is higher. The images largely show crowds pelting men with big rocks and setting fire to gasoline-soaked tyres placed around or over their bodies.
Most of the bodies were left strewn along the road that leads to the home of former president Jovenel Moise, who was killed in July 2021. One of the body was left close to the police station in the suburb of Petion-Ville.
The killings came as some Haitians say they are tired and angry over escalating gang violence, with the UN noting a 20 percent increase in killings from January to the end of March. In addition, 637 kidnappings have been reported for the year so far and more than 130,000 Haitians have fled their communities as gangs break into homes, set them on fire and killed people in territories held by rival gangs.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry condemned the ongoing vigilante killings and ordered people to “calm down.” “The insecurity we experience is appalling,” he said adding that people should not be dragged “into mindless violence.” Some Haitians have condemned the violence on social media, saying alleged gang members also have a right to life and that they do not support a growing vigilante movement. Haiti’s National Police issued a statement saying officers are dismantling gangs across the country that are “terrorising the civilian population.”
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has appointed Phillip Rose to serve as its acting deputy director of Tourism for the Americas, with responsibility for the US, Caribbean and Latin America. The appointment took effect on April 1, 2023.
Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett said Rose has long history working in tourism to promote brand Jamaica. “Throughout the years he has proven himself to be a visionary leader whose numerous success have helped to elevate and maintain Jamaica’s status as one of the world’s top tourism destinations, particularly from North America. It was therefore, a natural fit for him to step into this key role.”
Director of Tourism at the JTB, Donovan White welcomed Rose to the new post, noting that he is a champion of Jamaica’s tourism, with outstanding qualifications and a well-established track record of excellence.
Prior to his appointment, Rose served as regional director for the JTB in the US, responsible for overseeing sales and marketing in the north-east, the region that delivers the largest share of visitors to the island. He has also held senior-level positions within the organisation, including regional director of Canada, during which time the country recorded its highest visitor arrivals to Jamaica.
Rose, who was first recruited by the JTBorevthan 20 years ago, said it was an honor to accept the appointment. “I have always been passionate about selling and marketing travel to Jamaica, as well as aligning strategies and tactics to meet objectives and targets, so I look forward to doing so in an expanded capacity with this promotion,” Rose said.
— Compiled by Devika Ragoonanan