GOVERNMENT PLANS TRADE MISSION TO CUBA—04/18/15
The Jamaican government plans to send representatives of 18 companies in the private sector on a trade mission to Cuba. The goal of the mission is for these representatives to meet with their Cuban counterparts to discuss partnership potential. According to William Mahfood, directors of a large Jamaican distribution and manufacturing firm, wants to find new economic opportunities in Cuba now that Cuba and the United States have decided to normalize their relations.
MANY CHILDREN MURDERED IN JAMAICA IN 2015—04/19/15
Official data indicated that at least 24 children in Jamaica were murdered in the first month of 2015. Two months later, police sources reported that at least 30 children were murdered on the island since January. The official murder count in Jamaica is 312 since the beginning of the year, which represents an increase of 1.1 percent over 2014 totals. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said she was sad that “such wickedness” has become a part of Jamaica’s reality.
SENTENCES REDUCED FOR CRIMINALS PLEADING GUILTY EARLY—04/20/15
Provisions in the Criminal Justice Act, which are under governmental review, would allow criminal defendants who plead guilty early in the legal process to receive reductions in their sentences of up to 40 percent. To take advantage of the law, defendants must plead guilty by the “first relevant date,” which is the first date the individual is brought to court following receipt of appropriate disclosure from the prosecution. Criminals who plead guilty after that date but before trial begins can see sentences reduced by 15 to 35 percent.
WILLIAMS WANTS FLOGGING REINSTATED AS PUNISHMENT FOR CRIMINALS—04/21/15
The colonel of the Accompong Maroons, Ferron Williams, wants the practice of flogging reinstated as punishment for criminals and individuals expressing “anti-social behavior.” According to Williams, Accompong should not be bound by Jamaican law because it is a state within a state that follows its own customs. Jamaica abolished flogging as judicial punishment in 2013.
UNIVERSITY PLANTS FIRST LEGAL POT SEEDLING—04/22/15
The University of the West Indies, Mona, the largest university in Jamaica, planted the first legal marijuana seedling in the country during a symbolic planting ceremony. The planting occurred a few days after amendments to drug laws implemented the partial decriminalization of the drug. In 2014, the university signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a nonprofit in Colorado to partner in performing research related to marijuana. The Jamaican government is developing a cannabis licensing authority to facilitate the creation of a legal medical marijuana industry.
U.S. NAVY WILL PROVIDE MEDICAL SERVICES WHILE ON VISIT—04/23/15
Jamaica’s Minister of Health Dr. Fenton Ferguson and Luis G. Moreno, the United States Ambassador to Jamaica, announced that the United States Navy ship “Comfort” is scheduled to visit the island in early May 2015. While in Jamaica, the crew of the ship will provide health care services, participate in medical exchanges, and be involved with community outreach. The Comfort’s visit is an indication of the strong partnership that exists between Jamaica and the U.S., said Ferguson.
MCNEIL WELCOMES CHINESE CRUISE SHIP VISITORS—04/24/15
Dr. Wykeham McNeil, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, was very happy to welcome the largest group of Chinese tourists to visit the island in history. He expressed his excitement that the Chinese had chosen Jamaica as their Caribbean destination. About 1,000 Chinese vacationers visited Ocho Rios in St. Ann one of the ports of call on the Chinese ship “Costa Atlantica” as it cruises around the world.
PRIMARY SCHOOL RECEIVES NEEDED FACILITIES FROM DIGICEL—04/24/15
Bunkers Hill Primary School in Clarendon now has bathrooms and a new water tank thanks to Digicel. The company helped the school upgrade their facilities, having used pit latrines since it opened in 1972. Albert Anderson, a former student at the school, reached out to Digicel after hearing of the firm’s donation of similar facilities to Rodney Hall Basic School in Portland. Digicel also provided a 60-galloin water tank to help with the school’s water insecurity.