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Families of 20 killed in Guyana school dorm fire agree to $25,000 payout from Gov’t

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#Guyana, July 26, 2023 – The Government of Guyana announced it is paying $25,000 to the 20 parents who lost their children, 20 in total, to the Mahdia dormitory fire that took place on May 21, 2023.  This is part of a settlement to avoid any further claims in the case.

The tragic fire killed 19 girls and a young boy, the son of a school administrator.

The monetary grant was announced on Monday July 17th, by Anil Nandlall, Attorney General and while he made the revelation, he highlighted that families requested the money to  “enhance their ability to continue to provide for their families” and that they all had signed agreements with the government.

Prior to the settlement, the State covered all burial and related expenses back in May and June.

The settlement is not however without criticism as the country’s main opposition party, A Partnership For National Unity, in a statement on Tuesday July 18th, expressed that the settlement was insufficient as the money falls below what is needed to build a house in the capital much less in the interior where the cost to transport materials is higher.

Amanza Walton, lawmaker and attorney for the opposition, criticized that the Government is trying to avoid obligations to follow recommendations by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, or UNICEF, to address safety issues at state-run dorms, including by changing the practice of placing iron grills on widows and padlocks on doors; features which were reported to be on the building where the 20 children lost their lives.

Earlier reports informed that according to officials, one student deliberately set the fire and has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder.  However, the Government is preparing to appoint a Commission of Inquiry (a review of events ordered by a government body), into the tragedy in the weeks to come.  Retired army chief of staff Maj. Gen Joseph Singh has been appointed to lead the panel.  The other members have not yet been named.

Photo Caption:

A May 23, 2023 National Vigil being held at Umana Yana in support of the children who lost their lives and those injured in the Mahdia Fire, Guyana.

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NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETARIAT INFORMATION NOTE ISSUED MAY 17, 2024

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May 21, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos Islands have clear laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and or ammunition without a licence and strict penalties in order to serve and protect the community. Our Firearms Ordinance, which was amended in 2022, states that:

No person (other than a licensed gunsmith in the course of his trade) shall have in his possession, discharge or use any firearm or ammunition unless he is the holder of a firearm licence with respect to such firearm, or in case of ammunition he is the holder of a licence for a firearm which takes that ammunition.

Firearm and/or ammunition offences carry a mandatory minimum custodial sentence of twelve years plus a fine. Where a court finds there are exceptional circumstances, the sentencing judge has discretion, under the law, to impose a custodial sentence and a fine that are fair and just in the circumstances of each case rather than impose the mandatory minimum.

The Chief Justice is advancing sentencing guidelines in respect of the application of exceptional circumstances. Wider work is also ongoing with criminal justice partners to review the efficiency and effectiveness of case progression, in driving justice outcomes.

It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure their baggage is free of firearms and/or ammunition. Permission from an airline carrier does not constitute permission to bring firearms or ammunition into the Turks and Caicos Islands. Travellers are also strongly advised to search their luggage before they travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands to ensure they do not bring in forbidden items inadvertently. Such offences will result in arrest.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory with a common law legal system, and reserves the right to enforce its laws. All persons, including visitors, must follow lawful process.

The Turks and Caicos Islands welcomes all visitors but reminds travellers that persons in the Turks and Caicos Islands do not have a constitutional right to carry firearms. Equally, the importation of firearms, ammunition (including stray bullets), and other weapons is strictly forbidden, unless licence to do so has been issued by the Commissioner of Police.

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CTO to Focus on Aviation at Caribbean Week in New York

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New York (May 16, 2024) – Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is set to spotlight the future of Caribbean aviation during Caribbean Week in New York, scheduled for June 16-21, 2024, at the InterContinental Times Square in midtown Manhattan.

Under CTO’s annual theme “Connecting the Globe, Celebrating Diversity”, the week promises a diverse lineup of activities emphasizing innovation and connectivity.

A key feature of the premier event for travel industry professionals, journalists and members of the Caribbean Diaspora will be the Caribbean Airlift Forum.

Rosa Harris, Chairman of the CTO Board of Directors and Spokesperson for Caribbean Week, will moderate the forum. She emphasized the importance of this session as a critical platform for discussing the challenges and opportunities in Caribbean air transportation.

The session will cover topics including route development, aviation competitiveness, partnerships, infrastructure investment, regulatory frameworks, and market demand strategies. It aims to foster dialogue among airlines, airports, tourism authorities, and aviation ministries, enhancing connectivity and optimizing access to Caribbean destinations.

“In the wake of the pandemic, Caribbean aviation has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability, rebounding strongly in key areas. However, as we celebrate these gains during our Caribbean Week in New York, it’s crucial that we don’t become complacent,” stated Harris.

“We must continue to innovate and address the persistent challenges within intra-regional tourism, which, while recovering, remains a challenge for many of our destinations,” she continued. “Our focus at the Caribbean Airlift Forum is not only on celebrating our successes but also on critically analyzing our challenges to strengthen and diversify our connections to, from and across the region, ensuring a more robust and connected Caribbean.”

The week also features a Business and Tourism Marketing Symposium, the Caribbean Media Awards, and sessions focused on artificial intelligence, crisis communications, and multicultural marketing.

With the support of headline sponsor, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation; gold sponsors Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; and Diamonds International and the Caribbean Media Exchange, Caribbean Week in New York 2024 is poised to be a pivotal meeting for tourism professionals and stakeholders in the region and the Diaspora.

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CHTA Launches Multi-Destination Media Trip to Showcase Caribbean Interconnectivity and Diversity

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May 21, 2024

 

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is gearing up for its first multi-destination media trip, designed to illuminate the interconnectedness and diversity across the Caribbean. Scheduled from May 17 to 27, this initiative will showcase the vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and unique experiences spanning St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Nicola Madden-Greig, President of CHTA, expressed enthusiasm for the program and stressed its significance: “This initiative is a testament to the collaborative spirit and interconnected nature that define Caribbean tourism. Our goal is to showcase the diverse offerings of St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, inspiring travelers to explore the myriad experiences our region has to offer.” Although the Dominican Republic had to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances, there are plans to include the nation in future endeavors of this nature.

Madden-Greig reiterated, “The Caribbean is often thought of as one homogenous place, so if you have seen one island you have seen the Caribbean. This trip will debunk that myth and truly showcase the diversity, mystique, and cultural prowess of our distinct islands. Just like you can explore many destinations in Europe having totally diverse experiences, the Caribbean offers the same opportunity.”

Developed in collaboration with the Jamaica Tourist Board, Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, and Cayman Islands Tourism Association, the itinerary promises an immersive experience. Participants will enjoy the stunning landscapes and beaches of St. Lucia, indulge in an exciting layover in Barbados, discover the culture and radiant beauty of Jamaica, and experience the iconic sites of the Cayman Islands.

Strategically timed to coincide with Caribbean Travel Marketplace from May 21 to 23 in Jamaica, the media trip aims to maximize the event’s networking opportunities. Journalists can enrich their coverage of the multi-destination experience with insights and connections from the region’s premier tourism conference.

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