Caribbean News in Brief for April 28, 2011


Kingston, Jamaica: The Trinidad based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) may be called upon to adjudicate in the case where a Jamaican woman claimed she had been sexually abused by immigration officials when she landed in Barbados last month.

The Jamaica Gleaner quoted foreign affairs and foreign trade minister, Kenneth Baugh, as saying that the matter involving 20-year-old Shanique Myrie could be headed to the CCJ if Bridgetown and Kingston cannot work out their differences.

Responding to questions from opposition spokesman Anthony Hylton during last week’s meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament, Baugh declared that Jamaica is not backing down on the Myrie case.

“It is my own discussion with you concerning the problem in Barbados; it’s going through a process. But eventually, it may well end up at the Caribbean Court of Justice and we both accept that we will take it to the degree if it becomes necessary,” said Baugh.

This would be the first time that the Government of Jamaica would be taking a case to the CCJ since it was established in 2001.

Myrie said she was subjected to two demeaning cavity searches by a female immigration officer when she arrived in Barbados on March 14. She has since retained the services of Hylton, who is the former minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade.


Kingston, Jamaica: The government will be seeking to reduce the amount of money it spends on utilities by embarking on an aggressive program of energy conservation.

Some $2.6 billion has been allotted to cover the government’s electricity and water bills in this year’s budget.

However, Finance Minister Audley Shaw believes this is unacceptable.

Of the amount set aside, $1.4 billion is to cover the cost for water and $1.2 billion for electricity.

Shaw said this figure is under the contingencies for arrears and price adjustment and will be redistributed as required.

However, with the government operating a cash-crunch budget, Shaw said the question of utilities and the consumption of energy and water is something that will be a major point of focus going forward.

He has indicated that conservation will be important, particularly for government ministries, departments and agencies.

“Despite the request of the Prime Minister two years ago for us to target a 15 per cent reduction in the consumption of electricity, it has virtually gone unnoticed,” said Shaw. “The government intends to go under a very, very aggressive program of energy conservation.”


Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis: The deputy leader of the opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) is seeking an answer to why the Integrity in Public Life Bill submitted by his party for debate in Parliament is not on the Order Paper for today’s sitting.

PAM announced two weeks ago that it would exercise a little-used privilege to introduce the Bill in the National Assembly since the government had not shown any interest in the integrity legislation.

Deputy leader Eugene Hamilton said the Bill was submitted last Wednesday, in time to be placed on the Order Paper, and he intended to find out before Parliament meets why it was not included.

He noted that any Parliamentarian, whether on the government or opposition benches, can introduce Bills in the House once a minimum three days official notice is given to Parliament.

The legislation has the support of the Citizens Movement (CCM). The party’s Deputy Chair, Mark Brantley, who is also the Opposition Leader in Parliament, drafted the Bill.

Integrity in Public Life Act legislation was first tabled by the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party-led administration in 1996 but was never debated.


Havana, Cuba: The Raul Castro administration in Cuba has refuted claims by a United States firm that Havana is responsible for the sinking of a disabled barge last year.

The barge was adrift in Cuban waters as it carried US$2 million worth of aid for victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake.

Cuba’s Transportation Ministry said a tugboat was sent to tow the American tugboat, Muheet, and its two barges after distress calls were received.

The Transportation Ministry said in a statement last Saturday that a Cuban tugboat received a distress call from the Muheet just before midnight on November 30, 2010.

It said its tugboat responded immediately, towing the three vessels. But the ministry said both captains decided to head for port with the ship because of high seas and that they planned to return later for the barges.

The statement said one of the barges was “deemed a total loss while the other was salvaged.”

However, Matt Williams, a spokesman for Harbor Homes, a manufacturer of emergency housing in Thomasville, Georgia, said the barge and the Muheet were en route from Jacksonville, Florida, to Haiti when the tug’s engine broke down, apparently because of contaminated fuel, and that the vessels drifted into Cuban territorial waters.

Williams said the U.S. Coast Guard was notified and asked Cuban authorities for permission to enter their waters briefly to retrieve the vessels, but were denied.

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