Caribbean RoundUp

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves.
United Nations / Ryan Brown
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on government to bring home over 90 Trinidad and Tobago nationals, including about 56 children who are detained in life-threatening conditions as Islamic State (ISIS) suspects and family members in Northeast Syria.
The call is part of the report “Trinidad and Tobago: Bring Home Nationals from Northeast Syria,” which HRW launched recently.
A release from the organization said, “the government from T&T has taken almost no steps to help them return, even as dozens of countries including the United States and Barbados repatriate some or many of its nationals.”
The report calls on the government to bring home its nationals for rehabilitation, reintegration and prosecutions of adults as appropriate. Many children in other countries are successfully reintegrating after being brought home from Northeast Syria, HRW has found.
In August 2018, former Minister of National Security Stuart Young, set up a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency team, the Nightingale Team, to deal with the possible repatriation and reintegration of those citizens in Syria and Iraq.
There have been calls by the US and relatives to repatriate those in the camps, and Young said authorities were conducting verification and information gathering exercises on the refugees and that Team Nightingale would “ensure that the best decision and actions are taken in the public’s interest.”



President Dr. Irfaan Ali has outlined plans for a future Guyana that will be at the forefront of innovation and development, as the country celebrates its 53rd Republic Anniversary.
Addressing the nation ahead of the anniversary, he declared that Guyana is advancing rapidly towards modernity with his government laying the groundwork for a post 2030 era.
He spoke of his administration plans to establish a healthcare system that provides swift and effective care to all citizens and create a space where every senior citizen will be able to live with dignity.
Ali said the government intends to build a Guyana in which every child will be able to have access to and benefit from a quality education in classroom that are safe, non intimidating and enable them to realise their full potential and will also prioritise providing young people with the necessary opportunities to pursue productive careers.
He further affirmed his government’s commitment to ensure women have equal opportunities and are treated with respect.
The Jamaican government has declared states of public emergency (SOEs) Clarendon and St. Ann as well as the Kingston Western Police Division following a “surge in criminal activities in these areas.”
“The declaration of states of emergency will allow the security forces to carry out targeted operations to disrupt and dismantle criminal gangs and their network and prevent the occurrence of serious crimes,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said.
A statement issued by the Office of Prime Minister said that on the advice of the commissioner of police, the chief of Defence Staff and the Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, had indicated that these SOEs would be for an initial period of 14 days, which began on Feb. 15.
“Organized gangs are the main source and cause of violence, leading to fear and terror in some communities. The government must protect innocent citizens from these criminal gangs, and therefore, must act,” Holness said.
In December last year, SOEs were reinstated in Clarendon, St. Ann, St. Catherine and specified areas in Kingston and St Andrew to deal with criminal activities in these areas.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang stressed that extreme criminality, as recorded in the specified areas, requires equally strong and decisive enforcement measures to protect law abiding citizens.
St. Lucia marked its 44th anniversary of its political independence from Britain recently with a traditional military parade and the government urging citizens to unite for the future socio-economic development of the country.
The celebrations were observed under the theme “Douvan Asanm: One People Shaping Our Destiny” and Prime Minister Phillip J. Pierre said it underscores the need to move forward as one people, one nation “inwards our shared destiny.”
“It calls for a resolve from both government and citizens to ensure that as we develop our nation, no one should be left behind to the dreary lives of abject poverty and lacking the basic necessities of life to life in dignity and pride.”
Pierre said that it is important to build a St. Lucia “where there is equal opportunity for all and resources of the state are used to benefit the vast majority of the people since there can be no economy without people.”
“The independence theme reinforces these values and principles which my government upholds and have been guiding others behind our people-centered government agenda of putting people first,” said Pierre.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, is a priority threat to citizen security in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and the rest of the CARICOM.
“There is a persistent demand in our countries for firearms and their continued use in the commission of crimes, including homicides.” Gonsalves who is also minister of National Security said in a ministerial statement to Parliament recently.
SVG has recorded nine homicides so far this year including two people killed by police.
This followed a record bloody 2022 in which there were 42 homicides, the bulk of which involved the use of a firearm.
“The demand for firearms remains high in criminal groups and also with the civilian population for personal protection in response to increases in violence in some communities in our country and the rest of the CARICOM jurisdictions,” said Gonsalves.
There are human traffickers in the Parliament, but they are not in the People’s National Movement (PNM) side of the house.
A 2022 US report on Human Trafficking pointed fingers at current members of Parliament, but not those sitting on the PNM side, said Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley in Parliament recently as he went on the offensive responding to questions from Naparima MP Rodney Charles on a 2022 US report on Human Trafficking.
Charles said in July 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report stated that T&T maintains its position on the Tier 2 Watchlist in part because it did not take action against “senior government officials alleged in 2020 to be involved in human trafficking.”
“Will the prime minister state what action was being taken  in respect of this allegation?” Charles asked.
“We did hear that allegation and when we investigated it, we discovered it was referring to current members of Parliament, none of whom is on the government’s side. So my colleague (Charles) might be able to help me find out who they (the report) were talking about,” Rowley responded.
— Compiled by Azad Ali