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Sri Lankans Asylum Application in Limbo; more than $530,000 spent to house the men



#TurksandCaicos, May 26, 2021 – For nine months, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government has been paying $59,000 a month to the Airport Inn to house and feed 21 individuals found on a Haitian sloop with 158 others in October 2019.  The group had all been released from the detention center by August 25, 2020 following court action for their release brought during the period February 2020 until late August 2020. Since that time they have been dependent on the state as they have submitted asylum applications seeking to stay in the western world. 

Prior to their housing at the Airport Inn, the same individuals were held at the South Dock Road Detention Center for ten months, after they were caught in a people trafficking ring and identified as key pieces in a criminal enterprise puzzle.

Eventually, the architect of the complex exploit for the Sri Lankans from home to the Caribbean and with hopes of onward passage to North America would be brought down; Sri Kajamukam Chelliah, aka Mohan, who is 55 years old was convicted in Turks and Caicos and is now convicted and set to serve 32 months in Florida federal prison.  He was sentenced on Monday May 17, 2021 in Florida.

Twenty Eight (28) Sri Lankans and one Indian were in the mix of Haitians which were picked up by the coastal radar.  By then the group had been travelling for over a year from their home countries in order to escape persecution and victimization, and managed to make it to Haiti.  With Mohan, they boarded a boat bound for Turks and Caicos but they were caught, arrested and detained.

The detention from October 2019 to August 2020 was for the purposes of a criminal investigation by which to build a case against the smuggler.  A case was built and Mohan pleaded guilty in a TCI court and served time at Her Majesty’s Prison.  In August 2020, Mohan was extradited to the United States for similar crimes and on May 17 was found guilty and sentenced to 34 months.

The entire time, the other Sri Lankans were trapped in Turks and Caicos.  Delays in an offered return to Sri Lanka was explained by TCIG with reference to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Attorney Tim Prudhoe of law firm Prudhoe Caribbean law firm, had originally been called in to take the case of the smuggler.  Interest, for Prudhoe however, turned to plight of the smuggled Sri Lankan detainees.  At that time, several of the men caught in the October 2019 interception were transported to the United States where in exchange for evidence against Mohan, they were likely given some break. Sixteen of the remaining Sri Lankans became clients of Prudhoe Caribbean.

The remaining men were in Turks and Caicos abandoned by the investigators and ignored by the Immigration Department.  None has been offered or given the right to work, to earn a living.  Some are farmers, others are drivers and yet more are skilled in carpentry, we are told.  

Three applied for asylum in in September 2020.  The three had previously been interviewed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who designated them refugees.  Asylum application made by these three were denied in early January of this year and which have since been appealed to His Excellency the Governor. was however.

Prudhoe Caribbean’s thirteen other Sri Lankan clients applied for asylum in mid-November.  These applications remain pending with the Minister for Immigration. Mr. Prudhoe, in an interview with Magnetic Media, confirmed that he is unaware of the recommendation of the UNHCR’s report on his second set of clients because access to those reports have been refused.

This matter has not only been to the Ministry, the Cabinet and the Governor’s Office but to the courts.  On appeal, the three first asylum applicants won on the point that the refusal to release them from the Detention Center in May 2020 was amounted to an unlawful detention.  The Appeal’s Court decision on 31 December 2020 opened the door for a successful false imprisonment claim. A damages determination on that is still pending. The country will then be forced to pay the men directly for having them held in detention.

Mr. Prudhoe confirmed that he has not been paid for his representation of the Sri Lankans. 

Meanwhile, countries sensitive to the dangerous conditions on the ground for the Tamil, on May 18, commemorated  – Tamil Genocide Day – when one hundred thousand Tamils were slaughtered in a sickening exercise of ‘ethnic cleansing’ which happened in Sri Lanka in 2009. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces was fingered for the massacre.  Today,  despite a declaration that the Civil War is over, there is still trouble for Tamil civilians; illegal land grabs, intimidation, oppression, censorship and  no demilitarization creates a climate of fear explains articles penned by Tamils outside of Sri Lanka.

The civil war is over but the persecution, they say lives on.  Tamils have found countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada to be their friends and offering safe haven. 

The Sir Lankans in Turks and Caicos would prefer to be in these countries where there are Tamil communities; but without asylum and a right to work and earn a living, they are not yet free enough to apply to these countries for passage.

In a cruel twist of fate, all of the countries, though open to immigrants, are right now closed to everyone due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Meanwhile, the sixteen Sri Lankans remain in limbo.  The Governor is yet to decide the asylum refusal appeals for the original three.  And the public purse is paying a whopping bill when citizens are struggling to pay rent and make ends meet; still reeling financially from the ravages of the pandemic.

When Minister of Immigration and Border Services, Arlington Musgrove held his national update on May 17 – he responded to Magnetic Media questions on the Sri Lankans, confirming the $59,000 monthly bill and saying the applications for asylum was unlikely to be approved. He did not say when a decision would be given.

“They had never mentioned asylum or nothing like that, so we are having a push back from their attorney.  We are right now in litigation over where do we go from here,” the Minister added, “we have a number of agencies involved in this and from the looks of it, they are in agreement where we are saying we don’t think they deserve asylum,” said the Minister to our query.

Tim Prudhoe said that his firm expect to  pursue false imprisonment claims for all sixteen clients.  The attorney-owner of Prudhoe Caribbean continues to seek the release of the UNHCR reports on the thirteen Sri Lankans.  The attorney also seeks to change the wider issue of a establishing clarity on the government policy on the right to work while awaiting response on an application for asylum. Prudhoe confirmed that his firm’s intervention has at least not resulted in Immigration Center detainees being asked if they want access to an attorney prior.

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Turks & Caicos Premier salutes Sandals for country’s economic growth  



~SCU and TCICC using industry knowledge to train and develop ~


Montego Bay, Jamaica – Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Hon. Charles Washington Misick, has saluted Sandals and Beaches Resorts for the major economic impact they have had on the islands, alluding to the significant growth in the Gross Domestic Product since the opening of the Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages and Spa (BTC) in 1997. He spoke to the major investment the luxury all-inclusive chain provided through the work of former chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart, and the continued support by now Executive Chairman, Adam Stewart.

In his keynote address at a recent ceremony for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Sandals Corporate University (SCU) and the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College (TCICC), Honourable Misick shared, “I used to meet Butch in Miami at Coconut Grove where we had many conversations about him potentially acquiring the hotel for the chain. He did so the following year, 1997. Fast forward to today, BTC has become a staple and one of the reasons why we’ve been able to do so much in these islands.”

Additionally, he lauded the continued work of the brand to empower the labor force, under the leadership of SRI’s Executive Chairman, Adam Stewart. He explained, “the partnership between SCU and TCICC was conceived with the vision of strengthening the local workforce. In under four months, we’ve made remarkable progress. By elevating educational standards and creating job opportunities, we’re not just enhancing the Human Development Index (HDI) for the Turks and Caicos Islands, we’re building a more efficient economy. The focus is on improving education, improving quality of life, but also, as a small country, we would like to be able to expose our young people to what is happening in the other corners of the Caribbean, and the world.”

The MoU signing is the second of its kind for the SCU in the region, following a recent agreement with the UWI Global Campus. Held at the Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages and Spa, the ceremony was also attended by Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime, Gaming and Disaster Management, the Hon. Josephine Connolly, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart, President/CEO of TCICC, Dr. Candice Williams along with other dignitaries and leaders from both SCU and TCICC.

Hon. Taylor praised the partnership, adding that it represents, “a visionary initiative aimed at harnessing our collective strengths to bolster a sector that is vital to our economy. As we formalise this agreement, we are planting seeds for a future that holds unparalleled opportunities for our students, educators, and the hospitality industry at large.”

In his remarks, Adam Stewart affirmed the significant role of the SCU in the region, encouraging team members to embrace it as a catalyst for personal growth and self-improvement. He also commended the partnership with SCU and TCICC, noting SCU’s commitment to providing internships annually is just a fraction of the exciting opportunities available through this collaboration. He shared, “people are at the centre of what we do.  The best thing you could do for the people of the Caribbean, is to provide opportunities for education. The quintessential saying of ‘teach an individual to fish as opposed to giving them a fish’, provides them with careers, exposure and builds their confidence to be able to be the best version of themselves. In turn, they can achieve their own independent economic goals and dreams.  So what we’re doing is just one more commitment to the Turks and Caicos Islands, to the people of the Caribbean, to say everything that we’ve learned we’re sharing with you. We are fully committed at Sandals Resorts International and will remain an absolute investor in this country.”

In her address on behalf of TCICC, Dr. Candice Williams noted, “as we embark on this partnership with the SCU, we recognise its transformative potential for our students and our country. Through collaboration, innovation, and shared expertise, we will enhance the quality of education and training and create pathways for our students to excel in their careers and become leaders in the industry.”

The SCU will also work with the TCICC to identify subject matter experts from Sandals and Beaches Resorts to give guest lectures, provide input into the curriculum being developed for the TCICC’s hospitality and tourism management programmes and provide opportunities to promote enrolment of Sandals and Beaches team members in relevant programmes offered at the TCICC.

Additionally, the SCU will endeavour to facilitate the placement of up to 100 interns from TCICC within Sandals and Beaches Resorts per year for work experience and a formal Internship programme for students at various levels. Lastly, the SCU will, where possible, provide the opportunity for TCICC students international certifications through their partnerships with accrediting bodies in all aspects of hospitality management and technical related areas.


Photo Captions

Header – (From left, back row) Mr. James McAnally, managing director, Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages and Spa, Dr. Deloris Stapleton-Harris, vice president – academic, vocational and student affairs, TCICC, Mr. Shawn DaCosta, chief operations officer, SRI, Dr. Luz Longsworth, senior corporate director, SCU, the Hon. Rachel Taylor, minister of education, youth, sports and culture, the Hon. Jamel Robinson, deputy premier, TCI, the Hon. Josephine Connolly, minister of tourism, environment, heritage, maritime, gaming and disaster management, Dr. Candice Williams, president/CEO, TCICC, Mrs. Cherylann Jones, permanent secretary, TCI, Dr. Barbara Ambrister, chair, board of governors, TCICC, (front left) Mr. Adam Stewart, executive chairman, SRI, HE. Dileena Daniel-Selvaratnam, governor, TCI, the Hon. Charles Misick, premier, TCI, all share smiles ahead the signing of a MoU between the Sandals Corporate University and the Turks and Caicos Community College.

Insert – Captured after the signing the Memorandum of Understanding are the Hon. Charles Misick, premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands alongside Mr. Adam Stewart, executive chairman of Sandals Resorts International. This two-year agreement will assist the TCICC in strengthening its Hospitality and Tourism Programme to build local capacity and develop leadership in the industry from within the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Caribbean News

Bob Marley – One Love Actor Endorses Black River Film Festival



#MontegoBay, May 27, 2024 – The inaugural staging of the Black River Film Festival (BRFF), set for June 28 to 30, is being welcomed by local actor, Cornelius Orlando Grant, who sees the potential of the event in unearthing local talent and attracting investment from the international film industry.

Addressing a recent JIS Think Tank held at the agency’s Montego Bay Regional Office, Mr. Grant, who stars as gangster Bucky Marshall in the Bob Marley – One Love biopic, said the BRFF could leverage the interest and attention being generated towards Jamaica and its film industry following the premiere of the movie.

“Look at it this way, the Prince (Harry) came to the premiere and his presence attracted extra attention to [the film industry]. The Bob Marley movie is creating and breaking more records… . Just recently it opened in Japan [where]… reggae music and Bob Marley have a big fan base. Furthermore, people in the [diaspora] that I spoke to are saying that when they view the movie, it brought them vibes of home,” he noted.

Mr. Grant said that with Jamaica being positioned as the hub of the Caribbean film industry and with the increasing number of young persons emerging as content creators, “I think now is the time that we can capitalise on this. The Black River Film Festival is doing just that because it is not only incorporating new content creators but also showing students new career possibilities”.

Young content creators, 14 to 18 years old, who wish to enter or are already practitioners in the field of filmmaking will benefit from masterclass sessions during the Festival.

Mr. Grant will be among the speakers during these sessions.

The Ministry of Education, Region 5 will be partnering with the Festival producers at a workshop to be held at St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in Santa Cruz on June 28.


Photo Caption: Jamaican actor, Cornelus Orlando Grant, gives his support to the Black River Film Festival (BRFF), while addressing a recent Think Tank at the Jamaica Information Service Montego Bay Regional Office in St. James.

Okoye Henry Photo


Contact: Sharon Earle

Release: JIS

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Bahamas News

PM Davis: Artificial Intelligence Micro-Course Graduation is ‘something very special’



NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Official Remarks at the University of The Bahamas-Partanna-King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Intensive Micro-Course Graduation Ceremony, on May 22, 2024, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that he believed that those involved had accomplished “something very special.”

“I see this as the start of what will hopefully be an ongoing initiative, as we embrace the power of strategic partnerships and innovative ideas that can empower our people for success,” he said, during the ceremony held at Choices Restaurant on UB Main Campus.

Among those present included UB Acting President Janyne Hodder; UB Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Woodside-Oriakhi; Dean of the UB College of Business Dr. Marlo Murphy-Braynen; UB Chair of the School of Business Daniel Thompson; Dr. Dematee Mohan of the Office of the Prime Minister; and Director-General of Bahamas Information Services Elcott Coleby.

A number of podium guests also assisted in presenting five micro-course graduates with scholarships to KAUST.

Prime Minister Davis stated that the world was currently going through an era of “rapid, and, I dare say, epic change.”

“They are calling it the triple transition, which includes climate change, demographic change, as well as digital change,” he noted.  “The Bahamas is experiencing each of these changes in profound ways.”

He added: “Climate change represents the biggest threat we have ever, ever faced, as well as the biggest opportunity to re-align our society with our values to make the world cleaner, healthier, more prosperous, and more just.  And then there is digital transformation, which requires tremendous investments in infrastructure, and, of course, education in digital skills so that our workforce can remain competitive in this new era.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the impact of that global transition was so broad that embracing those changes as opportunities required the integration of climate resilience and digital innovation into every aspect of The Bahamas’ national development models.

“That is why I am so proud of what we have accomplished today,” he said.  “We have opened the eyes of these young Bahamian scholars to the vast world of digital transformation through AI and machine learning.”

“We have placed this great potential at their fingertips so that they can go on to be, not just consumers of digital technology, but also digital producers, disruptors, and innovators,” Prime Minister Davis added.

He pointed out that they lived in a time when AI had become commonplace. Universities, Prime Minister Davis added, were grappling with the ethical implications of natural language algorithms, like Chat GPT, which produced essays with just a few prompts.

“Programmers and writers are using open-source AI apps to become more efficient and productive,” he said.  “We are seeing the widespread application of AI in every sector that is redefining how we work.”

“The AI revolution has already made waves here in The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Local businesses are using AI to collect data and empower their marketing initiatives.”

He continued:  “My administration has pioneered the use of AI at the Ministry of Tourism, where AI chatbots are facilitating more efficient customer service and AI algorithms are helping us to identify and target likely visitors.  Even the Water and Sewerage Corporation has begun using AI to detect leaks.

“But this is just the beginning.”

Prime Minister Davis said that AI was still in its infancy. In the near future, he added, AI will take over repetitive, everyday tasks in fields as vast as engineering, programming, law, accounting, marketing, and healthcare administration.

“We also anticipate using AI in our current efforts to fight climate change and make our nation more climate resilient,” Prime Minister Davis noted.  “With these changes, some current jobs may become obsolete, but new jobs within data science and AI will emerge.”

“We will need a robust supply of well-trained, well-educated professionals to ensure that The Bahamas continues to keep pace with global economic developments,” he added.  “And we want those professionals to be Bahamians.

“Today, we have taken steps toward building that future-focused workforce with 20 bright young scholars here at UB.”

Prime Minister Davis thanked KAUST, with special mention to Director Albarakati and Professor Khan for “partnering with us on this groundbreaking initiative.”

“I hope this is the beginning of a fruitful partnership that will enrich our students and allow for the exchange of knowledge between faculty to strengthen our institutions,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis also thanked Partanna, and its CEO, His Excellency, Ambassador Rick Fox, for helping to make the partnership happen through its funding and support.

“Thank you, as well, for your continued commitment to the environment through your groundbreaking carbon-negative concrete that will transform the global construction industry,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“Ambassador Fox, you are truly a proud son of our soil, and you continue to inspire us all,” he added.

Prime Minister thanked the faculty and staff at the University of The Bahamas for “their support in making this happen.”

“They often say if you can make it at UB, you can make it anywhere,” he pointed out.  “This saying has proven true, not just because of the academic integrity and rigour of UB’s programmes, but because of UB’s willingness to embrace change and opportunity.”

He added:  “Thank you to UB’s dynamic leadership team, President Hodder, UB’s Chair Mrs. Maynard Gibson, the Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Marlo Murphy Braynen, Dr. (Woodside-) Oriakhi and your team for making this possible.  Most importantly, thank you to the students who enrolled and committed to completing this course as an investment in your future and your future prospects.”

For those students who go on to continue their studies in AI, either at King Abdullah University or through other avenues, Prime Minister encouraged them to continue exploring their interests and talents.

“Continue adding in-demand skills to your repertoire and continue being trailblazers in your respective fields,” he said.  “Congratulations to all of you.”

“We will need bright, young leaders to take on the challenges that lay ahead of us,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Based on what I am seeing today, I am confident that the future is in good, good hands.

“God bless you all and may He continue to bless our nation.”


Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis takes part in the University of The Bahamas-Partanna-King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Intensive Micro-Course Graduation Ceremony, on May 22, 2024, held at Choices Restaurant on UB Main Campus.  Among those present included UB Acting President Janyne Hodder; UB Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Woodside-Oriakhi; Dean of the UB College of Business Dr. Marlo Murphy-Braynen; UB Chair of the School of Business Daniel Thompson; Dr. Dematee Mohan of the Office of the Prime Minister; and Director-General of Bahamas Information Services Elcott Coleby.  A number of podium guests also assisted in presenting five micro-course graduates with scholarships to KAUST.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

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