Trinidad and Tobago
ISIS worries in T&T
For The First time, the State has invoked powerful provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2005, seeking to have a High Court judge deem an individual or entity as a “terrorist” and to freeze the assets of that person or entity.
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said an application was lodged yesterday under Section 22B of the Anti-Terrorism Act, as he promised the State would use existing laws to fight the scourge of terrorism in the wake of the November 13 ISIS attack in Paris which left over 130 dead and hundreds injured.
The application comes a month after ISIS released an 11-minute-20-second video featuring four fighters from Trinidad and Tobago calling on Muslims there to migrate to Syria to fight. Since the release of this video, citizens have been divided on whether people who leave the country to fight with ISIS should be allowed to re-enter the country without facing terrorism charges.
Last week, the head of the Islamic Front of Trinidad and Tobago, Umar Abdullah, said Trinidad and Tobago nationals who have joined the terrorist group should be welcomed back into the country.
Abdullah, who acknowledged that he was once a firebrand Muslim, told television viewers that he has had a close relationship with some of the Trinidadians who journeyed to Syria to fight alongside the ISIS fighters.
According to the Trinidad Guardian, former National Security Minister Gary Griffith and former National Operations Centre head Garvin Heerah were among experts who came out in support of laws to block T&T-born Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFS) returnees on their way back, well before they reach T&T.
However, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon was quoted as saying ISIS poses “no threat to T&T right now” and there’s no law to stop them [T&T nationals] from returning. He said if they’d committed international crimes, T&T could work with foreign partners to bring them to justice, but “for now they’re still T&T citizens.”
The T&T Guardian has also confirmed that there are now 89 T&T nationals—including families—known to Government who have joined the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) in the last three plus years.
Earlier this week, the mother of a young man who left Trinidad and Tobago to fight alongside the terrorist group said she only became aware of his involvement with the group when the Islamic group published his name on the Internet. The woman said her son, Abu Khalid, was killed fighting in Syria and that she had no idea when he left the country to join the terrorist group. She said he had been recruited through the Internet. According to the woman, he left to go to the Philippines and from there went to Syria. Security officials say that the practice of Trinidadians leaving for other countries and then going to Syria has made potential ISIS fighters leaving the country hard to track until they have already arrived in Syria.
Calls for OECS agreement on CARICOM
Despite an announcement at the end of a meeting of Eastern Caribbean leaders last week that they will settle on one candidate for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General, Dominica is insisting that it is 100 per cent behind its nominee, Baroness Patricia Scotland.
Scotland, 60, is a former Scottish Attorney General with St. Lucian roots and is seen as the front-runner for the post. Some CARICOM and OECS leaders have been trying to convince their counterparts to back one nominee in order to increase the chances of having a Caribbean Candidate win the elections; however, some leaders have either refused or are still undecided as to whether they will be throwing their support behind a single candidate. Along with Scotland’s nomination, Antigua and Barbuda have put forward its ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders.
The Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) in Dominica has called on Dominican Prime Minister Skerrit to withdraw his nominee (Scotland).
“Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal has never lived in or worked in or worked for any member of the CARICOM grouping. She is a sitting member of the British House of Lords and has ignored requests from CARICOM leaders to resign from that position in order to merit consideration as a CARICOM nominee,” Opposition Leader Lennox Linton argued.
“Her candidacy, though in the name of Dominica, has no local or regional financial support. It is sponsored wholly and solely by the following European interests as disclosed in her British parliamentary data sheet.”
Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has in the past publicly called on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders who failed to agree on a single candidate during their summit in Barbados in July, to back Sir Ronald as the region’s choice.
US $17M cocaine seizure in C’bean Sea
The United States Coast Guard says it has seized 515 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of US$17 million during an operation in the Caribbean Sea last week.
It said that on November 15, a joint interagency task force patrol aircraft located a suspicious go-fast vessel with multiple packages aboard southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic.
It said after the vessel was intercepted 22 packages were seized and four suspects held.
“This seizure highlights how effectively the US Coast Guard and our Allied partners are working together to disrupt the flow of illicit drugs from South America into the United States, the Caribbean and Europe,” said Commander Timothy Cronin, deputy chief of law enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District.
“We have to keep these drugs from penetrating our borders. More importantly, we have to get after the organized criminal networks that fuel the violence and instability in the Western Hemisphere,” he added.
Since October 2014, the US Coast Guard said it has removed and seized over 222 metric tons of cocaine estimated at US$7.4 billion.
Dominica PM wants regional health
Dominica is calling for the establishment of a regional health insurance scheme for citizens of the sub-regional Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, addressing the OECS summit that ended last week, said that there are several issues affecting regional economies, namely the prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases.
Skerrit said that the OECS population provides the ideal constituency for the consideration of a regional health scheme.
“Too many citizens are finding it difficult to finance health care. We have seen people with vast bank accounts reduced to zero or even to loans to finance their health care,” Skerrit said, noting that the majority of the population cannot finance a health insurance programme and do not have the financial resources to finance their own health care.
“We have to find a way of bridging the gap with regard to our health and our health care financing. I am hoping that we can advance the discussions with regards to a regional health insurance programme,” he said, adding that while Dominica is working on its own programme, it would benefit the beneficiaries much better if there were a larger pool of countries contributing to a single health insurance scheme.
The OECS members consist of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.