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Number of Caribbean children displaced by storms up sixfold in past five years

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Number of Caribbean children displaced by storms up sixfold in past five years

Saturday, December 07, 2019

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UNITED NATIONS (CMC) – A new report by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the number of Caribbean children displaced by storms has risen approximately sixfold in the past five years.

The report, released yesterday, says catastrophic tropical cyclones and hurricanes uprooted an estimated 761,000 children in the region between 2014 and 2018, which also was the hottest five-year period on record.

The preceding five-year period, 2009 to 2013, saw some 175,000 Caribbean youngsters displaced, the report says.

“This report is a stark reminder that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“Children in storm-and flood-prone nations around the world are among the most vulnerable to having their lives and rights upended,” she added. “They are already feeling the impacts of climate change, so governments and the international community should act now to mitigate its most devastating consequences.”

The UNICEF report notes that the Caribbean was slammed by a series of catastrophic tropical cyclones or hurricanes between 2016 and 2018, including four Category 5 storms.

The agency said it has been providing lifesaving assistance for children and families across the Caribbean affected by the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

More than 400,000 children were displaced that year alone, the report says.

The report, ‘Children Uprooted in the Caribbean: How stronger hurricanes linked to a changing climate are driving child displacement’, warns that without urgent climate action, displacement levels are likely to remain high in the coming decades.

UNICEF has called on Caribbean governments to put children at the heart of climate change strategies and response plans, and to protect them from its impacts.

The United Nations agency also urged regional authorities to provide displaced children with protection and access to education, health care and other essential services, among other recommendations.

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Almost 180 new complaints against security forces, DCS, says INDECOM

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Almost 180 new complaints against security forces, DCS, says INDECOM

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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THE Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) says it received 177 new complaints against the security forces and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) between October 1 and December 31 last year.

According to INDECOM’s fourth quarterly report for 2019, the majority of those complaints were against the police — 149 — while 21 were against the DCS and seven against the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). Three of the complaints were made jointly against the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the JDF, and there were three deaths in custody complaints.

The Year in Review report was tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday.

The commission said there were 197 categories of complaints from the 177 incidents reported for the period.

The top five categories of complaints for the quarter included 83 assaults, 49 discharge of firearms, 17 fatal shootings, 14 shooting injuries, and seven threats.

Kingston and St Andrew had the highest fatalities with five deaths, while St Ann and St Catherine recorded three each, Hanover and St James recorded two each, St Thomas, St Elizabeth, Manchester, and Clarendon recorded one each, and Westmoreland, Portland and St Mary had no fatalities.

However, all parishes had complaints, with Kingston and St Andrew recording 60 complaints and Hanover and St Elizabeth recording the least, with five each.

According to INDECOM, 86 people were shot and killed for the year, 51 fewer than 2018, and, overall, 169 people were killed or injured, 59 fewer than in 2018.

“[Last year] 2019 has witnessed a significant and important reduction in fatal shooting incidents by the security forces, primarily the JCF,” INDECOM noted.

The commission outlined that for the year, there were 120 days (32 per cent of total days) when the security forces discharged their weapon, causing death or injury, resulting in 169 citizens being either shot or injured, but that these days do not include “discharge of firearm” cases in which no person was reported injured. This compares to 2018 figures of 147 days and 159 days for 2017.

INDECOM noted that off-duty shooting incidents still account for a significant proportion of use of deadly force events.

“Numerically, off-duty shooting incidents remain relatively static but varies as a percentage, dependent upon the annual shooting incidents,” the report said.

The commission said it is concerned about excessive use of force in the continuing absence of firearms in 32 per cent of those killed in such incidents. INDECOM said it further challenges these accounts that all gunmen were firing at security forces.

“The absence of recovered firearms extends to other fatal and non-fatal shooting incidents. All police accounts of shooting incidents, whether involving a dead or injured person, report that either a firearm or other deadly weapon was present, or suspected to be present, at the time of the incident, which justified the use of deadly force,” INDECOM said.

The commission said testimony from injured individuals, forensic recovery and closed-circuit television, indicate a contradictory account of these incidents.

“The absence of recovered firearms remains a significant feature in JCF shooting reports. Previous INDECOM reports provide much detail on this issue. It remains the case that a significant proportion of shot or injured persons were either completely unarmed, or in possession of an implement other than a firearm at the time of being shot,” the report outlined.

INDECOM pointed out that the statistics for all individuals shot (killed or injured) over the past three years who had no firearm has remained relatively constant, at over a third of those shot by the security forces.

In 2019 the number of people reportedly without a firearm at the time of being shot increased to 42 per cent, the commission said.

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Lawyer gets another scolding from chief justice

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DEFENCE attorney Everton Bird, for the third time in a week, attracted the ire of Chief Justice Bryan Sykes – the sitting judge in the trial of eight alleged members of the Westmoreland-based King Valley gang who are now before the court.

The eight — Carlington Godfrey, alias Tommy; Lindell Powell, alias Lazarus; Rannaldo McKennis, otherwise know as Ratty; Derval Williams, also called Lukie; Hopeton Sankey, alias Bigga; Christon Grant, alias Ecoy; Copeland Sankey, also known as Tupac; and Sean Suckra, also called Elder — are accused of conspiring to commit murder, rape and robbery with aggravation from as early as 2013.

Bird is the attorney representing Hopeton Sankey and Copeland Sankey in the trial now before the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

Defence lawyers on Monday began cross-examination of the star witness, who began testifying last Tuesday by live video link from a remote location. Bird showed up on Friday for the first time during the trial, after having submitted two medical certificates to the court and a letter explaining his absence last week. Justice Sykes, at the time, classified Bird’s approach as “out of order behaviour”, noting that the attorney had not acted in the manner prescribed by the court where such matters were concerned.

Bird, who was yesterday the fifth in line to cross-examine the witness on behalf of his clients rose only to indicate that he was not prepared to conduct the exercise due to his absence from the trial in the earlier stages. “I’m in a difficult position to start my cross-examination at this time. I had requested the notes of evidence from the time the trial started,” Bird told the court, adding that he was told the notes were not yet available.

That admission earned him a sharp rebuke from Justice Sykes, who then chastised members of the legal profession for attempting to force trials to adjourn prematurely by deliberately absenting themselves when matters begin before the courts. He warned that as long as he was the judge in question such practices will not succeed.

“I am not moved, really, in the slightest. The responsibility of counsel is, if you can’t be here you are to make provision for your client – and that includes the recording of the evidence. Tell me that the canons don’t say that where counsel cannot be present he should not make suitable provision for the representation of his client,” the chief justice challenged further.

“Mr Bird, it is a new day and age. The time of bad practices have come to an end. The idea that an adjournment can be precipitated by the absence of counsel is over,” Justice Sykes said.

Bird, who then requested to be placed at the bottom of the list for cross-examination, said, “At the time of the beginning of the matter I was in a position where I was not able to address the issues.” The attorney said he spoke to counsel about assistance but was told they could not assist because they could not devote that length of time.

“I have never been in this position for as long as I have been at the bar; I’ve always been shipshape and ready to go. All I am asking is that you put me down at the bottom of the list,” he added.

“That is possible,” Justice Sykes said, in granting the request.

But following on the adjournment, which was to allow the attorney to recover the ground lost, not much changed.

One of Bird’s clients, Hopeton Sankey, was observed moving from his assigned place in the dock when the court resumed some minutes after 2:00 pm to confer with the attorney, who scribbled on a yellow note pad. In moving away from Bird to return to his spot Justice Sykes spotted the moving man and issued a reprimand.

“Hold on, why is there movement in the dock? This is a criminal court. There is to be no movement of defendants in the dock unless I say so. Where do you get these ideas?” Justice Sykes asked. He then enquired of the police officer manning the dock why he allowed the prisoner to be moving about so freely. Sankey, in a barely audible response, indicated to the fuming judge that he had moved because his lawyer wanted to consult with him.

Said Justice Sykes: “This is not your lawyer’s court. It is the judge’s court.”

In the solemn hush that followed, Bird then indicated that he was continuing his cross-examination on behalf of his client Hopeton Sankey.

“I’m suggesting to you that the person you referred to as Tupac, you did not have good relations with him. I suggest to you that Mr Hopeton Sankey ceased to reside in King Valley eight years ago,” Bird said. He then suggested to the witness that Hopeton Sankey was not a hitman or gang member but was instead a cabinet maker who worked most weekdays, sometimes working well into the night “when the work was heavy”. He added that his client left King Valley in 2011 to live with his girlfriend in another district.

“You are confusing me right now. Which one are you talking? There are two Sankeys. I know them by their aliases; be specific,” the witness responded. Tupac is the alias of Copeland Sankey, not Hopeton.

For the second time in one day the attorney again found himself at the mercy of the judge.

Said Justice Sykes: “Mr Bird, why are you using the [birth names of the accused that] the witness is not familiar with? Don’t be smart with me now. The witness has used a particular set of names to identify the men. Why are you using names the witness has not used? Don’t do that, please, Mr Bird.”

“I am trying to understand what your Lordship is saying,” Bird responded.

Justice Sykes: “Don’t try to confuse the issue of identification deliberately by using these names [birth names instead of the aliases which the witness is more familiar with]… What you are seeking to do is confuse the issues; you seem to think I got here overnight. I have been in the criminal court long enough…don’t try that…don’t do that, I am on to it now.”

Bird: “No me, Lord; I have no such motives.” He then asked permission to speak with his other client.

Returning to the bench after conferring with his client Copeland Sankey to clarify, he said, “This question I am asking you is in relation to Bigga”, before going on to put to the witness that Bigga was a regular citizen and even visited his grandmother regularly to “help her tie out her goats”.

“His granny nuh have no goat,” the witness shot back, smiling and shaking his head, seemingly bewildered, to the amusement of the courtroom.

Bird, after a few more phrases, indicated that he had finished his cross-examination, eliciting this response from Justice Sykes: “What about Tupac? You had indicated that the questions you were asking were about Bigga.”

Bird: “Yes, me Lord; I do have difficulty with Tupac which I was not able to overcome.” The attorney said he would need to “investigate” further, matters which were mentioned during the trial relating to his client.

Said Justice Sykes: “Very well, Mr Bird. You have all of 24 hours beginning now. So we are going to take the adjournment now and we resume at 2:00 pm tomorrow. So you have the rest of this evening, all of tomorrow morning and part of the afternoon.”

“Much obliged,” Bird responded.

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Robinson files censure motion against

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Robinson files censure motion against

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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Opposition legislator Julian Robinson yesterday filed a censure motion against House Speaker Pearnel Charles Snr during the sitting of the House in relation to the speaker’s failure to table the auditor general’s report on the scandal-tainted Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) last Tuesday.

Robinson, member of parliament for the St Andrew South Eastern constituency, said that under section 29(2) of the Financial Administration and Audit Act the Speaker has “an unconditional duty to cause the report to be laid before the House”, given that the report was delivered to the House of Representatives before last Tuesday.

Charles’s failure to table the report, which contained details of poor management and other damaging information about the financial operations at CMU, angered the Opposition which last week criticised the decision and demanded that the report be tabled at the next sitting of the House.

Robinson’s censure motion, filed in “pursuant to Standing Order No 24(15) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, stated:

“Whereas the Auditor General’s Report on the state of affairs at the Caribbean Maritime University (“the report”) was delivered to the House of Representatives prior to Tuesday 14th January, 2019;

And whereas on receiving the report the Speaker had an unconditional duty under section 122(2) of the Constitution and under section 29(2) of the Financial Administration and Audit Act (“the Act”) to cause the report to be laid before the House;

And whereas the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Member for North Central Clarendon, during the sitting of the House on Tuesday, 14th January, 2020 and in response to a query from the Leader of Opposition Business in the House as to whether the report would be tabled in the House in that sitting, stated that he would table the report once he received it, thereby misleading the House by erroneously and unequivocally suggesting that he had not received the report;

And whereas the Speaker, during the said sitting of the House, thereafter told the Leader of Government Business in the House that “Mi nah lay it tiday. Mi not laying it tiday”, which remarks were picked up by an open microphone and reported on in the media;

And whereas the Speaker thereby committed an egregious breach of the established rules of conduct and conventions of the House by misleading the House on a matter of great national importance, namely whether the report has been received by the House, as well as failing to comply with the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution and the Act;

And whereas the Speaker thereby brought the high and noble office of Speaker into disrepute;

Be it resolved that the member for North Central Clarendon be censured for his aforementioned conduct;

And be it further resolved that this matter be and is hereby referred to the House’s Committee of Privileges for its immediate determination, prior to the next sitting of the House, of the appropriate sanction against the member for North Central Clarendon by way of censure for his aforementioned conduct;

And be it further resolved that the Speaker shall recuse himself from the hearing of this matter by the House’s Committee of Privileges, given the clear conflict of interest that his presence would involve.”

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Today’s Horoscope — January 21, 2020

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Today’s Horoscope — January 21, 2020

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Tuesday, January 21, 2020: This year will progress well, yet you might feel as if you are sitting on top of Mount Vesuvius. Most likely you will not witness an eruption of that nature, but there could be an unanticipated change in your personal or domestic life. Go with the flow; in some manner, you will be simplifying your life. If single, you will meet people with ease, but date for a sustained period before committing. If attached, the two of you will benefit as a couple if you schedule some weekends away together. You could decide to make a major change to your household. SAGITTARIUS cheers you on in life.

 

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You might feel as if you get a second chance dealing with a project or long-term goal. Expect some opposition from the home front. You might worry some, but continue on your chosen path. Tonight: Walk in another person’s shoes.

 

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Pressure builds to achieve more of what you want. Somehow, you decide it might be best to continue as you have been. Demands, perhaps from a boss or a close associate, may interfere with your goal. Tonight: Believe what others share.

 

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Defer to someone else who is making sure the two of you see eye to eye. You will be relieved that this person takes the lead and frees you up. You gain a sudden insight that you might need to consider more carefully. Tonight: Think before you act.

 

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Feelings remain changeable and you do the unexpected — at least that is how another person sees it. You could find change normal, but someone close to you gets upset with your unpredictability. Tonight: Do errands on the way home.

 

LEO (July 23-Aug 22): You are about to move in a new direction. How you handle a personal matter is totally novel and will elicit different reactions, one of which could stun you. Know that you could be exhausted from recent developments. Tonight: The only answer is “yes”.

 

VIRGO (Aug 23-Sept 22): You might feel tense when you recognise your responsibilities as well as the implications of your actions. A new bond or project might be exciting yet demands an enormous amount of time and commitment. Tonight: Make a favourite dessert.

 

LIBRA (Sept 23-Oct 22): Open a new door and see how matters fall into place. You could be tired of continuing at your current pace. Recognise a problem when it surfaces, and clear it out. A dear friend might irritate you, but he or she means well. Tonight: Hang out.

 

SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21): Survey your finances as well as your ability to count on a loved one’s support. You will feel much better than you have in a while. You have created, or are on the verge of creating, much more of what you want. Tonight: Pay bills first.

 

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21): Your nerves could be fried by an unexpected development, especially if you cannot deal with pressure. How you manage a personal issue could change dramatically. Be more forthright when dealing with a dear friend. Tonight: Make a caring gesture.

 

CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19): You might want to express some of the feelings you have been holding within. The lack of clarity between you and a key person might be more of a problem than the actual problem. Tonight: Respond to another person’s spontaneity.

 

AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18): You tend to speak your mind, and you expect to be heard. As a result, you have a large audience and the ability to draw others out of their shell. Understand what is happening around you. Tonight: Others cannot stay away from you.

 

PISCES (Feb 19-March 20): Your feelings could be challenged by events that might indicate you went down the wrong path. Understand that the unexpected could play a larger role in your day than you might have anticipated. Tonight: Keep it low-key.

 

(c) 2020 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

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Prince Harry hopes for calmer future

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Prince Harry hopes for calmer future

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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LONDON, England (AP) — Prince Harry says he’s taking a “leap of faith” as he steps back from royal duties in an attempt to build a more peaceful life — one free of the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born. Fat chance.

Global fame will follow Harry and his TV star wife, Meghan, even as they decamp to the seemingly more benign environment of Canada, said Pauline Maclaran, a business professor at Royal Holloway University of London and author of Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture.

“They believe that if they are not representing the monarchy any longer, the tabloid press will eventually go away because it will be so expensive for them — that there won’t be the same savage approach. They feel they will be able to control it more from Canada,” she said Monday. “I don’t think they are being very realistic.”

Harry has long had a frosty relationship with the media, and on Sunday he made it clear that the press was a major reason for the couple’s decision to step back from royal life. In a personal speech that referenced his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi, he said he had “no other option” but to step away.

Harry has accused the media of directing “a wave of abuse and harassment” at the biracial Meghan, including “racial undertones” in articles. Both he and Meghan filed lawsuits last year against press outlets over alleged intrusion into their private lives. At the time, Harry gave an interview drawing parallels between the treatment of his wife and the media frenzy that contributed to the death of his mother.

“When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing,” Harry said Sunday at a London dinner for Sentebale, his Africa-based charity supporting youngsters affected by HIV. “You looked out for me for so long, but the media is a powerful force. And my hope is one day our collective support for each other can be more powerful, because this is so much bigger than just us.”

The comments were Harry’s first since Saturday night, when his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, announced the terms under which the prince and his wife will walk away from most royal duties, give up public funding and try to become financially independent. The couple, who were named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day, are expected to spend most of their time in Canada while maintaining a home in England near Windsor Castle.

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Abuse of power not a crime

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Trump’s lawyers: Abuse of power not a crime

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — President Donald Trump’s legal team asserted yesterday that he did “absolutely nothing wrong”, urging the Senate to swiftly reject an impeachment case that it called “flimsy” and a “dangerous perversion of the Constitution”. The lawyers decried the impeachment process as rigged and insisted that abuse of power was not a crime.

The brief from Trump’s lawyers, filed before arguments expected this week in the Senate impeachment trial, offered the most detailed glimpse of the lines of defence they intend to use against Democratic efforts to convict the president and oust him from office over his dealings with Ukraine. It is meant as a counter to a filing two days ago from House Democrats that summarised weeks of testimony from more than a dozen witnesses in laying out the impeachment case.

The 110-page filing from the White House shifted the tone toward a more legal response. It still hinged on Trump’s assertion he did nothing wrong and did not commit a crime, even though impeachment does not depend on a material violation of law but rather on the more vague definition of “other high crimes and misdemeanours” as established in the US Constitution.

“It is a constitutional travesty,” the lawyers wrote.

The prosecution team of House managers was spending another day on Capitol Hill preparing for the trial, which will be under heavy security. Before the filing, House prosecutors made their way through crowds of tourists in the rotunda to tour the Senate chamber.

In their own filing yesterday, House prosecutors replied to Trump’s not guilty plea by making fresh demands for a fair trial in the Senate, where the Republican majority aligned with Trump has not yet disclosed the rules.

“President Trump asserts that his impeachment is a partisan ‘hoax’. He is wrong,” the prosecutors wrote in their reply.

They wrote that the president can’t have it both ways – rejecting the facts of the House case but also stonewalling congressional subpoenas for witnesses and testimony. “Senators must honour their own oaths by holding a fair trial with all relevant evidence,” they wrote.

The White House document yesterday, much more fulsome than its weekend pleading, says the two articles of impeachment brought against the president — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — don’t amount to impeachment offences. It asserts that the impeachment inquiry, centred on Trump’s request that Ukraine’s president open an investigation into Democratic rival Joe Biden, was never about finding the truth.

“Instead, House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way — any way — to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 Election and to interfere in the 2020 Election,” Trump’s legal team wrote. “All of that is a dangerous perversion of the constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”

The impeachment case accuses Trump of abusing power by withholding military aid from Ukraine at the same time that he was seeking an investigation into Biden, and of obstructing Congress by instructing Administration officials not to appear for testimony or provide documents, defying congressional subpoenas.

In a brief filed Saturday, House Democrats called Trump’s conduct the “worst nightmare” of the framers of the US Constitution.

“President Donald J Trump used his official powers to pressure a foreign Government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain,” the House prosecutors wrote, “and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct.”

But Trump’s team contended yesterday that even if Trump were to have abused his power in withholding the Ukraine military assistance, it would not be impeachable, because it did not violate a specific criminal statute. And it said that the White House was within its legal right to shield close advisers of the president from having to appear before Congress, saying that position has been taken by Administrations of both parties.

Opening arguments are expected within days following a debate today over rules, including about whether witnesses are to be called in the trial.

Trump signalled his opposition to witnesses, tweeting Monday: “They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!”

That’s a reference to former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was not subpoenaed by the House in its impeachment inquiry but has said he is willing to testify in the Senate if he is subpoenaed.

The White House brief argues that the articles of impeachment passed by the House are “structurally deficient” because they charge multiple acts, creating “a menu of options” as possible grounds for conviction.

The Trump team claims that the constitution requires that senators agree “on the specific basis for conviction”, and that there is no way to ensure that the senators agree on which acts are worthy of removal because a single count contains multiple allegations.

Administration officials have argued that similar imprecision applied to the perjury case in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, who was acquitted by the Senate.

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