LONDON, England, Tuesday May 14, 2109 – The
British Government has said ‘no’ to forcing its overseas territories (OTs),
including those in the Caribbean, to legalize same-sex marriage. It has also
rejected a recommendation that United Kingdom (UK) citizens be allowed to vote
and hold elected office in those territories.
Responding to recommendations made by
the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) of the House of Commons in February this
year, the Government said those decisions should be made by the Overseas Territories
(OTs), and declined to give any timelines for the changes the FAC had asked for.
In its report, entitled ‘Global
Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship’, the
FAC gave nine recommendations, including that the Government should initiate a
consultation with the elected Governments of the OTs and work with them to
agree a plan to ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British
Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office. It also
wanted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to lay out a timetable for that
consultation process and set a deadline for phasing out discriminatory elements
of belongership, or its territory-specific equivalents.
However, the Government said that while
it understands the committee’s concerns and continues to impress upon OT Governments
the importance of allowing people who have made their permanent home in the
territories the ability to vote and engage fully in the community, it also recognizes
the desire of island communities to maintain their cohesion, hence the need for
a reasonable qualifying process, and also understands the OTs’ concerns,
sensitivities and historical background on this issue.
“In the spirit of a relationship
based upon partnership, we will continue to support and encourage consistent
and open political engagement on belongership and its territory-specific
equivalents, whilst respecting the fact that immigration decisions are
primarily a matter for OT Governments,” the Government said in its official
response to the FCA.
A similar stance was taken on the issue
of same-sex marriage.
The FAC had asked the Government to set a date by which it expects all OTs to
have legalized same-sex marriage, and if that deadline is not met, the Government
should intervene through legislation or an Order in Council.
The Government said it remains
committed to equal rights, including LGBT rights, but rejected that
“The British Overseas Territories are
separate, largely self-governing jurisdictions with their own
democratically-elected representatives. Our relationship with the Overseas
Territories is based on partnership and therefore as policy on marriage law is
an area of devolved responsibility it should be for the territories to decide
and legislate on,” it said.
It noted that nine OTs have legal
recognition and protection for same-sex relationships.
A tenth territory, the Cayman
Islands, is in the midst of a same-sex marriage rights battle. Last month,
after Chief Justice Anthony Smellie handed down a ruling giving same-sex
couples the right to marry in the British Overseas Territory, the territory’s Government
filed an appeal and was granted a stay in the decision until August when its
appeal will be heard.
“We believe that the strongest, safest and
most prosperous societies are those in which all citizens can live freely
without fear of discrimination, and where all citizens, including LGBT people,
can play a full and active part in society,” the UK Government. However, it
added, the justice mechanisms and processes in the territories “should be
allowed the space to address these matters”.
“We are working to encourage those Territories that have not put in place arrangements to recognize and protect same-sex relationships, to do so, and continue to engage with all the Overseas Territories to ensure that their legislation is compliant with their international human rights obligations,” the UK Government said, adding that it has “no plans to introduce an Order-in-Council on this issue”.
Jamaica’s Justice Ministry Rolling out Initiatives to Prevent Witness Intimidation
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
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
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.
Real Estate Board in Jamaica Clamping Down on Developers Who Illegally Sell Properties
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
“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
“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.
Cayman Islands Leads International Gold Smuggling Investigation
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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