Jamaican senators rejected a government petition to extend a two-week state of emergency (SOEs) enacted in seven parishes on Nov. 15, in an attempt to control rising crime linked to gang violence.
The Government was seeking to have the SOEs extended on the basis that fewer murders occured during the two weeks. However, the proposal was rejected by the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) which voted against the measures in both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament last week.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the government might contemplate a new state of emergency if the security situation warrants. He said he will be watching carefully to see if the crime rate will rise after the SOEs, ended Tuesday.
Holness said the SOEs have been effective, with proven results in enhancing public safety and security. He said in areas where the enhanced security measures have been declared, there have been reductions in murders.
But opposition members of parliament disagreed, and human rights organizations urged lawmakers to reject any extension. Jamaicans for Justice argued that “political expediency is no justification for constitutional breaches”, adding that the reasons given by the Government do not meet the constitutional threshold for a state of emergency to be declared.
According to the organization, the SOE is a costly misadventure, that unfairly punishes poor people and diverts much-needed funds that could have been utilized to increase the police’s investigative capabilities to solve crimes, save lives, and secure convictions.
States of emergency give authorities increased powers, including the ability to search buildings and carry out arrests without warrants. More than 300 people were detained under the two-week SOE period, without charge and will now be released.
Jamaica’s Supreme Court this year said authorities violated the rights of a man who said he was arbitrarily arrested and detained for months without trial during a state of emergency.
Reparations and Racial Justice
- Barbados’ government is considering plans to make a British Conservative MP Richard Drax the first individual to pay reparations for his ancestors’ role in slavery, reports the Guardian.
- Vanuatu and its developed, developing and Caribbean SIDS allies have published the first draft of the resolution they hope to have approved by the UN General Assembly, requesting an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change.
- While the court, which is the UN’s main judiciary arm, has no binding authority, its opinion could inform lawsuits around the world and strengthen vulnerable countries’ position in international negotiations. (Climate Change News)
- A group of 16 Puerto Rican municipalities has sued Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other fossil fuel giants for alleged violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. They are trying to force the companies to pay for damages from the 2017 hurricane season, which was exacerbated by planet-heating fossil fuel emissions. (Common Dreams)
- The Loss and Damage agreement reached at COP27 “has recognized the need for financial support from a variety of sources, but no decisions have been reached on who should pay into the fund, where the money will come from, and which countries will benefit,” writes Sir Ronald Sanders, sounding a cautionary note.
- The Green Climate Fund approved support for the Blue-Green Investment Corporation (BGIC). The Barbados project would become the first green bank in the Caribbean, planned by Prime Minister Mia Mottley to help Caribbean countries to meet their emissions reductions targets. The aim is for BGIC to become a major institution for financing climate action in the region.
- Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency granted US oil giant, ExxonMobil permission to start a $1.3 billion Gas-to-Energy project that will allow for the construction of a natural gas pipeline, as well as a Natural Gas Liquids facility and supporting infrastructure. Many stakeholders had raised concerns regarding the safety of the project. The permit gives Exxon the opportunity to decide when it will provide insurance for the project, as there is no definitive timeframe set out by the regulator, according to Kaieteur News.
- Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean weaves together essays, maps, art, and poetry to show us—and make us see—island nations in a warming world. (Repeating Islands)
- Helen’s Daughters and Hotel Chocolat Agri-Apprenticeship Farm and Programme in St. Lucia is climate resilient, and it incorporates aquaponics and organic farming practices for a farm-to-table model. The farm reflects the distinctive relationship between the non-profit HD and world-renowned HC, reports the St. Lucia Star.
- St. Lucia is implementing a holistic approach to tourism that combines both the island’s environmental wonders and Creole culture — “community tourism.” It’s a drastic shift from the island’s traditional “sea, sand and sun tourism,” reports the New York Times.
The Caribbean and the World
- Security as an international relations term has radically shifted over the past decade, “casting its definitional net over not only traditional nation-state concerns, but also climate change, energy, migration, health, terrorism, drug trafficking, and cyberwarfare.” Managing New Security Threats in the Caribbean, a new book edited by Georgina Chami, Jerome Teelucksingh, and Marlon Anatol, seeks and succeeds in addressing some of the gaps in these newer security themes as they relate to the Caribbean, writes Scott MacDonald in Global Americans.
- Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow, last week. They unveiled a monument Fidel Castro and hailed the “traditional friendship” between their nations, reports the Associated Press.
- The Bahamas is set to ratify later this week two International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace and specialised training for people with disabilities. (Eyewitness News)
Gender and LGBTQ+ Rights
- Jamaica has one of the highest femicide rates in the world, writes Emma Lewis at Petchary’s Blog, as part of the international 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence initiative.
- The Caribbean IRN site hosts “Theorizing Homophobias in the Caribbean” a digital multimedia collection of activist reports, creative writing, critical essays, film, interviews, music, and visual and performance art reflecting the complexities of homophobias in the Caribbean, while also expanding understanding of Caribbean sexual minority experiences and activism in the region and its diaspora.
- A Whitney Museum of American Art the exhibition titled “No existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria” is “a carefully textured and moving show that is also among the first major surveys of contemporary Puerto Rican art in a leading United States museum in nearly 50 years.” — New York Times
- Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Here Comes the Sun, translated into French as Si le soleil se dérobe has just won the Prix Millepages literary prize for best foreign literature. — Repeating Islands
- The U.N. Population Fund mapped the Afrodescendent organizations in the Dominican Republic.
- Participate in the survey on “Climate Change and the Impact on Women’s and Children’s Mental Health in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)” — HEY Campaign through the Ashley Lashley Foundation
Just Caribbean Updates