2005-09-22 / Caribbean Corner

Caribbean Roundup

Court denies Panday leave to petition Privy Council

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – The Court of Appeal has turned down an appeal by Opposition Leader Bas-deo Panday for conditional leave to petition the London-based Privy Coun-cil over charges of making false declarations under the Integrity in Public Life Act.

Panday could still petition the law lords directly, but legal sources said that it is unlikely that the London-based court, which is Trinidad & Tobago’s highest court, would grant him leave.

They said as a result, Panday, who served as prime minister from 1995-2001, is likely to appear before Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls on October 24 to answer the charges laid against him.

Panday was charged with making a false declaration to the Integrity Com-mission for the years 1997, ‘98 and ‘99 concerning a London Bank account.

Earlier this year, the Appeal Court had dismissed his motion, noting there were parallel remedies available to him.

In his motion, Panday claimed that he had been charged with an offense which did not exist at the time the complaint was laid and, secondly, that the charges ought not to have been brought against him because the limitation period for laying such a charge had expired.

In refusing leave, Chief Justice Sat-narine Sharma said that in Panday’s motion, there were no disputable issue under the Constitution to be decided, nor was there need for clarification.

The Chief Justice said that the arguments submitted by the attorneys for Panday and the State were so comprehensive that he did not have any questions.

U.S. businessman joins presidential race in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – A crowded presidential field grew more diverse yesterday as a wealthy Ame-rican businessman registered his candidacy for the first election since Pre-sident Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted from power following a violent rebellion in February 2004.

Dumarsais Simeus, who is the own-er of a Texas-based food processing company but was born in Haiti, registered on the final day to become a presidential candidate - joining a field that included a leader of the rebellion that ousted Aristide and a wide range of former government officials.

“I am deeply grateful to the people of Haiti for the enormous outpouring of support, goodwill and love we have received,” said the 65-year-old multi-millionaire, who had said he wanted to use his business savvy to help resurrect the economy of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

“In all that I have done, I have al-ways been successful. I’m a perpetual winner, and I will win these elections,” Simeus said.

The November 20 election will be the country’s first since Aristide was forced from power, and more than two dozen candidates have registered to replace him. Additional hopefuls were expected to emerge by the end of yesterday - the deadline to register with the Provisional Electoral Council.

Minister: Jamaica spends millions upgrading ports

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – The Jamaica government says it has spent an estimated J$5 billion to strengthen maritime safety and security as part of the international effort to thwart illegal and terrorist activities.

Transport and Works Minister Rob-ert Pickersgill said that following the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, very stringent measures had been introduced by the International Mari-time Organization (IMO) to get ports up to international standards.

“All our ports had to be certified in keeping with strict and stringent standards that were set by the IMO, the ISPS Code. But separate and apart from that fact, the United States had additional standards,” Pickersgill said.

He said the Port Authority of Jam-aica was given the mandate to supervise the 22 Government and privately owned ports across Jamaica. It was also to undertake security duties relating to port facilities to ensure that they complied with the required international standards.

“To equip itself appropriately to deal with the new measures, the Port Authority spent over US$90 million and the private ports spent an additional US$5 million,” Pickersgill said.

He said the Maritime Authority of Jamaica was given the responsibility of ensuring that the country’s flagships became compliant with the relevant IMO regulations. Pickersgill also said maritime trade was a significant source of revenue for the country and that much of the trade was conducted with the US.

PM: political crisis in Haiti impeding re-entry in Caricom

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – On Monday, St Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the continuing political crisis in Haiti was impeding the re-entry of the former French colony into the Carib-bean Community (Caricom).

Caricom suspended Haiti from its councils following the 24 Feb. controversial removal from office of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. The regional states have not recognized the US-backed interim administration in Port-Au-Prince.

Aristide, who now resides in exile in South Africa, has accused the Uni-ted States of engineering his removal, a claim that has been denied by the George Bush administration.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with its Caricom partners, is anxious to welcome Haiti back into the organs of our regional body,” Dr. Gonsalves told the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

“But it would be a betrayal of all that we hold dear to ignore the interruption of democracy, the abuses of human rights and the break-down of law and order merely to appease perfidious power,” he added.

Gonsalves said Caricom supports the work of MINUSTAH in Haiti, while believing that UN forces have neither the manpower nor the requisite re-sources to “perform the miracle that they have been entrusted to conjure.”

He said that the ever-deteriorating state of affairs in Haiti manifests the inherent dangers of interfering with the democratic process, implicitly al-luding to the toppling of Aristide.

“Since I spoke on the issue, more in sadness than in anger, one year ago the situation has disintegrated. The so-called government, implanted with-out any mandate from the people, has neither the political will nor the popular support to undertake measures necessary to return that poor, traumatized country to some semblance of normalcy.”

Besides, he said, there has been “no serious effort” at disarming the gangs that roam the towns and rural areas and “practice mob justice”.

“Political victimization continues apace with the cruel detention and vio-lation of human rights for former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, the most glaring example,” Dr. Gonsalves said, adding, “while, on the other side of the coin, the decision of the Supreme Court to quash the sentences of 15 FRAPH thugs, convicted of involvement in the 1994 Raboteau massacre, has all the elements of political motivation.”

Caricom has indicated its willingness to assist in organizing elections in Haiti. The first presidential elections to be held since Aristide’s re-moval is scheduled for 20 Nov.

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