By: Hon. Edwin A. Astwood
Leader of the Opposition
Drugs?? Lights?? Gun Amnesty??
#TurksandCaicos, September 6, 2022 – Like many concerned citizens, I listened to the Premier’s Press Conference on Monday evening. I wanted to hear about firm, decisive, calculated measures that will immediately take place in the community of Five Cays, and then wanted to hear the general crime fighting/prevention plan, of the Premier and his team, for the entire country.
We heard Premiere Misick and his team, in no exact words, tell the vast majority of responsible, hardworking residents of Five Cays, ‘You’re on your own.’
I heard nothing that would make the residents of Five Cays feel safer in their homes this night, nor in the coming nights. Additionally, I heard nothing that would make our people in Five Cays feel safer during the daytime. This is unacceptable to the people, they needed to hear about containment and preventative measures that will be put into action immediately.
Instead, we heard the Honourable Premier saying much about drugs being the cause of the violence in these communities, really drugs Mr. Premier?
We heard the Premier and Minister of Education talking about putting in 20 more streetlights and cutting back bushes. Is that the best the Premier and his team can come up with? Do they know that many incidents of crime happen in the daylight, and in places where there are little to no bushes? Lights are needed, and bushes need to be cut back, but these could NOT be the answers given in a press conference, after one of the deadliest weekends in our country’s history.
We also heard the Hon. Premier and his team talk about another gun amnesty. How successful has that been in the past in preventing violent crimes? Don’t they know that persons who give up guns are usually individuals who have no intentions of committing a crime? It appears that they are clueless when it comes to these matters.
No self-proclaimed criminal would give up all their weapons, and let their so-called enemies or competitors have all the firepower. That does not make any sense to me, and I don’t think it would make any sense to them, and we should never underestimate those individuals who engage in criminal activities.
The Hon. Premier and his team cannot, and will not be offering the people of Five Cays, and the rest of the country a real answer to their questions. They won’t offer a better vision or a new set of ideas. To date, the country does not know anything about the current PNP administration’s Crime Prevention Plan. Do they have one?
Under my leadership and a PDM government, we will be committed to properly dealing with crime in the Turks and Caicos Islands. We also stand ready to help or lead the way for this failing PNP administration on this crime issue now.
A PDM government, under my leadership, would have requested immediately having tactical forces patrolling the streets of five cays all day and night until the problem is eradicated.
A PDM government, under my leadership, would immediately pass a Supplementary Bill through the House of Assembly for 15 million dollars to:
- Hire past local police officers, and attain the services of gang violence specialist officers from around the region and elsewhere.
- Purchase of 6 mobile police stations to be dispersed throughout the communities of Providenciales.
- Purchasing of 3 additional patrol boats, with a heavy machine gun, and auxiliary medium machine gun.
- Purchasing 2 armored combat vehicles armed with a heavy machine gun.
- Purchasing advanced drone surveillance equipment with the hiring of complementary operators.
A PDM government, under my leadership, will act swiftly in amending legislation to;
- Lengthen the sentence time for violent crimes and those in possession of an unlicensed firearm.
- Removing the chance of parole for those committing murder in the first degree.
- Not granting bail to any unlicensed firearm offender.
- And for the most heinous and gruesome crimes, through consultation and direction the people of the entire country, consider whether or not to implement the death penalty (lethal Injection).
- Ensure the protections of officers are in place for when it was objectively reasonable to use deadly force, based on the facts and circumstances known to the police officer at that particular time the decision to use deadly force was made.
A PDM government, under my leadership, is committed to acting quickly in immediately dealing with some of the root causes of crime, in particular, unemployment and lack of opportunities;
- Provide 200 long-term contracts (one year) yearly, each valuing $40,000, specifically targeting the most vulnerable young adults (this adds up to $8M per year).
- Providing 400 additional scholarships targeting those interested in nontraditional scholarship areas – the performing arts, Visual arts, graphic designing, agriculture, aquaculture (fish farming), mechanics, furniture making, cooking, etc. (this adds up to $8M per year).
- Provide an easier streamlined path for young people with business ideas to Access Capital, through grants ranging from $40,000 to $70,000.
I call upon Premier Misick and his government to immediately bring a supplementary bill of $10 -15 million to the House of Assembly for crime detection /prevention:
I would recommend using it for immediately hiring capable past local police officers, bringing in seasoned gang violence tactical officers from around the region and elsewhere- and offering them a very attractive compensation package with the desired protections. I also recommend using the appropriated funds used for the Purchasing of 6 mobile police stations for Providenciales, 3 additional patrol boats, 2 armored combat vehicles armed with a heavy machine gun, and an advanced drone surveillance system.
The PDM wants our country to succeed. We want our people, visitors, and investors to feel and be safe. We want this PNP government to understand that the true measure of our prosperity is more than just a running tally of every budget sheet and annual surplus reports. It is about the happiness and level of success of our people.
We the PDM see the measure of prosperity NOT just by our total GDP, but by how well the typical family is doing, and whether they can go as far as their dreams and hard work will take them.
I don’t care how many ways you try to explain it: People are not living their best lives. Private Jets, condos, and real estate sales are not people. People are people. And our people are now further away from living their best lives, and are now afraid to live in their own homes and their communities.
Act now or get the H*** out the way.
Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne
By Shanieka Smith
#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”.
Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show
By Dana Malcolm
#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.
Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation
By Shanieka Smith
#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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