ANOTHER COURT CASE INVOLVING PM MITCHELL…as COP Thompson Takes Legal Action Against The State

Commissioner of Police Willan Thompson - was not favoured by PM Mitchell to remain in charge of the nation's Security

Commissioner of Police Willan Thompson – was not favoured by PM Mitchell to remain in charge of the nation’s Security

Embattled Commissioner of Police Willan Thompson could square off in the high court with Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in a legal battle over the manner in which he was removed as head of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

Court documents contained by THE NEW TODAY newspaper indicate that the Supreme Court Registry has set December 4 as the date for hearing a case brought by COP Thompson who is now serving as Clerk of Parliament.

The case was brought by the law firm of Lex Fidelis Chambers against the Attorney-General of Grenada, Cajeton Hood and the Public Service Commission (PSC), headed by barrister-at-law Derek Sylvester.

COP Thompson is asking the court to rule that the circumstances in which he was removed from the post after the February 2013 victory at the polls by Dr. Mitchell and his New National Party (NNP) was “in reality a termination” of his appointment as the island’s Police Chief to facilitate the re-organisaton of the police force.

He also wants the court to declare that the Office of Clerk of Parliament is not an office or post in the Public Service of Grenada of an equivalent status to that of the Commissioner of Police within RGPF.

The legal action is seeking to get the court to make a declaration to the effect that COP Thompson was forced by the Mitchell government into retirement and that he “is entitled to be paid his salary, allowances and benefits as if he had attained the compulsory retirement age, as guaranteed by section 84 (8) of the Constitution of Grenada”.

Former Accountant-General in the Ministry of Finance, Richard Duncan who is now the Manager of the Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited had won a similar case against the 1995-99 Mitchell-led NNP government and is now receiving a monthly pension of over $4000.00 a month from government.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY highlights some of the claims made by COP Thompson in his documents filed before the court:

“On February 19, 2013 general elections was held in Grenada which resulted in a new administration assuming the government. On the morning of February 21, 2013, I contacted and spoke with the new Prime Minister, Dr. Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, in my capacity as COP.

The Honourable Prime Minister asked that I come to see him the following day at 4:00 p.m. at his private residence at Happy Hill, St. George’s.

Upon meeting with the Honourable Prime Minister, as he requested, I gave him an oral brief on the state of crime and other security issues in the country. One of the first things the Honourable Prime Minister said to me was, “you know you are not’ my man for the job”, which I understood to mean that the Honourable Prime Minister did not want me to continue to hold office as the COP.

The Honourable Prime Minister then said to me that he had four (4) concerns, namely:

(1) That part of the machinery for registering voters in the constituency of St. George South East had gone missing and I had not found it and it was because he was up and down in the United States of America and the United Kingdom that the National Democratic Congress was not able to use it.

(2) That ‘Pony Tail’ (who I understood to be referring to Vincent Roberts) was driving around with equipment tapping people’s phones. I told the Honourable Prime Minister that we have had no such complaints.

(3) That I promoted people (police officers) just a few days before the general elections and that I should have waited a two days after the general elections to do so.

(4) That he had asked for security coverage and I did not provide same but if anything had happened to him I was going to pay a very high price. The Honourable Prime Minister continued saying that, “I called you and spoke with you and you wrote to me, so when I saw that (at this stage he shrugged his shoulders) I said well papa”.
The Honourable Prime Minister then said, “Well I can see how you will want to have some record”.

The Honourable Prime Minister continued speaking for a while, then I interjected and said to the Honourable Prime Minister that “I do not work’ for Party A of Party B, I am a professional and work for the government and people of Grenada”.

I then pointedly asked the Honourable Prime Minister whether my job was being threatened and, while walking away, he replied over his shoulders that he had security concerns. The meeting ended.

It became clear to me from the above mentioned conversation with the Honourable Prime Minister and from reports which I received, that the Honourable Prime Minister did not want me to continue to hold the office as COP.

I therefore initially applied for vacation leave from March 3, 2013 to November 15, 2013; thereafter I applied for leave with pay to May 15, 2014 and finally for more vacation leave to July 4, 2014.

This afforded me the opportunity to pursue studies in England leading to the completion of the legal bar qualifications”.

Thompson also gave a graphic description of his ordeal when he reported back to work at Fort George at the end of his long leave of absence from the job.

He said: “On the morning of July 7, 2013, I attended at Fort George, Police Headquarters and the office of the COP. I went to see Mr. Winston James, the acting COP, in his office and I met Assistant Commissioner of Police Edwin Martin there.

I informed Mr. James that my leave has expired and I am due to return to work today and so I am back to work. Mr. James told me that he was in receipt of a letter from the Second Defendant (PSC) transferring me to Parliament as of July 7,2014, and he handed me a sealed envelope from the office of the Second Defendant addressed to me in my private capacity and not as a public officer as is customary in the public service of Grenada.

After leaving Police Headquarters on Fort George I attended at the office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament and met with Mr. Raphael Donald, the retiring Clerk of Parliament.

Since then I have been reporting to the office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament and have been performing whatever tasks are required of me. This is so because I fear that until I was able to give my Counsel instructions to file the Originating Motion and Notice of Application herein I may be prejudiced, in that, if I did not report for work I may be deemed to have abandoned my office in the Public Service of Grenada”.

According to Thompson, the action taken against him after the February poll won by PM Mitchell and his NNP “amounts to a demotion”.

He told the court, “it substantially reduces or removes my authority, status, allowances and benefits, namely – as COP there are approximately 950 officers under my command in addition to other staff; my status on the official Table of Precedence for Grenada has been reduced; as COP, I am provided with a government of Grenada vehicle and driver; and I am entitled to free medical, dental and vision services from the government of Grenada as a member of the RGPF and COP”.

He went on to say: “….The office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament is not of an office of equivalent status to that of the office of COP in the RGPF for the following reasons:

(1) The office of COP in the RGPF is within a special or closed department with its attendant benefits and privileges while the office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament is an office within the general public service from which one is liable to be transferred to any other post or office in the Public Service of Grenada.

(2) Appointment and removal from the office of COP may only be done by the Governor General, on the advice of the Second Defendant, while in respect of the office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament the appointment and removal is by the Second Defendant without more”.

Amendment to be made to Insurance Act

The Grenada Cabinet is considering an amendment to the Insurance act in order to exempt certain entities that are not directly involved in the insurance business.

Deputy Prime Minister, Elvin Nimrod told a recent post-Cabinet Press briefing at the Ministerial Complex that companies that are not directly involved with insurance, are having trouble getting insurance coverage for their employees and other associates.

“The GUT  (Grenada Union of Teachers) since 1995 has been operating a group medical plan for the benefit of its employees and their dependents, because of the insurance nature of that business, the GUT is supposed to register under the Insurance act specifically under GARFIN because GARFIN supervises those activities,” he explained.

“It was proposed that because of the limited nature of that business, that it would have been too onerous to subject the GUT to that kind of a scrutiny – so once the amendment is made, the GUT and other insurance type companies of Friendly Societies, they will not be required to register under the Insurance act,” he added.

According to Nimrod who is the Minister of Legal Affairs, Cabinet has accepted a proposal to this effect and it will be taken to Parliament to become part of the law.

He said, the GUT and oth4er Trade Unions and Friendly Societies will be allowed to conduct limited business just for the benefit of their employees and their employees’ dependents and would not have to register under the Insurance act.

LIME calls for Technology innovation

LIME (1)Leading telecoms provider, LIME has called on regional government ministers and fellow telecoms providers to push for greater broadband penetration, allowing Caribbean nationals and businesses to participate in the consumption, creation and commercialisation of mobile applications and digital content, capitalising on the benefits of the thriving global technology industry.

LIME Caribbean CEO, Martin Roos was lauded for his statesman-like address at the Caribbean Association National Technology Organisation (CANTO), thirtieth anniversary Ministerial Breakfast held on August 11at the Atlantis hotel in The Bahamas.

“The Caribbean is behind in relation to smart phone penetration and usage”, Roos said, but also noted that, “You must be able to consume in order to create and Caribbean consumers need more indigenous regional content”.

“There is also a huge opportunity to export content as the world is interested in the Caribbean. Together we must enable entrepreneurs to tap into this global ecosystem”, he added.

The LIME executive called on regional government ministers to remove taxes on smart phone devices as a part of their market liberalisation programme to better facilitate content creation and entrepreneurship, especially among young people.

Noting that LIME has been the Caribbean’s  ‘green house’  for engineers, Roos said that the technology highway is the new playground  that will unlock and unleash the potential to export Caribbean music, sports and produce, as well as allow those in the region’s ubiquitous  hospitality industry “to better position our region’s natural beauty in the global competition for tourism”.

Aided by research, he predicted that mobile data will increase by a factor of ten over the next five years, and appealed for urgency in regional action so that the Caribbean is not to be left behind.

LIME is making a major network investment to the tune of US$1.05b across the Caribbean to ensure that their network will continue to transcend not just the surrounding geographic border but connect to the gateways of the world’s sophisticated telecoms ecosystem.

The CANTO Ministerial Breakfast is a flagship event on the calendar of the annual conference which is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary under the theme, “Strategic Alliances for Sustainable Broadband Development.”

Transparency and accountability in RGPF!!!

The time has come for Grenada to put more transparent and accountable mechanisms in place to handle the shooting of civilians and alleged human right abuses by law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

Two recent incidents within the past month have brought to the front-burner the need for independent minded and competent persons to review those shootings in order to reassure the public that the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) is devoid of trigger-happy elements.

A law-abiding police force is a necessity in any civilised society.

The decent persons in any country will always look to the police for protection when in danger and face threats to their lives.

But look at the scenario a little differently – if it the police who are creating fear then who is the citizen expected to turn to for help and assistance?

The functions of the Office of the Ombudsman should be broadened to allow for inquiries into justifiable complaints from citizens about incursions into their rights by law enforcement officers.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is already inundated with many legal matters and given the limited staff level it will be a trying time to handle with dispatch each and every controversial issue involving the police that is needed to be dealt with in a swift and speedy manner.

The Ombudsman can be empowered and clothed with the legal teeth as an officer of the court to investigate certain specific complaints and incidents involving the Police such as questionable shootings of civilians.

For example, an experienced attorney-at-law can be hired by the Ombudsman to look into specific cases of alleged police abuse of power, subpoena official police documents and compile a more independent-minded report for consideration by the Office of the DPP.

This process will totally remove the police force from being in direct control of the investigation  because in most cases the DPP would have to rely to a great extent on whatever investigation is carried out by the police into incidents involving themselves.

In Jamaica, there is a body called Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) that was formed in 1999 that works with  victims whose rights have been breached by members of the security forces spanning unlawful search or detention, to excessive use of force and extra-judicial killings.

JFJ is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-violent citizens’ rights action organisation advocating for state transparency, accountability and overall good governance.

The agents of the state such as members of RGPF who are given the responsibility of serving and protecting Grenadians and maintaining the rule of law should always be held to a higher standard than that of the so-called criminal elements in the society.

Legal experts and human rights advocates would always argue and quite rightfully so that the state has the primary responsibility to protect, respect, promote and fulfill human rights obligations since it  is a signatory to international human rights covenants and conventions.

Under our justice system, anyone charged with breaking or infringing upon the law should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

There is a general presumption that if someone is abused by the police then he/she is a criminal and if one is detained and/or charged by the police they are guilty and as such, are not deserving of being treated humanely.

However, citizens, who are beaten, wrongly detained, threatened and murdered by the police are victims too, and are equally deserving of protection of their rights EVEN if they have committed crimes.

The most recent police shooting at the public fete at Moonlight City at La Potrie has raised concerns about the modus operandi of the police force.

The official police release said that four persons were arrested, brought before a Magistrate’s Court and convicted for causing harm to a police officer.

However, the same release made no mention of the fact that during the incident at Moonlight City the police discharged a firearm and one civilian was injured by a bullet in the process.

THE NEW TODAY suggesting that a buffer is needed in a civilised and democratic  society like ours to guard against abuse by some law enforcement officials.

The state is the primary entity responsible for protecting the rights of  citizens and if someones lodges a complaint against another person alleging breach of his/her rights, again it the state that is the institution which is there to provide the redress.

However, when it is the state through a Police Officer  who allegedly infringes on the rights of civilians, the avenues for redress by John Public are proving much harder to access for someone seeking  fair play and justice.

It is imperative that the Office of the Ombudsman or some other body be created with influence from Civil Society to help all those who need redress when a state entity like the Police Force that is supposed to be protecting them, ends up violating their rights.

Justice must be seen to be manifestly done at all times.

Police remain tight-lipped

High-ranking officers are skimpy with information concerning shootings during the period of carnival

High-ranking officers are skimpy with information concerning shootings during the period of carnival

The High Command of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) appear guarded in giving out information about the manner in which a St. Patrick’s man was shot and killed by a party of police officers who were allegedly responding to a crime that was in the process of being committed in the Plain’s area just over three weeks ago.

A police release dated Friday 25th July, 2014 said that the lawmen are investigating a shooting incident in Plains, St. Patrick which left one man dead.

According to the release: “At the time of incident, police were conducting an operation, in response to a spate of housebreaking and stealing related reports in the Plains, St. Patrick area.

“At approximately 8:10 p.m. during the operation a man wearing a hood, gloves and armed with a chopper and other housebreaking implements and who was in the process of breaking into a house was approached by officers and an altercation ensued.

“The man, Andy Brathwaite, alias “Yambo”, 40 years old of Morne Fendue, St. Patrick was shot during the altercation and was taken to the Princess Alice Hospital at Mirabeau, St. Andrew where he later died.

“The standard investigatory procedure is currently underway. Further updates will be made available”.

During last Friday’s press briefing at police headquarters at Fort George, Assistant Commissioners of Police Edvin Martin and Michael Francois responded to questions posed by reporters pertaining to allegations that the St. Patrick man was shot in the back while running away from the police.

ACP Martin stayed clear of answering the specific question as to whether the bullet struck “Yambo” from in front or behind.

He told reporters that the case file is currently in the hands of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for consideration and no further comment can be forthcoming.

ACP Francois who is the Officer in Charge of Crime within RGPF quickly butted in and came to the aid of ACP Martin.

“This matter is still for decision from the DPP’s office and as Mr. Martin rightfully said all evidence is sent to the DPP where instructions will be given –  the information on that cannot be provided given the outstanding matter,” said ACP Francois.

The senior police officers at the press conference did not indicate whether the police force intended to share the DPP’s conclusion with the public.

The senior police officers were also asked to allay the fears of some sections of the public that there were not trigger-happy police officers who were too quick to discharge their weapons when dispatched to investigate incidents.

According to ACP Martin, there are many approaches that can be taken in discharging a firearm.

“An incident would occur, we don’t know the circumstances, and somebody (a police officer) may be on the ground where he might be attacked. So an individual situation will determine when he can discharge his firearm, how and where you will hit somebody”, he said,

“…So it doesn’t have any specific (situation) to say that he (the officer) will only go for the leg – you may say let me see if I can decapitate him by shooting the leg but if the man attack him with a weapon or whatever, different things will happen,” he added.

Both ACPS Martin and Francois were also reluctant to give information about another shooting incident, which occurred during the Sauteurs J’ouvert last week Tuesday when one individual was shot by the police.

It is alleged that a police officer was attempting to disarm Roy Bernard of Mt Craven, St Patrick and in the process a police firearm was discharged and the civilian was shot.

The senior police officers pointed out that because the matter was still being investigated, details cannot be given out about the incident.

“This matter is currently under investigation and it would not be professional of the police outside of concluding all of the investigations to give a comprehensive statement on the sequence of events,” said ACP Martin.

“…If we give any information, without the culmination of a comprehensive investigation it could be premature and if those events seem to change by the investigation then it would seem like the police changing the story,” he added.

Bernard is said to be in a “stable condition at the General Hospital after the gunshot wound.

As a result of incidents over the Carnival celebrations, RGPF said that three police officers were injured and are currently on sick leave.

Investigations continue into La Potrie incident

ACP Edvin Martin said there were indeed Canadian connections at Moonlight City

ACP Edvin Martin said there were indeed Canadian connections at Moonlight City

Grenada police have confirmed that three of the four persons charged in connection with a physical confrontation with a police officer at the Outrageous Pure White event held at Moonlight City at La Potrie, St. Andrew’s on Carnival Saturday night had Canadian connections.

The police confirmed that one person was shot by lawmen who came in as re-enforcement to assist their injured colleague.
The lawmen also said that investigations are still being conducted into the La Potrie incident by the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) and that more persons could be charged.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference held last Friday at Police headquarters on Fort George, Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Edvin Martin said that a civilian was shot after several persons attending the fete overpowered a plain-clothes police officer on duty as he was responding to a fight involving several persons.

ACP Martin also refuted claims being made in some quarters that the officer who was in plain clothes had not identified himself to his attackers when he alleged responded to reports of a fight that had broken out among patrons attending the party.

“As far as I do understand, is that the officer was responding to the incident and in the process would have identified himself as an officer in an effort to put an end to a fight”, he said.

The persons who were charged and appeared before a Grenville Magistrate’s court last week Wednesday were 20-year old Andell Benjamin of Mt Rich, St Patrick, 36-year old Terry Phillip, 21-year-old Darien Patrick and 23 year old Damion Benjamin all of Ontario, Canada who were charged with grievous harm.

ACP Francois says police officers sons are involved in Moonlight City issue

ACP Francois says police officers sons are involved in Moonlight City issue

According to Martin, the accused pleaded guilty to the offence and were each fined $500 and ordered to pay $1000 each to the injured officer.

THE NEW TODAY understands that a local attorney-at-law who represented the four advised them against contesting the case and to plead guilty since they were due to leave the island within days and that the case might present problems with them being allowed to leave the state.

A well-placed source told this newspaper that as part of the plea bargain, the court decided not to put on the file of the accused men the criminal offence committed against the Police Officer.

In December 2011, police in Grenada featured prominently in the Canadian press when Oscar Bartholomew, a Grenadian who became a naturalized Canadian citizen died in hospital from injuries sustained at the hands of lawmen at a Police Station in St. David’s.

During the press briefing, ACP Martin brushed aside reports that the incident with the police officer started when a bracelet from one of the Canadian fell to the ground and the police bent down to pick it up.

An informed source said that the police officer did not identify himself and a dispute started which resulted in the physical confrontation.

ACP Martin informed the media that the incident had been closed and that was the end of the matter.

However, when the press conference was about to end the issue resurfaced and ACP Martin again indicated that the case was close and had come to an end with the conviction of the four accused persons.

One reporter informed the lawmen that he heard this was not the case and that investigation was still continuing since the “real culprits” who attacked and beat the Police Officer were still at large and the police were looking for them.

ACP Martin seemed surprised and looked in the direction of his colleague, Assistant Commissioner of Police for Crime, Michael Francois for assistance.

ACP Francois confirmed that the case is not closed.

He said: “The officer reported that he was attacked by a number of persons but four persons were identified – we are still carrying out investigation on those other persons who may have been involved”.

A senior lawyer informed this newspaper that with four persons already brought to court and pleading guilty to the offence, it is highly unlikely that a Magistrate will be willing to convict another batch of men for the same offence.

ACP Francois also confirmed reports circulating in the country that two of the convicted persons involved in the incident with the police officer are sons or step sons of police officers attached to RGPF.

Showcasing Disaster Awareness

Grenadians and visitors alike will get a learning experience on the effects of natural disasters through the Grenada Annual Disaster Awareness Showcase.

The event, which will be officially launched on September 5, will feature five days of excitement and thought provoking creativity at the Grenada Trade Centre.

The event is the brainchild of businessman Martin Bedeau and will be put on in partnership with the Government of Grenada and the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG).

The theme for the event is, “Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present and Preparing for the Future”.

The showcase begins on September 5 with an opening ceremony and an Appreciation Day in which all those who have contributed to Grenada before, during and after the passage of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily would be recognised for their contributions.

The following day will see the holding of a fashion show focusing on the clothing that people wore after the passage of Hurricane Ivan as a means to expose local designers and models to the endless possibilities that exist.

Heritage Theatre will also deliver a special performance on Hurricane Ivan while Author Richardo Keens Douglas (RKD) will launch his book entitled “Ai Ya Yai Ivan”.

The planned cultural extravaganza includes performances by some of the island’s leading theatre companies – Heritage, Family and Richardo Keens Douglas.

The 2014 Panorama Champions, New Dimension Steel Orchestra will also be involved in the extravaganza.

A number of booths will also be set up by specific groups like the Fire Service and Energy Service to focus on the need to be ready to deal with various types of disasters.

Financial and insurance institutions will also be invited to highlight the importance of being prepared, as well as financial planning for disasters and getting insured.

The showcase climaxes with the launch of an environmentally friendly device that stores solar energy to provide light and

The Disaster Awareness Showcase is intended to be an annual event specifically targeting school students, community-based organisations, the Conference of Churches of Grenada (CCG) and Service Clubs.

The organisers are hoping to use the event to increase public knowledge on natural, man-made and climate change related disasters that can happen anytime of the year, while motivating Grenadians to become more pro-active rather than reactive when it comes to natural disasters.

Belle Vue estate commercialised

Ministry of Agriculture anticipating many benefits following the commercialization  of  Belle Vue Estate

Ministry of Agriculture anticipating many benefits following the commercialization of Belle Vue Estate

The Grenada government will no longer be directly responsible for the  loss-making state-owned Belle Vue Estate as an agreement has been signed with a company from neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago to take over the running of the farm.

A Memorandum of Understanding was initialed on ….. between officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Belle Vue Exotic Farms (BVEF) Limited operated by Lindsay Gillette and Sharon Gillette.

Belle Vue estate is the second of four government estates to be commercialized by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) which returned to power in the February 2013 general elections.

The Grand Bras Estate was commercialized on July 8 in an agreement signed with a company operated by two former leading figures of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution – Liam James and John “Chaulkie” Ventour – who were given long prison sentences for their part in the October 19, 1983 murder of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop on Fort George.

Under the deal signed with the Trinidadians, government agreed to lease them only 123 acres of the 226 acres of the Belle Vue estate in St Andrew.

A release from the Ministry of Agriculture said that the remaining acres of estate lands will remain under the management of the ministry as a reserve for future programmes.

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Senator Simon Stiell who signed on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture described the commercialization of the latest estate as part of government’s programme to increase Grenada’s agricultural output.

“We have the potential to produce far much more than we have been in the past and opportunity to secure jobs and create new job opportunities especially within our rural communities, especially for our young men and women,” said Stiell.

He pointed out that from an economic standpoint, the commercialization of the estate would generate some much-needed foreign exchange in the country through the export of agricultural produce.

“Governments over the years have not been able to really invest the levels of resources that have been required in government estates and this administration recognises the need for us to partner with (the) private sector (in) a collaboration where government retains ownership of the government estates.

“Over the years we haven’t had the financial resources, the financial means to really invest in basic infrastructure – be it access roads, be it irrigation, be it storage, be it basic facilities for our estate workers.

“We haven’t been able to do that at a meaningful level, let alone really invest in new technology, new agricultural practices to really maximise the agricultural potential (that) each of these estates has to offer.

According to the junior minister, the near two-year old Mitchell government was engaged in a very lengthy process of reaching out to both local and regional investors to try and attract those persons who have the financial means and technical expertise to get involved in the process.

Sen. Stiell is confident that government has now found the right partner for Belle Vue Estate.

Lindsay Gillette who operates an ice cream business in Trinidad gave the background into what brought him to Grenada.

He recalled that about a year or two years ago, the company was experiencing difficulties in getting fruits to make ice cream and he undertook a swing throughout the region to look for supplies.

“…I went throughout the territories looking to see in fact we could get products to purchase and I came to Grenada and let me say from the very start I was amazed,” he said.

“This is a very productive estate and at that moment in time having gone through various discussions with the people on the estate my mind said this is where I wanted to come,” he added.

Gillette spoke of having “fruitful discussions” with the workers on the estate, as well as their bargaining agents, the  Bank & General Workers Union (BGWU) and the Public Workers Union (PWU) and that no one will be sent home.

“Everyone will retain their jobs at this point in time and we will have a probationary period. Everybody has been very up front and they asked all the questions that they needed to ask and I believe we left that conversation very happy on both sides – the union, workers and both my wife and myself,” he said.

According to Gillette, he is very excited to start operations on the farm within weeks since it is a “blessed” estate.

“They are probably the largest producer of nutmegs and of course we have now entered into conversation with the GCNA (Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association) and continues those conversations because …. we are happy to enter those conversation and hopefully within the next week or two we will be meeting with various people on their Board of Directors,” he said.

Specific focus will be placed on the farm in growing fruits like, Sour sop, Guava, Passion fruit and Nutmeg.

“We have an idea as to how to develop what we have inside of there and we are already looking at alternative sections in the area, more crops like Sour sop. I don’t know how long it takes for a Sour sop to flourish, maybe a year so – hopefully this will come to a reality in the year 2015”, the Trinidad entrepreneur remarked.

“…I don’t want to call a number yet as to how much each acre will give to me and how much acres we’ll have under production and how fast we’ll accelerate that process but it will be significantly more than what exist at this moment in time,” he said.

The lease agreement for the Belle Vue estate is for 20 years.

The remaining two estates still to be commercialised by government are Mt Reuil Estate in St Patrick and Limlair Livestock Station in Carriacou.

SGU hosts conference on Early Childhood Development

More than 190 caregivers, parents, and teachers gathered at St. George’s University’s Bourne Lecture Hall at the end of June for the inaugural Caregiver Conference on Early Child Development.

Attendees at the Early Childhood conference held at SGU

Attendees at the Early Childhood conference held at SGU

Reach Grenada and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) brought together experts in early childhood development and infant-parent mental health, to focus on the importance of early adaptive interactions that benefit both the child and caregiver.

Also in attendance were representatives from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Eastern Caribbean division as well as the Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children.

“Infant and parent mental health is synonymous with healthy social development”, said Dr. Richard Honigman, Reach Grenada’s Advisory Board Chair and a general pediatrician with over 30 years of experience.

“Healthy social development is about how the child fits into the world around them, how they experience and interpret the world, and their place in the world. It embodies relationships with others, smoothing developmental progress and increasing ability to control behaviour, express emotions, and the ability to explore.”

Dr. Edward Tronick, University Distinguished Professor at University of Massachusetts, Boston and Harvard Medical School, delivered the keynote address on how infants make sense of their world.

“Infants are trying to make sense of all of their new experiences and their parents are critical in helping them do so”, Dr. Tronick, stated.

“When the child and the parent are successful in making sense of the world for the child, he or she feels secure and develops normally. When making meaning about the world is unsuccessful the child, like an adult, becomes confused, anxious, even fearful, and development is compromised.”

The Minister of Social Development, Delma Thomas, endorsed the initiative undertaken by the organisers reaffirming the government’s commitment for strategic alliances geared at social development.

“The support we get from organisations such as Reach Grenada, WINDREF, UNICEF and others are always timely”, she said.

“ You can rest assured of our commitment to work as partners because we are working towards the same goal. It is therefore critical that as we go forward we continue to share ideas and improve the quality of care our nation’s children receive”, she added.

Over the course of two days, other topics were discussed such as The Developing Child in Relationships, as well as How Messy Social Interactions Lead to Positive Infant and Child Development and Working with the Child/Family System.

UNICEF and the Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children have expressed interest in assisting Reach Grenada and WINDREF to plan future conferences, with the hope of eventually expanding to other nations.

Imanis identified for role in Constitutional Reform

Flashback to an event held at the Grenada Trade Centre for the so-called new looking Imani programme

Flashback to an event held at the Grenada Trade Centre for the so-called new looking Imani programme

The Keith Mitchell-led government in Grenada is planning to spend close to $EC$100, 000.00 to get persons involved in the Imani programme to help advance the constitution review process with early next year set as the date for a referendum to effect changes to the 1974 Constitution document.

The government is seeking to embark on the “New Imani Constitution Reform Awareness Project” in which the young people in all 15 constituencies on the island will be involved in a special programme
to promote the reform process.

A document seen by this newspaper indicate that a budget of $83, 950.00 has been prepared for the project involving the Imani workers with $30, 000.00 to be used equally among the constituencies.

According to the document, $6000.00 is earmarked for the holding of a workshop involving the Imani youth on Constitutional Reform.

In addition, the constituency emerging as the winner of this special project will receive $5000.00 and the second place winner will get $3500.00 and $2000.00 is being set aside for the constituency taking the 3rd spot.

Speculation is rife that the Mitchell administration is using the project to help consolidate its standing with the nation’s young people who voted in massive numbers to help his ruling New National Party (NNP) to a clean sweep of all 15 seats in the February 2013 poll.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY has decided to highlight some of the key aspects of the document:

Introduction

The New Imani Constitution Reform Awareness Project synergizes two of the most visible projects currently implemented by the government of Grenada; the New Imani Programme and the Constitution Reform Project to create a unique avenue for youth involvement in the development of the democratic process throughout the tri-island state.

This project advances the agenda of the Constitution Reform Project to realize an amendment to the 1973 Constitution of the State of Grenada by February 2015 and conforms to the goal of the New ImaniProgramme to engender a strong sense of patriotism and civic mindedness among programme participants through community based initiatives.

Project Objective

The objective of the New Imani Constitution Reform Awareness Project is to promote public awareness of the proposed amendments of the Constitution of the State of Grenada through youth-led activities designed and implemented by New Imani trainees with at least one project executed in each of the 15 constituencies throughout the tri-island state of Grenada by the end of December 2014.

The constitution Reform Project aims to achieve the following objectives:

1. Facilitate a series of consultations with special interest groups and the general public in each of the 15 constituencies throughout the state of Grenada to document recommendations of amendment.

2. Document a proposed amended constitution for the referendum process

3. Hold a referendum by the end of February 2015 achieving a voter turnout of at least 60% of the electorate and at least a 67% approval vote from the voters.

The New Imani Programme

The New Imani Programme, implemented by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs was launched in June In 2013 as the key pillar in the government of Grenada’s response to addressing the high level of unemployment among youth.

A revised version of the Imani Programme launched in 2002, the New Imani Programme is aimed at the holistic development of the nation’s youth, through career orientation, exposure to work environments, involvement in community development initiatives, academic and skills training and personal development through a comprehensive life skills course.

By the end of June 2014 The New Imani Programme will engage approximately three thousand (3000) youth between the ages of 18-35 throughout the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique in a comprehensive workforce and enterprise training and personal development initiative.

To date, there are approximately 2000 trainees enrolled in the New Imani Programme from a cross section of each of the 15 constituencies of the tri-island state.

Trainees receive workforce training for up to 21 months and personal capacity building for a minimum of 140 hours over the course of nine months.

Workforce training is provided via direct skills training and or apprenticeship training. Certification is provided through the National Training Agency for National Vocation Qualifications (NVQ) and or Caribbean Vocation Qualifications (CVQ).

All trainees are provided with a stipend for the coverage of transportation and related training expenses each month.

Background

A key objective of the Constitution Reform Project is to promote public awareness of the purpose of the reformation and the role of citizens in the process, and to encourage active participation in the voting process through the implementation of a nation-wide public awareness campaign.

According to Ministry of Health statistics, youth between the ages of 20 to 35 account for approximately 25.4 % of the Grenadian population and 37% of the electorate.

One of the strategies identified for the execution of the public awareness campaign involves the implementation of youth-led activities and projects to sensitise youth in particular and the public in general on the Constitution Reform Project.

This incorporation of youth in the implementation of the Constitution Reform Project is critical for several reasons:

(1). Youth have experience, knowledge, and ideas that are unique to their situation, enabling them to offer key insights and perspectives and facilitate communication in a way that adults cannot.

(2). In many communities, youth make up the majority of the population; as a result, youth voices can be crucial expressions of overall community needs.

(3). Regardless of their current status, young people are the future custodians of the Grenadian environment and leaders of their peers and can make remarkable contributions to the democratic process of the tri-island state.

Under the New Imani Programme, participants execute community-based projects on a constituency basis and this provides an excellent network for the promotion of the Constitution Reform Project at the grassroots level.

Participants are well represented throughout the fifteen constituencies of the state of Grenada and the 3000 youth enrolled not only offers a sizeable target population for the dissemination of information but more importantly also provides a considerable task force to drive the awareness campaign.

Project Implementation

The New Imani Constitution Reform Awareness Project will involve the implementation of awareness raising activities, planned and executed by New Imani trainees on a constituency basis.

Participation will be encouraged through the organisation of a project competition to promote a competitive spirit among the constituency groups with award prizes serving as an incentive.

This project will be coordinated through the New Imani Secretariat under the leadership of the Programme manger, Norman Gilbert and will be managed by a team of Imani Field Supervisors at least one of whom will be assigned to each constituency group.

Imani Field Supervisors will guide project-planning sessions and serve as mentors and resource personnel for the planning and implementation of the group projects.

Personnel from the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee will also be on hand to provide resources on the constitution.

A system of points will be allocated for different areas of the implementation of the awareness projects and the constituency group with the highest number of points will be the winner of the competition.

Points will be awarded based on the following factors:

(1). Number of New Imani trainees actively participating in the project design and implementation

(2). Number of attendees or participants at project event(s)

(3). Number of partnership organisations actively involved in the implementation of the project

(4).Number of PR and advertising activities implemented with a reach of at least two hundred people

(5).Use of at least three types of communication media including at least one form of social media

(6).Number of constitution amendments incorporated in project design

(7). Scope and reach of the overall project

(8). Creativity and innovation of projects

(9). Effectiveness of the project implementation

(10). Submission of project report

(11). Submission of project plan

A fixed sum of XCD two thousand dollars ($2000) will be awarded to each constituency group for the execution of the project with an additional XCD 500 ($500) provided for PR and communication.

Groups will be expected to raise additional funds required for the implementation of the project if required.

Project Judges will be selected from relevant stakeholder bodies to award points based on the factors mentioned above.

The Constitution Reform Project and the Division of Youth will implement additional PR and communication activities concurrently to contribute to the awareness raising efforts of this project.

A workshop on project planning and execution will he held for a core unit of participants from each constituency, which will help to build capacity and promote quality projects and activities.

In addition a resource kit on the Grenada constitution and the proposed amendments will be developed and provided to each constituency group.