#TurksandCaicos, April 12, 2021 – A local daily in the spotlight for publishing “misleading information” concerning an illegal immigrant seized by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force- Marine Division while aboard a boat in TCI waters in the Northwest Point area of Providenciales on 8th January 2020.
According to the Minister, the true account of how events unfolded after the arrest of the controversial Syrian is contrary to the information and alleged “wild” claims that Turks and Caicos Islands is ” part of an organised international human smuggling network.”
“My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, I have read with interest an article in one of the local newspapers, speaking about a Syrian national being smuggled through these Turks and Caicos Islands,” said Hon Arlington Musgrove, the Minister of Immigration, Registration, Labour and Employment Services
“To set the record straight, here are the facts as I know them: On 8th January 2021 around 8:23 am, members of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force- Marine Division found a boat in Turk and Caicos Islands waters, in the Northwest Point area of Providenciales, with just one person on board, at the time,” Hon. Musgrove’s statement clarified.
“It would later be determined that the boat, which entered the TCI illegally, would have had a total of twenty-five (25) persons on board, including twenty-two (22) males, of which Mr Moin Alhashash, was one and three (3) Haitian females, ” he added.
According to the Minister of Immigration, Registration, Labor & Employment Services, Mr Moin Alhashash, a Syrian national, had spanned 14-months in Haiti, where he learned to speak Creole fluently. Of course, it was the same language he spoke during an interview through an interpreter.
The Minister further revealed that Mr Moin’s stay in TCI was inadvertent as he had paid the captain of the Haitian sloop four thousand (US$4,000.00) dollars for his journey to Miami Beach in Florida, USA. After his arrest by officers from the enforcement unit, he was charged with “Unlawful Entry” under the Immigration ordinance after pleading guilty to the offence.
Moin’s case was heard before the Chief Justice on 22nd March 2021 and sentenced to time served, suspending the recommendation for deportation for 6 months. Later, application for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus regarding Mr Moin was heard before the Supreme Court on 30th March 2021 and relocated at 2.00 pm the same day.
The claim of many “unlawful detentions” by “The Sun” is not true, even though there could be a few errors in the entire process of handling the offender (Mr. Moin).
“I hasten to add that the contents of the story are somewhat misleading in a certain respect and paints a distorted picture of my Immigration Department and staff. The flagrant allegations of abuse of statutory power are regrettable,” read part of Hon Arlington Musgrove’s press release.
However, the Minister did not rule out the possibility of errors during the process as the immigration staff are not infallible.
“The Immigration authorities are not infallible and have made some mistakes, but endeavour as much as possible to keep their processes and operations within the four corners of the law and do not believe themselves to be a superior force entitled to operative above the law,” said the Minister for Immigration.
“It must be noted contrary to assertions made that the Immigration Authorities take seriously any matter of detention and fully understand the constitutional implications of prolonged or any detention,” the statement read.
While the article deemed the detention process illegal, the Standards used in the TCI immigration department have been compared to the world’s best standards and mirrors those of the UK.
Additionally, Hon. Musgrove stated that the Sri Lankan matter should not be used as a yardstick to measure the Immigration Department’s competence to adequately manage unlawful immigrants’ entry, their detention and eventual removal from the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Sri Lankans situation was unique and complex and presented its peculiar challenges, which necessitated the assistance of specially trained investigators. Finally, Musgrove warned those staying in TCI illegally to leave or face the consequences.
Press Release: Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Bahamas
February 3, 2023 – ILM Bahamas Centre held its Certificate Presentation Ceremony for Cohort 7. The cohort consisted of fourteen (14) Senior Immigration Officers from the Department of Immigration. This Cohort was a hybrid of in-person and online learning. Four of the Immigration Officers were from the Family Islands (Grand Bahama, Abaco, Berry Islands and Eleuthera).
Present at the ceremony were: The Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration, Madam Justice J. Denise Lewis-Johnson, Permanent Secretary Ms. Ceceila Strachan, Executive Chair of NTA Ms. Agatha Marcelle, Executive Director of NTA Mr. Terry Murray, Director of Immigration Mrs. Keturah Ferguson, Deputy Director of Immigration Mr. Dwight Beneby, Ms. Esther McKinney Office Manager at the Department of Immigration.
The guest speaker at the ceremony was Dr. Donald M. McCartney a Leadership and Management Consultant with Motivation Incorporated Bahamas and the United States. He was a former senior public servant. He was also a First Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service with responsibility for the Northern Bahamas. He was also a former educator and professor at various colleges in the United States.
In his address to ILM Cohort 7, Dr. McCartney spoke about having the courage to lead and that leadership goes beyond SELF. It’s not about you or your ego but rather more about contributing to nation building. He said, “We must be prepared to take the bold steps that would not lead us into the abyss of despair but on the road that leads us to lift up our heads to the rising sun and press onward to the mountaintop experience, which will lead us to become the proud and productive people we were destine to be.” He also expanded on the four fundamental virtues: COURAGE, TEMPERANCE, JUSTICE AND WISDOM. Additionally, he expanded on the focus and influence of courage, on the ego and discipline.
The Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration brought brief remarks on the occasion. Some of the highlights of his speech were that Immigration is one of the highest revenue earners, challenges within the Department of Immigration such as lack of autonomy from the Public Service as compared to the other armed forces. He also talked about that the fact that the top tier is going to be retired within two years and this would be an opportunity for many of the graduates of this Cohort 7 to gain upward mobility.
He also stated that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the Immigration Act, and a review of the Asylum Bill. Furthermore, he discussed the inevitable need for the relocation of the Department of Immigration from its current location. Lastly, he stated that we must tread a delicate balance between enforcing the law and being humane, in regards to shanty towns.
It is noteworthy that the ILM Centre at the National Training Agency recently obtained a Centre upgrade. The ILM Centre Bahamas now hold the statue of Direct Claim Status with City and Guilds of London. Additionally, the Centre is now registered with the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of the Bahamas (NAECOB) for all of its current course offerings. The ILM Department is lead Miss Pamela Gomez as the ILM Centre Coordinator. Registration is now open for Level 2 Certificate in Leadership and Team Skill and Level 3 Certificate in Leadership and Management. Our mission statement is, “Helping people, organizations, and economies develop their skills for growth.”
For more information, contact the ILM Centre Bahamas located in the Gladstone Road Business Centre by calling 461-6021 or 461-6008.
Sugar and salt tax campaigns gaining steam
By Dana Malcolm
February 7, 2023 – A global battle on sugar and salt is ramping up as the United States joins The Bahamas and Barbados in creating proposals for historic sugar and salt laws.
The country’s Agricultural Department for the first time in history, proposed a cap on the amount of sugar to be allowed in school meals.
The World Health Organization has found that North America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of childhood diabetes in the world and based on the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas we also have the second highest prevalence of Diabetes overall for all global regions at 14 percent or 51 million people with a projected 24 percent increase in just 22 years.
Barbados, the United States, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis are all suffering from incredibly high rates of diabetes.
Barbados and The Bahamas announced sugar taxes last month; the hope is to reduce the importation and sale of sugar and salt rich foods.
Advocates across the Caribbean including Jamaica, Trinidad, and others have been campaigning for sugar taxes in their own countries with support from the public.
Now the proposed nutritional rules for the United States would set firm boundaries on how much salt and sugar can legally be added to meals, setting a new standard as most food imports for countries like The Bahamas are from the US.
The plan for the US is expected to be rolled out by 2025.
The rules, are unapologetically an attempt to cut down incidences of diabetes and other diseases fueled by unhealthy diets, according to media reports.
For now, the quantities on sugar and salt additives is an idea waiting wider consultation.
Texas bans TikTok from government agencies
By Dana Malcolm
#USA, February 7, 2023 – Chinese owned TikTok has officially been banned from Government devices in another US State following the passing of a new law banning the social media app on Federal devices in December. Texas Governor Greg Abott made the decision for his state following Virginia, Maryland, Alabama and Utah.
In a statement posted to his website Abbott said “The security risks associated with the use of TikTok on devices used to conduct the important business of our state must not be underestimated or ignored.”
He also claimed the app was harvesting significant amounts of data from users’ phones, maintaining the ban was necessary to protect Texas’ sensitive information from threats.
The ban on downloading and use will apply to both state and personal devices with internet connectivity that are used to conduct state business including cell phones, laptops, tablets and desktops.
It also prohibits residents from conducting state business with devices that have TikTok or other ‘prohibited technology’ enabled on them and bans any device with this technology from entry and use in sensitive areas, locations or meetings. The ban must be in effect by February 15 in all state agencies. There was no indication it would affect devices, personal or otherwise, not used to conduct state business.
The ban comes amidst increased tensions between the country and the Republic of China over a spy balloon that was sent into US airspace by China and then shot down by the US.
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