Caribbean News in Brief as at June 4-09

SWINE FLU CONFIRMED

 Kingston, Jamaica: The Ministry of Health has confirmed the country’s first two cases of Influenza A (H1N1).

Last weekend, health officials said two citizens who recently returned home from the United States had tested positive for the deadly virus, previously known as swine flu, but have since recovered.

“Household contacts have been investigated, samples taken, and they have been declared in good health by the medical teams,” the ministry said.

The cases followed confirmation of the virus in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

RETRACTS STATEMENT

Kingston, Jamaica: Security Minister, Dwight Nelson, has been forced to withdraw a remark that people killed by the police could be considered collateral damage in the fight against crime.

Nelson was speaking to the nation’s police federation when he said the country was at war with criminals and pledged to get a top team of lawyers to defend officers accused of shootings.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International (AI) say the nation has one of the worst records in the world for police shootings.

According to AI, although the number of police killings had fallen, the figure is still high. The Human Rights organization said at least 222 people were killed by Jamaica’s law enforcement in 2008.

DEFENDING REMARKS

Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: The opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) has denied trying to gain political mileage by calling for a six month amnesty for illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the country for the past three years.

ALP leader, Lester Bird, said the government of Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, must ensure that its immigration laws favour Caribbean integration.

Bird said that despite his party receiving many votes from the non-national community in the last general election, his amnesty call was not fuelled by a desire to secure the migrant vote for the ALP in future elections.

TAKEOVER DELAYED

Cockburn Town, Turks and Caicos Islands: Britain’s plans to reassume direct rule of the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) have been delayed for several weeks.

The final report of a British-appointed probe into corruption in the TCI has now been completed.

However its findings – likely to endorse earlier recommendations to suspend the territory’s constitution – will not be made public until the end of the month.

Some aspects of the report are being challenged in court.

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