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Jamaica Government Weighing Options After Court Declares ID Law Unconstitutional

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday April 15, 2019
– The Jamaica government is contemplating its next move after suffering a huge
blow when the Constitutional Court struck down legislation to create a national
identification system.

In a
brief statement, the Andrew Holness administration said it “is respectful of
the court’s ruling and will spend some time carefully reviewing the judgment,
after which a more fulsome response will be forthcoming”.

Last
Friday, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes delivered the ruling of the three-member
panel that the National Identification and Registration Act, which is referred
to as the NIDS Act, was null and void due to infringements on privacy as well
as an individual’s right to choice.

“Having
declared some of the provisions in violation of the charter, we are of the view
that what was left could not stand because…it was so bound up with the other
provisions that there is no way it could survive by itself… and the other
route was that what was left would still be in violation of the constitution…
And so we are of the view that the National Identification and Registration Act
is to be declared null and void and of no legal effect,” he said.

The
NIDS was intended to provide a comprehensive structure to enable the capture
and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans. Under the system, each
citizen would be provided with a nine-digit National Identification Number
(NIN), which they would have for life. Every Jamaican was expected to register
for a NIN, and those who did would be unable to access certain government services
and risked criminal prosecution.

However,
the Chief Justice said the collection of biometric data under NIDS would impact
information privacy.

“The
legislation here in Jamaica makes provision in some instances for iris scans.
The literature tells us that you can glean information about a person’s state
of health from an iris scan, you can determine almost what illness they are
suffering, what is the likely medication they are on, and other things that are
very personal and private to them. So, it is not just simply a matter of we are
just collecting biometric information to be used for identification; there are
other implications of that, so hence the question of informational privacy
loomed large in our considerations,” he said, adding that the protections under
the Act for the storage and safety of information while in the possession of
the State were inadequate.

Justice
Sykes also contended that the mandatory requirement of the NIDS Act deprives
the individual of choice.

The challenge to the Act had been brought by the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) General Secretary Julian Robinson who said certain provisions of the law infringe some of his constitutional rights. He said the legislation was flawed as a result of the Government acting too hastily to implement it.

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Barbados Prime Minister Says Small States Not Accessing Markets On Fair Terms

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Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley delivering the 16th Prebisch Lecture at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday September 13, 2019 – Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has expressed concerns about small island
states failing to access markets on fair terms.

She highlighted correspondent banking services as an example, as she delivered the prestigious 16th Prebisch Lecture at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, on the topic, ‘Invisible Yet Indispensable’ on Tuesday.

“It matters not that the absence of that correspondent banking will cause
our countries, our regions and our people to be cut off and be quarantined,
just as lepers were in centuries past, from a global community, as we seek to
buy goods and services from outside our borders,” Mottley told her global audience.

“How will our people trade if they don’t have access to a banking system
that allows them to transmit and to pay for services and goods across the
borders?  It is pure, unadulterated
hypocrisy and at worst, contempt and insensitivity as to what happens to human
beings, who happen not to live within the borders of the developed world.”

During the near 90-minute address, Prime Minister Mottley said that unless
the fundamental obstacle to our development was addressed, she feared that the
imbalance of power and wealth in the global community of nations would remain.

“Let us not be shy to confront it; middle income countries refused today to
be allowed access to development aid and assistance, purely on the basis of
arbitrary determinations of per capita and GDP formulations that bear no
relationship to the reality of our lives.

“And even when money is promised in the midst of disasters, money promised
and money delivered are two totally different experiences. We must not be naïve
in appreciating that the head start given the developed world to build their
countries and to build out their industrial base was done on wealth extracted
from millions of people across the developing world.  It is a difficult conversation but…you cannot
be mature as an adult, or mature as a country and not have difficult
conversations,” she stressed.

Emphasizing the importance of reforming international institutions, Mottley
said this restructuring was overdue, and the task must now be completed. 

“The worthiness and pursuit of this reform we all know is unquestionable,
but yet it remains, decades after, unresolved. We need to put it to bed…so we
can get on to the other issues that are truly confronting us,” she stated.

The Prime Minister said countries should not sign up to international treaties, charters, commitments and declarations and then treat them as if they were not meaningful and not apply to them.

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Bahamas PM Announces National Prayer Service; Flags to be Flown at Half Mast as Country Mourns Hurricane Dorian Victims

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Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis

NASSAU, The Bahamas, Friday September 13, 2019 – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced plans for a National Prayer
Service to honour the lives lost when Hurricane Dorian slammed into the
northwest of the archipelago a week and a half ago.

The Government has invited the Bahamas Christian Council to plan the
National Prayer Service, which will take place next Wednesday, marking the culmination
of a National Day of Prayer and Fasting.

Flags are also to be flown at half-mast on all public buildings to mourn
the dead. The date of a National Day of Mourning will be announced at an
appropriate time.

“We are a nation in mourning,” said Prime Minister Minnis in a national address.
“The grief is unbearable following the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian,
which has left behind death, destruction and despair on Grand Bahama and Abaco,
our second and third most populous islands.”

The Prime Minister acknowledged that there are many deaths and many still
missing. The number of deaths is expected to significantly increase but the confirmed
number is currently 50.

“Many are grieving the loss of loved ones. Many are in despair wondering if
their loved ones are still alive,” said Minnis.

“To those who have lost loved ones, I know there is absolutely nothing we
can say that will lessen your pain and your loss. Our sympathies go out to the
families of each person who died. Let us pray for them during this time of
grief.”

The Prime Minister assured that accurate and timely information will be
provided on the loss of life as it is available.

“We will first and foremost put the priority on notifying families and
giving them the help they need to grieve,” he said.

Efforts are ramping up to collect the dead bodies, with the help of
international aid agencies.

“We are being transparent and responsible in this process,” Minnis said.

The Government is also providing counseling to those who need help to get
them through this difficult process.

“We will need as many spiritual resources as we will need physical
resources, to rebuild lives and to recover,” Minnis said.

“Hurricane Dorian is an historic tragedy,” he added, noting a report by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) that described the storm as “the strongest Atlantic hurricane documented to directly impact a land mass since records began, tying it with the Great Florida Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.”

Hurricane Dorian affected the northwestern Bahamas for about 68 hours, with the southern eye-wall planted over Grand Bahama, for about 30 hours.

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Hurricane-Hit Bahamas Under Tropical Storm Warning as New System Approaches

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NASSAU, The Bahamas, Friday September 13, 2019 – Less than two weeks after Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northwest of
the Bahamas, that part of the archipelago is bracing for more bad weather with
the approach of a potential tropical cyclone that has triggered a tropical
storm watch.

The warning which is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas, excluding Andros Island, comes as the system being referred to as Tropical Cyclone Nine, carrying maximum sustained winds near 30 miles per hour, is forecast to move across the central and northwestern Bahamas today and could develop into a tropical storm by then.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said the system is forecast to produce two to four
inches of rain and, isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches, over areas that are already waterlogged following the Category 5
Hurricane Dorian downpours that left some communities underwater. However, no significant storm surge is expected.

In its latest advisory at 11 a.m., the NHC said the system was located about 280 miles east southeast of Freeport in Grand Bahama and
190 miles east southeast of Great Abaco Island, and barely moving northwestward at 1 mile per hour.

“The system…is expected to resume a slow motion toward the
northwest and north-northwest later today. On the forecast track, the system is
anticipated to move across the central and northwestern Bahamas today, and
along or near the east coast of Florida Saturday and Saturday night,” it
said.

“The disturbance is forecast to become a tropical depression or a
tropical storm later today or Saturday.”

While more than 1,000 people are still reported missing after Hurricane
Dorian – down from the 2,500 said to be on the list on Wednesday before it was
cross checked with the list of people in shelters and evacuees – only 50 people
have been confirmed dead.

But officials acknowledge that number will rise as the search and cleanup continues in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

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