Secrecy of Undeclared Gifts a Heavy Burden

December 2022 exposed a practice that questioned the effectiveness of one of the anti-corruption measures instituted in accordance with the Public Life Act. That act guides the actions of public servants in Grenada while the “gift registry” is one of the accountability mediums for people who hold public office. 

It was in December 2022 that Richard Duncan, Chairman of the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Committee returned a “Christmas gift” to Bo Xu, Chief Executive Officer, Mt Hartman Development Ltd. In the return to sender letter, Duncan explained that “The value of the above-mentioned items is incongruent with the Grenada Citizenship by Investment code of business conduct and ethics policy.”  There is no evidence that such a policy was ever published in gazette as part of the Public Life regulation but Section 45, Sub-section one of the Integrity in 2013 Public Life Act says, “A person in public life shall not accept any gift or reward from any person.” 

Lawyer Gillian Bristol who was appointed as the third chairperson of the Integrity Commission said the Public Life law  provides guidance, but the onus is on the person in public life to conduct themselves “so they will not breach what is in the Act.”

Referring specifically to Section 45 subsection 2(b) of the legislation, Bristol says out that the one exception that accepting a gift from a “dignitary” to ensure that a foreign officer is not offended. Bristol said that the law provides for that gift such gift must “to be registered with the Commission”. Despite the limitation, the act says that a public officer can accept gifts from:

(a) a community organisation on a social occasion which represents the creativity of that organisation; and

(b) a foreign dignitary, where the person in public life has reasonable grounds to believe that the refusal to accept the gift may offend the foreign dignitary”

The Public Life Act also instructs, that a person in public life who accepts a “gift or a reward” “shall make a report to the Commission of that fact in the prescribed manner within seven days of the receipt of the gift.” There is much uncertainty about the number of gifts given to, received or refused by public officials since the gift registry became operational in 2019.

Making a Case for Heat Advisory Watches and Warnings

In the middle of what is traditionally described as the wet or rain season, Grenadians for the first time had to take personal measures to deal with heatwave weather advisories that for some are only heard during the weather segment on USA news networks. “This weekend is forecast to have lower cloud cover, lighter temperature compared to the last few days. Dress appropriately, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, avoid closed spaces, look after the young and old,” was the advisory published by both the Met Office and the National Disaster Management Agency. Explaining that such an advisory will be issued when temperature occurs for two consecutive days beyond the statistical marker of 31.7 degrees Celsius, Gerard Tamar, Head of the Meteorological Office at the Maurice Bishop International Airport said that these advisories are aimed at warning citizens about the weather condition and the need for them to take personal care. The heat advisory warnings were preceded by days and nights of high air temperature which had citizens complaining about the humidity.

Gun Crime Grows Slowly, but Greater Priority Urged

St George’s, Grenada – The year 2023 appears to be a record-breaking year for illegal firearm possession in Grenada. In the process the Police have confiscated almost double the number of guns impounded for the first six months of 2022 than those seized in all of 2023. 

“Statistics show that in 2022 for the first six months 16 firearms were confiscated while for 2023 that number for the same period is 31,” said Dickon Mitchell who is not only prime minister but also the minister for national security. “This points to a dangerous trend of increasing firearms in our communities,” he said, while announcing that the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has adopted a “zero tolerance” approach to illegal firearm possession. “Zero tolerance” says Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell

“We don’t only intend to strengthen community policing and community engagement, but we are interested in getting to the root issues that are being manifested in violence in our communities,” he told CIJN. Possession of illegal guns or firearms has been rising over the years, according to police records, but at the same time, there is not a significant increase in guns being used as the weapon of choice to kill and assault citizens or to commit other violent crimes.