…shoot, rob victims in double attack
Armed bandits continue to run amok in Corentyne, Berbice, and on Friday evening, they robbed two families, during which time one man was shot and several others beaten.
The bandits wore masks, and villagers said such indicated that they were determined to conceal their identities, because they were likely residents of the community or nearby villages. Friday’s attack is the latest in a series of robberies committed on the Corentyne, Region Six, (East Berbice-Corentyne).
Market vendor Norbert Raphael, 39, said he was at home with two of his nephews when the men entered their yard in Bush Lot Farm by cutting a hole in the back fence. According to him, one of his nephews, David, had just gone out of the house when what appeared to be a gunshot was heard. At that time, his sister thinking that something was wrong with David ventured into the yard and came face to face with masked men. “She make a big noise and right away I know is thief, so I go and push in the door and try to brace it, but one of them reach and tell me don’t shut the door. So I say, ‘Sorry Sir, you could push the door and come in,’ and then I see two of them come in the house.”
The men then stole from that house three gold rings during which time several gunshots rang out from the yard.
As two of Raphael’s nephews were returning home, they were confronted with strange people in the yard and enquired what they were doing there. They were answered with a gunshot which hit Derwin Lord in the face. He managed to escape and made it to the road. With assistance from his brother, he got a car and was taken to the Port Mourant Hospital where he was seen by a doctor and subsequently transferred to the New Amsterdam Hospital. His condition is listed as stable.
Relatives were only aware of the shooting of Lord after the bandits had left. The robbery spree continued at the house next door where Bibi Bissember, 56, was held up. According to Bissember, she went to the window to look outside and was confronted with a man pointing a gun at her. He told her to go and open the back door and she complied. She told this publication that the masked man and two others entered her house and immediately ordered her to take off the jewellery she was wearing at the time. She handed to them eight gold rings, three pairs of gold bangles weighing 36 pennyweights, two gold bands, one gold chain worth US$2000 and a pair of gold ear rings.
Bissember said she pleaded with the men not to take her wedding ring, but they insisted. They also removed a cellular phone, other jewellery and $110,000 from the house before leaving. According to Bissember, a fourth man also entered the house and during that time she heard more shots coming from outside the house, suggesting that there were at least two more persons involved in the robbery. The men made good their escape before Police arrived. Investigations are in progress.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has announced its support for the 2nd Biennial Community Development Partnership Forum & Exhibition (CDPF-II), which will bring together 400 delegates for discussions on driving development through community partnerships in the Caribbean Region from July 5th to 8th in Trinidad and Tobago.
Participants include Ministers of Government from across the Region, policymakers, private sector stakeholders, members of the community and civil society organisations, and development partners, including CDB. I a statement the Bank said it is a committed supporter of CDPF-II, having agreed to provide funding that will facilitate the participation of representatives of Ministerial Delegations from CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries and Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) implementing agency staff. CDB will be represented by Deidre Clarendon, Division Chief, Social Sector Division and Darran Newman Belgrave, Portfolio Manager, BNTF.
“CDB continues to build strategic partnerships to drive transformative community development in the Caribbean Region. Through CDPF-II, we have the opportunity to discuss with key stakeholders the issues and challenges of implementing community-based programmes, and to explore solutions for reducing poverty in Caribbean communities. Community participation and local ownership help strengthen the impact of our investments; we’ve seen this evidenced in the projects we implement through the Basic Needs Trust Fund,” said Deidre Clarendon, Division Chief, Social Sector Division at CDB.
The BNTF is a CDB grant-funded programme that contributes to poverty reduction in targeted communities in 10 countries, by providing infrastructure and livelihood enhancement services. The Fund drives cooperation and agreements between community-based organisations, representative local government, village councils, consultants and contractors, small businesses and ministries and other development partners.
During CDPF-II, CDB representatives will hear firsthand of the tried and tested implementation modalities in community-driven development in the region as community and civil society organisations, practitioners and professionals share experiences and knowledge on their community-based development initiatives. The event includes sessions and workshops spanning hot-button topics in community development such as Sustainable Community-based Food Production/Agriculture, Sustainable Community-based Tourism and Public-Private-Community Partnerships for Community Entrepreneurship and Innovation. CDPF-II is an initiative of the Ministry of Community Development, Trinidad and Tobago and takes place at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, Port of Spain.
…killers spotted leaving scene on bicycles
By Bhisham Mohamed
Owner of the Regent Street Multiplex Mall was shot dead allegedly by a group of bicycle bandits moments after returned to his La Jalousie, West Coast Demerara home early Sunday morning.
Ganesh Ramlall, 48, of Lot C La Jalousie, West Coast Demerara, was shot at least seven times, including once to his head. The killing of Ramlall has come amidst an upsurge in violence across the country, with Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan admitting last week that it would take an herculean effort to contain the situation.
According to information received, the businessman was out with his friends at a BBQ in a neighbouring village and upon his return home at about 00:30h, he went to collect a plate as well as use the outside washroom. While doing so, Ramlall was attacked by gunmen who discharged a round, hitting the washroom door. Guyana Times understands that the businessman might have attempted to run into the bottom flat of the house form which he had emerged and was riddled with bullets. He dropped a few metres from his back door where he was left to die.
This publication was told that four men were seen leaving the area on bicycles. One source revealed that the men joined a waiting car behind the village and then drove eastwards. Police investigation has so far revealed that the men also took away Ramlall’s licensed firearm, jewellery and wallet before escaping. Ramlall’s wife was too devastated to speak to the media, however a niece of the dead man, told Guyana Times that her uncle returned home about 00:30h and opened the door to the bottom flat of the house and went in. Within seconds, she stated that he left to use the outside washroom as well as to collect a plate to maybe eat some of the BBQ chicken he had brought home.
She then recalled hearing the sound of a gunshot and she, along with her aunt and cousin, immediately locked the adjoining door to the upper flat of the house and stayed upstairs. There, they telephoned for the Police as her uncle was shouting at the top of his voice for “Thief! Thief”.
She recounted that they heard about six other gunshots and the place became silent, but they did not take the risk of opening the door until they heard the neighbours calling out to them. As they opened the door, they saw Ramlall lying in a pool of blood on the tiled floor close to the backdoor. Relatives and neighbours rushed the man to the West Demerara Regional Hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The niece told this publication that the Police did not arrive at the scene until about one hour later. The Den Amstel Police Station, she noted, is just about a 10-minute drive from the scene.
She added that at the West Demerara Regional Hospital, there was no proper system in place to cater for emergencies, relating that her uncle was placed on a stretcher, but there were no porters to take him into the facility. Sonia recalled her uncle leaving home about 15:00h to join his friend as per normal every Saturday. He reportedly went to the wake for a friend in Herstelling, East Bank Demerara after which he attended a barbecue at Cornelia Ida.
The shooting has sent shockwaves through the West Coast village. The father of one was described by all as a gem. He had only last week attended the graduation of his daughter at Queens College after completing her CAPE exams. Ramlall was a noted philanthropist a staunch Hindu and was a benefactor of the village Mandir, a block from his home. He had worked his way from owning stalls in the Stabroek Market, where he was one of the largest importer of clothing from Cuarcao and Panama, to owning a Mall. The small village of La Jalousie is mostly populated by relatives of Ramlall.
Ryan Saywack, a close family friend, in a Facebook post, stated that he was dumbfounded and left speechless when he heard the news that one of his role models and surrogate father was killed by bandits. “It ripped my heart and soul out. All I could think of was how and why. How a man of such worth could be taken in three seconds. Why was a man with such heart given no mercy? He was a man of character, loyalty, respect, gratitude, humbleness, and, most of all, a man with the warmest heart of all,” he lamented. Ramlall’s body was taken to the Ezekiel Funeral Home to await a post-mortem examination. He leaves to mourn his wife, daughter, seven siblings and other relatives. Police are continuing their investigation into the shooting incident.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud hours before the shooting had recommitted the Guyana Police Force towards tackling the scourge of crime, telling ranks following a parade to mark the Force’s 176th Anniversary that the time for excuses was over, as more and more resources were becoming available to the entity to make Guyana safer. Ramjattan on Friday had acknowledged that a “herculean effort” was needed to solve the current crime situation, admitting that the new Government may have underestimated the gravity of the situation before gaining access to office. Back in 2011 and in 2012, Ramjattan, who was then an Opposition politician, had severely criticised then Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee for not doing enough to control the crime rate in the country. Ramjattan had lambasted Rohee and the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration for failing the people and not being able to properly administer his responsibilities as security minister. It has been just two months since Ramjattan has been appointed Guyana’s Public Security Minister and already he has been facing the same criticisms as Rohee from an impatient citizenry anxious to enjoy a safe and secure society.
…damage estimated in the millions
A fire suspected to be electrical in origin completely ravaged the upper flat of a two-storey wooden and concrete building in Fourth Street, Alberttown, Georgetown in the wee hours of Sunday, causing millions in damage and a family of six to make alternative living arrangements.
The fire, which started about 02:30h, reportedly originated in the front of the four-bedroom home and engulfed the entire flat within a few minutes.
At the time of the fire, there were three young men in the house. According to sources, the young men – the son of the homeowner and his cousins – were awakened by the smoke and had no time to salvage any household items. The owner of the house and his wife, along with their daughter, were in Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) when the house went up in flames.
The daughter, Zoya Khan, told Guyana Times that she and her parents received a call from her brother about 02:34h on Sunday informing them about the fire. As speedboats in the area did not operate in the night, they had to wait until the sun rose to travel to the city.
She noted that they recently renovated the house to the tune of millions of dollars. She added that upon departing from Bartica on Saturday morning, her two cousins and brother were warned to check all electrical outlets and stove before retiring to bed. This was reportedly done.
Khan’s parents were not at home when this newspaper visited the scene, but one of their sons who was on site assessing the damage told Guyana Times that his two cousins and another brother who were at home at the time had to run down the back steps to safety.
“They say after they realise the house was on fire, they telephone the Fire Service [the Alberttown Fire Station] which is separated by a fence [from the home], but they were told that the driver was sick,” he stated. After some time, firefighters from the Central Fire Service responded to the report, but by the time they arrived, the upper flat of the house was already engulfed in flames.
This, he noted, was unacceptable since a quick response by the Fire Service could have resulted in a portion of the building being saved. He also highlighted that several days ago, the electrical wire in front of the house was sparking and despite the family making a report to the Guyana Power and Light, no one came to look into the matter.
He is of the opinion that given the fact that there was an arc welding shop close to the house, there have been some fluctuations in electrical current in the area and this might have caused the fuse in the house to trip.
Two nearby buildings, including the welding shop, were damaged by the flames, as the exterior walls were scorched and windows shattered. Four animals – a macaw and three kittens — perished in the fire while a dog managed to run to safety.
The Guyana Fire Service has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire.
… against extension of Venezuelan revanchism
Caribbean leaders have expressed solidarity with Guyana and have called on the Government of Venezuela, “in the spirit of friendship and cooperation”, to withdraw the elements of Decree 1787 as they apply to the territory and maritime space of Caricom states.
The regional leaders had gathered for the 36th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in Bridgetown, Barbados between July 2 and 4. President David Granger had used his speech at the opening ceremony last Thursday to plead with his colleagues to support this country over the issue which threatens Guyana’s economic growth.
Venezuela has been adamant in its claims on Guyana’s territory, including its maritime zone, which was recently found to have oil in what appeared to be high quantities when exploratory work was carried out by the United States oil giant ExxonMobil in early March. Despite an 1899 arbitral award which was the final determiner of the border between Guyana and Venezuela, the Bolivarian Republic claims that the area under exploration is within its territory.
Guyana, through its new Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, had invited the oil-rich nation to move toward judicial settlement of its contention of the 1899 award. Granger, in an earlier announcement, had said that Guyana would be taking the route of judicial settlement no matter the cost, since the area which Venezuela is claiming has an abundance of natural resources.
The Heads of Government, following the summit which ended on Saturday, reaffirmed the inviolability of international treaties, agreements, awards and legal instruments and made particular reference to those international legally binding instruments that establish international boundaries.
They also noted the negative implications the decree could have on several other Caricom countries. “Heads of Government called for adherence to accepted principles of international law in relation to the delineation and delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf in the Region. Caricom states do not accept any unilateral proclamation which is inconsistent with international law,” the leaders said in a communiqué following the summit.
They emphasised that Caricom states have legitimate territorial and maritime entitlements which conform to international law, noting that these must be respected.
Granger on Thursday told the opening of the summit that years of “naval superiority” should not be allowed to suppress the law, noting that the actions, as demonstrated by Venezuela, must be condemned.
“Guyana assures the representatives of the international community here today of its adherence of international law. We assure the Secretary General of the UN, we assure the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, and the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom), that Guyana today and, for all times, will pursue the principles of mutual respect for each other’s territorial sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-appearance in each other’s internal affairs and mutual cooperation for peaceful coexistence between neighbours,” Granger told his 14 colleagues who listened with rapt attention.
He said his country faced a huge threat, recalling that “Decree Number 1787”, promulgated by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, was timed to coincide with the country’s independence anniversary on May 26 this year and his inauguration. “The decree sticks in my throat like a bone. It lays claim to much of the coastline and most of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Guyana. This decree has dire implications for the entire Region, but most particularly, the eastern states including Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.”
Caricom’s grave concerns
Meanwhile, as a result of these concerns, and in an effort to have the rights and entitlements of the affected Community Member States fully respected, a delegation of Heads met with the Vice President and Foreign Minister of Venezuela to express the Community’s grave concern about Decree 1787.
They recalled the numerous agreements in the area of trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people contacts which bind the Governments and peoples of Caricom and Venezuela together.
They recalled too that just under a year ago on September 8, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne, in his capacity as Chairman of Conference, had written to President Maduro, encouraging Venezuela to redouble its efforts at an early delimitation of the maritime boundary between Guyana and Venezuela. Browne had also encouraged Venezuela to assist in the finding of an early solution to the controversy which emerged from the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899 that established the boundary with Guyana was null and void.
…as students cry discrimination
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams has committed himself to resolving the ongoing challenges
between Guyanese law students and the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS) vowing that he will explore all available options.
This commitment was communicated to 25 of the 27 Guyanese students currently attending the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS) in Trinidad and Tobago when they paid a visit to the Minister during the course of last week to raise several issues and concerns about their education in relation to tuition, discrimination and disadvantages faced in pursuit of their Legal Education Certificate (LEC).
Sherry Hewitt, who serves as secretary to the group, raised the issue of fee payment, while other students raised concerns about immigration, course content and late arrival of the Guyana student list to the Trinidad immigration department.
According to the students, the number one challenge to the pursuing of the LEC is the tuition fee which amounts to TT$65,792 ($2.2 million in local currency or US$11,000) per student. They noted that they were now required to pay the full tuition at the beginning of the September semester each year as opposed to 50 per cent in September and 50 per cent in January of the following year as previously obtained, making it exceptionally difficult to study.
The students also requested help from the Attorney General to address the courses of Family Practice and Procedure, Legal Drafting and Interpretation for second-year students in relation to the unique Roman Dutch system of land titling in Guyana as opposed to Trinidad’s laws.
According to the Guyanese students, the two courses have a high rate of failure at the law school; hence, their desire for a tutor who has knowledge of Guyana’s laws.
The issue of immigration was also highlighted, since students were turned back by the Trinidad immigration owing to the late submission of the list of Guyana students accepted to the law school.
In the meantime, they are requesting scholarships for their final year with the understanding that they will serve for a contracted period. Of the 27 current students attending the HWLS, only one is the recipient of a Public Service Ministry scholarship.
The Attorney General shared with the students how different it was when he studied at the Law School.
In empathising with the students, Williams promised to explore what help they needed to address the issue of fee payments and the accommodation of more Guyanese students, since the top 25 students were selected out of a total of 80.
The students explained that the issue was not one of space as was being peddled by the School since six Trinidadian students were placed in the Guyanese class after the academic year had commenced.
Days after the Council for Legal Education had stated that it would not be guaranteeing any of the 25 places usually offered to Guyanese students at the end of the degree programme at the Turkeyen Campus of the University of Guyana last year, its Chairman Jacqueline Samuels-Brown had said that the placement issue was not one that was of pure bias, but one of space and accommodation for the students who stay on campus. Samuels-Brown had said that UWI had, in the past, released statements alluding to changes in teaching methodologies, teaching content and the poor conditions of the facilities afforded to students as well as the overcrowded nature of the law school. In light of this, she noted that the school had initiated precautionary safety measures before facilitating students and it was on these grounds that the decision was taken to accept the students only if space was available.
Samuels-Brown had noted that the Council was facing a monumental task in finding accommodation and facilities for students, as the law school was built to accommodate some 200 students, but was facilitating approximately 400 students.
As part of a longstanding agreement between the Council and UG, every year, 25 automatic places are reserved for UG students at the Law School.
It was understood by this publication that the original agreement had initially expired in November 2012, but at the request of the Government of Guyana, it was extended until 2013. Negotiations were scheduled to take place to facilitate the 2014 batch of students. However, this discussion never took place until the matter arose last year. Although provisions have been made for 2015 , current UG law students remain concerned over the future relationship between UG and the Hugh Wooding Law School. Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall had assured some time ago that a long-term solution will be instituted to prevent future limbo. As it stands, talks are being held on the possibility of Guyana establishing its own law school here.