Saturday, June 24, 2017
Ministers: A significant number of Bahamians believe the following:
1. A small group of persons have been awarded rights to mine Aragonite in The Bahamas.
2. It is not widely known who those persons are.
3. The Bahamas government receives minimal taxes from their operations.
4. The private company enjoys significant revenues.
5. No other individual or company may enter the business at this time.
6. The government should exploit this resource directly for the benefit of Bahamians.
7. The uses of this resource are well known.
8. The uses of this raw material to make other products could take place in The Bahamas.
Additionally, they believe:
1. As much as 5 billion tons of sand are produced every year in The Bahamas valued at one hundred billion dollars.
2. The said sand is lost to the floor of the ocean due to oceanic waves and current movement.
3. A senior Cabinet Minister is now exploiting or is seeking to exploit this resource.
4. These issues are well known, but have not been addressed because past and present government officials are benefiting from the sale of this resource.
5. Even if the conspiracies are untrue, the government should consider how these resources might be exploited for the benefit of all Bahamians.
Frankly, I don’t know whether much of this is true, but given the loud calls by Bahamians for action and the value that is being speculated, I believe the government is obliged to address this issue as a priority. I hope you will agree with me in that regard.
Lynden R. Nairn - Facebook
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Chester Cooper says: Indeed Bahamians of all races and ethnic backgrounds - are welcome in the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP)
PERSONAL STATEMENT BY I. CHESTER COOPER
MP-Elect, Exuma & Ragged Island Constituency
May 16, 2017
While there will be much to discuss and probe in the wake of the PLP’s loss, I want to make clear that I, Chester Cooper, in no way support those sentiments or think them a fitting and proper analysis of the PLP’s loss.
The PLP is an organization that is supported by Bahamians of every racial makeup. The thread that binds us is that we are all Bahamians.
Many white Bahamians voted for me, and fought a hard battle in Exuma and Ragged Island to keep that constituency in the PLP’s column in what appears to be a wave election.
I thank ALL Bahamians for their support and dedication to the PLP and to The Bahamas.
This country, like so many others, has a deep and complex racial history, and though we still bear the scars of the deep wounds of the past, we move forward together to build this country that we all love. This is the time for healing. Indeed Bahamians of all races and ethnic backgrounds - are welcome in the Progressive Liberal Party.
We are interested in building this nation for all.
This has been clearly demonstrated in Prime Minister Christie having supported many white Bahamian candidates in the past and the white PLPs who served in the Senate and Parliament.
We will need all hands on deck to steer the PLP back to its progressive roots and work to empower all Bahamians, regardless of race or ethnicity.
I would like to express my thanks for the faith that the former Prime Minister, the National General Council and the good people of Exuma & Ragged Island reposed in me as a candidate, and promise to give excellent representation and to hold the current administration accountable in the House of Assembly.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
This is the second challenge of its kind in recent months. Maria Daxon, a former police constable and vocal defender for the rights of police officers, filed a similar motion in March after being charged with intentional libel concerning alleged statements written about Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade and Assistant Commissioner of Police Leon Bethell.
Archer has also been charged in connection with comments made about the Commissioner.
His motion, filed on April 11, seeks a declaration from the court that the charge, prosecution, trial, liability to conviction and sentence to a fine and or imprisonment of up to two years for the offense of Intentional Libel, are “void, illegal and of no effect” as they breach Archer constitutional right to freedom of Expression guaranteed by Article 23(1) of the Constitution, the country’s supreme law.
It further asks Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis to dismiss or quash the proceedings against Archer and declare that the Section 315 (2) of the Penal Code which provides for the offense of Criminal Intentional Libel is unconstitutional. This would effectively remove the offense from the country’s law books.
The motion also requests an order that the Commissioner pay damages to Archer for having unconstitutionally subjected him to criminal proceedings in the first place.
In recent years, criminal libel laws have come under serious challenge around the world, with a number of countries declaring them unconstitutional. Over the past two decades alone, several fellow Commonwealth countries have abolished these laws, including: Britain, Jamaica, Grenada, New Zealand, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Sri Lanka.
In 2009, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruled that such laws violate international treaties on freedom of expression.
Criminal libel has been criticized by virtually every international authority on freedom of expression, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, the European Court of Human Rights and the International Press Institute.
Human Rights Bahamas - Facebook
Sunday, March 26, 2017
RESPONSE TO A PROLIFIC FACEBOOK TROUBLEMAKER
COMMENTARY BY OSWALD T. BROWN:
bahamasuncensored.com -- for whatever reason, I don’t know, other than his penchant to play the kid’s game “fire bun” on Facebook – but I felt compelled to respond because I am certain that there are many enemies of mine on Facebook who were laughing a jumping for glee when they read his post.
Firstly, for the record, as a journalist of more than 55 years I have never been afraid to speak my mind (in writing) when I considered something to be wrong, especially if it affected the well-being of the Bahamian people. That’s the kind of journalistic training I received in my early years at The Tribune from Sir Arthur Foulkes and, believe it or not, the late Sir Etienne Dupuch, the then Publisher and Editor of The Tribune. For example, Sir Etienne took such a personal interest in my development as a journalist that he made arrangements for me to take private English lessons two mornings a week for about six months from Father Frederick Fry, the then Prior of St. Augustine’s College, and he allowed me to use a Tribune van to be sure that I was on time for the early morning sessions.
Although I started at The Tribune in May of 1960 as a Sports Reporter, my development was considered advanced enough to assist Nicki Kelly in covering the House of Assembly by 1962, which actually was my introduction to politics, and in August of 1962 I was sent by The Tribune along with Pierre Dupuch to cover Jamaica’s independence. Because I was a sports reporter I stayed in Jamaica for an additional two weeks to cover the Commonwealth Games, which was held in Jamaica that year as part of its independence celebrations.
For the record, one of the mistakes that I made in my life that I shall always regret was my constant attack on Sir Etienne in my OSWALD BROWN WRITES column that I wrote when I worked for Bahamian Times, after leaving The Tribune in 1965. Those were the years when I was an avowed BLACK POWER advocate as a result of the vicious, dehumanizing and degrading racist policies of the United Bahamian Party government and I considered Sir Etienne, the man who was very instrumental in my early training as a journalist, to be a UBP. I can tell you some stories about personal racist actions against me as a young black journalist in The Bahamas that would make your blood curdle.
As far as the reference to me leaving The Bahamas for 20 years being predicated on a dispute I had with Sir Lynden, the then Prime Minister, that’s only a minor part of the reason why I made the decision to relocate to the United States in December of 1974. It is well known among those involved in the struggle for Majority Rule that Sir Lynden, although he was and still is one of my personal heroes, had to ask Arthur Foulkes, whom I still love and respect with a passion, to speak to me about my outspoken BLACK POWER pronouncements and behavior.
Nonetheless, it was Sir Lynden who arranged for me to go to London after the PLP won the historic January 10, 1967 general election for one year’s advanced training in journalism on the staff of the London Evening Standard, one of Britain’s leading newspapers. When I returned from London in November of 1969, Sir Lynden only a month or so earlier had fired Sir Arthur as Minister of Tourism and when I asked him why Sir Arthur was fired, I did not believe the reason he gave me and I flat-out called him a liar, preceded by one of my favourite profanity at the time.
Of course, I nonetheless became Editor of Bahamian Times, but I subsequently was fired after I supported the Dissident Eight in their dispute with Sir Linden. When the Dissident Eight left the PLP and became the nucleus for the founding of the FNM along with still politically active members of the disbanded UBP, I also became a founding member of the FNM and the founding Editor of its newspaper The Torch.
In the meantime, I met a wonderful American lady, Camille Brannum, who at the time was a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, and we were married in June of 1973. Camille moved to Nassau and within a week, my good friend the late Livingstone Coakley, who was the then PLP Minister of Education, arranged for her to get a teaching position at C. C. Sweeting High School. Camille, who actually was from Washington, D.C., did not like living in The Bahamas and sometime nearing the end of 1974, she suggested that we move to D.C. I vividly remember what she said when she made the suggestion, “Our marriage is not working in your country, so let’s try it in mine.”
I loved my first wife very much, so it was not hard for me to make the decision to move to D.C. Unfortunately, the marriage fell apart and we were divorced in 1978. I would have returned home at that time but I had a very good job as Publications Editor with the Institute for Services to Education (ISE), which was established by the late President Lynden Johnson ostensibly to upgrade the standard of education in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs.) So it is wrong to say that Sir Lynden was the reason why I left The Bahamas in 1974.
In fact, after the late President Ronald Reagan stopped funding for ISE in 1981, I became News Editor of The Washington Informer in 1982, a position I held until the FNM became the Government in 1992 and the new Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and my first cousin Alphonso “Bugalloo” Elliott, who accompanied him on a trip to Washington, encouraged me to return home with the promise that I would return to Washington in some capacity at the Embassy to allow me time to straighten out my personal affairs that I had accumulated from living in D.C. at the time for 18 years.
Once back in Nassau, however, Mr. Ingraham and I had a strong disagreement over what I referred to at the time as his “witch hunt” against Sir Lynden with the Commission of Inquiry he launched. As a former BLACK POWER advocate I was bitterly opposed to the FNM, no doubt at the urging of the UBP faction of that party, tearing down and destroying the reputation of arguably the most notable black politician in this country’s history.
PERSONAL NOTE TO C. a. NEWRY: I hope that this brief account of my early life and involvement in politics assist you and my other detractors in formulating a better understanding of who is Oswald Brown and his values in life. No doubt, you will glean from it that I had a penchant for burning bridges behind me, but I have always been prepared to suffer the consequences of whatever decisions I made in my life. With regard to the “old story” you reposted from bahamasuncensored.com, the opinions expressed by the author of that website was in response to ongoing criticism of my Editorials and Columns when I was Editor of the Nassau Guardian, which leaders of the PLP felt were biased towards the FNM. I am so, so happy that I did not totally burn all the bridges to my past as a did-hard PLP; otherwise I would not as proud as a peacock to be back home once again as a die-hard PLP.
Oswald Brown - Facebook
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The Bahamas bans Brazil beef
By XIAN SMITH
Guardian Business Reporter
Consumers in The Bahamas are being warned not to eat any meat products imported from Brazil.
A precautionary ban has been placed on meat products, which include corned beef, being imported into the country from Brazil, effective immediately, according to Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray.
Speaking with Guardian Business yesterday Gray said, “We are asking those people who are purchasing corned beef and other beef products that have already gotten into our food system, to discard those products immediately until further notice.”
Shortly after Gray was contacted by Guardian Business, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources sent out a statement on the matter.
Parts of the statement read:
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources is aware of the meat scandal unfolding in Brazil relative to food inspectors taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats. Blairo Maggi, Brazil's agriculture minister, advised that the government of Brazil has suspended exports from 21 meat-processing units.
“Until further notice, no permits for the importation of processed meat products from Brazil will be issued. This includes corned beef as well as other beef products and beef by-products.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources will continue to monitor this issue over the next 60 days and, should we be satisfied that imports from Brazil be resumed, it would be with the following proviso:
“Beef must be slaughtered and processed at an approved government abattoir and processing facility; a sanitary certificate should accompany all imports from Brazil; inspection of all batch containers must be done at the port of entry; an import permit must be sought by all importers from the relevant government agency; and a registry must be compiled of all importers of beef and beef products from Brazil.”
Regional neighbor Jamaica also announced yesterday an immediate import ban on corned beef from Brazil.
According to recent news reports, police investigations into Brazil’s meat industry led to the conclusion that companies BRF SA and JBS SA, along with dozens of smaller companies, were involved in a scandal that permitted the overlooking of condemned practices.
JBS is the world’s largest meat producer and BRF is the biggest poultry exporter. The companies have denied the allegations.
China reportedly suspended imports of all meat products from Brazil as a precautionary measure and the European Union suspended imports from four Brazilian meat-processing facilities.
March 22, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Please forgive me if I have misunderstood two recent stories which appeared in your respective newspapers.
The first is that the prime minister is reported to have said that he was not going to call the general election “any time soon”. I am not sure on what that statement was based, because article 66(3) of the constitution is quite specific about the duration of any Parliament following a general election. That paragraph reads: “(3) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (4) of this article, Parliament, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date of its first sitting after any dissolution and shall then stand dissolved.”
If my memory is correct, I think the present Parliament first sat on May 23, 2012. That would mean that unless the prime minister advises the governor general to dissolve Parliament before that date, the present Parliament will “stand dissolved” on May 23, 2017, with the result that there would be no legitimate government to advise the governor general and there would not be a Senate because, according to article 43(1)(a), each Senate seat “becomes vacant upon the next dissolution of Parliament after he has been appointed”.
In such an event, it is doubtful that even the powers which the constitution gives to the Cabinet under articles 29, 66(4) and (5), in a situation where war or a state of emergency has been declared, can be exercised at all or by whom, since in these circumstances there would not be a declared state of emergency or war.
I am aware that in 1987 the Parliament did not actually hold its first sitting following the general election that year until some three months later, and that it was for that reason that the date of the general election for 1992 was some three months after five years would have expired from the holding of the 1987 general election. Clearly that is not the situation now.
Article 66(4), which is referred to in article 66(3), would only apply if The Bahamas is at war or under a declared state of emergency under article 29; as far as I am aware there has been no declaration that The Bahamas is at war or that a state of emergency exists, so that could not be the basis for extending the life of the present Parliament.
I am also aware that article 67(1) provides that: “(67) – (1) After every dissolution of Parliament the governor general shall issue writs for a general election of members of the House of Assembly returnable within ninety days from that dissolution.”
That provision seems to contemplate a situation where the Parliament is dissolved well before its session is due to end and the 90 days is the outside limit for the writs of election to be issued and returned. After all, in the very words of that paragraph, the governor general could only issue writs after Parliament is dissolved. In addition, regard will have to be taken of section 32 of the Parliamentary Elections Act (Ch. 7), as well as the fact that the present budget will expire on June 30, 2017; and one cannot help but wonder how they will then deal with the preparation, presentation and passage of the necessary bills for the budget for the upcoming fiscal year which starts on July 1.
Section 32 of the Parliamentary Elections Act provides for writs of election to issue and to be returnable within not less than 21 days nor more than 30 days – both of those time frames are within the 90 days contemplated by article 67 (1) of the constitution. The time line is now quite short unless it is intended to ignore the above mentioned constitutional and statutory provisions.
The second issue that arises from the stories in the newspapers is that there is a great deal of confusion in the minds of some members of the general public about whether in truth, and in fact, Baha Mar has been sold and to whom. Is it in fact true that the assets of Baha Mar have in fact become the property of the Export-Import Bank of China by virtue of a foreclosure under a debenture to that entity? If so, clearly the debenture should have been registered in the Registry of Records, which would then make it open to inspection by members of the public.
There is also confusion as to how the judgement in a publicly heard civil case (the Baha Mar compulsory liquidation case) could be so “sealed” that no one, other than perhaps the learned justice who heard it, as well as the learned attorney general (whose daughters and husband have business interests housed in the building) and maybe the lawyers for other parties to the case would be aware of what was in fact decided.
It must be remembered that article 20 paragraphs (8), (9) and (10) of the constitution apply to that case as they do to all other civil cases heard in the Supreme Court or any other court of competent jurisdiction of The Bahamas. Those paragraphs read: “(8) Any court or other adjudicating authority prescribed by law for the determination of the existence or extent of any civil right or obligation shall be established by law and shall be independent and impartial; and where proceedings for such a determination are instituted by any person before such a court or other adjudicating authority, the case shall be given a fair hearing within a reasonable time.
“(9) All proceedings instituted in any court for the determination of the existence or extent of any civil right or obligation, including the announcement of the decision of the court, shall be held in public.
“(10) Nothing in paragraph (9) of this article shall prevent the court from excluding from the proceedings persons other than the parties thereto and their legal representatives to such extent as the court –
“(a) may be empowered by law so to do and may consider necessary or expedient in circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice, or in interlocutory proceedings or in the interests of public morality, the welfare of persons under the age of eighteen years or the protection of the private lives of persons concerned in the proceedings;
“(b) may be empowered or required by law to do so in the interests of defense, public safety or public order; or
“(c) may be empowered or required to do so by the rules of court and practice existing immediately before 10 July 1973 or by any law made subsequently to the extent that it makes provision substantially to the same effect as provision contained in any such rules.”
Clearly there was no matter of defense or public safety or public order to cause the decision not to be made public. On the other hand, it may be argued that because Crown land and money from the Consolidated Fund was used to pay employees of Baha Mar (money that was said to be owed to China Construction company for the construction of the new road from the airport) that the interests of justice required the decision and the reasons for it to be made public, especially when it appears to reasonable persons that there may have been a conflict of interest on the part of the government’s main adviser, the learned attorney general, who has subsequently reported that there was a sale to a Hong Kong entity and then that the sale is not complete.
These were also not interlocutory proceedings nor were they proceedings concerning the welfare of persons under the age of 18 years, nor for the protection of the private lives of persons concerned in the proceedings.
Furthermore, in The Nassau Guardian of Monday, January 30, 2017, pages A25 and A27, there were notices of voluntary winding up by 15 companies with the words “Baha Mar” in their names. The notices were apparently issued by Edmund L. Rahming. If those 15 companies are subsidiaries of Baha Mar, it raises serious questions about the whole saga of the winding-up proceedings of Baha Mar because voluntary liquidation is normally only appropriate where the company is solvent, and the compulsory winding up of Baha Mar would only be justified if that company was insolvent. Are we to accept that those 15 subsidiaries are solvent while the parent company (if it is the parent company) is insolvent?
It was also reported that the prime minister has said that he has instructed the attorney general to make public the contents of the judgment of the court in the Baha Mar case. There are two issues which arise from that. Firstly, if the attorney general, as attorney general, can say when a judgment by a justice of the Supreme Court is to be made public, that raises the very thorny question as to whether the attorney general is controlling the courts.
Secondly, it raises the question as to whether the prime minister, through the agency of the attorney general, is controlling the courts.
Neither of those possibilities would be consistent with the constitutional requirement for the courts to be “independent and impartial”.
I sincerely hope and pray that the information in the newspapers to which I have referred above is not quite correct, for if it is, then the concept of the rule of law would be otiose in The Bahamas.
– Joan A. Sawyer
Thursday, March 2, 2017
by: PROFESSOR GILBERT NMO MORRIS
I understand that the government wants to facilitate economic growth in Freeport, and I believe this is their true noble desire.
However, the GB (Port Area) Incentive Act is absolutely the wrong way to go:
THERE ARE THREE MAJOR PROBLEMS, AMONGST OTHERS:
A. It is wrong in Constitutional terms as the devolution of Sovereign concessions under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement was not a benefit to or intended for the Port Authority. Rather, it was to enable and empower the Port to deliver benefits to the Licensees.
Everything about this Act offends that.
Moreover, given the constitutional prohibition on discrimination, (on the one hand), no minister of governments of the Bahamas can be empowered, constitutionally, to give a tax benefit to one citizen, which is denied to any other under the same or similar circumstances. On the other hand, for any minister of government's of the Bahamas to make a distinction between Licensee applicants for the tax benefits, would require so much bureaucratic engagement, not to mention time, as to destroy any possible or conceivable actual incentive.
B. It is inconsistent with both the letter and spirit of the agreement itself, because - again - all benefits -
in the central thesis and core purpose of the Agreement - were to accrue to the Licensees.
This is crucial because under our Constitution, no government of the Bahamas is empowered to alienate or pass on the assets of the Bahamian people to others without "value for money".
The cardinal - value for money - prospect and concept in the HCA remains: TO BENEFIT THE LICENSEES!
Therefore ANY action that places the Licensees at ANY disadvantage offends the Agreement and is unconstitutional.
C. The Incentive Act is anti-Incentive. Everywhere in the world where economies are growing, governments are eliminating red-tape.
In this case, the very people who are disadvantaged by the economic doldrums in Freeport, are hit again by a regressive, over-burdening anti-competitive approach - even if well-meaning - infused with many confusions, thus limiting options for operations and investments for existing Licensee businesses.
It is critical to note that entities like the Grand Bahama Port Authority and it's companies under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement carry no market-to-market value as an entity.
Given the loss of the deep seabed advantages or the likely more aggressive approaches to trade by the Trump administration, now more than ever, the Port's net present value or "intrinsic value" is ONLY as is defined in the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. There is no other means to give Freeport a value beyond a low grade benchmark pricing of its component parts.
The effect of this initiative therefore also makes investing in the Port area LESS ATTRACTIVE and worse reduces the value of the Port's assets at a time when other jurisdictions are investing in port facilities.
I appeal to the government to withdrawal this initiative absolutely and completely.