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COVID, not voter apathy could shrink voter numbers on Election Day says PNP Party Leader

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#TurksandCaicos, February 3, 2021 – If there is a low voter turn-out on General Election day on February 19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it will be Covid-19 and not voter apathy that keeps them away, said Washington Misick, PNP Party Leader.

“There is always some of that,” said Misick in a one on one interview with Magnetic Media in response to a question on whether he believed people are weary of party politics, “I think that has been overplayed.  I think people are ready to put this election behind them and as I walk through the country, more and more people, particularly young people express their eagerness to express their opinions by voting.  I don’t believe that the level of apathy is as high as we may think.”

With 591 new cases of the coronavirus for Turks and Caicos logged between January 1 and February 1, Misick is concerned that voters may be fearful of the contagion and opt to stay at home. 

“It had been predicted by the scientists that in the flu season, this infection, this pandemic would actually be worse.  It has now turned out to be a teachable moment.  The virus is not only in the general population but I think it is seriously starting to affect front end workers including poll workers, so that is a major concern.”

Misick said he is hoping for a smooth flow on General Election day, free of situations which could delay the outcome and delay a new government taking shape and getting to work.

“This is an important milestone and hopefully we will not have any incidents that would create a constitutional impasse that causes us to have to shift the date of the actual polling.”

There is no electronic voting in Turks and Caicos.  There is also no advanced polling in the TCI. 

House of Assembly Members before the dissolution of parliament on Christmas Eve 2020 had rejected a proposal of advanced polling; the overarching view of both sides being there was too much room for ballot tampering. 

Turks and Caicos House of Assembly Members agreed with the move for electronic voting, but that idea was shelved as the country did not have enough time to implement the system. 

COVID positive voters and quarantined individuals will be allowed to vote, say officials, though exactly how has yet to be announced despite the General Election being a mere 16 days away.

Charles Washington Misick, Leader of the Progressive National Party is nominated as an All Island Candidate and vying for a third consecutive term as a member of the House under the 2016 Constitution; which altered the composition of the House of Assembly for the Turks and Caicos.

Misick, who is a former chief minister and finance minister has a background in business, hotel development, real estate and economics.  With his wife and party deputy leader at his side, he turned in his nomination documents at the Bethany Baptist Church in the Wheeland District.

Nomination Day for the Turks and Caicos was held January 29; a total of 38 people have offered themselves for office including 18 in the All-Island or At-Large category.

Bahamas News

PM Davis’ Remarks at Wreath Laying Ceremony – Majority Rule Day 2022

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Happy Majority Rule Day to all and thank you for coming

I thank the organizers of this wreath laying ceremony because this auspicious occasion is a symbolic reminder of the significant role the Progressive Liberal Party and the Father of the Nation played in bringing about one of the most consequential and transformational events in our history, eclipsed only by the abolition of slavery in 1834.

With the addition of National Independence on 10th July 1973, these three epic events changed the course of Bahamian history forever and etched in the annals of history the Bahamian national identity and the depth of our indomitable spirit.

We must never grow weary of telling our story lest we lose our identity and heritage as a people.

Further — and more nationally — as a free, modern, democratic and independent state, history must record that Majority Rule Day is also an occasion where all Bahamians come together to reflect on and celebrate the enduring principles of democracy.  Today then, I stand with my Bahamian brothers and sisters from all walks of life in memorializing this day as a seminal moment in the ever-evolving Bahamian story.

MAJORITY RULE IS A MAJOR TRIUMPH FOR DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM, HUMANITARIAN PRINCIPLES THAT WE HOLD NEAR AND DEAR TO OUR HEARTS.  THESE PRINCIPLES ARE ALSO THE CHIEF PHILOSOPHICAL CORNER STONES AND PILLARS ON WHICH THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT AND WILL SUSTAIN US FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

We must never allow our detractors to minimize, trivialize or relegate this great day and event to the scrap heap of historical irrelevance. To do so is to dishonour the vision, memory and legacy of those great courageous souls on whose shoulders we stand.

We cannot and must not conveniently disinherit our glorious legacy because our truth is inconvenient to some.

A cause rooted in social justice, freedom fighters courageously stood in the vanguard of change – unyielding in their demand that all were created equal — with God-given rights to human dignity without regard to race, gender, colour or creed. This stand of conscience galvanized a nation, a generation of Bahamians, and in the process significantly reshaped the character and national identity of The Bahamas forever.

I pay tribute to the many unsung heroes and heroines whose endearing and enduring legacies of selflessness and shared sacrifices remain the gold standard of our national culture in both public life and in the way we conduct our personal affairs with one another.

I continue to draw, conviction, inspiration and influence from the passion of the Suffragettes, the labour movement, the church and from countless Bahamians who put it all on the line to secure a more perfect Commonwealth.

Speaking of passion, conviction, inspiration and influence, I wish to take a moment to recount the role the late Sir Sidney Poitier played and the contributions he made during our journey to Majority Rule.

As a Bahamian with dual citizenship, Sir Sidney used his celebrity status in the struggle for civil rights —  fighting racism, bigotry and injustice in both the United States and The Bahamas.

Many Bahamians still recall his speaking to the issue at a reception in his honour to the then United Bahamian Party (UBP) government in recognition of his Academy Award for ‘Lilies of the Field.’

A well-known story in PLP circles is his assistance to the Progressive Liberal Party in the run up to the 1967 general elections. There is an iconic photo of Sir Sidney and Sir Lynden at the back of an open limousine celebrating the 1967 victory.

May he rest in peace.

As a beneficiary of their sacrificial work, I thank them all — Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Milo Butler, Sir Randal Fawkes, Sir Clifford Darling, Dame Doris Johnson and Sir Sidney Poitier — for their passion, faith, perseverance and uncompromising commitment to social justice, democracy, freedom and a sense of fair play.

It is indeed an honour and a privilege to stand on their broad proverbial shoulders to continue their invaluable work in building a stronger and more perfect Commonwealth to positively impact the lives of generations yet unborn.

Our cause is indeed national, inclusive and intergenerational in its nature, range and scope.

On behalf of my wife Ann Marie, my cabinet and parliamentary colleagues, my government, the officers and members of the Progressive Liberal Party, I extend best wishes and highest regards to the people of The Bahamas as we celebrate Fifty-Five years of Majority Rule.

May Almighty God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

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Fulford says TCI’s Judiciary will be Established as a Regional Leader under CJ Agyeman

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#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – The Legal Year 2022 opened on January 4th 2022 in a hybrid fashion, where the Chief Justice, Court of Appeal Judges, Supreme Court Judges, Magistrates and other Official participants hosted the ceremony at the Supreme Court building in person and where Attorneys and other dignitaries attended remotely via zoom link.

The ceremony today marked a welcomed improvement from last year, where covid19 numbers caused the 2021 opening ceremony to be in a strictly virtual fashion for all attendees.

This year’s ceremony saw a cadre of achievements listed by the Chief Justice in her short tenure such as:

  1. New Legal Aid Rules
  2. Establishment of a new Legal Aid Panel
  3. Establishment of a Legal Aid Roster for Civil and Criminal Matters
  4. Implementation of an 18 Month end date for Legal Aid Matters
  5. Establishment of a complaint mechanism for grievances against attorneys
  6. Establishment of Interim Payments
  7. Establishment of Legal Aid for Civil Cases
  8. Waiver of Supreme Court Fees for Civil Cases conducted under legal aid
  9. Establishment of Early Legal Aid from the investigative process.
  10. Establishment of Duty Counsels – where Legal Aid will allow those arrested on suspicion of crimes to have an attorney before charge;
  11. Legal Aid will extend to constitutional rights, habeus corpus, judicial review, domestic violence, contentions probate matters, welfare of Children matters, landlord dispute matters;
  12. Court Connected Mediation Rules
  13. Court to now promote ADR
  14. Establishment of Court mandated Alternative Dispute Resolution
  15. Creation of a Mediation Committee
  16. 42 Mediators are Trained
  17. Creation of a Roster of Mediators -11 are presently on the Roster
  18. Consultation has begun on restorative justice to pay reparation for Offences to promote reconciliation
  19. Establishment of Queens Counsel Selection Panel
  20. Establishment of Alternative Sentencing Guidelines
  21. Establishment of the first ever Bail Ordinance
  22. Establishment of a Sentencing Deadline Committee
  23. Establishment of a Magistrate Rules Committee
  24. Establishment of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee
  25. Establishment of Hybrid Hearings to allow Jury Trials to take place.
  26. Establishment of a Court/Legal Library;
  27. Continuous population of TCILII with judgements
  28. Re-Constitution of the Judicial Education Committee JEI
  29.  JEI three workshops held for Court Staff
  30.  JEI programs to equip Court Clerks with Paralegal training
  31. JEI trained the Bailiffs on Self Defence
  32. JEI armed Bailiffs with body cameras
  33.  Establishment of Registrar of Magistrate Courts
  34. Onboarding of two Judicial Research Assistants
  35.  Establishment of Code of Conduct for the Judiciary
  36. The House of Assembly have voted to provide 3 million dollars toward a state-of-the-art court building for The Judiciary.
  37. Two Buildings have been located and will be retrofitted to be used as Magistrate Courts in South Caicos and North Caicos.

Chief Justice Agyeman laid out other initiatives of the Judiciary and other Strategic priorities are as follows for 2022:

  1. The E-Judiciary initiatives will continue, that will provide paperless access to the digital platform.
  2. A dedicated space for ADR, being a center for parties to undertake mediation
  3. Legislation to bring clarity to Judicial officers is underway.
  4. Ethics and Integrity Training for Court Staff.
  5. Extensive electronic infrastructure is being implemented to improve virtual proceedings
  6. Ongoing work addressing gaps in treatment of Mental Health Issues  and Juveniles in criminal justice
  7. A CJSG which is a collaboration of all stakeholders of justice that serves the public and is striving to provide a multi-level approach to provide access to quality criminal justice.
  8. The CJSG will also be publishing a calendar of community initiatives it will undertake to bring its work to the people they exist to serve.

Fulford views Chief Justice Mabel Agyeman in her role as Head of the Judiciary, as a Judge who sets goals and achieves them despite arduous challenges. The way in which the Chief Justice relentlessly pursues the Judiciary’s goals bodes well for the jurisdiction and no doubt her record of achievement in her short tenue will cause the TCI Judiciary to become known as a regional leader.

Fulford noted that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Judiciary continues to grow from strength to strength because of the Chief Justice’s resourcefulness, perseverance and commitment to modernization and improvement.

Chief Justice Agyeman thanked the DPP personally and his office for assisting in the many Judiciary reforms. Further thanks were given to the Attorney General and the Bar Association through its President who was on hand to give and receive the remarks.  Many thanks were Given to the Governor, Deputy Governor, Premier, Cabinet and Parliament for the support to the Judiciary.

Chief Justice Agyeman specially thanked the Acting Court Administrator Mrs Barbara Jervis, Her Registrar Ms Renee McLean and her Judicial Assistant Ms. Aisha DeFour.

In closing, The Hon. Chief Justice renewed her commitment and that of the entire Judiciary to continue to improve access to quality justice for all in TCI and to be untiring in their efforts to follow through on the plans outlined for 2022, and continue to strive to position the Judiciary to attain the stature of a resilient, and accountable institution.

Fulford indicated, it’s an opportune time to be serving the public in the legal profession.

 

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Oil fund could repair crumbling infrastructure, improve health, education systems

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By Kemol King

Guyana DPI

 

#Guyana, January 15, 2022 – Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, said the public school and healthcare systems, along with the country’s infrastructure network, could benefit from the development that will come from Guyana’s oil money.

He made the comments during a virtual interview with Globespan on Wednesday.

“Our government has been clear that… oil and gas will be used – there are some infrastructural issues.

Look at some of the infrastructure that we were left with. Look at some of the ports and the harbours, the roads, the bridges, look at them. A lot of them are dilapidated. Now, we are starting to build them.

We have health systems; we have educational systems that need help. It’s the poor people that have to go to the hospital. It’s the poor people that go to the public schools…”

He added that investments can also be made into reducing the costs of certain services like electricity, or into building the capacity of law enforcement to fight crime.

The minister said these sectors are where some of the major problems are, and act as bugbears for the country.

Already, the government has started rolling out an extensive infrastructure plan, building and repairing roads and highways across the country. The government has initiated processes for the construction of major infrastructural projects such as the Demerara River Crossing.

Investments are being made into upgrading healthcare facilities into modern sustainable providers for the poorest citizens.

In education, the government has provided 6,000 scholarships for ordinary Guyanese, and there are thousands more to come.

Minister Indar reminded that all the work government has done so far since taking up office in August 2020, have been done without using the oil money.

Some US$607 million sits in the Natural Resource Fund. The government has maintained that it would not spend a cent until a new Natural Resource Fund Act is in place. This was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali in December.

The Act allows the government to withdraw the total balance of the Fund in the first year. The Ministry of Finance explained that it is important for Guyana to use its resources to fund its development agenda, instead of burdening Guyana with unsustainable debt. Even then, Minister Indar explained that the withdrawal rule moving forward will allow significant sums to be saved and be accrued, given expected ramp-ups in offshore oil production.

 

 

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