2005-06-30 / Caribbean Corner

Caribbean Roundup

Caricom leaders & opposition to meet in annual summit

CASTRIES, St Lucia (AP) – Heads of government of the Caribbean Com-munity (Caricom) and opposition leaders will meet here for the first time on Saturday to discuss regional issues.

The meeting comes ahead of the 26th annual Caricom Summit and St Lucia’s Ambassador to Caricom An-thony Severin is hoping the talks will facilitate a program of action for re-gional integration.

“We really need now more than ever before to bring on board the opposition elements in our countries,” Severin told reporters here.

“Get them involved in the dialogue so that when we are moving forward in a particular direction on a particular issue, at least we know that there is a broader level of consensus that would have existed before, so it’s now not just governments alone agreeing, but a broader representation of persons in our community.”

Severin noted the response from the opposition leaders has been very en-couraging and so far Dominica, Jam-aica, St Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago have already confirmed attendance.

Discussions will also seek to address concerns over some leaders’ change in levels of commitment towards regional initiatives, when they get into opposition.

In recent times the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) was threatened by political opposition on some issues, especially the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in Jamaica.

“There have been occasions in some territories where heads of government would be all gung-ho about a particular initiative once they got into opposition then the level of commitment start-ed to change and they began to question why we were moving in a direction, which when they were in government they had agreed to,” Severin said.

Recommendations from that meeting will be presented to the regional leaders, for discussion at their annual summit.

Jamaica placed ads abroad for senior Police officers

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Jam-aica has begun advertising internationally for four assistant commissioners of police, having apparently failed in its effort at direct recruitment for more foreigners as part of its reform of the constabulary.

Government sources said yesterday that ads began appearing in newspapers in Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States for the senior cops, who, if they can be found, will join Mark Shields, the former Scotland Yard policeman, in the senior ranks of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Shields, who is deputy commissioner in charge of the crime portfolio, joined the JCF in March and his recruitment is being pointed to in the ads as part of the constabulary’s effort at modernization and its aim to “increase the mo-mentum of change and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency” of the police force.

The advertisements invite applications from serving or retired officers who have held senior command positions at the levels of assistant chief constable and chief superintendent in Britain, or equivalent ranks in the United States, Canada or Australia.

“These officers will have proven leadership and management skills at a strategic level and must be equipped with the inter-personal and communications skills to adapt to policing in Jamaica,” the ads say.

The applications must be sent in to Charles Jones, the chief personnel officer at the Services Commission, by July 15.

The salary packages which go with the posts are not disclosed.

With the country’s high crime rate, including more than 1,000 homicides a year, Jamaica’s 10,000-member constabulary developed a reputation for ineffectiveness and corruption and for a para-military style of operation.

Major efforts at reform have been underway since the early 1990s with, critics say, only limited success, and the administration has been under pressure to recruit foreign officers in line positions to imbue the organization with new thinking. Shields was to have been the first of a batch of overseas recruits who were expected to be in place al-ready, coming primarily from the Uni-ted Kingdom.

However, Observer sources say that the authorities have had difficulty in enticing UK officers to Jamaica, due in part to a shortage of senior officers to fill top ranks on UK forces and concerns about pay and security in Jamaica.

Security ministry officials were not available last night to comment on the specifics of the jobs being advertised, the most surprising of the four being for that for assistant commissioner in charge of the Professional Standards Branch (PSB), a newly-created division that has responsibility for investigating internal corruption.

That PSB is now headed by Assis-tant Commissioner Novelette Grant, a bright and highly-trained officer who many had earmarked as a future chief of police.

Grant herself was not immediately available for comment but there have been suggestions that she has signalled her intention of leaving the JCF to possibly take up an assignment abroad.

The other areas in which the new assistant commissioners will work are:

• Homicide and serious crime investigation;

• Operations and firearms; and

• Community policing and crime and order partnership.

The specific subject matters to be covered by these portfolios was not immediately clear, however, it is known that the police are to overhaul the system for the issuance and monitoring of firearms following the recent passage by Parliament of legislation for an in-dependent body for the subject.

Community policing is also emerging as an important portfolio, since a study by the US police consulting group PERF listed it as an area for attention.

Government given 14 days to name commission

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – Less than one week after a senior government minister criticized successive Trinidad & Tobago governments over their failure to appoint an enquiry to probe the 1990 coup attempt, the op-position National Alliance for Recon-struction (NAR) has given the current government 14 days to appoint a Com-mission.

NAR Chairman Rawle Raphael told a news conference the Patrick Man-ning Administration has been given 14 days to commission the enquiry, failing which the party members, led by party organizer Wendell Eversley, will start a fast until 27 July outside the office of the prime minister.

Members of the radical Jamaat-al-Muslimeen group that staged the abor-tive coup on 27 July 1990, were later freed after they were given an amnesty by acting President Emmanuel Carter.

But the London-based Privy Council, the highest court here, over turned the amnesty and also ruled it would be an abuse of process to re-arrest and charge the members of the group for the crime.

The group, led by Yasin Abu Bakr stormed the Parliament and the Trini-dad & Tobago television (TTT) holding a number of lawmakers and journalists hostage.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Housing Minister Dr. Keith Rowley slammed successive governments for not launching an inquiry into the at-tempted coup that left more than 20 people dead during the six-day insurrection against the then ANR Rob-in-son Administration.

Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday was quoted in the media yesterday however, as saying he did not favor the enquiry, since he believed constitutional reform was more critical to the development of the country.

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