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Paradise Island Proposal has two Major Investors Taking Sides 

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, April 6, 2023 – There have been debates in the media on the Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) $100 million project and Atlantis has been at the forefront as of recently, speaking out against it. In what seems to be a response to the unrest over the past couple of weeks surrounding the project, Royal Caribbean has revealed that in the coming weeks, they will share not only the economic benefit of the project but also its impact on the environment; they say that they are moving through the Government’s strict environmental processes and that in the pending review, Bahamians will be privy to their innovative and industry-leading plans.

According to Audrey Oswell, President and Managing Director at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, they have been paying keen attention to the project since it was proposed in 2020.

However, it wasn’t until recently that they opted to “join the debate” and publicly speak out on some of their concerns.

This is due to the environmental concerns of Paradise Island upon the execution of the project.

In a memo to employees at the resort, Oswell pointed out that the possible impact of the project on the Paradise Island’s beaches, marine life, and water supply could be catastrophic if the necessary environmental controls are not carefully planned and executed.

As stated by Oswell, Atlantis prioritises environmental care.

“As the leader of tourism for The Bahamas and long-time stewards of the ocean and its marine life, caring for the environment has become part of our DNA. It is at the core of who we are and what we do.”

Not only that, but Atlantis is also at risk according to Oswell who highlighted that whatever happens on Paradise Island could negatively impact the guests and employees.

Atlantis and environmental groups have been concerned about whether the project’s review, and approval process will follow all the necessary protocols to ensure that the marine environment doesn’t suffer. Information on how the project will unfold and its impact (the plans), has not been available.

Oswell said that in 2021 they attended a public presentation on the project alongside other interested entities, and they submitted some questions to RCI and the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), regarding the project but no responses were forthcoming.

RCI and the Government, in early March, hinted that the project was close to approval and this led to Atlantis Resort and “others in the Nassau/Paradise Island community,” to speak out in surprise and concern, acknowledging those lingering unanswered questions.

In response to this, Phillip Davis, Bahamas Prime Minister expressed that the review process which includes the evaluation of the environmental impact assessment ‘was still underway, and would be thorough.”

Hoping that the Government will keep its word, many wait in eager anticipation, the release of RCI’s plan for the Royal Beach Club project at Paradise Island.

Bahamas News

124 HAITIAN NATIONALS REPATRIATED TO CAP-HAITIEN, HAITI

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#TheBahamas, May 21, 2024 – On Wednesday, May 15, the Department effectively executed the repatriation of a group of illegal migrants from the Lynden Pindling International Airport, New Providence to Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

At approximately 9:11 a.m., a Bahamasair chartered flight departed New Providence en route to Haiti with one hundred twenty-four (124) Haitian nationals onboard; a hundred and eight (108) adult males, thirteen (13) adult females and three (3) minors. The Department’s Deportation and Enforcement Units led the escort.

All security and health protocols were observed as the safety and welfare of our officers, law enforcement counterparts and migrants remain the highest priority.

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Bahamas News

Introducing The Bahamas Cannabis Authority; Marijuana Bill tabled by Darville

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 20, 2024 – A medical marijuana industry is set for establishment in The Bahamas, following the tabling of the Cannabis Bill, 2024, in the House of Assembly, by Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Dr Michael Darville, May 15.

The Minister said objective of legislation is to set up a framework to establish The Bahamas Cannabis Authority, and to regulate the of importation, exportation, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, producing, sale, possession, distribution, and use of cannabis.

He told the Assembly that the law represents a thoughtful and balanced approach and was driven by a duty to act as he referenced the number of Bahamians who are battling cancer and in need of alternative treatments for pain management and other related issues.

“The legislative package, the Cannabis Bill, 2024 is designed to introduce a controlled system of cannabis use in medical treatments. The bill establishes the Bahamas Cannabis Authority.  A regulatory body overseeing all aspects of cannabis management and cultivation and distribution.  The authority’s mandate is to ensure that cannabis production and use are safe, controlled and effectively integrated into our health care system,” Minister Darville said.

Adding that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that he also tabled, reclassifies cannabis by removing it from the dangerous drug list, now recognises its potential for medical use, he said the change aligns “our nations laws” with evolving global perspectives on cannabis.

The new law makes provisions for the licensing of cannabis handlers across various aspects of The Bahamas, and Dr. Darville said the licensing is structured to prioritise Bahamian ownership, with provisions ensuring that significant control remains in the hands of Bahamian nationals, fostering local entrepreneurship and economic benefits “for Bahamians across the country.

“We are here to make a difference, to enact change, remove years of stigma and transform lives by offering alternative treatments by way of medical cannabis.  The legislation before us offers a careful, considerate approach ensuring that we prioritize the wellbeing and safety of our citizens. Let us move with compassion,” he said.

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Bahamas News

Pinder announces Trial by Judge Alone, New Courts, Harsher Penalties in Judicial Reform legislative Package

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 20, 2024 – The Bahamian Government has moved to open new courts, increase penalties for serious and violent crimes, as part of its reform of the judiciary to create efficiency in the system, and gang reduction efforts.

Outlining the administration’s legislative agenda on crime reduction, and judicial reform, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator, the Hon. Ryan Pinder said in the coming months there will be the opening of the juvenile and family courts allowing “us to bring on new judges for criminal and civil matters.

“We also anticipate establishing this year a commercial court that will be focused on hearing commercial disputes to ensure that the pace of business is not impaired by delays in trials,” the Minister said while addressing the Senate on May 15.

He was presenting the second reading of the Trial by Judge Alone (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2024 and The Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill, 2024, which allows for the Supreme Court (Criminal Case Management) (Amendment) Rules, 2024.

Senator Pinder said the bills are in line with the commitment of this Government to ensure that the necessary laws are in place to facilitate the “timely and effective” administration of justice.

Stressing that the administration have been working hard this legislative session to put in place the improvements in law to address the judicial system as well as the treatment of bail for an accused, and ensuring stiff penalties for major criminal violations, he said  the Government have passed a series of legislation to facilitate trials and prosecution of criminals.

“I would suggest that we have done more on the legislative front than any former administration to address crime, and we are not done.”

“The Magistrates (Amendment) Bill increased the financial thresholds of the jurisdiction of a Magistrate to hear certain matters and adjusted the maximum penalties. The broadening of the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court is intended to rebalance cases between the Supreme Court and the Magistrates Court in order to relieve the volume of minor disputes from the calendar of the Supreme Court,” he said.

For the magistrate’s court, he said, it is many instances the primary court for many civil and criminal cases, and especially in civil matters operating more of a small claims court, and the jurisdictional limits increased had not been adjusted in many years, and the operation of society has outpaced their limits.

The Court Services Bill empowers the judiciary to operate autonomously from an administrative point of view, by taking away oversight by central Government, thereby removing the bottleneck caused by the current system and providing further judicial independence.

For the Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill, it increases the maximum number of Supreme Court judges from 20 to 25, increasing the capacity to conduct trials in the Supreme Court by 25%.

“It is the Government’s intention that this not only contribute significantly to concluding the backlog of cases but will also give the Chief Justice the flexibility he requires to better allocated judges through the courts,” the Minister said.

The Trial by Judge Alone (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2024, to grant a right of election to persons charged with indictable offences in the Supreme Court to be tried by a Judge alone.

“We believe this is a positive legislative reform to provide yet more support for timely trials in criminal matters,” the Minister said.

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