Caribbean News Round-up


Chile quake triggers mass evacuation, tsunami alert

EQ1[BBC] – One million people had to leave their homes in Chile after a powerful quake hit the country’s central region. At least 10 people died when the 8.3-magnitude quake hit at at 19:54 local time (22:54 GMT).

Residents of Illapel, near the quake’s epicentre, fled into the streets in terror as their homes began to sway. In the coastal town of Coquimbo, waves of 4.7m (15ft) hit the shore. A tsunami alert was issued for the entire Chilean coast but has since been lifted.

Tsunami waves also hit the coast further north and south of the quake’s epicentre, with waves half a metre higher than usual as far north as La Punta. The quake lasted for more than three minutes and there have been dozens of aftershocks.

Gloria Navarro, who lives in the coastal town of La Serena, said people were “running in all directions”. Officials said 1,800 people in Illapel were left without drinking water.

Electricity providers said hundreds of thousands of their clients in the worst-affected Coquimbo region had no power. The quake that rocked Chile on Wednesday was five times more energetic than the one that devastated Nepal back in April. And yet the early indications are that the death toll will be a fraction (perhaps a thousandth) of what it was in the Himalayan nation.EQ 2

In large part, this is simply down to preparedness. This was Chile’s third massive quake in five years; the region all too frequently experiences magnitude 8 events. As a consequence, the building codes are strict and generally well enforced.

What is more, the people themselves are well versed in how to react during and after an event.

In 2010, an 8.8-magnitude quake witnessed failings on the part of the monitoring network and the system for alerting people to the imminent tsunami threat.

Since then, the Chilean government has spent millions upgrading the country’s seismic network of sensors, and made improvements to telecommunications systems that share critical information and warnings.

The earthquake struck as thousands of Chileans were travelling to the coast ahead of a week of celebrations for independence day. President Michelle Bachelet said some of the official festivities would be cancelled. The authorities were quick to issue tsunami alerts keen to avert a repeat of the slow response to the 8.8-magnitude quake in 2010, which devastated large areas of the country.

More than 500 people died in that quake and the tsunami it triggered and memories of the tragedy are still raw.


Remains of second Mexican student identified

MEXICO[BBC] – Mexico’s attorney-general says the burnt remains of a second student out of a group of 43 who disappeared last year have been identified. They disappeared in the town of Iguala in Guerrero state.

She confirmed the identification of Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz, found in a rubbish dump outside the city. Austrian forensic officials have been carrying out tests. The remains of another student Alexander Mora Venancio were identified last December.

The group disappeared in September last year when they were on their way to take part in a demonstration. Relatives of the students have questioned the account of the Mexican authorities who said corrupt local police handed over the students to a local drugs gang who killed them and burnt the bodies.

Earlier this month an independent investigation rejected the government’s account of events. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights says it has found no evidence to support claims that the bodies were incinerated.

The Mexican government said it would send forensic experts to the area. Relatives have always rejected the official investigation. They accused the authorities of covering up the alleged involvement of high-ranking officials and possibly the army in the killings.

The case shocked Mexico and led to weeks of protests against official impunity and the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto.


Lawyers Under Fire! Disrespect & Dishonesty Plaguing Profession – Chief Justice

Her Ladyship Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE
Her Ladyship Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE

[BVI Platinum News] – The Chief Justice’s address at the opening of the 2015/2016 Law Year was riddled with harsh words against lawyers operating in the Eastern Caribbean for being dishonest, disrespectful and mishandling clients’ funds.

Her Ladyship Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, who delivered her address today, September 17 from Grenada, said apart from lawyers being disrespectful, there are those who are knowingly sneaking into the courts without possessing a valid practicing certificate. This, she said, is being dishonest.

Chief Justice Periera’s address was broadcasted live throughout the nine Member States and Territories of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), including at the Supreme Court in Road Town.

“Another disturbing trend which appears to be taking root, is that of lawyers who appear before the court without possessing a valid practicing certificate. In most of our Member States, the Legal Profession Act which governs many aspects of the legal profession mandates that an attorney-at-law must possess a practicing certificate. However, there are an increasing number of attorneys who commit a great disservice to the profession, the clients and the court by sneaking their way before the court knowing fully well that they are in contravention of this requirement.”

Hon. Periera added, “this should not be. It is a discourtesy to the court, and critically it is an act of dishonesty in the context of the legal profession. It is almost, most unfair and deceitful to your client who has a legitimate expectation…And unfair to your colleagues who are compliant…”

The Chief Justice admonished on all attorneys-at-law who are practicing in this manner to cease and desist from such practice, as it brings the entire legal profession in disrepute and erodes public confidence in the justice system.

Taking center stage of her address was disrespectful lawyers. The Chief Justice, however said what she was speaking about does not relate to the large number of persons in the legal profession.

“Unforgettably one of the disturbing issue which currently plagues the profession is the lack of respect displayed by some and I emphasis some attorneys-at-law…However, we are all aware of the case with which all members of the legal profession are painted with one broad brush, so that the failings of a few impact adversely on many.”

Chief Justice Pereira said an attorney-at-law must exude and encourage respect of the courts, judges, clients and colleagues. She stated that disrespect is very broad and extends to a number of areas of the profession; and it also extends to how someone presents him or herself visually.

“This in my view has nothing to do with passing fashions but rather the dignity of the profession…deals with seriousness of the importance of doing justice…Over time, one has seen a slow but certain creeping in of mannerism and expressions which distract from the nobility of the profession and which neither enhances the legal causes of the client, nor assist with the proper determination of it.”

She added, “Entrenched in the code of ethnics governing the practice of lawyers, is a requirement that an attorney-at-law must at all times treat litigants and other attorneys-at-law with fairness and courtesy and in the same vain, an attorney-at-law must encourage respect for the court and the judges.”

She said disrespect weakens rather than promotes the fair administration of justice and does much to destroy public confidence in the judiciary as an institution.

Misuse of Clients’ Funds

Meanwhile, the issue of misuse of clients’ funds by lawyers was also raised as a major issue. The Chief Justice said great responsibility is placed on an attorney-at-law who has been put in charge of clients funds.

“…It is very disconcerting that in number of cases, these funds are inappropriately managed by attorneys-at-law…the court will show no tolerance for such behavior.”

The Chief Justice stated that in many of the member states disciplinary committees have been established to whom litigants can lodge complaints against an attorney.

“Such indiscretion can be very costly to client and quite damaging to the attorney, not only financially but professionally.”

Chief Justice Pereira said countries such as Barbados and Jamaica have zero tolerance for such behavior and there have been disbarment.

Punctuality and lack of preparedness by lawyers were also raised. The Chief Justice stated that request for adjournments made, particularly on the morning scheduled for hearing, is discourteous.



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