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Heavy Fines for Breaching Plastic Ban Law in Barbados, But Opposition Says They’re Too High

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Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey announced fines as high as BDS$50,000 (US$25,000).

BRIDGETOWN,
Barbados, Wednesday March 27, 2019
– As government prepares to
implement a ban on petroleum-based plastics, importers, retailers and users
have been warned that they will face serious consequences, if they breach the
new law.

From April 1, the ban on importation of such petro-based
single-use products will be enforced, while the distribution, sale and use of
such products will be banned from July 1.

After those dates, government is proposing to enforce penalties
ranging as high as BDS$50,000 (US$25,000) or a year’s imprisonment, or both,
for importing, offering for sale, or using single-use plastics in Barbados.

This was announced by Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue
Economy, Kirk Humphrey, during the second reading of the Control of Disposable
Plastics Bill 2019, in the House of Assembly on Monday.

Single-use plastic containers refer to those made using plastic or
polystyrene, and included cups, food containers, and egg trays used in the
culinary retail industry.

Under the Bill, it is proposed that anyone who imports, offers for
sale, sells or uses single-use plastic or cutlery after the deadline had passed
would be guilty of an offence, and would be liable on summary conviction to the
BDS$50,000 (US$25,000) fine, a year’s imprisonment, or both. And, anyone
continuing the practice can be fined BDS$1,000 (US$500) for each day or part
thereof, during which the offence continues.

Minister Humphrey also noted that from July 1, no person shall
import, sell or use any single-use plastic containers or any single-use plastic
cutlery that is labelled or marketed as “environmentally sustainable” unless
that person has applied for, and obtained a BDS$25 (US$12.50) licence under the
proposed Act.

“This is to ensure that importers bring in the kind of products
that are in compliance with what Barbados is seeking to achieve,” he said,
noting that importers would also be subjected to the same fines if they are
caught breaching the proposed Act.

However, Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley says the fines outlined are too high for sellers.

“I have serious concerns about the hefty fines for infringements on the ban on plastics beyond the given date. I believe those fines are too high. You could have made two separate stipulations—one that applies to the importers and manufacturers and another for the sellers. Charging the manufacturers and importers $50,000 is fine, but I am not comfortable with it being so high for the sellers, especially the small vendors,” he told Parliament.

Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley says the fines are too high for sellers.

Meantime, Minister Humphrey told Parliament that some plastics
would be exempt from the ban.

They are: plastic bags designed for, packaged and retailed
specifically for the disposal of waste from households, public spaces, business
places, offices or industrial plants – garbage bags; plastic bags or
polystyrene containers for items for pharmaceutical dispensing or any other
medical use; plastic bags or plastic containers designed for the storage of
agricultural products; plastic bags used for the preservation of food items; trays
made of polystyrene used in the packaging of fresh meat; plastic straws
attached to tetra pack boxes; and plastic bags for the preservation of food
items.

Humphrey also noted that local plastic bag manufacturers will be
able to continue their trade, but for export purposes only. 

“We understand that local manufacturers do a significant share of business overseas. So, they can make them here but they cannot use them here,” he said.

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Barbados Prime Minister Demands Answers from Electricity Company after Two Days of Island-wide Power Cuts

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Prime Minister Mia Mottley

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday November 19, 2019 Prime Minister Mia Mottley today described as
“unacceptable and embarrassing”, island-wide power outages that have
affected Barbados over the last two days, even as she sought to assure that
critical operations in the country were functioning normally.

The
island’s sole electricity provider, the Barbados Light & Power (BL&P),
blamed the outages that have affected customers all across the country on
contaminated fuel compounded by aging generator equipment.

The power
cuts, which also triggered water outages, forced the early closure of schools
and some businesses yesterday. Today, the Ministry of Education announced all
public schools would be closed, as the situation persisted into a second day.

“With
respect to the hospital, the airport, the seaport, the prison and all of the
other critical institutions, I can inform the country that all of our power
generation capacity is working and that we will ensure that we stick to
normalcy as close as possible,” Mottley said earlier today.

“I
have already asked the management of the Light & Power, to ensure as a
matter of urgency, that the Chairman of BL&P, the Chairman of Emera
[BL&P’s parent company] in Barbados Light & Power, be available to meet
with me this evening, because this is an unacceptable situation,” she
informed, adding that she could not understand how a country could have all of
its generating capacity down at the same time.

“It is
unacceptable and embarrassing, but in life we don’t get to choose the
circumstances or the hand that we play. Sometimes we get the hand and we have,
therefore, to rise to the occasion and do what is necessary….Rest assured
that the Government is taking its own independent advice in these
matters.”

At the same
time, the Prime Minister urged Barbadians not to point fingers or complain.

“We
have more than enough time to determine blame, to determine responsibility and
to determine all of the other things that are going through people’s
heads,” she said.

“Now
is the time for Barbadians to be calm and to ensure that if you don’t need to
be on the road, do not go on the road; to ensure that if you have family who
may be living alone, that you check on them and make sure that they are well.
The Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs has already been speaking
to get that message across the country to ensure that any critical tasks that
have to be done, that we go about them seamlessly, knowing full well that we
are going to resolve this issue.”

Mottley
assured that in the meantime, the country is safe.

“Rest
assured that we are doing all that we can to make sure that while we wait for
BL&P to resolve this issue, that we will do our part to make sure that
Barbadians can continue to go as much as possible about their business, and
where that it is not possible, that they remain safe and comfortable,” she
said.

Speaking to
members of the media via conference call yesterday, Managing Director of the
BL&P Roger Blackman said the problem was mainly due to contamination in the
imported fuel.

Without identifying the contaminant that was found in the fuel, Blackman
further explained that of the samples tested from the last three shipments, two
of them “tested positive for contaminants”.

He explained that there was still “quite a bit of fuel in the system
now” that will be used up, adding that the shipment that is currently on island
to be used is free of contamination.

“That will dilute what we currently have in the system. We have been
managing this for the last couple weeks and what we will be doing is having our
teams in place to do the repairs very quickly and get the units back on when
they are affected. We do have things in place to address the issues when they
come up,” said Blackman, who was unable to guarantee there would be no more
blackouts as a result of contaminated fuel.

He said testing was now being conducted on fuel samples going back as
far as August to see if this contaminant that has been detected would have been
present at that time.

Blackman said the BL&P was working with the island’s fuel supplier, the Barbados National Oil Company Ltd (BNOCL), to put measures in place to resolve the issue over the short and medium-term.

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New Government Elected and New Premier Sworn into Office in Montserrat

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Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell

BRADES, Montserrat, Tuesday November 19, 2019 Easton Taylor-Farrell was today sworn in as
Montserrat’s new premier, after his Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP)
won yesterday’s elections, taking power from the People’s Democratic Movement
(PDM).

The MCAP
won five of the nine seats in the Legislative Assembly in the British Overseas
Territory, while the PDM won three.

Outgoing
Premier Donaldson Romeo, who led the PDM up until a few weeks before the polls,
won the other seat as an independent candidate.

Taylor-Farrell,
who said he would name his Cabinet later this week, said he would have “preferred to have a bit larger majority”.

“That’s not the case but we will
work with what we have for the benefit of this country,” he said, indicating
that his cabinet would be made known later this week.

Premier
Taylor-Farrell said it was time to “unite and heal our country, spreading
love, compassion and understanding towards each other because it was because of
this lack of compassion that caused us to hate, disrespect and name call during
the campaign”.

“….We are all Montserratians. It is my hope that after today we will live together as one,” he added.

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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hears Challenge to Jamaica’s Anti-Sodomy Law

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(left to right) Maurice Tomlinson of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; Sarah Bosha, legal and research advisor from AIDS-Free World; and Samir Varma, partner with American law firm Thompson Hine LLP, presented the petition before the IACHR.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday November 19, 2019 – The Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights (IACHR) is expected to deliver a report and recommendations by
early January, after hearing a petition brought on behalf of two gay Jamaicans
challenging their country’s anti-sodomy law.

The legal team of Sarah Bosha, legal and research advisor from AIDS-Free
World; Maurice Tomlinson of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; and Samir
Varma, partner with American law firm Thompson Hine LLP, who presented the
petition last week, argued that the law violates the American Convention on
Human Rights, to which Jamaica is a state party.

The IACHR noted with concern that the Government of Jamaica did not
attend the hearing, nor provide a written response, despite being notified of
the proceedings on October 4.

On behalf of the petitioners, who were anonymously identified as A.B.
and S.H. over concern for their safety, the legal team argued that various
human rights violations — including the right to health, the right to family,
and the right to equality and non-discrimination — were violated by the
continued existence of Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law. The IACHR provided the
petitioners the privacy and confidentiality that they needed to tell their
stories without the fear of violent backlash or having their families’ safety
and security threatened in Jamaica.

Generally, the Commissioners made comments affirming the human rights
arguments presented to them on behalf of A.B. and S.H. They acknowledged that there is a direct violation of the
rights to equality and non-discrimination; and that excluding LGBT people from public health
services presents a serious challenge to their right to health.

The Commissioners reiterated that IACHR hearings are an important means
of seeking justice for victims, which may include some form of reparations and
must always include a commitment by the offending state to not repeat the
violations. They raised questions to understand
whether the Jamaican government had taken or was taking any action to address
the violations against the LGBT community; and also asked about the status of the ongoing domestic
constitutional challenge to the anti-sodomy law at the Supreme Court of
Jamaica.

Tomlinson, Jamaican attorney-at-law and senior policy analyst with the
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, who is also the claimant in the domestic
challenge, explained that a remedy in Jamaica was uncertain. He pointed to his
constitutional case against the anti-sodomy law — which began in 2015 and
remains unresolved — as an example. Tomlinson noted that the Supreme Court of
Jamaica barred the Public Defender from supporting his case, despite allowing
nine religious groups who oppose the matter to be joined as interested parties.
In addition, the Jamaican government indicated (on November 7, 2019) that it
would not address the human rights arguments raised by Tomlinson’s case but
would only argue that the anti-sodomy law was “saved” from judicial review by
the constitution’s Savings Law Clause, which seems to suggest that only
Parliament can change certain laws.

At the close of the presentation of the evidence, the IACHR Special
Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons, Flavia Piovesan, gave a statement of
support and commitment to ending discrimination against LGBT people in the
Caribbean, and specifically in Jamaica.

She promised to engage the Jamaican government to ensure that they
prioritize and address the human rights of LGBT people, and any violations of
those rights.

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