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Category Archives: Bahamas

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Prepares For Phase 1 Reopening June 15 – PRNewswire

Posted: June 17, 2020 at 1:26 am

All Islands Of The Bahamas Will Reopen to International Boaters, Yachters and Private Aviation

NASSAU, Bahamas, June 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation has announced the destination will begin Phase 1 of the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan on Monday, June 15, which welcomes international boaters, yachters and private aviation back to Bahamian shores, across all The Islands Of The Bahamas.

During Phase 1, hotels will also reopen for staff to return to work and put in place all the measures required to ensure they are ready to welcome guests at the onset of Phase 2.

Commercial airlines will also be allowed to bring in Bahamian citizens, legal residents, homeowners qualifying for economic permanent residency, or the immediate family members or significant others of any of these groups. It is anticipated that during this period of time there will be a reduced flight schedule as airlines begin adding The Bahamas to their schedules once again.

This is the first part of the strategic, phased reopening approach for the tourism sector that ensures critical health and safety protocols are being adhered to, and that the Health sector remains well equipped and ready to respond as necessary. The plan was constructed by The Bahamas Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee, a group comprised of public and private sector partners. Allowing Phase 1 access to these smaller, special interest groups will allow a more controlled segment to test the country's new measures. The second phase will commence on July 1 with the resumption of international commercial travel.

Guidelines, Policies and Procedures for International boaters, yachters and private aviation visiting The Bahamas between June 15 June 30 are, as follows:

This June 15 tourism re-entrybuilds on and supports existing government rules and regulations, which already allow for inter-island domestic travel for Bahamian citizens and residents.

Per the direction of the Bahamas Ministry of Health, Bahamian Citizens, Residents and Homeowners Returning from CARICOM countries are not required to present a COVID-19 RT-PCR Negative (Swab) Test upon arrival. However, they remain subject to other public health measures.

Reopening of borders will continue to be monitored and guided by The Bahamas government and health officials. Reopening dates are subject to change based on COVID-19 trends, if there is a deterioration in improvement, or if government and health organizations deem these phases unsafe for residents or visitors.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation believes it is an absolute baseline requirement for consumers to have a comfort level that The Bahamas is a safe and healthy destination to visit, and the ultimate goal is for that to remain the case. For more information, or to view the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan, please visit: http://www.bahamas.com/travelupdates.

All COVID-19 inquiries should be directed to the Ministry of Health. For questions or concerns, please call the COVID-19 hotline: 242-376-9350 (8 a.m. 8 p.m. EDT) / 242-376-9387 (8 p.m. 8 a.m. EDT).

PRESS INQUIRIES Anita Johnson-Patty Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation [emailprotected]

Weber Shandwick Public Relations [emailprotected]

SOURCE Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

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About 70 animals rescued from Bahamas, brought to Indian River County – TCPalm

Posted: at 1:26 am

Janet Begley, Special to Treasure Coast Newspapers Published 5:07 p.m. ET June 16, 2020

Marina Harvey, HALO office manager, holds one of the more than 50 dogs rescued last week from the Bahamas.(Photo: JANET BEGLEY/SPECIAL TO TCPALM)

SEBASTIAN More than 50 dogs and 18 cats rescued from the Bahamas made their way to Indian River County last week, thanks to HALO No-Kill Rescue.

The animals arrived via a charter flight from Grand Bahamas sponsored by GreaterGood.org, landing Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale. Animals were then transported by HALO volunteers in three vans, arriving by noon in Sebastian.

It went really well, said HALO Executive Director Jacque Petrone. The plane came in early and all of the dogs and cats are in really great shape. We hope to have them available for adoption quickly and their pictures will be posted in phases on our website.

The dogs and cats were rescued from the island streets by the Humane Society of Grand Bahamas, whose shelter was destroyed in August during Hurricane Dorian. The animal shelter was hit with a deadly storm surge nearly 20-feet high, with more than 5 feet of flood waters filling the building.

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More than 110 cats and dogs died in the flood, but the six staff members manning the building survived.

Just as the Grand Bahamas shelter was in the process of rebuilding, COVID-19 struck the island, with a nationwide lockdown going into effect in April. All transportation to and from the island was halted, and once again, animals began to overwhelm the island.

The shelter could not keep up with the number of puppies and kittens being born, and Bahamas law requires animals be at least six months old before theycan be flown off the island.

Not having an adequate spay and neuter program on the Bahamas is a drawback to controlling the pet population, Petrone said.

It seems the solution should be so simple, said Petrone. Were talking about an island so it should be as easy as going out into the community and getting the animals spayed and neutered.

Many of the animals Petrone rescued last week from Grand Bahamas are young- about 7 to 10 months of age. There are some older, senior dogs that will also be available for adoption once their quarantine is completed.

Although many of the rescued dogs are typical Bahamian potcakes as mixed breeds are known in the Caribbean, there are others breeds such as Pekingese, Retriever and Shih Tzu mixes that will also become available for adoption.

Im hoping if everything goes well, we can start the adoption process quickly, said Petrone. In the Bahamas, they dont vaccinate dogs for Bordetella so there could be some issues with kennel cough popping up but overall, theyre in good shape.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the rescued dogs or cats should check the HALO website http://www.halorescuefl.org for more information. As the pets become available for adoption, information and photos will be posted. The adoption center is located at 710 Jackson Street, Sebastian, just off U.S. 1. Call 772-589-7257 for more details.

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About 70 animals rescued from Bahamas, brought to Indian River County - TCPalm

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Unraveling The Mysterious Death of Sir Harry Oakes in the Bahamas – dujour.com

Posted: at 1:26 am

It was July 8, 1943, an hour after dawn; a time and a season for everything to be quiet and slow-moving on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas. But not this morning. Frantic phone calls destroyed the drowsy, sultry calm. The largest landowner in the Bahamas, a man worth $200 million, had been found dead, and the cause was anything but natural.

Sir Harry Oakes, 68, born and raised in Maine, possessor of a Canadian gold-mine fortune and a British title, had been bludgeoned to death in the bedroom of Westbourne, his bougainvillea-adorned Nassau estate. From the looks of the crime scene, hed also been set on fire. The walls bore bloodstains. Feathers were everywhere, their source a torn pillow, although some of the wilder rumors claimed they came from a chicken, evidence of a voodoo ritual.

To deal with the shocking murder and control the soon-to-balloon scandal, an aide woke up the governor of the Bahamas. The governor just happened to be a British royal, and an infamous one at that: the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, who in 1936 gave up his throne for the woman I love, American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The couple put on a good face for the public during their five-year-long stint in the Bahamas, but privately vented about their exile to this hot little hell.

The Duke of Windsors handling of the caseor, as most would describe it, mishandling of the casewent a long way toward firmly placing the killing of Oakes in a hall of fame of tantalizing mysterious murders. Oakess son-in-law, Alfred de Marigny, was swiftly arrested and tried for murder, but after a headline-saturated trial was found not guilty. No one else was ever charged, but theories on means and motives rage up to the present day. A cottage industry of books, novels and movies have tackled the case, dubbed the unsolved murder of the century in one review.

One of the reasons the 1943 crime still exerts such a powerful fascination is that this pot brims with everything. Toss away every notion, every preconception, you may have about the Bahamas in the 1940s, declares Bahamianology, a website devoted to Bahamian history. Put every idea as far away in your mind ashumanly possible. The Bahamas was, in stark reality, a seething cauldron of Nazi sympathizers, British spies, money launderers, narcotics traffickers, gambling mobsters, land swindlers, murderers and paid-for-hire assassins.

The book Murdered Midas, published in late 2019 by the Oxford-educated Canadian historian Charlotte Gray, has brought a new round of attention to the unsolved murder. In her excellent book, Gray not only crafts a carefully constructed whodunit, she takes a deep dive into Sir Harry Oakes himself, the first book to put Oakes in context as a major force in early 20th-century North American finance.

One of her motives was to establish Oakes as a person with many dimensions. In the decades since his murder, the millionaires image has become more and more loathsome. In books on the case he comes across as greedy, harsh, brutish and driven by grudges, almost suggesting he deserved his end. He wasnt likable, Gray says in an interview with DuJour. I wanted to find out why he had such a reputation.

As a young man from a middle-class family, Oakes attended medical school for two years, but left in 1898 to follow his obsession: finding gold. He spent nearly 15 years working grueling hours in territories all over the worldabstaining from alcohol, near-friendlessin pursuit of his gold rush dream before he got his break at Kirkland Lake in northern Ontario. Gray compares his single-mindedness to todays Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs.

Once hed made his fortune, Oakes chose not to expand his financial reach beyond his mines or establish himself as a cultural heavyweight like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie or the Guggenheims. He bought property and became a local benefactor in Niagara Falls and Palm Beach, Florida. But his obsession became finding a way to seal off his money from taxation. This was what propelled Oakes to the Bahamas, a country with no income tax, in 1935. He was one of the first major tax exilesnot just in the Bahamas, but anywhere, Gray says.

Real estate developer Harold Christie, a man of legendary sales talent, courted Oakes until he persuaded the richest man in the British empire to establish residency in the Bahamas, then a crown colony. A 700-island tropical archipelago 50 miles off the Florida coast, the Bahamas at the time had 70,000 residents, three-quarters of them of African descent. The economic boom fueled by running rum and other booze into the U.S. during Prohibition was over. A small white elite in Nassaunicknamed the Bay Street Boysran everything, shrugging off the poverty of most islanders.

Oakes bought a lot of property and built a golf course and an airport. He took his family with him to New Providence, a wife and five children. His favorite child seems to have been Nancy, a lively redhead. To her parents dismay, at the age of 18, Nancy married Alfred de Marigny, 32 years old and twice-divorced. According to Murdered Midas, he bore a Don Juan reputation in the Bahamas; he named his yacht Concubine and, according to persistent rumors, would drug young women before assaulting them.

De Marigny wasnt the only unsavory person living tax-free in the Bahamas in the 1930s. Swedish industrialist Axel Wenner-Gren, owner of a 700-acre island that today is known as Paradise Island, was a well-known Nazi sympathizer. Wenner-Green made deals with the Krupps and counted Hitlers No. 2, morphine addict and Luftwaffe overseer Hermann Gring, as a close friend.

Interestingly, in her book, Gray reveals little-known ties between Oakes and Nazi sympathizers forged before he moved to the Bahamas. The Oakes family had lived in Britain just long enough for the millionaire to receive his title. The sinister friendships with pro-Nazi appeasers that he made in London during the 1930s, which probably secured his baronetcymay have been a factor in his death, Gray writes.

The afternoon that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor arrived in Nassau in 1940, when Britain was fighting Germany for its very existence, the question of Nazi sympathies became pressing indeed.

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Op-Ed: It’s better in The Bahamas – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 1:26 am

By Dr Jillian Storr

It is indeed Better in The Bahamas!

I was born an American citizen. I grew up in Grand Bahama and became a Bahamian citizen. Until the age of 17, The Bahamas was all I knew. We all aspired to go off to school in America to live the American Dream!

So I did that. Between 17 and 33 years old, I attained my degrees, became a Dentist, and worked in the private and corporate worlds. I also got married, had children, and bought a home. I lived more American dreams than many Americans had ever dreamt. I was content and comfortable for many years. I understand the desire to live in the US. I understand how things appear: the efficiency, technology, education, professionalism, cleanliness, luxury, opportunities, diversity. However, all of those things come with a price really.an actual price! One that grows.

My degrees left me with $440,226.37 of debt. With a family of 5, no amount of dentist-ing could pay off that debt while paying all of our bills, maintaining a happy marriage, feeding our children healthy food, consistently giving each other quality time, and cultivating a sound spiritual life. Even if my school debt didnt exist, the demands of work limited the time left for what was most important to us.

Stepping back and evaluating what matters, our peace takes the #1 spot. We learned that when money is the goal, everything else gets compromised no matter how diligent you think you may be. So, after 16 years of living the American dream, we made the vow to never make a decision based on the value of a dollar bill, but instead consider our peace. Is it the convenient or easy route? Nope. But for longevity and a sound mind, it is the best option for us.

Both my husband and I were living our career dreams. But that left very little time for each other and our children. Thankfully, we were able to re-adjust our lives before it took an irreversible toll on our marriage. Our love for each other outweighs our long-time love for the careers we dreamt about and achieved.

Being health conscious and admittedly a skeptic of the medical and pharmaceutical industries (yes, even as a Dentist), I believe what we eat holds the most importance for our overall health. Researching the food industry in the US, we became distrustful of what was being fed to us literally. Again, when money is the goal, everything else gets compromised even if it costs lives. People are dying exponentially from heart disease, diabetes and cancer in the US; whether you live a vegan lifestyle or choose organic meats or only eat home cooked meals is up to you, but we must agree that what we eat is a strong determinant of that outcome. My husband is vegan and I am a pescatarian transitioning to veganism living on an island, we have a bigger variety and more control over the nature of our foods.

Politics anywhere and everywhere its shady! Do I need to say it again? I will: when money is the goal, everything else gets compromised. Some countries balance better than others, but the US historically has never been the best at upholding the creed for the benefit of all. Simply put, my husband is a very dark skinned, tall, black man. The chances of him being in a position where he is disadvantaged, disrespected, or killed are higher living in the US just based on those characteristics. I refuse to accept the normalcy of having a conversation about the colour of your skin and how that will affect you negatively with my children. I grew up in The Bahamas not even knowing my own race until I was almost in high school. Speaking of school, I shouldnt have to worry about if my children might get shot dead during Science class. Thats sick! Im used to fire drills, not bomb threats or school shooting drills. US laws are deeply flawed and mental illness is a major issue. For a country that claims to be the best in the world, how does it rank as one of the most depressed?

When I left the US, selling our home, saying goodbye to wonderful friends, I was also saying goodbye to the conveniences of any and everything I wanted at my fingertips. I had become accustomed to a life of entitlement. Honestly, I was hesitant. What if its 1am and I needed to go grocery shopping? What if I needed a cute outfit at the last minute? Where would I go for my massages?..so many first world concerns! Well, almost 2 years has passed and I grocery shop between the hours 7am 9pm imagine that! I wear whatever is in my closet to that last minute event- imagine that! And guess what I found the best massage therapist on this side of the Atlantic Ocean right here in Grand Bahama! I still maintain my first world needs wax appointments, workout trainer, pedicures, and indulging the best desserts on my cheat day(s), to name a few. My point is, I am not missing out on anything!

This is my story. This is where we find peace. We co-own our business with a mission and atmosphere that allows for positive quality time with family. We date frequently, finding some of the best restaurants from Bahamian sushi spots to Italian cuisine and some of the coolest activities from scuba diving with the sharks and kayaking through the mangroves to a 4D movie theatre experience. Our children are adopting the Bahamian culture the discipline and education, the colourful music, the tropical food, the beautiful dialogue and dialect. They are getting sunburned while building sandcastles and learning to swim in our clear water turquoise beaches. They are understanding that the world is much bigger and more complexed than just one country or one point of view. They are learning to empathize with others from many walks of life, not seeing any one way the superior way. They have a fair chance at life, living with no worries, as they should.

Hurricane, pandemic, or apocalypse, I will forever choose The Bahamas!

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Jamaica and Bahamas officially reopen for tourists, nationals Here’s what to expect – Face2Face Africa

Posted: at 1:26 am

After weeks of closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaica and the Bahamas have begun welcoming back tourists and nationals, with safety protocols in place. The Bahamas is currently in Phase 1 of its reopening plan, which on Monday started allowing international boaters and yachters to enter its waters, and private charters to land.

Miami Herald reports that Bahamian citizens, legal residents, homeowners qualifying for economic permanent residency and their immediate family members were also allowed to return on commercial flights ahead of a July 1 official reopening for all international tourists.

At the moment, travelers entering the Bahamas are required to present a negative COVID-19 real-time reverse transcription polymerase-chain-reaction test, taken within 10 days of travel.

This does not apply to citizens returning from a Caribbean Community country, children under the age of two or private pilots who do not deplane, the Miami Herald said. All travelers are, nevertheless, required to complete an electronic health declaration form attravel.gov.bsahead of their departure and for any inter-island travel within the country.

The form asks questions about the travelers departure country, if they have been in contact with the virus, and if they have any symptoms, according to Travel Off Path.

From July 1, no tests or quarantine period will be requiredof travelers to the Bahamas as long as they have not been exposed to the virus or show any symptoms. However, upon landing at the airport, all travelers will undergo temperature screenings.

Our top priority has and will always be our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our residents and visitors, said Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation DirectorGeneral Joy Jibrilu.

We are putting an even greater emphasis on making sure The Bahamas is safe and clean for everyone, and look forward to once again providing travelers with the tropical experience our islands are known for.

The tourism ministrys comments come on the back of concerns that the Bahamas continue to show active transmissions of COVID-19. Data shows that 25 of the countrys 104 registered cases remain active, but this is even worse for Jamaica, which has 617 COVID-19 infections, with 187 infections that are active.

Jamaica, which began welcoming international travelers on June 15, said it had to open its borders in order to save its economy which could lose $10.3 billion, including $762.8 million in the tourism sector if it remains closed.

Tourism is our lifeblood, and with the help of international experts and a dedicated task force, weve developed protocols that allow us to safely reopen our borders, said director of tourism Donovan White.

For now, to gain entry into Jamaica, visitors must complete apre-arrival authorizationthat asks about their possible exposure to COVID-19. They will also be screened via thermal checks and symptom observation. Any visitor who shows symptoms or is ill is subject to quarantine, reports Travel Weekly.

The health protocols will be revisited every two weeks, according to officials. Jamaica is the largest of the Caribbeans tourism economies to reopen since it reported its first case of COVID-19in March. The islands tourism sector employs about 350,000 workers, contributing more than one-third of the countrys economy.

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Bahamas Oil and Gas Market Outlook to 2023-Strategic Analysis, Insights, Forecasts and Opportunities in Bahamas – Cole of Duty

Posted: at 1:26 am

The report on Bahamas Oil and Gas is a comprehensive collection of all the market related information required for analyzing and understanding the Bahamas Oil and Gas market. It gives an in depth view of the market on the basis of manufacturers, capacity, production, price, revenue, cost, gross, sales volume, sales revenue, consumption, growth rate, import, export, supply, future strategies, and the technological developments taking place in the market.

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No negative test, no entry: Doctors weigh in on reopening Phase 2 – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 1:26 am

NASSAU, BAHAMAS The Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) yesterday raised grave concerns over the testing protocol for travelers once the country full reopens next month.

CPSA president Dr Sabriquet Pinder-Butler warned the government not to sacrifice public health due to the countrys economic dependence on tourism as doctors advocate for continued COVID-19 testing prior to travel.

As a world renowned tourist destination, we have visitors from all over the world, Pinder-Butler said.

The number of cases of COVID-19 differs across the world however, recently there has been a resurgence of cases in Beijing and significant increases of new cases in the United States. The United States has consistently been our largest tourist market hence, we anticipate that a potential increase in COVID-19 cases may be inevitable as our borders reopen but would wish to mitigate this as much as possible. A surge of cases in the Bahamas can potentially devastate our strained healthcare system and will further add to the economic burden that our country faces.

The association also requested open and collaborative dialogues with the acting Minister of Health, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and Ministry of Health officials to ensure doctors are involved in finalizing international travel protocols to strengthen healthcare response.

We wish to continue to have Covid free islands in the Bahamas and do not wish to see our country labelled as an unsafe destination if we are unable to contain a potential resurgence, Pinder-Butler said.

Therefore, as senior doctors and frontline healthcare workers we wish to ensure that appropriate guidelines are in place so that all of the hard work, funding, and efforts invested in the past three months are not wasted.

As we adapt and confront inevitable global challenges with modified responses that exemplify our countrys strength and resolve, it is imperative that our economic dependence on tourism does not supersede the public health principles that protect the health and welfare of our Bahamian people.

The first phase of the governments Tourism reopening begins today will the full support of the CPSA, according to a letter penned by its president Dr Sabriquet Pinder-Butler.

However, there is grave concern regarding Phase 2, starting July 1, 2020 as travelers coming to the Bahamas will no longer be required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test or quarantine, Pinder-Butler said.

Over the past three months, the Government of the Bahamas along with the healthcare workers and residents at large have done a tremendous job in containing the spread of COVID-19 throughout the islands of the Bahamas.

The letter continued: Various government ministries were actively involved in combined efforts including border closures, curfews and lockdowns to ensure the health and wellbeing of our residents and visitors of the Bahamas.

The CPSA wishes to recommend continued Covid-19 testing prior to travel to the Bahamas. We further support mandated social distancing, wearing of masks, proper respiratory hygiene and routine hand sanitization as these combined efforts will assist in minimizing the potential cases of coronavirus in country. We also recommend strengthening the capacity for contact tracing and surveillance.

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Atlantis to start phased reopening July 7 EyeWitness News – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 1:26 am

NASSAU, BAHAMAS Atlantis announced yesterday that it will begin its phased reopening on July 7.

In a letter to employees, Audrey Oswell, resort president and managing director said: Phase one begins July 7, 2020 when we welcome our first guests back to The Royal. She noted that in phase one Royal Bath, Mayan Temple, Power Tower, Zero Entry and Splashers will open.

All beaches will open and Dolphin Cay will open. The main casino, spa and Marina Village will open. Some but not all of our restaurants and lounges will open.Phase twoshe noted will be contingent on business volumes.

According to Oswell, only some of the employees will be recalled during the initial phase and those who are not called back for the phase one reopening will remain furloughed.

We know that there will continue to be hardship for many of you. Be assured that we are making every effort to bring tourism back to previous levels so we may get you back to work, shesaid.

As Atlantis moves to reengage some of its staff, the British Colonial Hilton yesterday made a number of its employees redundant. According to Darrin Woods, Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) president Darren Woods, some 22 of his members were made redundant yesterday.

APhase I reopening of the tourism sector will begin on June 15as the country moves towardofficially reopening to international commercial travel on July 1.

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Johnson: Missed WTO targets not the focus – EyeWitness News

Posted: at 1:26 am

NASSAU, BAHAMAS Minister of Finance Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Elsworth Johnson.

The Minnis administration had set June 2020 as a the target for World Trade Organization (WTO), a process which the country undertook two decades ago.

Johnson spoke to the initiative during his contribution to the budget debate yesterday.

While the Minnis led administration is committed to reforming the countrys trading regime and its laws, strengthening existing institutions or creating new ones to facilitate trade, strict time-lines and meeting target dates are not the principle goals in this process, he said.

Paramount for this administration is the necessity to ensure that any trade negotiations that The Bahamas might be involved in are ultimately beneficial to the Bahamian people and the future development of The Bahamas.

Johnson acknowledged that this nation must find ways to participate in discussions which will impact the international trading system and by extension The Bahamas.

The Bahamas must and should be present and leading as discussions on such issues occur within international organizations tasked to address such issues, he said.

He noted that an Oxford Economics report commissioned by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) had noted that the potential economic impact of WTO accession will be positive over the medium term for the country with the near term crucially dependent on the government efforts to put in place structural reforms.

Johnson noted that in 2015 a compendium of Intellectual Property Rights legislation was enacted by Parliament.

Regulations to bring the new legislation into effect have been drafted, he said.

Johnson noted that strong intellectual property legislation which is enforced by the government goes a long way to ensuring that local and foreign investors that their investments are protected.

He also told Parliament that government is considering draft Competition (Antitrust legislation) building on an existing draft competition bill, developing scenarios for institutional design for a competition agency taking into account the powers and functions of URCA under the Communications Act and models existing in other Caricom jurisdictions.

Johnson further noted that government will seek to enact a foreign investment bill which will seek to codify the national investment policy, tariff quota regulations, anti-dumping regulations, animal health, food safety and plant protection regulations as well as a public procurement bill.

The Bahamas must prepare itself to meet the challenges of trading with its international partners and this will require change, he said.

Key for policy makers will be the pace of those changes. While we have made significant strides in the legislative reforms necessary, more work is required.

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INSIGHT: It’s only a matter of time before we pay the price for our shameful silence – Bahamas Tribune

Posted: at 1:26 am

By FREDERICK R M SMITH, QC

Tragically, police and Immigration abuse, oppression and brutality in The Bahamas remain systemic, ubiquitous, unreformed, unrelenting, unaccountable and unapologetic. PLP and FNM governments alike do nothing about it!

I am proud that Human Rights Bahamas and my firm, Callenders, shepherd the claims of hundreds of victims through the courts seeking justice. Historically, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association and my firm have decried abuse and sought justice for decades. Yet, the abuse continues unabated! I commend other lawyers who continue to pursue justice in an In-Justice System which is heavily stacked against victims. The government invariably defends, delays and obstructs; and with no legal aid, no jury trials and no contingency fees, it is a herculean task to succeed.

In April 2019, the Tribune Insight published my article entitled, The Ugly Truth About Police Brutality. Everything I said then, holds true today.

In a Judgment last week by Judge Indra Charles, the Supreme Court found the police liable for damages for injuries to Jermaine Rahming who was repeatedly shot from behind. The judge ruled that To pull a trigger must be a measure of last resort. Damages will be assessed in September.

Last Saturday, three men in a vehicle were shot to death by police on Cowpen Road in Nassau. The facts surrounding these killings are unclear. I call on the Commissioner for full transparency.

The videos of police brutality going viral in the wake of George Floyds death are typical of what has been going on for decades in The Bahamas, with little outcry. Bahamians have added their voices to the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and worldwide a commendable show of solidarity with victims of the twin scourges of law enforcement brutality and ethnic discrimination. Less admirable, and baffling, is the contrast between this show of righteous indignation over atrocities perpetrated abroad, and the veil of stubborn silence and fatuous denial which continues to be drawn across our own dark culture of official violence.

The routine practice of police beating, terrorising and torturing suspects is so well established that its features have become staples of our national lexicon. Most Bahamians, regardless of whether theyve ever faced arrest, can recount with an air of authority the most frequently-used methods, name a few notorious uniformed abusers and even describe in detail a certain dank cell in the bowels of most police stations where these horrors take place.

Meanwhile, and increasingly so over the past few years, police officers have adopted a policy of shoot first and ask questions later with few to no consequences, despite the many witnesses willing to cry official murder. According to their own statistics, there were 245 complaints about police conduct in 2018 a shocking number in such a small country. Officials produce no equivalent stats regarding complaints against Immigration officers, because sadly, their victims are not deemed valuable enough to warrant official protection or even concern.

We are all well acquainted with these ugly truths, but the vast majority of Bahamians act as if they are blissfully unaware. Most pretend to believe anyone injured while in official custody must have fallen suddenly ill, that he or she had those bruises prior to arrest, that it is just a coincidence when dozens of accused persons sign confessions while in a cell, only to plead innocence later in court.

We act as if we believe the police can be trusted, that an Immigration officer would never take advantage of a helpless woman or child, that the government would never allow such injustices, that our society isnt really like the U.S. Not us we would never arbitrarily abuse and victimise the marginalised and helpless. It is truly terrible to consider, during even my 43 years at the Bar, how many thousands of young people have been driven to a life of crime and violence in response to their abuse and traumatisation at the hands of the authorities.

It is even more horrifying to contemplate how the rest of us aided and abetted in this process over the years. Consider also the damage we have done to the rule of law, to respect for the fundamental rights enshrined in the Bahamas Constitution these cornerstones of our democracy and prerequisites for the kind of civilised and progressive society which so many Bahamians aspire to, but which continues to elude us.

Why is it that Bahamians consider police brutality in the United States to be a shocking crime against humanity, but deem the very same behaviour here, unworthy of taking a stand against? Obviously, cases like that of George Floyd highlight the serious problem of racial discrimination on the part of white officers against African Americans and other minorities in the U.S. But the real issue is not so much the identity of the perpetrators, as it is that of the victims individuals already disadvantaged by class and institutional discrimination who have little to no recourse to justice.

This is precisely the situation in The Bahamas, where victims of official abuse are almost always poor, black, working class people who cannot afford lawyers to protect their rights. It amounts to the victimisation of an entire segment of our population, precisely because of who they are. The fact that there is not a clear skin-colour divide between the oppressors and the oppressed should not be allowed to disguise the fact this is discrimination, pure and simple. If you think that race doesnt play a part in it, ask the RBPF what percentage of those who file complaints against them are white. Or rich. But then, we can already guess the answer.

This discriminatory aspect is even more pronounced when you consider the decades-long campaign of wholesale terror perpetrated against Haitians and Bahamians of Haitian descent in this country. People are regularly detained without proper cause, subjected to fear and intimidation, have their homes and property violated,are beaten, sexually abused, stigmatised and discriminated against precisely because of their ethnic identity. The vast majority of the victims of these despicable acts by the Immigration Department did nothing wrong. They are not illegal immigrants. Their only crime was not having papers, having a Haitian sounding name, or looking too Haitian.

We must ask ourselves, how long can police and Immigration officers continue to act like thugs and outlaws before sparking a large-scale violent backlash? If Bahamians think they have it bad now in terms of serious crime, they should pause and consider what widespread and violent civil unrest on our streets would look like. This is not fantasy or alarmist rhetoric just look at what is happening today worldwide.

It should not be necessary to warn Bahamians who are paying close attention to global events: It is only a matter of time before we reap what we sow. And maybe thats for the best perhaps civil unrest, rioting and looting is exactly what we deserve as penance for our shameful silence and cowardly acceptance of regular official atrocities. Perhaps that is the only way we will learn to face up to our demons and confront the sordid reality of our entrenched culture of victimisation. But it doesnt have to be that way. Those among us who can admit - first and foremost to themselves that they are ashamed of the way in which we have condoned and facilitated official violence and brutality for decades, because it was socially and politically expedient to do so, can join together as a force dedicated to speaking truth to power and advocating for meaningful change.

We could start by acknowledging we have a serious problem and that most of us have been complicit in its perpetuation. When asked about police brutality last year, former Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said officers who abuse their power are a reflection of failed parenting. Officers are recruited from the Bahamian populous, and the public must realise that you only gone get what you give us, he said. The first step, then, is simply to look in the mirror and ask some hard questions about what we find there.

Step Two must involve a commitment to something that has been sorely lacking in our public education system a syllabus that ensures every young Bahamian understands their rights and freedoms under the Constitution. The next step is to place pressure on the government to ensure official violence carries real punishment for the officers in every case, and that those who expose it are respected, heeded and protected.

Sadly, FNM administrations have a reputation for harsh policing tactics and an almost military approach to law enforcement. The present incarnation is no exception, with brutality claims and police-involved killings skyrocketing in recent years. If there is to be a necessary change in attitudes, history does not suggest the current government will be its source.

It is up to the Minnis Administration to prove me wrong. All that is needed is a little courage and the political will to intervene and make the eradication of police and Immigration brutality an urgent priority for its remaining two years in office. In addition, public prosecutors and judges must stop turning a deaf ear to the hundreds of accused persons, from diverse backgrounds, neighbourhoods and islands, who come before the courts telling tales of brutality and violence that are uncannily similar in even the smallest details. These claims must be taken seriously and investigated, rather than ignored or dismissed as falsehoods.

Finally, PM Minnis and Ministers Dames and Johnson must urgently create, by law, an independent Police andImmigration Complaint Commission and provide training in civil rights, sensitivity and psychological evaluation of officers.

My FNM government, please dont forget to finally make good in this term, on the regular pre-election broken promises by past FNM and PLP administrations of a Human Rights Ombudsman!

See the article here:

INSIGHT: It's only a matter of time before we pay the price for our shameful silence - Bahamas Tribune

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