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Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Urges US to Seek Extension of WTO Waiver for the Caribbean

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Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States Sir Ronald Sanders testifying before the US International Trade Commission.

WASHINGTON D.C, United States, Tuesday May 14, 2109 – Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States Sir Ronald Sanders today urged that the US government and Congress seek an extension of a waiver to allow Caribbean countries to continue to benefit from the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA).

He testified before the US International Trade
Commission which is conducting an investigation into the impact on US
industries, persons and the US economy of CBERA that was enacted in 1983. CBERA
is part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, launched by then US President Ronald
Reagan and kept in place by successive US governments.

Sir Ronald pointed out that CBERA and the Caribbean
Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) which grants preferential access for
Caribbean exports to the US market is only possible because of a waiver from
the World Trade Organisation.

That waiver expires at the end of this year.

The Ambassador told the Commission that, over the
years, the US has benefited more from the existing trade arrangements than the
17 Caribbean countries for whom benefits were intended.

He testified that the US has enjoyed years of trade
surpluses with the Caribbean countries. 
In 2018, the US benefitted by a surplus of US$12 billion.

Despite this, Sir Ronald argued that seven
Caribbean CARICOM countries that are the principal beneficiaries of CBERA
“would face serious financial challenges if they were to lose the preferential
access from which they now gain”.

“The resultant weakening of the economies of these
countries would have a harmful effect on the region by spill-over effects into
neighbouring states, including the US,” he said.

The Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador also called for
CBERA benefits to be applied to trade in services.  He explained that the economies of most of
the CBERA countries are services-based, accounting for more than 75 per cent of
employment and 66 per cent of total output.

Sir Ronald concluded that: “Based on the
inter-relationship between US and Caribbean industries, including banking,
tourism, air and maritime transport, accountancy and auditing, health and
education, a relationship could be developed exponentially, creating new jobs,
new sources of revenue and increasing opportunities for prosperity.”

The Commission took account of the Ambassador’s testimony which will be included in its report to the US Congress and the President.

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Jamaica’s Justice Ministry Rolling out Initiatives to Prevent Witness Intimidation

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Chief Justice Bryan Sykes (left), converses with Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner, during the opening of the Justice Ministry’s Witness Care Conference. (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON,
Jamaica, Monday July 22, 2019
– The
Jamaica government is embarking on initiatives to protect witnesses in trials from
intimidation, including providing buses equipped with audio-video technology,
to assist in securing testimony from witnesses.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said two
such vehicles, which will be rolled out soon, will be used to travel to remote
areas where witnesses may be located.

He said other initiatives include
equipping 78 courtrooms with digital audio facilities, and 19 with audio-video
recording apparatus, noting that “with this technology, witness intimidation
will be significantly reduced”.

Additionally, the Minister said,
legislation has been passed to allow witnesses in human trafficking cases being
tried in the Circuit Court, to testify before presiding judges without a jury.

“Our goal, mission and purpose at the
Ministry of Justice is to create a first class justice system that delivers
timely justice to all, irrespective of their socio-economic circumstances,” Chuck
emphasized, adding that a first-class justice system cannot exist without the
proper care and protection of witnesses.

His comments were delivered by Executive
Director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner, at a Witness Care Conference,
at the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, Mona, which ended over
the weekend.

Minister Chuck said engagement such as
the conference are intended to provide a “wealth of information” that should be
used as “critical investments” to yield “tangible results” for the care of
witnesses.

This, he added, is imperative in
spurring civic-minded Jamaicans into action, and sending a message to the
criminal underworld that “witnesses will not cower in fear, but will be
motivated to stand and be counted and play their part in creating a society that
is secure, cohesive and just”.

The inaugural event was a key activity
under the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Project, a
$19.8 million Global Affairs Canada (GAC)-funded initiative, being implemented
by the Justice Ministry and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

It is supporting justice sector reforms through technical-legal assistance; institutional strengthening; and social order.

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Real Estate Board in Jamaica Clamping Down on Developers Who Illegally Sell Properties

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Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Board/Commission of Strata Corporations, Sandra Garrick. (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON,
Jamaica, Monday July 22, 2019
– The
Real Estate Board (REB)/Commission of Strata Corporations (CSC) is clamping
down on unregistered real estate developers who are selling properties
illegally.

“For the second time in 2019 we have had
a conviction for an unregistered developer, and both cases are now at the
sentencing process,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate
Board/Commission of Strata Corporations, Sandra Garrick.

“We want to remind persons that the Real
Estate Board/Commission of Strata Corporation is committed to ensuring that if
developers fail to register they will answer to the law.”

Garrick added that in one of the cases, units
were being marketed and sold in an unregistered scheme for which the developer
had not yet acquired land.

“Part of the REB’s responsibility is to
oversee that purchasers receive what they have contracted and that monies paid
over to developers are used as the Real Estate Act prescribes, meaning the
funds are put in a Trust account and not used as the developer’s personal
money,” she emphasized.

Garrick also encouraged  purchasers to do their due diligence when
buying property.

“As a purchaser, the first thing you
should do is ensure that the real estate developer is registered with the REB
and is allowed to contract business, sell units and advertise. A list of
registered developers can be found on the REB’s website and persons may call
the Board to do checks,” she said.

Garrick pointed out that there are times when the REB may give a developer  tentative approval, but will not grant the approval to market the units.

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Cayman Islands Leads International Gold Smuggling Investigation

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Some of the 104 kilos of gold that was seized.

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Monday July 22, 2019 – Authorities in the Cayman Islands are leading a money laundering investigation with the assistance of the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA), following the seizure of gold worth around £4 million (US$4.9 million).

The gold was seized by the NCA as part of an international investigation into a suspected South American drugs cartel.

Officers from the UK’s Border Force, acting on intelligence from the NCA, moved in to detain the shipment at Heathrow on June 1. The gold was being transported from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland, having earlier been shipped to the British Overseas Territory on a private jet from Venezuela.

The bars and pieces of gold, which together weigh around 104 kilos, have been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following a hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates in London.

NCA Heathrow branch commander, Steve McIntyre, said: “We believe that this shipment was linked to drugs cartels operating out of South America. Working with partners overseas and in the UK we were quickly able to identify it and stop it’s onward movement.

“The business model of many organized crime groups relies upon the ability to move money across borders, to fund further investment in criminal activity. If we can stop that it not only causes disruption to the criminal network involved and prevents them benefiting from crime, it also stops that re-investment.”

Nick Jariwalla, Border Force Heathrow Director, added that taking large amounts of money or gold out of the control of criminal networks hits them where they feel it most – in the pocket.

“This was a substantial seizure and demonstrates how effectively Border Force works with law enforcement partners, both at home and abroad, to combat organised crime,” he said.

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