US District Court orders Chinese investor Charles Liu to return investor funds

A U.S District Court order granting a preliminary injunction for Chinese investor Charles Liu to repatriate foreign assets obtained for the purpose of building and operating a proton cancer treatment center in the United States has prompted the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to repeat its call for the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to launch an investigation to determine whether the businessman  and his wife, Lisa Wang, may have committed financial crimes in the country.

Vincent Roberts has once again called for local investigations to be launched into Charles Liu’s activities

Vincent Roberts has once again called for local investigations to be launched into Charles Liu’s activities

Liu and his wife were being promoted as the main architects behind the proposed EC$2 billion dollar Mt. Hartman project in the south of the island.

When the SEC announced back in June that it had laid fraud charges against Liu, who is accused of misusing approximately two thirds of monies raised from investors for the purpose of building and operating a proton cancer treatment center (Beverly Proton Centre) in the US, the Keith Mitchell government had expressed the view that there was no reason to believe that there was a relationship between the alleged fraudulent activities of Liu and his activities in Grenada.

The NDC had called for Government to launch “a full investigation into the circumstances under which Charles Liu was admitted as a citizen of Grenada under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) and under which his investment company, United Damei Investment Company Ltd. was appointed (as) an international marketing agent of Grenada under the CBI”.

NDC Chairman Vincent Roberts who addressed the Charles Liu issue at the weekly press conference in St. George’s on Monday told reporters that the most recent court document states that Liu and his wife raised USD24.7M in capital contributions and collected approximately USD2.2M in administrative fees (and that) despite this large capital raised little progress was made on the cancer treatment centre.

The document also states that “after receiving investor funds Mr Liu disbursed “USD6, 714, 508 (into his personal bank) account, 1, 583, 000 to Mrs. Wang, USD7, 722, 000 to Overseas Chinese (a company in China) USD3, 185, 000 to the United Damei Group and USD$ 1, 387, 500 to a company called Delsk.”

Roberts indicated that based on the court documents, “USD118, 605. 11, was also transferred to a bank in Grenada.”

When asked to identify the local bank, the Congress official said he is aware of the bank where the monies were lodged but did not want to name it.

The US District Court noted that most of the monies transferred by Liu came from capital contributions, which were not used to construct, develop or operate the treatment centre.

The SEC has provided evidence that “between October 1, 2014 and the present at least $26 967, 918 was deposited from 50 investors into the PPEB5 (Passport) Fund and specific proton accounts. Of that amount roughly 24.7M was deposited as capital contributions and 2.25M as administrative fees.”

Liu is accused of transferring USD11M of investor funds to three firms in China and diverted another US7M to his wife’s personal account.

Roberts pointed out that “millions of dollars of that money was then sent overseas (out of the US) between October 1, 2014 and April 30, 2016, three Chinese recruiters (a company called) Overseas Chinese, UDG and Delsk received USD12, 924 500 from the bank accounts of the corporate defendant.”

It was also noted that other disbursements made by the corporate defendants to Liu and Wang also appear to have led to funds being moved to China.

The evidence shows that “on March 10, 2016 Liu’s personal account received USD1M from the PPEB5 account and $800, 000 from the Beverly Proton account and that he also transferred USD750, 000 to China Merchant Bank in China the next day (and that) Liu transferred significant amount of monies from his personal account to China Merchant Bank at least eight times”.

The SEC, which has frozen the bank accounts of Liu and his wife concluded that “at least USD$3 868, 605 were sent from the defendants bank accounts to foreign accounts at China Merchant Bank and the Grenada Bank.”

Additionally, it was concluded that of the “USD27M collected from unwitting investors nearly 17M was moved out of the United States.”

Roberts said from the evidence presented by the SEC to the US court “it is clear that the activities by Mr. Charles Liu in Grenada and his associated companies are inextricably linked to the activities in the US.”

In light of the information emerging from the U.S court documents, the Congress official called on Mitchell administration in St. George’s to revoke Liu’s status as a Grenadian citizen, appointment as the Commercial attaché of the Grenadian embassy in China, as well as the Grenadian diplomatic passport handed to him and the licence granted to The United Damei Group to act as an international agent for the island’s passport selling scheme known as the CBI.

According to Roberts, this new development in the Charles Liu matter calls for action to be taken by government and failure to do so will “bring discredit to the image of our country and is demeaning to the office of Prime Minister. “

He called on the Mitchell government to “impose a freeze on all assets and accounts of Mr. Charles Liu, his wife, the United Damei Group and all related companies in Grenada”.

As a result of the new development coming out of the US District Court of Southern California, the NDC posed the following questions:

“Did the Prime Minister receive any benefits in cash or in kind on behalf of the Government of Grenada from Mr. Charles Liu, his wife or his company? Does the Prime Minister know whether or not his ministers of government or government colleagues have received any benefits in cash or kind from Mr Charles Liu, his wife or his company? We would like to know if the Prime Minister can state whether or not any public officer received any benefits in cash or kind from Mr. Charles Liu, his wife or his company?

“Can the Prime Minister state whether any members of his New National Party (NNP) has received any monies in cash or kind from Mr. Charles Liu, his wife or his company (or facilitated the receipt by any one in Grenada of any benefits in cash or kind from Mr. Charles Liu, his wife or his company?

“We would also like to know when the Prime Minister became aware of the alleged fraudulent activities of Mr. Charles Liu in the United States of America?  Can the Prime Minister state the total assets of Mr. Liu, his wife and his company now holds in Grenada and the total assets that was brought into Grenada?

“And if any other persons received benefits in cash or kind from Mr. Charles Liu, his wife or his company, what is the Prime Minister recommending to be done and we would like to know if the Prime Minister has set a time limit for the revocation of Mr. Charles Liu’s status as a Grenadian citizen and diplomat and why does Mr. Charles Liu continue to represent Grenada as a commercial attaché to seek investors for projects in Grenada?

$500,000 bail for Money Laundering

Chief Magistrate Her Honour, Tamara Gill has granted bail in the sum of $500,000 with two sureties to hotel worker, Trey Charles of Sauteurs, St. Patrick’s on four counts of money laundering by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Charles who claims to have retained the services of Attorney-at-Law, Peter David to secure his interest in the matter was brought to court on Monday before Magistrate Gill at the St. George’s No.1 Magistrate’s Court.

The Chief Magistrate ordered the accused to refrain from having any contact with the witnesses in the case, and to report to the South St. George Police Station every Monday and Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The senior magistrate read the charges to Charles although he was not required to plead, as they were laid indictable.

The hotel worker is accused of committing money laundering at Grand Anse, St. George’s between November 20th 2015 and February 24th 2016 in the sum of $23,631.50.

The FIU also charged Charles with stealing $25, 632, which is the property of Renata Crowe in the Town of St. George between November 18th 2015 and February 15th 2016.

The hotel worker also faces another crime related to an incident that allegedly took place between November 18th 2015 and February 23rd 2016 at Melville Street in the Town of St. George.

Charles is accused of committing money laundering by using the sum of $25,632.25.

He is also accused of stealing from Renata Crowe $26,131.06 at Grand Anse, St. George’s between November 28th 2015 and February 23rd 2016.

The tall and lanky Charles used his height to shield himself between other prisoners to get away from the media covering the court.

He is due back in court on February 2nd, 2017.

Eating the right food!!!

Preschoolers can be picky eaters and its perfectly normal for 3,4 or 5 year olds to favour some foods, while hating others. It is however important to note that children at this age require high amounts of energy and nutrients to complement their continued growth and development.

Preschoolers can eat from the family pot, so family meals should feature a variety of healthy foods from all 6 food groups. A young child’s eating plan should consist mostly of healthy foods like staples, such as whole grains, whole-wheat bread and cereals, peas, beans and nuts.

Fish, lean meats, poultry, at least two servings of dairy products daily like milk and eggs, fruits, dark green leafy and yellow vegetables. Ensure that your preschooler gets sufficient intake of iron and calcium as is required for optimal growth. Iron helps muscle function, energy creation, and brain development.

Calcium is a must-have nutrient in children’s diets because it’s a key building block for strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Preschoolers can be given treats, but junk foods like cookies or candies should be limited and kept out of the house to reduce temptation. Don’t go overboard by banning these foods as children can become intensely attracted to forbidden foods. Some go-to snack options are sandwiches, well-cooked vegetables and low-fat dip, yogurt, crackers and cheese, fruit smoothies or popcorn.

It’s not too early to help your child achieve a healthy weight. Don’t overfeed or force your child to eat if he or she is refusing to continue eating after having a few bites. Don’t expect children to clean their plates; as some day’s appetite may be less than others.

Serve appropriate portion sizes, but do not expect your child to always eat everything you serve. Children will eat smaller amounts than teenagers or adults. It is okay if your child does not eat everything on his or her plate. At this age, they should learn to know when they are full. If your child is picky, it’s ok to encourage trying new foods but don’t pressure them.

Remember you want your child to love and enjoy eating, not be scared of it. The taste, smell and appearance of food influence how much your child will eat.

Limit processed food and sugary drinks as these can lead to cavities and unhealthy weight gain. The best drinks are water and milk. Milk provides calcium and Vitamin D. Ice-cream is ok once in a while, it should not be given every day.

Whole, fresh fruit is the better option to fruit juice, even if its 100% juice. If juice is to be given, make it 100% juice and limit it to 5 oz or less per day. It is best to serve juice with a meal, as juice is more likely to cause cavities when served between meals.

When making your own food choices, think of the old saying. “Monkey see, monkey do.” Never forget that your little ones love to mimic adults and they will mirror your eating habits, good or bad. So if you want your child to accept baked potatoes instead of fries, and to prefer milk to sugary soft drinks. Then you must do the same.

(The above reflects the views of the Grenada Food & Nutrition Council)

New referendum writs issued

The Management and Staff of the St. George’s Branch for two consecutive weekends gave up their personal time, in a continued spirit of volunteerism to refurbish the Pediatric Ward at the St. George’s General Hospital.

Republic Bank’s Staff continues to shine, beyond the banking halls

Republic Bank’s Staff continues to shine, beyond the banking halls

Approximately 40 staff members and their families spent time painting, repairing shelves, furniture and cots, in an effort to give the ward a new look.

New utensils and cutlery were also purchased for the pantry.

This initiative was completed at a cost of$10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Dollars).

This latest project comes on the heels of two other Branch community projects.

Almost the entire staff of Carriacou Branch, with support from the PTA of the Mt. Pleasant Pre-School completed the refurbishment of the school at a cost of $7,500.00 (seven thousand five hundred dollars).

The works included major repairs to the roof and painting of the building, among other things.

Only last month, the Belle Vue Community Library in St. David, received much-needed renovations in the form of replacement of all doors and windows, tiling and painting of both the interior and exterior walls.

_mg_9891rThis work was completed by the Bank’s Management Team and the Staff at Republic House Branch, in collaboration with The SSU fitness Club of St. David’s.

Republic Bank expended $23,000.00 (twenty three thousand dollars) towards this project.

Republic Bank continues to give back to the communities it serves, through its Power to Make a Difference Programme, which is founded on four pillars – the power to Care, the Power to Help, the Power to Learn and the Power to Succeed.

Through the Bank’s Corporate Volunteerism programme, members of staff select Community projects that would meaningfully impact lives, and volunteer their personal time and skill to develop and improve our society.

The Hospital project completes the list of successful projects for the Bank’s fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2016, at a total cost of $48,000.00 (Forty Eight Thousand Dollars).

Earlier this year, the Tivoli Community’s Hard Court was refurbished by volunteer work from the Staff at Grenville and Sauteurs Branches.

Shooting at Dash Fete

Another member of the Royal Grenada Police Force is at the centre of a shooting incident involving a mentally challenged person 25-year old Kendon Joseph of Mt. Airy, St. George’s.

The shooting incident took place at the St. Paul’s Community Centre last Sunday night at an appreciation fete held in honour of Grenada’s 2016 Groovy King Shondell “Dash” Amada.

A well-placed source told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the incident occurred after lawmen responded to a call from the fete for assistance following a fracas in which Joseph who was openly brandishing a cutlass attacked the crowd.

The source said several people were seen scampering away and seeking refuge from the attacker.

There are reports that the policemen at first contained themselves and did not use their firearms on the young man who apparently was in a berserk state of mind.

According to the source, the lawmen failed in their quest to restrain and subdue Joseph who had already injured one person believed to be his brother who received a number of chop wounds as he attempted to bring him under control.

The source said that one of the officers was forced to draw his service revolver and shot him.

The injured man who received two gunshot wounds was rushed to the St. George’s General Hospital in police vehicle TAK 516.

This is the third shooting incident involving Police Officers and civilians in less than four weeks.

On September 24, bus conductor Chris “Coolie” Hinds of Springs, St. George’s was shot by a member of the Drug Squad, Gabriel “Amos” Andrew over a love squabble, and on October 4, Daniel “Ching” Gilbert of Mt. Craven who was described as mentally challenged was fatally shot by a police officer of the Sauteurs Police Station.

Rights Bill placed under the microscope

Another effort was made over the past weekend to enlighten Grenadians on the controversial “Rights and Freedom” Bill which is causing a stir on the island due to concerns that it promotes same-sex relations.

The Grenada Bar Association (GBA) has teamed up with the Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW) and other members of Civil Society Organisations on Saturday in a Town Hall Meeting at the Grenada National Stadium where a number of presentations relating to the Bill were given.

Referred to as Bill No.6, the “Rights and Freedoms” bill seeks to expand the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals to guarantee equality and equal treatment for all persons irrespective of their colour, creed, disability, ethnicity, language, place of birth, place of origin, political opinions, race, religion, sex or social class, and guarantee gender equity and equal opportunities to both male and female, among others.

The religious community in particular has expressed fears that the bill in its present form can result in gays and lesbians using it to promote same sex marriages.According to GBA President, Anande Trotman-Joseph, wife of legal advisor to Parliament, Dr. Lawrence Joseph, the postponement of the referendum from October 27 to November 24 has given them time to engage in further education of the public on the bill.

Trotman-Joseph said when the change in the date for the Constitutional Referendum was announced GBA was honest with itself and accepted that there were many more persons “to be touched” by the public education efforts.

She noted that the lawyers’ group was part of the reform exercise with members of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), and had heard some of the questions coming from the electorate concerning the Rights Bill.

“We want to put in context, we want to clarify it (Bill No.6), we want to interrogate it in a very rationale way,” she said.

Trotman-Joseph encouraged members of the audience to truly vote with their consciences when they participate in the process on referendum day.

The audience had the opportunity to receive three different perspectives of the controversial Bill from Presbyterian Minister, Rev. Osbert James, Attorney-at-Law Claudette Joseph, and Chairman of CRAC, Dr. Francis Alexis.

Trucks using Camerhogne Park

The Committee to Save Camerhogne Park has expressed grave concerns over the use of the roadway along the park by heavy duty equipment and trucks to collect debris from the adjacent old Riviera Hotel.

Committee Chairman, Senator Raey Roberts said the group is very suspicious about the use of the roadway at this time considering that there is an established main entrance into the old Riviera Hotel, which was used earlier this year by several heavy duty trucks to dump tons and tons of earth on the property.

According to Roberts, the committee believes that there is a systematic plan afoot by the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and the developers to dismantle the park.

He noted that the vendors were first chased away from the park, followed by the disappearance of the welcome sign at the entrance of Camerhogne Park along with several others.

The Chairman said the committee hopes that this use of the park’s roadway does not set a precedent that when construction work begins, Camerhogne Park will become a site for parking trucks and storing material for the project.

An Egyptian billionaire who is said to be the main financier of the Riviera project, has so far failed to get government to hand over the park to him to incorporate it into the hotel development.

The Roberts-led committee has been spearheading public pressure on the Mitchell administration to keep its hands off the park.

Chairman Roberts feared that having these huge, heavy duty trucks, often driven recklessly, could be sending a strong psychological message of deterrence to users of the park.

He said the members of the committee will continue to monitor the situation and called on Prime Minister Mitchell to keep his promise that Camerhogne Park will not be included in the hotel project at this time.

A recent survey showed that more than 80 percent of Grenadians were opposed to Government selling the park for a hotel project development, and wanted the facility to be preserved for local use.

In August, another survey conducted by the Save Camerhogne Park Committee indicated that more than 12,000 people used the park during the school vacation and Carnival season.

A Blast From Fr. Paul

Roman Catholic Priest, Fr. Gerard Paul has called on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and the United States Charge d’Affairs to Grenada, Stephen Frahm to use their positions to help heal the nation.

Fr Gerard Paul –delivered a stinging homily that caught the eyes in the church

Fr Gerard Paul –delivered a stinging homily that caught the eyes in the church

In his hour-long sermon at the National Ecumenical Service to mark the October 25th Thanksgiving Day at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Tivoli, St. Andrew’s, Fr. Paul said he believes both Dr. Mitchell and Frahm have a very important role to play in the healing of the nation.

The Roman Catholic Cleric told the American Diplomat that the events, which took place between October 19th 1983 to November 1983 was the most painful period in Grenada’s history.

This is reference to the October 19, 1983 execution of Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and Cabinet colleagues (Unison Whiteman, Jacqueline Creft and Norris Bain) amidst a power struggle within the ruling New Jewel Movement (NJM) for control of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG).

U.S and Caribbean troops stormed the island on October 25, 1983 to topple the coup leaders headed by Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard, and included then mobilization Minister, Selwyn Strachan, Ambassador to Cuba, Leon “Bogo” Cornwall, Army Commander, General Hudson Austin, and top army officers Lieutenant-Colonels Liam James and Ewart Layne.

The coup plotters who have since returned to society were given stiff prison sentences following a trial that took place at a specially arranged court on the compound of the Richmond Hill prison.

According to Fr. Paul, the 1983 events must not just become symbolic, and a ritual that is done year after year, but must help to heal the nation.

The Homilist indicated that within the vicinity of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) there is a monument bearing the names of the 19 American soldiers who died during the intervention, but there is nothing honouring those Grenadians who would have perished in the military battle.

Fr. Gerard said the United States is itself working assiduously to heal the trauma from the deadly 9/11 terrorist strike when a plane flew into the Twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and another hit the Pentagon, just outside Washington and so too they must help Grenada to bring about the healing that is needed as they played a most vital role in what ensued.

“You two gentlemen, Dr. Keith here present with us… and the Ambassador… you have a historic role in helping us to right the wrongs of the past,” the Roman Catholic cleric remarked.

“We need some work towards genuine reconciliation. We need you Mr. Ambassador to work with Dr. Mitchell to bring back the bodies of the people who are no longer here. We need that or else don’t make a mockery of us every year saying you’re giving us a holiday” Fr. Paul said.

The bodies of Bishop and his ministers were never handed over to family members for the usual Christian burial that takes place on the island.

“Celebration for any nation is about unity and healing of the nation,” he said.

The Homilist admonished the congregation to never forget their history.

“If you don’t know where you’re coming from, how the hell you’re going to know where you going to?” he asked.

Fr. Gerard chided the people for not wanting to let their children know of their history, and to recognise their identity as Africans.

However, he indicated that the history of every nation and family is filled with great, good, triumphant things, and very bad, ugly things.

“Instead of allowing our dark past… to be a vehicle of our liberation, our past… has become and continues to be the means of our bondage and continued in slavery,” he said.

The Catholic priest stressed that the Bible is not a history book that catalogs all of the successes of the people spoken of in the various books.

He said too often people boast about God when things are in their favour without understanding that the Living God is working in the midst of what seems to be their failure.

Fr. Paul paid homage to Grenada’s first Prime Minister, Sir Eric Gairy whom he said has a wealth of history.

He said there are heroes in Grenada who must be allowed to inspire the nation.

Bishop’s left-leaning NJM had toppled the elected labour party government of Sir Eric on March 13, 1979 in the first coup d’etat in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Fr. Gerard called on Minister of Education, Anthony Boatswain to lead the charge in having the history of Grenada be rewritten, and to review the education programme at the school level.

Vote yes on Referendum Day

Who remembers the story of Henny-Penny and Turkey-Lurkey? The popular children’s story goes – Henny Penny was walking down the road when an acorn falls on his head. He concludes that the sky is falling and frantically starts spreading the news, creating panic and attracting an ever-growing string of animals in his chorus – Turkey-Lurkey being one of them. In the end, they all get eaten by a fox, who lures them away into a den under the promise of safety.

They say life imitates art. This is true; at least in the context of constitutional reform in Grenada and some of the stories that are being spun.

Devon Rachae (I don’t know what hit him on his head) jumped up proclaiming skyfall. The Bill of Rights he says on Facebook, is a “sinister plan” to introduce gay marriage through a “loophole” – which he does not specify.

He says that the full-gospel churches have unanimously agreed to vote “no” on the Rights and Freedoms Bill and that “we can’t all be wrong on this”. YES YOU CAN.

Religious leaders are not immune to fallacy, neither does consensus make them right. “We can’t all be wrong” is known in philosophy as the ‘argumentum ad populum’ (argument from popularity), a fallacious argument that concludes that something is true because many or most people believe it.

“We can’t all be wrong about the earth being at the center of the universe” (said religious leaders in the 17th century). So sure were they in their consensus, that Galileo Galilei, the father of modern physics who argued that it was the sun and not the earth at the center of the universe, was imprisoned for life. Today we accept Galileo’s proposition as absolute truth.

Like Turkey-Lurkey, Kem Jones, an NDC activist, hears the commotion and joins the chorus, even adding his 2 cents, pointing menacingly at the gender equality provisions, saying on his Facebook page that they “promote homosexuality” – he too doesn’t specify.

I suspect that Jones, an aspiring political commentator for the opposition, wishes to frustrate the reform process so that the NNP can’t claim it as part of their political legacy.

I suspect that Rachae, an aspiring pastor-man, wishes to build pastor-man legitimacy; to whip up fervour in the same way DJ’s do at parties when the vibes is dry.

The tactic is the same – condemn homosexuals; appeal to an ever receding pocket of ignorance about sexual minorities. It’s a self-serving and dangerous exercise of power.

So what exactly is the ‘Bill of Rights’ and what is being proposed? The Bill of Rights is that part of the constitution which expressly sets out the rights we have, as well as the mechanisms for getting justice when those rights are violated.

The proposed reforms seek to strengthen the human rights protections which people currently enjoy. Namely, they:-

(1). Include ‘disability’, ‘religion’, ‘gender’, ‘ethnicity’ and ‘social class’ into the prohibited categories of discrimination. As the amendment bill makes clear, the changes will bring our constitution in line with the CARICOM Charter of Social Rights, which Grenada, along with every other CARICOM country has already committed to.

(2). Expressly guarantee freedom of the press as part of the wider right to freedom of expression.

(3). Make limitations on human rights subject to due process of the law. i.e they say that people’s rights can only be interfered with in the public interest where that interference is non-arbitrary in substance and fair in process.

(4). Expressly protect people’s rights to their intellectual property – songs, drawings, rolly-polly dance,… I dunno, etc

(5). Expressly guarantee the right of a person who is arrested or detained to communicate with their lawyer

(6). Expressly guarantee equality before the law and equal protection of the law for all people

(7). Introduce a right to be treated ‘humanely’ as well as ‘equally’ by all government institutions

(8). Expressly guarantee the equality of all children, including those born out of wedlock.

(9). Expressly guarantee special entitlements to disabled children

(10). Expressly guarantee a right of all children to a publicly funded education

(11). Expressly guarantee a right to vote

Rachae, Jones and others promoting a No Vote would rather see ALL of these benefits down the gutter; would rather see disabled people, children, women, ethnic minorities, poor people and religious people, stay without the benefit of these protections, than in their view, admit any possibility that homosexuals could get rights.

A friend in a facebook post calls this “the most unchristian thing (she has) ever seen”.

The proposed amendments (Chapter 1B), introduce measures to recognise and protect the equality of women with men.

The first thing to note is that the amendment is careful to define the key terms in ways which prevent the provisions from being used to extend rights to homosexuals.

‘Gender’ is defined as “the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, male and female” and ‘gender equality’ “reflects the view that men and women should receive equal treatment and should not be discriminated against based on gender”.

In other words Gender does not refer to gender identity or sexual orientation and gender equality does not mean anything other than equality between men and women.

The drafters of the bill were keen to ensure that the sections can’t be used to win rights for LGBT people. Perhaps they anticipated and tried to pre-empt the kind of self-righteous panic that still came, despite their efforts.

Definitions aside, let’s look at what the gender equality proposals actually say. They guarantee, as between men and women:-

(1). Equal rights and status in all aspects of life, but especially in economic, educational, political, civic and social activities

(2). Equal access to academic, vocational and professional training; and equal opportunities in employment and promotion

(3). Equal pay

(4). Equal access to justice

(5). Equal opportunities to be elected or appointed to public office and to be eligible for appointment to positions of decision-making bodies at all levels of the society

(6). The right to equal legal protection; including just and effective remedies, against domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

They Also:-

(1). Protect women from being discriminated against by reason of pregnancy or marital status

(2). Encourage the state to domesticate treaties promoting gender equality

(3). Encourage parliament to pass laws to correct inequalities between men and women

(4). Encourage political parties to promote gender equality; including by appointing more women to key positions like the House of Representatives, Senate, etc.

Maybe the importance of constitutional gender equality provisions isn’t obvious. A 2015 Global Study by the World Economic Forum places the Caribbean behind most other regions in gender equality. We only surpass 2 regions – Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East and North Africa – nothing to boast about.

Grenada does not feature individually in this study. Grenada does however feature individually in another study conducted by the Royal Commonwealth Society in 2011. Here, Grenada ranks 23rd (in the Commonwealth – not the world).

Compared to other CARICOM countries, we fall behind Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, St. Lucia, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, The Bahamas, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Belize (in order of ranking).

In other words, for gender equality, Grenada is one of the worst performing CARICOM countries and the 2nd to last worst performing OECS country. Given this reality, one would think that people would jump, clap and catch the spirit for the gender equality proposals; instead of encouraging people to reject them, but alas.

Let Henny-Penny and Turkey-Lurkey beat their bells and bawl. Please, PLEASE, don’t join their bacchanal. Don’t be lured into the den of foolishness, under the promise of safety. The sky isn’t falling.

Get the information for yourself at www.grenadaconstitutionreform.com.

Vote yes on Referendum Day 27th October 2016 and strengthen human rights protections in Grenada. Vote yes and affirm the equal rights of women.

Richie Maitland

Editor’s Note: The new date set for the Referendum is November 24, 2016

Dr. Osbert James: “Homosexual practices is not criminal”

Head of the Presbyterian Church in Grenada, Dr. Osbert James has said that he does not see homosexual practice as being a criminal act.

Rev. James – interesting comments on  homosexuality

Rev. James – interesting comments on
homosexuality

Dr. James made the statement while participating in a Town Hall Meeting last week Saturday at the Grenada National Stadium.

He was speaking on the topic: “Is Christianity a Gospel of inclusion?” which looked at the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

“Our argument is that homosexual practice though in our view is immoral, it is not criminal”, he told the gathering.

“It is not inconsistent if some of us, while advocating for the decriminalisation of sex between two consenting adults, while at the same time would refer to homosexual practice as something prohibited in scripture,” he said.

The Presbyterian Minister noted that the denominations of the church in North America with which they have fraternal relationships, including the United Church of Canada for a number of years have been pushing for gay rights, and have gay ministers, and recently made it possible for gays to be married.

However, he said the Presbyterian Church in Grenada is a fully autonomous body and its practices will, to a large degree, reflect the religious culture or context in which it is operating.

He told the audience that when he came out in defense of Senator Chester Humphrey, an avowed communist and atheist being elected to the post of President of the Senate last year, his views were informed by his religious heritage.

The local Religious Minister said his theology is essentially a relational one, and founded in an understanding of love as a pre-eminent impulse of God, adding that the Presbyterian Church does not indoctrinate its members.

“When I speak, therefore, I express not the views of the Presbyterian Church, but my own views,” he said.

Rev. James threw his full support behind the controversial “Rights and Freedoms” Bill on the grounds that he does not see the loopholes some are claiming it has, adding that even if it did the Church and State are separate entity.

The Alliance of Evangelical Churches (AEC) has urged its members to vote “no” on the Rights Bill out of concern that persons engaged in same sex activities might seek to use it to officially formalise their relationships.

Attorney-at-law, Claudette Joseph who has been very critical of the Rights Bill, believes the legislation “opens the door” to allow for members of the LGBT Community to have certain constitutional rights.

“While I believe that the Bill opens the door for the assertion of certain rights by members of the LGBT Community, there is nothing in the Bill that gives the right to persons of the same sex to be married to each other,” she said.

According to Joseph, her main contention with the promoters of the controversial bill is that there is a tendency to highlight certain aspects of the piece of legislation and not others.

The female attorney informed the audience that the Bill does not only cover the chapter on gender equality, but three segments – the expansion and refinement of the existing “Rights and Freedoms” under the existing constitution, the directive principles of State policy, and gender equality.

She stressed that the chapter dealing with gender equality is being promoted to expand the rights of women.

“When the Bill is being promoted, the public must be given full disclosure so that when they vote they know exactly what they’re voting for. When you vote on this Bill you must know that it’s a Bill containing three chapters but you have one vote,” she said.

Chairman of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) Dr. Francis Alexis threw his support behind Rev. James on the Rights Bill..

In endorsing James presentation, Dr. Alexis said, “there is no loophole in this Bill, No.6 letting anything harmful to our society.”

The CRAC Chairman indicated that within the Bill there will be gender equality, and both men and women are entitled to equal rights and status in all spheres of life, among others.