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Perimeter fencing to improve safety at Red Bank Primary

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Red Bank Primary and Infant Department is now safer and more secure thanks to the recent installation of a perimeter fence around the school compound with the help of the Sandals Foundation, Canadian Rotary and the school’s fund-raising actvities.

A news release said that the school, which was previously only 55 per cent enclosed, sought assistance to complete the project and repair damage to the existing fence line.

With the constant flow of public traffic on the school compound and the ease of access that compromised the security and supervision of the more than 150 students, the Sandals Foundation saw it necessary to help.

“The security of the school site over the years has always been a problem and we have been victims of vandalism. On numerous occasions we have returned to school after the weekend or holiday periods to find windows broken out, walls defaced or the school’s water tank empty,” school principal, Clover Evans, said.

The project, which received a $250,000 donation from the Sandals Foundation, was also supported by Canadian Rotary and funds raised independently by the school.

“I am thankful to all our donors,” said Evans. “Thank you Sandals Foundation for always extending a generous hand to our school. We are glad to have our school grounds now secure and we can now focus fully on educating our students without worrying about safety issues or loss of school equipment.”

Executive director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke, said the Foundation remains committed to helping schools across the Caribbean create the safest and most conducive learning environment for children.

“While it is critical that students have the resources they need to excel, we cannot undervalue the importance of ensuring that their learning environment is also safe and encouraging to the positive development of our children. We are very happy to be able to assist the Red Bank Primary and Infant School and in this regard, and we hope that the added security will be another factor that helps the students excel,” Clarke said.

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Police kill four rape-murder suspects

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SHADNAGAR, India (AFP) — Indian police yesterday shot dead four gang-rape and murder suspects, prompting celebrations but also accusations that they were extrajudicial executions.

The men, who had been in custody for a week over the latest rape case to shock India, were shot in the early hours during a re-enactment of the crime organised by police in Shadnagar, outside the southern city of Hyderabad.

“The police brought the accused to the crime spot as part of the investigation. The accused then started attacking the police with stones and sticks and then snatched the weapons and started firing,” Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar said.

“The police warned them and asked them to surrender, but they continued to fire. Then we opened fire and they were killed in the encounter,” he told reporters at the scene, adding that the men had confessed to the crime during interrogation.

Television images showed the shoeless bodies of the suspects still lying in an open field yesterday afternoon, with guns in the hands of two of them.

The four men were accused of gang-raping and murdering a 27-year-old veterinary doctor before, setting fire to her body underneath an isolated bridge late on November 27.

Like in the infamous 2012 rape and murder of a woman on a Delhi bus, the case sparked demonstrations and calls for swift and tough justice.

Shortly after their arrest hundreds of protesters also tried to storm the police station where they were held.

At one demonstration in Delhi, some women wielded swords while one lawmaker called for the men to be “lynched”, and another for rapists to be castrated.

Police are often accused of using extrajudicial killings to bypass the legal process, to cover up botched investigations, or to pacify public anger — but a huge backlog of cases in the slow Indian criminal justice means that many rape victims wait years for justice.

Several hundred people flocked to the scene of the men’s deaths yesterday, setting off firecrackers to celebrate and showering police with flower petals, hoisting them on their shoulders.

“I am happy the four accused have been killed in an encounter. This incident will set an example. I thank the police and media for their support,” the victim’s sister told a local television station.

Women distributed sweets and tied Hindu ritual threads on the wrists of policemen to thank them.

Further celebrations were held elsewhere in the country, including in the western state of Gujarat.

Many social media users, including politicians, celebrities and athletes, hailed the Telangana State police.

“Great work #hyderabadpolice ..we salute u,” top women’s badminton player Saina Nehwal tweeted, while fellow badminton star PV Sindhu wrote that “Justice has been served!”

Cricketer Harbhajan Singh congratulated police and the State government for “showing this is how it is done. No one should dare doing something like this again in future”.

And Rajyavardhan Rathore, a former minister and current Member of Parliament from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party wrote on Twitter: “Let all know this is the country where good will always prevail over evil.”

But lawyer and activist Vrinda Grover told AFP the killings were “absolutely unacceptable”.

“Instead of investigation and prosecution the State is committing murders to distract the public and avoid accountability,” she said.

India’s former federal minister for women and child development, Maneka Gandhi termed the incident “dangerous”.

“They would have anyway got hanging for their heinous crime, but you can’t just pick up guns and kill people because you want to. Because law is tardy, you can’t kill people,” Gandhi told reporters.

“To appease public rage over State failures against sexual assault, Indian authorities commit another violation,” tweeted Meenakshi Ganguly from Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty International India said the “alleged extrajudicial execution” raised disturbing questions and called for an independent investigation.

“In a modern and rights-respecting society, using extrajudicial executions to offer justice to victims of rape is not only unconstitutional but circumvents the Indian legal system, and sets a grossly wrong precedent,” Amnesty said in a statement.

Police said a post-mortem was completed yesterday on the bodies of the four suspects. At the same time, the State high court directed that a video of the procedure be delivered to a principal district judge and that the bodies be preserved until Monday evening, the newswire said.

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PM Skerrit holds on to position in Dominica polls

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PM Skerrit holds on to position in Dominica polls

Saturday, December 07, 2019

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — The ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) was last night on track for a major victory in the general election here, as it led in 18 of the 21 seats where results have been announced by the Electoral Commission.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who was seeking an unprecedented fourth-consecutive term as head of a Government here, had earlier predicted a “landslide” for his ruling party that itself is seeking to win five-consecutive general elections here.

In the 2014 General Election, the DLP defeated the main Opposition by a 15-6 margin for control of the 21-member legislature.

According to the preliminary results, the United Workers Party (UWP) was maintaining a healthy lead in its strongholds of the northern villages of Marigot and Salisbury, which in the latter days of the campaign had been the scene of roadblocks and the burning of tyres and debris as the supporters called on the Government to implement electoral reform ahead of the polls.

Prime Minister Skerrit, who has been the parliamentary representative for Vielle Case, north of here since 2000, was leading comfortably in his seat while his wife, Melissa Skerrit, who is making an entry into elective politics, was also leading newcomer Glenroy Cuffy on Roseau Central constituency.

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Number of Caribbean children displaced by storms up sixfold in past five years

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Number of Caribbean children displaced by storms up sixfold in past five years

Saturday, December 07, 2019

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UNITED NATIONS (CMC) – A new report by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the number of Caribbean children displaced by storms has risen approximately sixfold in the past five years.

The report, released yesterday, says catastrophic tropical cyclones and hurricanes uprooted an estimated 761,000 children in the region between 2014 and 2018, which also was the hottest five-year period on record.

The preceding five-year period, 2009 to 2013, saw some 175,000 Caribbean youngsters displaced, the report says.

“This report is a stark reminder that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“Children in storm-and flood-prone nations around the world are among the most vulnerable to having their lives and rights upended,” she added. “They are already feeling the impacts of climate change, so governments and the international community should act now to mitigate its most devastating consequences.”

The UNICEF report notes that the Caribbean was slammed by a series of catastrophic tropical cyclones or hurricanes between 2016 and 2018, including four Category 5 storms.

The agency said it has been providing lifesaving assistance for children and families across the Caribbean affected by the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

More than 400,000 children were displaced that year alone, the report says.

The report, ‘Children Uprooted in the Caribbean: How stronger hurricanes linked to a changing climate are driving child displacement’, warns that without urgent climate action, displacement levels are likely to remain high in the coming decades.

UNICEF has called on Caribbean governments to put children at the heart of climate change strategies and response plans, and to protect them from its impacts.

The United Nations agency also urged regional authorities to provide displaced children with protection and access to education, health care and other essential services, among other recommendations.

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