Police investigates Sunday morning fire

An abandoned building on Simmons Street in St. George’s that once belonged to the island’s former Attorney General, Derek Knight has been destroyed by fire during the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Bachelor’s Hall, the former residence of Derick Knights engulfed in flames

A police spokesman told THE NEW TODAY that in recent times the run-down building was taken over by vagrants.

Information reaching this newspaper indicate that firemen observed the blaze from their base on The Carenage and arrived on the scene of the fire at around 3:25 a.m.

According to Head of the Fire Department, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Glenroy Corion, the fire response team was able to contain the fire within an hour’s time.

Asp. Corion confirmed on Monday that the abandoned building is often used by vagrants, who go there to engage in all kinds of activities and investigators have not ruled out the possibility that one of the individuals lit a fire, which went out of control.

The police officer confirmed that no one was injured in the fire, however, he was not in a position to say what actually caused the blaze.

Police investigations continues into the cause of the fire on the property, which was a crime scene approximately seven (7) years ago, when a young woman was allegedly murdered and dismembered there.

IS GFA OWING OVER EC$200,000 IN LEGAL FEES?

Roderick “Rado” Griffith – finally gets his day in court

The Grenada Football Association (GFA) may owe over $200, 000, in legal fees to a local female attorney-at-law.

Information reaching THE NEW TODAY is that the President of the Grenada Football Association (GFA) Cheney Joseph hired a female attorney to represent him in a court matter involving one of his colleagues Roderick “Rado” Griffith in connection with an incident dating back to May 2013.

It is understood that at the end of the case the court ordered Joseph to apologise to Griffith in writing, as well as pay compensation to him in a sum that is not known to this newspaper.

THE NEW TODAY also understands that the same female attorney was also retained by Joseph to serve as the GFA lawyer and is now requesting to be paid over EC$200, 000 in outstanding legal fees.

Information reaching THE NEW TODAY is that the GFA has been reluctant to pay the monies requested by the female attorney and asked her for a breakdown of the legal work that was done.

Cheney Joseph – was ordered to issue an apology

When contacted via telephone on Monday, the GFA President refused to answer questions put to him on the issue by THE NEW TODAY.

“You should be speaking to her (the attorney) about that”, he quipped.

“I am not interested in speaking to you about any news…you seem like a very controversial person”, said Joseph before rudely hanging up his phone.

Attempts by this newspaper to contact the attorney in question for a comment on the issue up until press time on Monday proved futile.

THE NEW TODAY understands that some executive members of GFA are looking for persons to assist them in probing the $200, 000.00 legal fee bill submitted by the female barrister.

Tourism Authority statement on the passing of Ian Da Breo

The Chairman, Board of Directors, Management and Staff of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Ian Da Breo following his recent passing.

The late Ian DaBreo was a prominent person in the local tourism sector

Mr. Da Breo served as a member of the Board of Directors in 2014 at the inception of the GTA as well as a member of the Human Resource Committee from 2014 to August 2018.

He also served as Director on the Board for several years with the former Grenada Board of Tourism (GBT).

Additionally, Mr. Da Breo served as a Director of the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) for over 12 years up to the time of his passing and as President from 2010 to 2015.

It was under his tenure that Grenada received funding from Compete Caribbean to develop the brand, “Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean”, which is marketed worldwide by the GTA today.

With his passion for his country, Mr. Da Breo has certainly left his mark on the tourism industry in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique both as a stalwart hotelier and business leader. He will be truly missed and may his soul rest in peace.

INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED INTO MISUSE OF SOLID WASTE FUNDS

Dr Bert Brathwaite – promised an investigation into the credit card allegation

Yet another state-owned body under the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell could be under a dark cloud with suspicion of corruption.

THE NEW TODAY has been reliable informed that funds from the Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority were used to facilitate a trip to a country in Europe by a prominent figure of the ill-fated 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.

This follows closely on the heels of a probe being undertaken by the Integrity Commission into alleged massive wrong-doing at the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) during the tenure of former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ruel Edwards and the governing board headed by Samuel Andrew.

A well-placed source told this newspaper that the credit card of the Solid Waste Authority was allegedly used to purchase airline tickets from a local travel agency for the top revolutionary figure and his wife to make the overseas trip within the last six months of the year.

He said that the credit card was also allegedly used to pay for other expenses related to the overseas trip such as hotel accommodation and meals.

The former Revolutionary figure is not known to be an employee of the Solid Waste Authority.

Health Minister Nickolas Steele – the line minister for the Solid Waste Authority

THE NEW TODAY contacted newly installed Chairman of the Board of Directors of the authority, medical doctor Bert Brathwaithe who indicated that he was not aware of the issue but did promise to look into it.

However, the Chairman of the Solid Waste Authority admitted that no permission was granted by the board for any such financial transaction with its funds if indeed it took place.

The paper complied with a request made by Dr. Brathwaite to write him officially about the alleged incident in order for him to investigate the matter.

Five specific questions were sent to the Solid Waste Chairman in relation to the unfolding story of the alleged unauthorised use of the finances of the authority to facilitate the trip by the former revolutionary figure.

On Monday morning, Dr. Brathwaite sent an email message to THE NEW TODAY acknowledging receipt of the questions.

He said: “This is to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail dated 28th December, 2018. Kindly be advised that the matter that you raised will be investigated”.

Health Minister Nicholas Steele who is the line minister for the Solid Waste Authority did not answer any of the numerous calls made to his cellphone.

THE NEW TODAY also contacted a person of interest at the Solid Waste Authority for comment Monday on the issue and she requested that the questions be put in writing and this was complied with by this newspaper.

Aerial view of St. George’s landfill

The responses sent to our News Desk at 2. 20 p.m Monday by the Solid Waste employee to the three questions submitted by THE NEW TODAY were “False”, “False” and “Utterly False”.

THE NEW TODAY was also able to solicit a response to the allegation from the person at the centre of the alleged misuse of the funds belonging to the state body through his local attorney-at-law.

He described it as “false, baseless utterances of a wounded soul consumed with hate and malice”.

Speculation is rife about a deepening relationship existing between the Mitchell-led government and the hardline faction of the Grenada Revolution that was blamed for the execution of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in a bloody palace coup on October 19, 1983 at Fort George.

Former army Captain Peter David, considered as a loyalist of the anti-Bishop camp, currently serves as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Labour in the NNP regime.

Retired trade unionist, Chester Humphrey, considered as among persons who voted for the Joint Leadership proposal put forward by the anti-Bishop faction in 1983 that led to the bitter infighting among the revolutionaries, is now holding the third most prominent position in the country of President of the Senate.

After Humphrey and David were expelled from the Congress party in September 2012 for anti-party activities, the two joined forces with Prime Minister Mitchell and his NNP under the banner of “Project Grenada”.

GRENADIANS URGED TO BE MORE TOLERANT WITH THE MENTALLY ILL

“You mad, she crazy, he tripping.”

Melinda Blaise as she addressed the December 10 Human Rights Day forum at Norton Hall

According to American Mental Health Specialist, Melinda Blaise, “these are the kinds of local terms that we often hear people saying when folks are talking about mental illness,” which she noted comes in “more than 200 classified forms including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, often leading to changes in mood, personality, personal habits and often leads to social withdrawal.”

In addressing a forum last December at Norton Hall on Church Street, marking the 70th International Human Rights Day celebrations, which is recognised annually on December 10th, Blaise, an American Peace Corp, called for Grenadians to “do their part in becoming more tolerant in an effort to destigmatise mental illness” and make it easier to deal with.

“The stigma of mental illness makes it difficult for us to treat it and take it seriously,” said Blaise, pointing out that “Grenadians have seen example after example of individuals who display mental illness symptoms in the work place, schools, on the streets and often times, instead of reaching out, many in the public make fun of them, berate them and even post on social media, where we further stigmatise those same individuals.”

She noted that “mental illness or mental disorders, like any other illness, is not a choice (but) are due to chemical imbalances in the brain and initiates a variety of symptoms…causing mild to severe disturbances in thought and behaviour making it difficult to cope with life’s daily demands and routines.”

She expressed the view that “here in (the) Grenadian society, as well as a number of societies, we like to think that mental illness is something that someone has chosen or some spirit has entered them or something else is going on… but like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, mental illness is a biological response in the body”.

According to the mental health specialist, in light of the stigmatisation faced by someone suffering from mental illness, the World Mental Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018 commemorated World Mental Health Day, which is recognised on October 10th each year, by focusing their campaign on some of the most vulnerable when it comes to the topic of mental illness, the youth.

Blaise referenced the WHO report, which indicated that “half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 but most of the cases go undetected and untreated.”

Additionally, she said, “WHO insists that much can be done to help build mental resilience from an early age (and) to help prevent mental distress and illness among adolescents and young adults, to (help them) manage and recover from mental illness.”

“(WHO) says, prevention begins with being aware and understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness,” Blaise said, pointing to further WHO research, which “implies that investment by governments and the involvement of the social health education sectors and comprehensive integrated evidence-based programme for the mental health of young people is essential.

She also said that WHO went on to “access that these investments should be linked to programmes to raise awareness on ways to look after the mentally ill and to help peers, parents and teachers to know how to support friends, children and students”.

“So as we can see the issue of mental illness is a challenging one for Grenada as in many other countries,” she said, however, noted that a “lack of coordinated resources,” is what makes the issue even more relevant for us in country”.

“Let us take a first stand today by drawing the line in the sand when it comes to dealing with mental illness and all of those who are impacted which could be anyone of us.

“Let us all do our part by becoming more tolerant and destigmatising mental illness and its disorder. Showing tolerance of each other and caring for each other is what makes us human.

“Let us show respect and encourage the dignity of persons who when vulnerable cannot do so for themselves. Let us be united in the strengthening of this nation’s mental resilience from young to old…let us all pledge this today on this International Human Rights day.

ONLY 14 CASES COMPLETED IN OCTOBER ASSIZES

It was a slow grind for the October 2018 Criminal Assizes which closed in December with only 14 cases completed out of the more than 139 matters that were listed for adjudication.

As the backlog of cases mount, the majority of the cases that were not heard in the recent sitting will be traversed to the upcoming January 2019 Assizes.

Court officials have said that the situation was not helped with the unexpected disruption in the justice system in May last year, brought on by challenges posed by radiation at the LIME building on The Carenage in St. George’s, which at that time housed the island’s four (4) High Courts; two (2) criminal courts (High Court No. 2 & 5) and two (2) civil courts (High Court No. 3 & 4).

The authorities were forced to close the courts and to find a temporary solution with the use of a section of the Parliament building at Mt. Wheldale and the Trade Centre Annex, which facilitated a criminal court and a civil court.

The criminal high court sat for only 44 working days before holding the closing ceremony, which was attended by a host of jurors but was poorly attended by members of the local bar.

One of the few lawyers in attendance, Attorney-at-Law George Prime, in addressing the gathering, acknowledged the hardships faced by lawyers but was sympathetic also to the prisoners who are also being affected by the high court crisis.

“Yes, (there is) hardship for lawyers but hardship for people in the prison too,” the criminal defense attorney stated, making the point that equally affected, are the prisoners at the Richmond Hill Prison who would have already entered a plea or were found guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

“And they are there (just) up at the prison waiting, while the wheels of justice rolls,” he said, noting that there are currently “406 inmates” at the overcrowded prison, “12 who are sleeping on the ground.”

How do you explain that? He asked, further pointing out that there are as much as “five (5) men (inmates) sleeping in one (1) room,” at the prison.

Time and time again some lawyers and inmates alike have voiced concerns that the conditions at the prison are deplorable and are in violation of the human rights of these inmates.

Attorney Prime expressed the view that “the public deserves better than that.”

Additionally, he was not optimistic that “we would have a new court by December 31st, 2018,” as requested by the President of the bar, Lisa Taylor in discussions with state officials.

Speaking on the unexpected closure of the high courts in a recent interview with THE NEW TODAY, another affected lawyer, Jerry Edwin, from the law firm of Eden Law Chambers explained that “access to courts is a key article in the United Nationals Universal Declarations of Human Rights, 1948.

“The closure of courts is also a violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,” Attorney Edwin said, adding “and we see it in the decision of the Court of Appeal recently, when they let a man go because his appeal could not be heard”.

Attorney Edwin recalled that the inmate served his sentence but “couldn’t get his transcripts for his appeal to be heard”.

“We have that crisis in Grenada (and) this is a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, word has not been forthcoming from government about whether or not all the high courts will be facilitated when the January 2019 assizes begins.

However, a number of matters have been scheduled for sentencing on January 18, before Justice Gilford at the St. George’s No. 1 High Court.

The credit card scam

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority, Dr. Bert Brathwaite on Monday officially informed staffers at the state-controlled body that an investigation will be launched into allegations of misuse of the funds of the enterprise.

Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Dr. Brathwaite met with staffers at the head office of Solid Waste at the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) compound at the Frequente Industrial Park at Grand Anse in St. George’s.

He said that the Chairman informed staffers that he had received a query from THE NEW TODAY newspaper about the unauthorised usage of the two credit cards belonging to the state entity. (See front page story).

According to the source, the Chairman requested print outs concerning the usage of the credit cards in recent months to ascertain whether the allegations brought to his attention had any truth in them.

He said that while Dr. Brathwaite was addressing staffers his cellphone rang, he looked at it and indicated to staffers that it was a call from a particular employee of THE NEW TODAY who was apparently trying to reach him on the allegation making the rounds.

The Solid Waste Chairman did not take the call.

However, this newspaper was told that there were looks of anxiety and discomfort on the faces of some staff members as the Chairman spoke about his intention to get at the bottom of the so-called credit card scandal.

He reportedly dropped hints that he would be inclined to approach the two commercial banks issuing the credit cards for use by the Solid Waste as part of the probe into the alleged misuse of the funds of the state corporation.

One of the two credit cards is reportedly assigned to the Public Relations department of the authority for use in purchasing promotional items and the other is assigned to the Office of the General Manager to carry out other functions for Solid Waste.

THE NEW TODAY was also told that after the staff meeting, a number of documents were allegedly destroyed by the use of a shredding machine on the compound.

It is not known if any of the documents allegedly destroyed are related to the credit card statements.

Dr. Brathwaite is said to have spent most of Monday on the compound of Solid Waste engaged in several meetings.

GOVERNMENT REPEALS AND AMENDS VARIOUS FINANCIAL LEGISLATION TO MAINTAIN INTERNATIONAL GOOD STANDING

Parliamentarians in Grenada have repealed and amended various pieces of legislation as part of efforts to ensure that the country maintains compliance with standards enforced by the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Grenada like other islands in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union and the world have been seeking to conform to the new standards to avoid being blacklisted.

Global standards instituted by the OECD seek to promote integrity in the global tax system by reducing tax evasion, tax avoidance, money laundering and terrorist financing.

An assessment of Grenada by the EU Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation found that six of the country’s tax regimes are considered harmful in that they offer incentives such as income tax exemptions to companies that are not domiciled in Grenada. In other words, they are seen as offering preferential tax treatment to non-residents which is considered a discriminatory practice.

Although the laws in question are not popularly practiced, to address the findings and ensure compliance with international practices, Government therefore moved to repeal the International Companies Act, the International Insurance Act and the Offshore Banking Act.

Respectively, these acts provide for the incorporation of international companies, distinguishable from companies incorporated under the Companies Act; the licensing of international insurance companies which are distinguishable from those licensed under the Insurance Act and banks licensed outside of the Banking Act.

All companies affected by these repeals are permitted to continue operations until December 31, 2021.

Additionally, at the sitting of Parliament, the International Trusts Bill was also amended to prohibit the creation of any new trusts after December 31, this year while preserving pre-existing ones.

While parliamentarians supported the repeal and amendment of the various pieces of legislation out of necessity to maintain international compliance, they highlighted the unfairness of the assessments and affirmed that the tax practices are only deemed harmful because they facilitate the north to south flow of capital which goes contrary to what has traditionally taken place.

(The above was submitted by the Government Information Service)

Christmas Message of Roman Catholic Bishop of Grenada, Clyde Martin Harvey

Brothers and Sisters in our tri-island nation of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, it is my joy and privilege to greet you for the second time as Roman Catholic Bishop when we celebrate the great Christian festival commemorating the birth in human flesh of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Bishop Clyde Martin Harvey

This is the Christian feast that has taken hold of the human imagination of all peoples in all times. We Christians make the bold claim that the Divine One, not only created us, but also loved us so much that He wanted to share our human life in the Person of His Son.

The familiar words of John 3:16 ring out at this time, “God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life”. Often, we rush to the end of the verse and claim eternal life because of Jesus. I invite you this year to ponder with me the first part of the verse, “God loved the world so much that He gave his only Son.”

God trusted us with His Son, with Himself. The Creator of heaven and earth trusts us human beings with his life. The image of the woman and the child which has so captivated our human imagination across time and cultures invites us to understand that the love which God is and brings includes this awesome trust.

The woman is us. The child is God. God trusts us human beings with Himself with this world and with each other. We in turn are invited to hear the invitation to trust one another.

This Christmas I therefore invite all of us in Grenada to hear and consider that invitation to trust one another. Do we trust each other?

Trust begins in the home. When a parent leads a child by the hand to where she does not know. When confidences are shared in table talk.

When we share our dreams, foolish though they may seem, we are living trust each day as a foundation for our life in a world which often seems dangerous, if not deadly.

Trust enables us to make commitments. Many of us do not find any deep satisfaction in our life or work because we are committed to nothing.

We trust nothing, neither process nor person. The biblical story is a story of trust, trust in the God who called Abraham out of Ur and Moses from his father-in-law’s shepherding. It is the story of early Christian believers trusting one another enough to put everything one had in the hands of your community. From such trust in God and human beings came the great resilient nation of Israel and the early Christian communities in which the Spirit was powerfully manifest.

Now, some of you may well be saying that you would be crazy to trust anyone in today’s world. There is no trust without trustworthiness.

If our society is to know trust, some or even all of us must seek to become more and more trustworthy every day. We must challenge our leaders, including religious leaders, to be people whom we can trust.

Trustworthiness is conceived when I respect myself, trust myself and begin each encounter with the other with a deep respect for him or her. If my encounter begins with a desire simply to win or to use, I will not want truth or love with the other. I will seek only to manipulate and to lie. Manipulation and lies are always the work of the Evil One. That is true of the most intimate and the most mundane of my relationships, in the home or in the workplace.

If I am to be trusted, I must be trustworthy myself. If I am to find trust in my community, I must encourage others to be trustworthy in everything, great and small. If Grenada is to grow from strength to strength, we must build the next generation of trustworthy people.

So on Christmas Day, we look upon the most vulnerable of human beings and acknowledge the presence of the Divine in Him, the Child. God has trusted us with God’s very being in Jesus Christ. We are not worthy of that trust. He does it simply because He loves us. Through that trust, we come to share His life, eternal life.

We too must trust one another. We are the visible others we must love and trust as the only indicator that we truly love and trust the invisible God. So on Old Year’s Day, let us ask ourselves how we failed to love and trust one another in 2018, how we failed to be trustworthy ourselves.

Let us seek to do better in 2019 and beyond. We need trust. Our families need it. Our work environment depends on it. Grenada will not survive without it. HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a trusting and BLESSED NEW YEAR to all of you.

CHRISTMAS GREETING 2018 FROM THE OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

Fellow Grenadians and visitors alike as we celebrate yet another festive season signifying the birth of Christ, it is with pleasure that I bring you greetings of Christmas cheer from the Office of the Ombudsman.

OMBUDSMAN & STAFF

This season is a most significant one for many of us because it brings to focus all of His story from that Holy Night and His eternal message of boundless love, compassion and hope.

This occasion of giving reminds us all that we are truly our brother’s and sister’s keeper and that we should treat others as we would want to be treated.

It is also a time when we are called more than ever to care for the sick and feed the hungry; welcome the stranger, no matter where they come from or how they practice their faith. I encourage us all to pay special attention to the lonely, the unemployed, the under employed, and to all whose lives are in any way impaired.

As 2018 closes the Office of the Ombudsman will continue in its efforts to remain visible, relevant, and effective as we strive to fulfill our mandate of providing justice and fairness for the Grenadian community.

I embrace this opportunity to extend season’s greetings to Dame Cecile La Grenade, Governor General and the Government of our dear Tri-Island State, to all those who manage and staff Public Institutions, to our Civil and Religious leaders and ALL OUR PEOPLE. I wish also, to extend special greetings to our children and visitors.

May we all take time to relish the goodies, adorn each nook and corner of our homes as we live out the true spirit of Christmas and revel in the various get-togethers.

I pray that the enjoyment and festivities continue to radiate in our lives, long after Christmas is gone – indeed, throughout the coming year.

May God bless you all throughout the SEASON.