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News Round UP: Week Ending 9/10/16

National

United States swimmer Ryan Lochte has been hit with a 10-month suspension following his bogus gunpoint robbery story during a drunken night out at the Olympics, two separate media reports said Wednesday.

Lochte, 32, has been suspended until mid-2017 the USA Today newspaper reported citing a person with knowledge of the situation. He would also be banned from next year’s World Championships in Budapest.

A United States Olympic Committee (USOC) spokesman declined to confirm the reports when contacted by AFP for comment. USA Today said a statement confirming the suspension is pending.

Lochte’s suspension was first reported by the TMZ.com entertainment news website. The site said three other swimmers involved in the escapade were suspended for varying periods up to four months.

Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medallist, has lost a slew of sponsorship deals following the Rio escapade. He was charged by Brazilian police last month of making a false report about being robbed at gunpoint during a night out. Lochte had already left the country by the time the charges were filed.

The Olympic gold medal winner had told the media in Rio that he and three teammates had been mugged after an all-night party by robbers pretending to be police.

The tale humiliated first the Brazilian hosts of the Games and later Lochte’s own Team USA, after police determined that he had largely fabricated his story.

Lochte, who is now seeking to rehabilitate his public image with an appearance on upcoming reality show “Dancing With the Stars” has apologized for his behaviour.

“I’m taking full responsibility for it,” Lochte said in a television interview.

“I over-exaggerated that story and if I had never done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

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International

A proposal to split Test cricket into a two-tier structure was withdrawn on Wednesday during a meeting of the chief executives’ committee (CEC) of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

According to reports from Dubai where the meeting took place, there was no vote but a consensus to remove the proposal, despite six Full Members supporting the idea.

Dave Cameron’s West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), reports suggest, joined boards of Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand, and Pakistan in backing the proposal for a two-tier structure for Test cricket, opposed by India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe.

“There was a significant compromise and it was subsequently decided to withdraw the two-tier proposal,” a chief executive who attended the meeting told ESPNcricinfo.

According to the proposal, the two-tier system would involve seven teams in the top tier and five in the bottom, with promotion and relegation based on performance.

Afghanistan and Ireland, as the leading Associate teams, would join the three lowest-ranked Test playing nations in the bottom tier, with other Associates having a chance at promotion based on performance.

“Whilst we await full details of the outcomes of the meetings at the ICC, and the reasons for various proposals not being taken forward, it would be disappointing if the concept of Test leagues or other similar workable structures were shelved so early in this process,” said Tony Irish executive chairman of the players’ global body FICA.

“We look forward to confirmation of plans regarding the future of all three international formats, and continue to urge the ICC to explore all options in relation to a new structure for international cricket.”

The two-day CEC meeting in Dubai was specially convened for Member Board representatives to discuss international cricket structures in all three formats.

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Haiti

Haitians wishing to visit Suriname from September 15 must be in possession of a visa as the Dutch Caribbean Community (Caricom) clamps down on criminal activities, including illegal migration.

According to the Haitian authorities, Suriname has made it mandatory for nationals from Haiti, a Caricom member state, to be in possession of a visa from September 15 to enter the Dutch-speaking country.

Media reports here said that the French government, through its embassy in Suriname, had complained that Haitian migrants passed through Suriname to enter French Guiana in large numbers seeking asylum.

Figures released here show that more than half of the passengers on the airline, Insel Air, which serves the French side of the Caribbean island, were of Haitian origin.

A March 2016 report had noted that more illegal Haitian migrants had entered French Guiana and that many had used Suriname’s international airport.

The report noted that most of the Haitians did not speak English and for the most part, could neither read nor write. Some were also unable to provide the authorization documents for children who accompanied them or held false documents.

It said that airlines now had to file their full lists of passengers to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Suriname and that while a tourist card was given to the travelers from September 15, all Haitian nationals with a ticket for a trip to Suriname will have to be in possession of a visa.

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Jamaica

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will be setting up offices in Jamaica as part of measures to help fight crime and violence.

The offices of both agencies will be located at the Embassy of the United States of America (USA), in Liguanea, Kingston.

United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis G Moreno, made the disclosure at the Jamaica-US Bilateral Relations Forum, held at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies on September 7.

The Forum focused on a report from the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) entitled ‘Dialogues between Democracies: The Future of US-Jamaica Bilateral Relations’.

Ambassador Moreno explained that officers from the agencies will help to train local personnel.

He pointed out that over the past year, 16 courses have been conducted in areas such as forensics, investigating terror networks, investigating cybersecurity crimes and spotting false documents.

“Having the FBI means that if there is a federal crime committed here which affects both Jamaica and the United States, I don’t have to wait for the office in Miami for international affairs to send me agents. Once we have an office here full-time, that guy will go out, train people, and will liaise and exchange information,” he explained.

The ambassador said the ATF is crucial, as it can trace serial numbers and conduct forensic tests on guns coming through the United States and Central America in the drugs for gun trade.

He pointed out that the US has invested and will continue to invest tens of millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours in improving the capabilities of Jamaica’s security forces and the judiciary.

The report from CaPRI focused on areas such as enhancing security; emboldening democratic governance; increasing trade and investment; enabling health and prosperity; endorsing full and equal citizenship; and strengthening the partnership.

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International

Despite a protest staged outside the Jamaican High Commission in London Tuesday, the British Government deported 42 Jamaicans amid claims that they were tricked and that the expulsions were unjust.

The deportees, some carrying only one bag of personal possessions, arrived in Kingston on a chartered flight yesterday morning and were taken to Mobile Reserve, the police unit at Merrion Road, where they were processed before being released to anxious relatives.

Most hid their faces on release, except for one irate middle-aged man. He accused the British authorities of “using racism and bullyism” to effect the deportations and blamed the Jamaican Government of being a “sell-out”.

He said he was sent back to Jamaica over a “few bags of weed”, but argued that the British “rob and rape the world and no one is holding them responsible for that”.

“I’m a Rasta man, what do you expect of me? I smoke it,” he said in reference to marijuana.

He said he had already completed over four months of his nine-month sentence, but that the immigration authorities held him for another four months. “Then dem just say time to deport you. I appealed everything, and they turned down everything and pushed it aside,” he told journalists.

The Unity Centre, an immigration and asylum support group that opposes the move by the British Government, said the sentiment amongst the deportees is that they were conned and manipulated.

“People issued tickets for the charter flight on Wednesday have complied with the conditions imposed on them by the Home Office. They have succumbed to the Home Office’s every demand and now feel like they have been tricked and kidnapped. Each person told the same story — they went to sign at the Home Office reporting centre as required and were tricked,” the Unity Centre said earlier this week in a news release headlined ‘Home Office Restarts Racist Jamaica Charter Flights’.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, in its report on the protest over the deportations outside the Jamaican High Commission in south-west London, pointed out that some of the deportees were still fighting their immigration cases.

“Critics have raised questions about the tactics used by Home Office immigration enforcement, which has been accused of ‘strategically’ detaining individuals to fill the flight, without consideration of their circumstances,” the Guardian said.

Yesterday, the Jamaica Observer was told that among the deportees were elderly individuals, some of whom have lived their entire lives in England.

One woman who spoke with the Observer was on the verge of tears as she said she was anxious to see her son who was locked up in the United Kingdom in 2014. She said she had been in contact with him through twice-monthly phone calls facilitated by a chaplain at the prison where he had been incarcerated. She said that while, she was happy to have her son home, she was devastated by the circumstances under which he had been forced to return.

The Glasgow-based Unity Centre said it has been in contact with more than 50 Jamaicans detained by UK immigration and that, “Everyone we have spoken to has been here since they were children and have no family or friends in Jamaica.”

The organisation charged that hundreds who were previously released on bail and temporary admission have been detained “in a deliberate act to prepare for this charter flight to Jamaica”.

“Their lives are here in the UK. Everyone we have spoken to has British family, children and partners, even grandchildren and extended family. Many individuals have ongoing immigration cases and most cannot afford to pay the huge legal fees to regularise their stay…Their lives are here in the UK. Everyone we have spoken to has British family, children and partners, even grandchildren and extended family,” the solidarity group stated.

The Unity Centre further argued that many of those detained for deportation were “swept up” as part of a controversial initiative named ‘Operation Nexus’. “Some of the people we spoke to, due to be deported on Wednesday, have never even been convicted of a crime. Those that have served custodial sentences served their sentences. This is simply a racist double punishment,” the group alleged.

Yesterday, Jamaica’s foreign affairs ministry said it has been advised by the Ministry of National Security that “such flights have previously been used over the past several years, under a Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of Jamaica and the United Kingdom, which addresses such matters”.

Treasurer of the National Organisation of Deported Migrants Dwight Jones, who along with other representatives of that group waited outside the gates of the Mobile Reserve, told the press that the organisation stood ready to assist the deportees with information, transportation, and direct those who would be homeless to shelters.

“We are able to provide documentation such as birth certificate and TRN, and we work with government agencies, non-government agencies and donor agencies. (This) is not necessarily an exceptional event – we are here every month, and in some instances it’s a weekly thing,” Jones said, noting that about 70 people are deported from the United States weekly, but that deportations from the UK are not as frequent.

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