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Governor Speaks: Over 16,500 residents will be vaccinated by May; UK sending second batch of vaccines

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#TurksandCaicos, February 6, 2021 – Skillful negotiations, a willingness to safeguard its vulnerable territories and remarkable roll out of the first batch of the UK-gifted Covid-19 vaccine have brought the Turks and Caicos Islands even more good fortune; an additional 23,400 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine courtesy of the United Kingdom.

Again, that is without cost to TCI. That will allow us to vaccinate 40% of the population by May and that will start to make us one of the safest places to live, let alone one of the safest tourist destinations, in the world. Please keep registering on the portal,” said the Governor in a media statement issued on Friday.

“At 15%, we are now on course of being one of the world leaders in terms of the percentage of our population being vaccinated, particularly taking into account we have already started with second inoculations.  We will receive double the previous amount of vaccines during week beginning 22 February; that is 23,400 doses.”

This week, Turks and Caicos achieved a tremendous milestone.  All of the first doses of the vaccine were administered; exceeding expectations.  The roll out included all islands and will exhaust the first 9,750 vaccines well ahead of the March 31 expiry date of the first batch.

“Looking back we were initially uncertain if we could use all the vaccine by the end of March when the ‘use by date’ expired; in fact we achieved this goal by the end of January. The partnership with the private sector has been instrumental in this, has worked extremely well, and the delivery at the hospitals has, we believe, been first class. TCI have also rolled out, for the first time, an Electronic Immunization records (EIR) System to the benefit of both public and private medical sectors; so new ways of working are coming on stream too.

The first phase of the vaccination programme has gone extremely well.  The Team tasked to deliver this have beaten every target that was set in terms of engagement, the speed of delivery, our stewardship of the vaccine and our reach. So long as residents volunteered the Team prioritised: our senior citizens; those with underlying conditions and those on the front line. We have also been able to touch every Island and every age group.  This has demonstrated we can use the Pfizer vaccine throughout the archipelago.”

The team was led by co-chairs, Her Excellency Anya Williams, Deputy Governor and Hon Sharlene Robinson, Premier with the public awareness marshalled by Dr. Virignia Clerveaux, Director of the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies.

“The public information campaign seems to have helped and now there is momentum, amongst the population, with most of the major questions answered, and much nonsense on social media dispelled, we will continue to refine our engagement towards groups who are reluctant or particularly vulnerable. Many Pastors have been diligent in their engagement with us, informing themselves and through them informing others.”

Hindering skepticism in the territory, has waned; helped by the record levels of Covid-19 infections, three deaths so far in 2021 and a string of “myth-busting” meetings where country leaders and medical professionals addressed various groups.

“We respect everyone’s view, and their right to choose, but equally we don’t want anyone left behind because they either lacked the information they needed, or in some way feared access to a vaccine that we believe is their right to have.”

The territory has a unique demographic; the majority of adults are expatriate workers and as legal residents, many of the work permit holders were queued up in strong numbers for the free vaccine.  The governor said things have changed dramatically.

“Towards the end of this first vaccination period it was extremely encouraging to see more and more Turks Islanders coming forward. As of today (Thursday 5th February) we have vaccinated 6,114 persons (with a first dose); by census that is close to 15% of our population which makes TCI a world leader.”

Any question about the Governor’s sincerity in seeing residents protected by the vaccine could have been shelved when he and his wife Mandy were first to get the jab; but a tragic event further dismisses the notion that the governor is not sincerely supportive of the vaccine as the way to security and safety.

Millions in countries like the United Kingdom are standing in an unfathomably long line for their shots; Mr.  John Dakin, the governor’s father, was one of them.  The elder Dakin died in January 2021 to the coronavirus while resident in a care home in the UK.

“Those who have yet to receive the vaccine, and wish to, can usefully register on the portal.  If you do, we will get to you. If you know someone who needs help in accessing the Portal, please help them. Our aim is to vaccinate every resident in TCI, who wishes to be vaccinated, and our goal is to reach herd immunity as soon as we can. Our aspiration of being a world leader, and one of the safest destinations in the world once our population is vaccinated, is no longer just an aspiration but a reality – should you, TCI’s residents, wish it to be so. If you want to be part of this future register on www.covidvaccineregistration.gov.tc

This is over twice the amount we received last time and it will allow us to fully vaccinate more than 11,000 further residents. When we achieve that – which we will – we will have provided the vaccine (both doses) to 40% of our population. We hope to have done that by May.”

The vaccine should arrive the week of February 22.  The vaccine will continue to be free and voluntary.

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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Caribbean News

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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Caribbean News

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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