Caribbean RoundUp

Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Phillip Davis.


Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, recently conducted the swearing in ceremony for independent Senator Kiz Johnson.
Johnson is now the seventh woman to be sworn into the Upper House of Parliament.
She is the current group marketing manager at Anjo Insurances & Anjo Wholesale where she has direct responsibility for ensuring the group’s brands are the preferred brands and achieving the branding/marketing goals of the Anjo Group of Companies.
The new Senate has seen a reduction in female representation coming out of what was its largest number of female senators ever with nine of its 17 members being women during the 2018-2022 period.
Johnson succeeds the previous governor general’s representative, Bakesha Francis-James, who served since the 2018 general election.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that all seven Bahamian diplomats, including the spouse of the charge d’affaires, were airlifted out of Port-au-Prince, Haiti by helicopter recently and have since landed safely in the Dominican Republic.
In a statement, Prime Minister Dr. Phillip Davis expressed deep gratitude to the President of the Dominican Republic Luis Abinader and the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic, Roberto Alvarez for the execution of this process.
This development comes recently as the prime minister ordered all Bahamian diplomatic personnel in Haiti to immediately leave the country as soon as security conditions permitted, citing the rapidly devolving and unstable conditions in the wake of reported violent gang killings of police officers and protests in the French speaking CARICOM member state.
Outraged rebel police officers “paralysed” Port-au-Prince recently in protest of a slew of killings of police officers by Haitian gangs.
More than a hundred protesters blocked roads, shot guns into the air and broke through the capital’s airport and the prime minister’s house.
According to the minister of Foreign Affairs, once conditions improve, a team from The Bahamas will be sent back into Haiti without further announcement.
The Mia Mottley administration will be bringing the Integrity in Public Life Bill to Parliament soon and has cautioned that senior government officers and senior judicial officers hired in the future would fall under the legislation approved by the Cabinet recently.
Attorney General Dale Marshall made this announcement during a post-Cabinet press conference where he noted that to impose change on appointed judges, the director of public prosecutions and the auditor general would be a breach of their constitution protection.
Marshall stressed that current constitutional provisions made top judicial officers exempt from the proposed law, but those hired in the future would have to comply with the provisions.
The attorney general noted that when T&T sought to subject their judges to integrity legislation, a high court suit was filed and the measure was ruled unconstitutional.
“We’ve carefully analyzed the Trinidadian provisions, Trinidad and Barbados have the same common law heritage and our constitutions are very similar and it is therefore fair to conclude that such a challenge would be received and supported by our courts, if we sought to make our high court judges subject to the provisions of the integrity legislation,” Marshall stressed.
Marshall said he was satisfied that the “bill as presented today” would satisfy the requirements of the Senate. He recollected that the first attempt to pass the legislation did not receive the two-thirds majority support in the Senate and the bill was defeated.
CARICOM says it is deeply concerned that the contrasting incidents involving the Haitian National Police indicate the severity of the challenges that the police face as well as further breakdown in security in Haiti.
In a statement, the 15-member regional body said that it strongly condemns the killing of police officers and expressed condolences to the families who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“The anger and dismay of the police at the gruesome killings of their  colleagues, 78 killed since July 2021 and 14 to date in January, are shared by all. However, abandoning the role of the security forces to protect every citizen and maintain public order further destabilizes the country. The protest actions by members of the police service against the prime minister cannot be condoned.”
Rebel police officers rioted in Port-au-Prince to protest against the killing of more than a dozen colleagues by criminal gangs.
The rioting officers blamed the government for not taking action.
According to the National Union of Haitian Police Officers, 14 men have been killed since the start of the year in various gang attacks on police stations.
A Guyanese court handed down death sentences for two men found guilty of high-seas piracy attacks that killed seven fishermen off the nation’s coast in 2018, and authorities said they have broken the back of a deadly group that preyed on fishermen for years.
Nakool Manohar, 45 and Premnauth Persad, 48, were convicted of masterminding an attack on a group of fishing vessels on waters near the neighboring South American country of Suriname in a row over access to prime fishing grounds. Seven fishermen perished, while about a dozen others were rescued after drifting on the water for days.
Police said some of the men were thrown overboard with their hands tied or weighed down with boat batteries. Others were reportedly chopped with machetes or burned with hot engine oil and tossed into the Atlantic Ocean.
Sentencing the men recently after a jury returned guilty verdicts, Justice Navindra Singh described the attacks as heinous, saying he found “no reason not to impose the death sentence.”
The illegal gun and ammunition trade was intercepted by police in the western city of Montego Bay, with the seizure of 22 guns and several rounds of ammunition.
According to police reports recently, detectives attached to the Freeport Police Station in the western parish of St. James were alerted to a suspicious container that arrived from a destination in the U.S.
A search was conducted of the container, which resulted in the seizure of 21 Glock pistols, a Cobra revolver and ammunition.
Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang, in responding to the find, said a multi-agency team included representatives from Customs Enforcement, the local Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) and the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC), supported by agents of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who are based in Jamaica.
“I want to commend the collaborative effort, and say to the country that the security teams working in collaboration, will continue to find these firearms,” Chang said.
The state has hired retired Appeal Court Judge and former judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Rolston Nelson, SC, to advise the state on its next move in the debacle, which led to a court awarding $20 million to nine men once accused of killing businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.
Last week, the Office of the Attorney General said AG Reginald Armour, SC, had retained Nelson to advise “on issues relevant to the missing file and the provenance of the decision” of Master Martha Alexander.
The statement provided little information and only that Attorney General Armour remains consistent with his commitment to ensuring the urgent investigation and keeping the public updated on the progress of this matter.”
In addition to launching the investigation, Armour said that he will be seeking legal advice on whether the state can appeal the default judgement and subsequent assessment of damages.
The state failed to defend a malicious prosecution lawsuit, which Armour blamed on the disappearance of the case file, the nine men who sued after being acquitted of the charge of murdering Naipaul-Coolman, were collectively awarded more than $20 million in compensation.
— Compiled by Azad Ali