One-Minute Reads ... News from around the

June 24, 2020

HAITI

More than 400 prisoners pardoned

President Jovenel Moise has pardoned 415 prisoners in a bid to reduce overcrowding at prisons across the country, as a senior United Nations official said that the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country had experienced an overall increase in gang-related and criminal activity during the first six months of the year.

A government statement said that Moise had, acting on the recommendation of Justice Minister Lucmane Delile, exercised his right to pardon and commutation of sentence, issued the official order releasing the 415 ordinary prisoners.

"These detainees come from 17 penitentiaries across the country, and their releases contribute to reducing prison overcrowding," the statement said, noting that the prisoners were also being released due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has killed 80 people and infected more than 5,000 others.

BELIZE

Police probe escape of six Guatemalans from quarantine

Police Commissioner Chester Williams has confirmed the launch of a criminal investigation into the escape of six Guatemalan nationals who were in quarantine at a government facility on the last weekend.

The government has been using the Victor Galvez Stadium as a quarantine facility as the country implements measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has killed two people and infected 23 others here.

Williams told reporters he had ordered the criminal investigation because of on inspection of the facility.

"The padlocks were not damaged. From what it appears at this time, keys were used to open those padlocks to facilitate the escape. So we will be looking at that and if it is that we find that anyone aided or facilitated the escape, then those persons will be charged criminally," he said. Media reports said that the six Guatemalans are believed to have crossed the border into their home country.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Caribbean Airlines records US$14m losses due to COVID-19

The state-owned carrier, Caribbean Airlines (CAL), has recorded a loss of more than US$14 million in just over a one-month period, as a result of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the minister in the Ministry of Finance, Allyson West, has said.

She told the Senate that the airline, during the period March 23 to April 30, had estimated its losses at US$14.2 million.

"The financial impact to Caribbean Airlines Limited from losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic took effect from the beginning of March 2020, prior to the closure of our national borders," she told legislators, adding that demand for air travel had "already been reduced significantly".

"The impact was further exacerbated following the closure of our borders at midnight on March 22. As a wholly owned state enterprise, Caribbean Airlines Limited has complied with government policy during the COVID-19 pandemic and maintained all of its staff on payroll."

Bermuda

Gov't welcomes PAHO upgrade

Health Minister Kim Wilson has heralded an international watchdog's upgrade of Bermuda's coronavirus (COVID-19) status as "great news".

But the head of the airport has warned of a slow ramp-up of commercial flights once the island's borders reopen next month.

Wilson told the daily media briefing that the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has raised the island's country status from clusters of COVID-19 cases to "sporadic cases".

Wilson made the announcement as the latest batch of 336 test results for coronavirus had come back clear, leaving the island with 146 confirmed cases. Nine people have died but 132 have now recovered. One person is in hospital.

GUYANA

Court of Appeal ruling is final

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams says Monday's ruling of the Court of Appeal in the disputed March 2 regional and general election cannot be challenged at Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the country's highest court.

The three-member Court of Appeal, by a majority decision, ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear a motion regarding the election of a president, interpreting also that "more votes" cast in the election should in effect be "more valid votes" cast.

However, the court did not grant all the remedies that had been sought by the private citizen, Eslyn David, in her motion, and also agreed to a stay of three days on the judgment.

David, who had named Williams, as well as the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and its chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh as respondents, had mounted her challenge before the appellate court pursuant to Article 177 (4) of the Constitution.

Williams said that with the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Lowenfield now has to prepare a report to be submitted to GECOM as part of the third stage of the National Recount Order.

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