Caribbean News Brief for June 9, 2011


Toronto, Canada: The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch plan to honour the late Jamaican-born HIV/AIDS activist, Dr. Robert Carr, for his “outstanding contributions” towards protecting the human rights of persons living with the HIV/AIDS virus.

The groups will also honour the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities coalition (CVC), which Dr. Carr founded and co-chaired.

Carr and CVC will be jointly awarded the 2011 International Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights.

The award is presented by the two groups each year to “highlight outstanding contributions that protect the human rights and dignity of people living with HIV and communities affected by HIV, in particular marginalized communities facing human rights abuses that fuel and exacerbate the HIV pandemic”.

The groups said the honours will be bestowed today at their third Symposium on HIV, Law and Human Rights, adding that Carr had a “career of passionate advocacy on behalf of marginalized people living with or vulnerable to HIV”.

Carr, 48, died in Canada last month. The cause of death was never made public.

Today’s ceremony comes amid the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, which began yesterday at the UN headquarters in New York and will conclude tomorrow.

CARICOM said the region will have a “strong presence” at the summit.


Castries, St. Lucia: On Monday, the government of St. Lucia announced it was increasing the price of fuel, despite an earlier warning by petroleum dealers that a new increase could lead to the closure of several gas stations on the island.

Prime Minister Stephenson King said after careful consideration of the current situation, his administration had decided to increase the price of gasoline, while reducing the price of diesel.

He said the decision was based on the fluctuations in prices for gasoline and diesel over the past two months.

This marks the second consecutive month that the government has effected such a reduction.

King said the government has reduced the take rate by nearly 50 per cent over the past two fuel price changes in order to minimize its impact on consumers.

He said the reduction in the tax comes at a significant financial cost to the government, resulting in a monthly reduction in revenue of over half-a-million U.S. dollars.

Clinton Charlery, the President of the Petroleum Dealers Association, has cautioned the government against further increases in the price of petrol noting that businesses were incurring heavy losses.


Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of his suspension from Parliament.

Manning, who was suspended after the Parliament accepted a report from the Privileges Committee last month that he made allegations against Prime Minister Kamala Persad-Bissessar regarding the construction of her private home, is also requesting reimbursement for his loss of earnings as a result of the suspension.

Manning has named Attorney General Anand Ramlogan as the defendant and also wants the High Court to have the suspension overturned.

In his 22-page affidavit, Manning listed his attendance at the funeral of former trade and industry minister Ken Valley as one of the reasons for missing the meeting of the Privilege’s Committee when the matter was being discussed.

He has also questioned the decision to have his suspension debated on May 16 when the House Speaker was informed since May 11 that he would have been out of the country seeking medical attention.

“As a Member of Parliament, I earn a salary of $14,000 (US$2,333) and am in receipt of a travelling allowance of $4,200 (US$700). As a consequence of the suspension which I challenge, I will be deprived of these sums and I claim damages,” Manning said in the affidavit.

No date has been given for the hearing of the motion, but Parliament is scheduled to be prorogued on June 17 when the suspension ends.


Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Haiti is better prepared now than it was last year to respond to the annual hurricane season, with emergency equipment and stocks pre-positioned in case of a disaster, a senior United Nations official says.

During a press conference earlier this week, Nigel Fisher, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative to Haiti, said “we are far better off than last year”, especially in assessing the areas of the country most at risk.

Haiti is often beset by hurricanes, and in 2008 was devastated by four consecutive devastating storms within the space of a month.

Emergency preparations last year were hampered because the country was still reeling from the January 2010 earthquake which killed more than 200,000 people and displaced countless others.

But Fisher said the country was further advanced this year, having assessed available resources, pre-positioned stocks of relief supplies, identified temporary shelters and determined major risk areas.

“Financially, we still need $13 million to finish the work,” he said, referring to the preparations.

Fisher added that the Haitian government was working well with the international community to prepare for hurricanes this season.

Meteorologists have predicted the country could face nine hurricanes and 17 major storms in total this year.

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