#TurksandCaicos, November 23, 2022 – With these acts of wanton violence in the Turks and Caicos Islands, citizens, law enforcement and politicians are all baffled and fed up with what appears to be almost weekly reports of serious crimes.
We can blame it all on gangs but at what point do we draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. What and who is masterminding this madness is yet to be determined but in either case there appears to be no signs or intentions of the criminals surrendering.
It’s pretty evident from recent police raids that illicit drugs and turf rights are fueling some of the violence. With that being said, we need to look beyond the obvious such as the narrow focus in disenfranchised communities. With such a relatively small population in TCI, more work must be done by law enforcement to identify the supply and demand from other sources.
This escalating crime should be a moment of national reckoning for TCI. All violence is a serious problem, but in terms of the gravity of the recent murder of a beloved family which left a child maimed, is gut wrenching and should be an inflection point.
Such a despicable and extreme act of violence shocked the conscience of this tiny island nation of TCI, and shows that the violence has reached a new dimension.
With so many lives been shattered by violence this is a pattern that we haven’t seen since the inception of our country and its eroding the TCI way of life and should demand extreme action in response.
As neighboring countries like Haiti becomes more and more unstable, citizens will continue to seek refuge and so will the criminals. With the presence of the British Navy ship that was recently dispatched to our waters, many citizens felt a sign of relief.
Frankly speaking, it needs to go beyond just a show of force. On the back drop of what is happening in our country, we should consider the alternative, this ship should remain in position until the country can stabilize this mayhem and provide adequate border security. More than ever before, our country is at a much higher risk of becoming unstable and in reality, our future depends on it.
A lot of what is happening is a flashpoint for much larger questions over what TCI policing should look like. Law-abiding citizens need stronger protection or we will become sitting targets.
We the people, will have to decide do we just sit on the sidelines or get more involved with demanding viable solutions. We condemn this violence without equivocation, but what’s more important is that law enforcement wins this battle with unwavering support and efforts to maintain law and order especially in those high risk communities. Perhaps we should start with accountability at all levels, foresight and results driven leadership.
Stiffer fines and penalties is the rhetoric being proposed as one of the solutions on gun control. Is this the only way out? In retrospect what have we learned from the previous increase in penalties? Will it resonate this time with would-be criminals or become just another catchy phrase?
Our young people who have hope of a better life are not attracted to senseless acts of violence. Henceforth, more focus needs to be on our youth and find ways to engage them before it gets to that stage or our prisons will only become a revolving door.
Kudos to the law makers on unanimously passing the Anti-gang bill. However, I have reservations concerning the recent firearms amendment bill which mandates a minimum 12 year prison sentence for the mere possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Based on the trajectory of arrest and charges, it will only lead to mass incarceration. Not only does our prison lack the capacity, but it will lead to more socioeconomic problems for displaced families and also only open the doors to human rights abuse.
Who was this law designed to protect? It’s certainly not law abiding citizens. Although it has good intentions and makes great sound bites, in some cases, it boils down to having a bark without a bite. While in other cases, it could negatively impact the sector of society we are actually trying to help.
We must find other alternatives and long-term solutions. It was very encouraging to see the recent prison initiative that was proposed by Honorable Taylor and Honorable Morris.
Giving prisoners the opportunity to develop skill-based training by partnering with the local community college is brilliant. This will help to prepare them to reintegrate into society upon release, and another chance to become productive citizens. These are the kinds of programs that need steam.
In most cases, hardened criminals are undeterred by stiffer penalties and often times unaware of changes in the laws because it’s not publicized enough or they frankly don’t care or will find work-arounds like preying on our youth. Therefore, more public awareness campaign could be beneficial and maybe we can save a life before other lives are lost.
What this article is intended to do, is to stimulate a much needed conversation about the role of our criminal justice system in creating public policies that are both efficient and effective. Policies that not only have short term gains, but long term positive impact on an ever-changing society.
Concerned citizen of Grand Turk
Mobile App brings unprecedented access & opportunity to Persons with Disabilities in The Bahamas
#TheBahamas, December 8, 2022 – Opportunities and services previously out of reach for many Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s) in The Bahamas are now easier to access with groundbreaking upgrades to the ‘AccessAbility’ mobile app innovated by the National Commission of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), through a Bahamian APP developer.
As of January 2023, PWD’s registered on the App will be able to book accessible transportation, allowing unprecedented freedom of movement.
For now, services available on the App include free interpreter services for the deaf and hard of hearing; disaster alerts from NEMA; free registration with NCPD which includes mapped location of registered PWD’s in times of disaster; complaints mechanism; bus routes showing street by street movement ; request for adaptive equipment and other services; business directory for organizations compliant with the Disabilities Act; Career/job listings; as well as trending local and international news and resources.
Financing for the App and the related public education programme was contributed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Multi Country Office located in Jamaica which serves The Bahamas among five English-speaking countries in the northern Caribbean. The App is available for free download from Google Play and the App Store and is also preloaded on all new devices purchased from local telecommunications provider Aliv in partnership with NCPD.
At the launch event on Sunday (4 December), Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Philip Davis said that The Bahamas aimed to achieve inclusion and accessibility on a level playing field for persons with disabilities and that the App was one of the means through which this could be achieved. He lauded the services provided through the app and highlighted the accessible transportation, one touch access to emergency services and sign language interpretation.
The Prime Minister announced that the Department of Labour will enable job listings in the AccessAbility app, and further reminded employers of provisions in the Disability Act for the employment of one person with a disability for every 100 employees. “I am asking corporate Bahamas to join the Government in recognizing the potential in persons with disabilities and providing employment opportunities that may never have been considered before,” he said.
Other major disclosures made by the Prime Minister included The Bahamas’ ratification of ILO Convention 159 establishing the right of PWD to vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities, and the successful implementation of the Nassau Airports Development’s Sunflower Laynard programme offering empathetic and specialized service to travelling PWD’s
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, said exclusion of PWD’s over the years has been troubling, but the mobile app will help bring the community closer to realizing inclusion and becoming part of the normalcy of the country. “We are elated and moved. PWD’s are celebrating because we have come a long way and UNDP is helping to make a difference” Minister Wilchcombe stated.
UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio said recognizing that Disability Inclusion is a development issue requires continued attention and investment, UNDP supported the Government’s mission to expand digital inclusion to marginalized groups through the Digital Access for All (DAFA) Bahamas Project, specifically focusing on the AccessAbility Mobile App and public education.
She reiterated UNDP’s commitment to improving ICT infrastructure and digital access with and for PWD’s in The Bahamas; advancing gender equality and the empowerment of PWD’s in The Bahamas and forging partnerships to identify challenges and potential solutions to reduce inequalities against Persons with Disabilities. “It is crucial for governments, public and private sectors, to collaboratively find innovative solutions with and for persons with disabilities, to make the world a more accessible and equitable place,” the Resident Representative noted.
She encouraged Persons with Disabilities to register with the NCPD through the App to ensure they benefit from a wide array of services.
The launch of the AccessAbility mobile app will be immediately followed by a multimedia public education campaign to encourage awareness, downloads, and usage among PWDs.
Technology and digitalization are considered enablers in UNDP’s global service offer of six signature solutions focusing on leaving no one behind. To this end, UNDP partners with countries to develop appropriate digital solutions which help advance poverty eradication, inclusion, equality and crisis resilience. UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica serves Jamaica, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Tropical Storm Owen in December?
By Shanieka Smith
December 8, 2022 – A low-pressure system observed in the Central Atlantic Ocean has led the National Hurricane Center to believe there is a 50 per cent chance a subtropical or tropical storm will develop. They reported on Tuesday, the system was 800 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands.
NHC said that by Thursday or Friday, the system should move northeastward, where it will interact with a mid-latitude trough, thereby limiting the chances of development.
The potential subtropical or tropical storm would become the 15th named storm of 2022 and will be called Owen.
Here is the very latest forecast:
Central Subtropical Atlantic
Showers and thunderstorms have increased since last evening near a
subtropical Atlantic about 850 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.
However, the system remains embedded within a frontal zone, which is
expected to become more pronounced later today as the low begins to
move east-northeastward at 20 to 25 mph toward colder waters and
interact with a mid-latitude trough. Therefore, while the system
could show some subtropical characteristics today, its chances to
fully transition to a subtropical or tropical cyclone appear to be
decreasing. Nevertheless, significant non-tropical development of
this low is expected during the next couple of days, and additional
information, including hurricane-force wind warnings, can be found
in High Seas Forecasts issued by the National Weather Service. The
next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued
by 9 AM EST Thursday.
* Formation chance through 48 hours…low…30 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days…low…30 percent.
Photo Credit: ACCUWEATHER
Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness goes to Washington to discuss matters to help with crime
By Shanieka Smith
#Jamaica, December 8, 2022 – The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, travelled to Washington on Tuesday to discuss security matters with various US State Agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department.
Holness said the aim of the meetings is to cut ties between local and overseas criminals and in turn strengthen the country’s crime-fighting efforts.
“I’m serious. If you are overseas and you are sponsoring, directing, and soliciting; if you are financing crime in Jamaica we’re going to get you,” he said.
In a press briefing in early November, the prime minister announced that a State of Emergency (SOE) was issued in seven parishes across the island. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader, Mark Golding has requested that the SOE be extended through to January 14, 2023.
However, a recommendation was made by the non-governmental human rights and justice organization Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) to reject Golding’s extension request.
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