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Small Business Woman cries foul; says hefty ticket is unfair, heartless

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#TurksandCaicos, February 13, 2021 – A souvenir shop owner in Grace Bay was stunned by a ticket which fined her the maximum $5,000 for not having a sign posted to say how many people are allowed into the store at a time; and even more stunned that officers seem to pick and choose who faces the fine and who does not.

“I am not being treated fairly.  I feel singled out, I feel like nobody cares for the local businesses.  After the ticket, I took it upon myself to take videos – over 30 different stores – where there is no sign informing of capacity.”

Tropical Tees & Things has been open ten years in Grace Bay at the Regent Village and its owner, Chevette Capron has taken her concern to authorities at the Ministry of Heath, Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police and elected government officials only to be told to fight out her complaint in court.

“When I prepared my business to be allowed to be reopened, no one told me that I had to have this sign.  I have never seen this sign around and was unaware I needed this sign.  When I was approved by Health inspectors to reopen last year about two months before we brought the flights back in, I was given a list of things I needed to do to comply.  I did those things and my approval to open was granted.  I was fully compliant.”

Mrs. Capron said she installed signs for social distancing, signage for face mask and covering and sanitization station was set up in the store.  At no point was she asked to erect a capacity sign.

“I later learned that it is advisable to inform the store owner about these small infractions before issuing a ticket.  The officer said he told the cleaning lady about it.  Unfortunately, the lady I have to clean up does not speak English and did not pass that message along to me.

I was also told that the $5,000 fine is meant for big businesses which break the law.  I am not a big business; my store size is 720 square feet.  I feel I have no representation and I feel the government is not looking out for the small business person. Our businesses are being crushed.  The Department is responsible and should be making sure the business owners are aware of the changes and breaches.”

Changes in the Public Health Regulation during the Coronavirus Pandemic have been many.  Dozens of lists of the constantly updated requirements are issued, some never make public  publication.

“I have been looking for the notice and no one can find it. I was actually told to fight it out in court.”

Capron, who prides herself on being a law-abiding citizen said that approach does not sit well with her.  Chevette Capron believes a judge would be compelled to deliver a verdict and fine based on the written law.  Although there are lesser fines, because of the lack of clarity about the regulations; Tees and Things could end up being ordered by a court to pay the $5k. 

“I’m not asking for a handout.  If I should have had the sign, then be fair and give me the warning.  Be fair and give me a fine that suits my business size and the infraction.  The fact that you’re going to take this harsh approach is just heartless. “

Mrs. Capron explained business remains very slow; only pulling in about 10 percent of former revenue.  She works in the store herself, as a cost-cutting measure. 

Tropical Tees and Things now has the sign with her capacity in the shop window.  The promise is the dispute the ticket.

Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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