Overseas couples wanting to get married in Guyana may be thwarted by the delay in acquiring their marriage certificate.This was according to the Director General of the Tourism Department, Donald Sinclair during the launching of the 10th annual Wedding Expo on Friday evening at Roraima Duke Lodge, Duke Street, Kingston.He stated that the process of acquiring a marriage licence could be a setback for couples coming to Guyana to get married and may be the reason why Guyana is not listed as a tourist destination for weddings.Director General of the Tourism Department, Donald SinclairThe Director General however noted that the Tourism Ministry is working closely with the Citizenship Ministry to resolve this issue and more so, to reduce the amount of time a couple has to wait before receiving their certificates.Sinclair said the law requires a newly wedded couple to spend 14 days in Guyana before the marriage certificate is acquired.“We need to pay attention to the legislation which will make it more attractive for persons to get married here, that in itself has been a setback for many years so now we need to look at it from a tourism standpoint,” Sinclair said.Nevertheless, he noted that if the destination idea is taken much more seriously, Guyana can grow as a wedding destination.Brainchild of the event, Captain Gerald Gouveia, while delivering his address urged Government to change the legislation highlighted by Sinclair.“People leave to go to Jamaica to get married, people leave to go The Dominican Republic to get married; those countries are beautiful but Guyana is amazing, imagine getting married at the Kaieteur Falls or at Orinduk Falls or in the Rupununi or at Baganara. Young people would love to come to Guyana to get marries but can’t so we are using this Wedding Expo as a platform to urge the Government to look into the legislation,” Gouveia noted.Gouveia further stated that Guyana has the potential to become one of the most sought after destinations in the Caribbean, while noting that certain framework has to be set.The Wedding Expo, he noted, has been one of such events that can showcase Guyana as one of those destinations over Jamaica – a country where couples flock to get married due to the fact they do not have to wait a long time to acquire their certificates.The three-day affair was launched with great pomp and high expectations with over 40 exhibitors on show.The expo is being used as a vehicle to provide yet another opportunity for a couple to get married under the spotlight.
The dreams of 19-year-old Ian Henry of Baramita, Region One (Barima-Waini) were snatched from him seven years ago when he was charged for murder and taken into custody without even being afforded the right to counsel, thus violating his fundamental rights as prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.Article 40 of the Convention states “Children who are accused of breaking the law have the right to legal help and fair treatment in a justice system that respects their rights”. Governments are required to set a minimum age below which children cannot be held criminally responsible and to provide minimum guarantees for the fairness and quick resolution of judicial or alternative proceedings.”Henry was 13 at the time when he was charged and then brought to the Sophia Juvenile Detention Centre where he spent the next seven years awaiting judgement.However, the Director of Public Prosecutions a few days ago dismissed the caseNineteen-year-old Ian Henryagainst Henry after the Rights of the Child Commission and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Legal Aid Clinic provided legal representation for the then minor.While detailing the steps that led to highlighting and later the dismissal of the charges against Henry, Chief Executive Officer of the Rights of the Child Commission, Amar Panday, said they would have become aware of Henry’s case after visiting the Sophia Juvenile Detention Centre and interacting with him sometime in 2015.He further related that Henry’s demeanour and level of intelligence made them relook at his case. Investigations would have shown that at the time, over 95 per cent of the inmates at the Sophia Juvenile Detention Centre were denied the right to counsel, thus violating a number of child rights declarations.Panday related that they then approached UNICEF, which then released funding that was disbursed to the Guyana Legal Aid Clinic to begin providing legal representation to the children and youths at the Sophia Juvenile Detention Centre, the New Opportunity Corps and both Timehri and New Amsterdam Prisons. It was then Henry’s case was taken up and followed through resulting in the dismissal, further explaining that had it not been for their intervention then the youth would still be waiting on justice to be served.The Commission’s CEO said more needs to be done to tackle the problem of unrepresented children behind bars, reiterating it violates a number of international conventions of which Guyana is signatory to. Panday welcomed the recently passed Juvenile Justice Bill, explaining that it will address a number of violations.According to Henry, his life is now in shambles since he was detained for over seven years for a crime the Police had no evidence against him. The youth is appealing to the Government to ensure that this does not happen to another child.“When I was incarcerated I encountered some horrible experiences, dark momentsRights of the Child Commission CEO, Amar Pandayin my life and this incarceration has clearly jeopardised my future, no one can give me it back…. I am not the only one that has been affected by this kind of system but there are other youths who are incarcerated I have spent time with them,” he related.“If I hadn’t met these people while incarcerated, I would have still been in prison and don’t know when the time will come for me to be released. Just imagine it from the age of 13 to the age of 19 during this process I was denied my right to education. How could I go back to a secondary school to start over back my whole educational process? It is impossible, the only option is go to a college and do a trade…my dream has been snatched away from me by the system… my whole future has been jeopardised by the system,” Henry added.The youth said he was held despite the authorities having no substantial evidence against him resulting in him suffering for over half a decade. Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan said he was unaware of Henry’s situation and when it was brought to his attention, he felt it was his duty to fast track the Juvenile Justice Bill to address the issues. However, he noted that it will be costly to enforce the recommendations of the Bill but said Government is committed to seeing the process through.The Rights of the Child Commission and its partners are also looking at several other cases similar to that of Henry.
A delegation of international experts on the death penalty is in Guyana to advocate for the abolition of capital punishment in the country.From right: Randy Susskind, Deputy Director of the Equal Justice Initiative of the USA, along with European Union Ambassador Jernej Videtič; Co-Executive Director of the death penalty project based in the United Kingdom, Saul Lehrfreund and Surinamese parliamentarians Krishnakoemarie Mathoera and Patrick KensenhuisThe team, which hosted a press conference on Tuesday, said it planned to make a submission of its proposal to the National Assembly at its next sitting.The delegation has received the support of the European Union (EU) and the British High Commission.Co-Executive Director of the death penalty project based in the United Kingdom, Saul Lehrfreund will be joined by Randy Susskind, Deputy Director of the Equal Justice Initiative of the USA, Surinamese parliamentarians Krishnakoemarie Mathoera and Patrick Kensenhuis, and will be supported by Nigel Hughes to push for the abolition at the National Assembly tomorrow.Currently, some 17 prisoners in Guyana are on death row, even though Guyana has not carried out an execution since 1997.In his presentation, Lehrfreund pointed out that the death penalty, according to research, does not necessarily deter crimes.“The first assumption or justification that some countries rely on is that the death penalty is an effective criminal justice sanction because it deters crime and makes society safer and we would strongly argue that this is a myth and that there is no evidence whatsoever that the death penalty provides any deterrent effect than other forms of punishment,” Lehrfreund argued.The Director further argued that the public would only be hesitant to accept the abolition of capital punishment, since their opinions were often characterised by a lack of knowledge on the subject.According to Lehrfreund, it is impossible to ensure that innocent people are not sentenced to death, all the more reason why the death penalty should be abolished.Susskind revealed that the United States was also currently moving to have the death penalty abolished in all states.“The death penalty is actually on its way out in the United States. It is currently active, but it is waning and it’s just a matter of time before over the course of the next years or so where the death penalty would likely be abolished. The trends are very clear and over the last 10 years, out of the 52 states, 10 have since abolished the death penalty,” Susskind stated.Suriname recently joined 142 nations who have abolished the death penalty.As such, the Surinamese Members of Parliament are expected to share their experiences with the National Assembly.According to Mathoera, who is also a member of the Human Rights Committee, after the abolition of the death penalty, Suriname would have made several new changes in terms of security, which have proved to be successful.“We have seen after three years of abolishing the death penalty, the impact on crime is not dramatic, it has no impact on crime. Our home side rate is very stable, it is one of the lowest in the Region – Latin America and the Caribbean so that is what we have to show for the effects, so it is a misconception,” the MP said.The death penalty was imposed on Guyana through British colonial rule. Since then, the United Kingdom has rejected capital punishment and today is vocal in advocating for global abolition.In 2016, at least 60 death row prisoners were exonerated around the world.Wrongful convictions remain a distressing reality wherever the death penalty is imposed.
A fight between two intoxicated men, which left one of them dead, has now ended with the other serving 12 years in jail.Ignatius France leaving court on TuesdayIgnatius France of Port Kaituma, Region One (Barima-Waini), was on Tuesday sentenced to 12 years in prison by High Court Judge Justice Navindra Singh after he pled guilty to manslaughter. The 35-year-old man was initially charged for murder. The court heard that on May 11, 2012, at Port Kaituma, Region One, he killed Mark Ashby.France was represented by Attorney-at-Law Maxwell McKay, who in a plea of mitigation informed the court that his client acted in self-defence since he was attacked by the deceased during an argument.The court heard that on May 11, 2012, France and Ashby were involved in an argument which escalated into a scuffle, during which the accused, who was intoxicated at the time, armed himself with a chopper and dealt the deceased a chop to the neck.Ashby was rushed to the Port Kaituma Hospital where he died while receiving medical attention.Before handing down the sentence, Justice Singh told France to “try and live a better life” when he gets out of prison since the entire matter was the result of imbibing alcohol.When the 12-year sentence was handed down, Justice Singh ordered that the seven years the accused spent on remand be deducted from the sentence.The State’s case was presented by Prosecutors Teriq Mohammed, Tuanna Hardy and Abigail Gibbs.
…seeks to create rounded individualsTutorial High School on Friday received a spanking new steel pan set and other equipment, which were donated to the school by the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport.The steel pans and accessories were acquired at a cost of US$5000 to assist the students in pursuing music. According to Deputy Head Teacher of the institution, David Sam, this contribution is timely since the school is seeking to incorporate extracurricular activities with academics. In addition to a steel pan orchestra, they will be restarting a school choir.He stated that the introduction of these instruments will allow children to take up positive activities during their spare time instead of resorting to crime, drugs and other social ills.“I believe in a child that is not only academically there but has a rounded personality with the academics, the arts and academics and all of these things. My goal for Tutorial High School is to produce children who can fit into society irrespective of what is their career area,” he said.According to Sam, the students are encouraged to take up activities in sports and the arts which will influence their personal growth. In the past, they have produced athletes and other outstanding individuals.“We encourage children to take up activities out of the classroom. We have children in debates, a female football team that we’re working on, the male footballers. We encourage children to be in cricket, and may I say that we have a child right here who is a national Under 15 cricketer.”The Deputy Head Teacher indicated that he was previously stationed at the Dolphin Secondary School, where steel pan was a critical component for students.“I recognised that there was need for a steel orchestra. I was at Dolphin Secondary and I saw what it did for them and I want the same for Tutorial High School so we’re moving in that direction,” Sam explained.Meanwhile, Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton posited that with this new equipment, Tutorial High School will now be able to join the steel pan competitions next Mashramani. Along with the newly introduced steel pan, the school has been active in debate competitions and other sports like football.The school is yet to receive other components of the steel pan setup, which will be distributed shortly. On Friday, the school was visited by the West Demerara Secondary School, which is well known for its orchestra.Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton making thepresentation to Deputy Head Teacher of Tutorial High School,David Sam
The lifeless body of a young father of two was found hanging with a rope tied around his neck hours after a row with his reputed wife on Sunday.Dead: Johnny HenryDead is 24-year-old Johnny Henry of Baramita. He was discovered by his mother at about 16:00h about half a mile from his house. It is believed that he committed suicide after a confrontation with the mother of his two children hours before the discovery.His reputed wife reportedly left the home about three weeks ago and despite him asking her to return, she refused.However, he reportedly went to her again on Sunday and after she refused, he was seen running in the bushes. Out of concern, his mother went in search of her son only to find him handing from a tree. Investigations are ongoing.
Opposition LeaderBharrat JagdeoPersons who are currently not on the Official List of Electors can become registered in time for early elections without House-to-House registration.The last House-to-House registration was done in 2008.Thereafter, various cycles of continuous registration were done to ensure persons were given unlimited opportunities to get registered from as early as the age of 14.When a person who was registered since he or she was 14 turns 18, their name is transferred to the voters’ list.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has pointed out that, therefore, there is no need for House-to-House registration, as was evident during the 2015 General and Regional Elections.“We’ve had General Elections in 2015 and we did not have House-to-House registration. It’s absolutely false— a fallacy to claim, that House-to-House registration is a necessity for preparing a list to go to General and Regional Elections,” the Opposition Leader posited during a recent press conference.He further reasoned that during the Local Government Elections, the voters’ list still facilitated what was accepted by all stakeholders as credible elections.Government has been pushing for House-to-House registration, saying that it is a necessity before elections and that young people will not be able to vote without it.But this is not true.A claims and objections period can be embarked upon to ensure persons who are not registered get the opportunity to do so.“In the claims and objections period, which is a short period, any person who is not on the list can get on the list in that period, any person who is in the wrong area and requires a transfer can get a transfer,” Jagdeo explained.Furthermore, he explained that “people who would have attained the age of 14 as of October 31, 2018 have been registered through the last continuous registration process and so their names would be extracted and added to the voters list”.Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) attorney, Stanley Marcus, told the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that the only way the elections body can prepare for elections is through House-to-House registration; with a voters’ list being ready by December 25, 2019 – the earliest.But GECOM’s very own legal officer, Excellence Dazzle, submitted a legal opinion to the Commission stating that House-to-House registration is not a necessity and that a claims and objections process can address the current concerns about the voters’ list.However, this was rejected by the Government-aligned commissioners, who began to tarnish the Attorney’s character.According to Jagdeo, these actions and delaying tactics prove that the coalition Government is hesitant to head to the polls. “This Government fears elections; they know what is going to happen”.
…cops hunting for 3 others – PoliceTwo men have been arrested for beating to death 20-year-old fisherman Alvin Seenarine, and seriously injuring his brother at Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo (EBE).Crime Chief (ag) Michael KingstonThis is according to Crime Chief (ag) Michael Kingston, who confirmed to Guyana Times on Saturday that the two suspects are currently in the lock-ups as the probe continues. Kingston said that the police are also hunting for three other individuals who are linked to the beatings/murder.Alvin also called “Chockoloo”, of Lot 820 G Zeelugt North, EBE, along with his brother, Devendra, had visited a relative’s home located in the same village and were reported to have been imbibing alcohol. The brothers left at about 22:45h but shortly afterwards, residents in the area said that they heard a loud commotion and rushed to investigate.One resident related that it was noticed that three men armed with instruments were beating Devendra, who is presently at the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH) battling for his life.The other brother, Alvin, was discovered in a motionless state a short distance away from his injured brother with multiple wounds about his body.Residents picked up Alvin along with his brother and transported them to the Leonora Cottage Hospital.However, by the time the two brothers arrived at the hospital, one was already dead.Alvin was pronounced dead on arrival while his brother was immediately admitted for emergency medical treatment.As a result of the severity of his injuries, Devendra was subsequently transferred to the WDRH for further treatment where he was admitted. There he remains, up to press time, in a serious condition.The matter was then reported to the police who immediately began hunting for the three alleged assailants.
The National Milling Company of Guyana (NAMILCO) in partnership with a leading German baking company recently hosted a baking seminar to help local bakers improve in marketing their goods.NAMILCO Managing Director Roopnarine SukhaiThe seminar, which was hosted last week, saw over 130 local baking businesses participating. Held under the theme “A bright future in baking”, the event expected to prepare local bakers to capitalise on niche markets.With assistance from leading German baking company, DeutscheBack, representatives from the various bakeries were trained to adopt global trends.In his remarks, NAMILCO Managing Director Roopnarine Sukhai shared some advice that could aid in the improvement of the bakers’ business standards.Some of the tips included having a strong front, that is, improving the appeal of the business; improving packaging, spreading the name of the business far and wide, widening product range, acquiring international certification, observing good manufacturing practices, and practising guidelines outlined in the Food Safety Act.The Director further urged the businesses to be conscious of the fact that many investors are presently eyeing the baking and catering industry.A section of the gathering“Economic activities will increase and you stand to benefit, however, some of these investors may be looking at the baking and catering industry so that your livelihood would also be threatened, you have to try and protect your market, but to do so, you will need to reengineer your business. It will need complete change in the way that you carry on your trade … we are aware of larger bakeries that are looking to enter Guyana, we should all be on guard and be able to find the niche in the market in order to remain in business,” Sukhai cautioned.Presenters at the event also included DeutscheBack’s Regional Sales Manager, the Private Sector Commission’s Captain Gerald Gouveia, NAMILCO’s Regional Sales Manager, and DeutscheBack Research and Development’s Tania Monsivais.
Linden electricity workersIn light of a two-day protest by workers of the Linden Utility Services Coop Society Limited (LUSCSL), a Terms of Resumption (TOR) was inked between the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union and the electricity company, which will see workers resuming duties today (Wednesday).Some of the workers during the two-day protestThe Field Officer for the Union, Alieshaw Barker, noted that although the company had initially refused to meet with the Union while the employees were on strike, the two sides met and had the agreement signed following protest action by employees attached to the lines department on Tuesday.Outlining numerous issues affecting them, the employees of the electricity company at Wismar had decided on a course of strike action on Monday. The workers stated that some of their main concerns were insufficient wages and salaries, safety issues, lack of allowances and what they considered to be the unfair suspension and dismissal of two employees.The employees had further related that the linesmen had requested height and risk allowances but had gotten no response in relation to their request. These concerns, they noted, seemed to have been falling on deaf ears for some time now.On Monday, Barker had indicated that if there were no conditions for Terms of Resumption by the company, the Union would have sought to have other employees join the strike in solidarity with the lines department.She had also pointed to issues, such as fear of dismissal and victimisation, which the workers may face following the protest actions.Barker had also referenced a correspondence which she handed over to the company on Monday on behalf of the Union, which outlined that the Union was in support of the strike.The letter, which was seen by this publication, indicated that the Union is prepared to meet with the electricity company on Tuesday with the view of having the situation returned to normalcy. The letter also stated that the concerns that were raised by the employees are on the card for discussions.However, Barker related that the Union has given the company seven working days to start the negotiations process and will prepare the Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) moving forward.The TOR, seen by this publication, stated that, “Within 7 days following the full resumption of work the parties shall commence negotiation of a new Collective Labour Agreement (New CLA). The parties agree that the New CLA shall be based on the CLA, in particular as regards the resolution of Labour disputes. In the interim, pending negotiations and executions of the New CLA the parties agree to observe the CLA procedures for the resolution of such disputes…”It also stated, amongst other issues, that there should be no reprisals or discrimination against workers who downed tools for the two days.