BBC Caribbean News in Brief

Historic charter of
rights for Jamaicans

In a rare bipartisan vote, Jamaica’s House of Representatives has approved a modern charter of civil, political and social rights.
The charter of rights bill, which amends the constitution, is the product of prolonged parliamentary negotiation which began in the 1990s.
The bill states that parliament shall pass no law and establish no organ of the state which abrogates, abridges or infringes the fundamental rights of Jamaicans.
The bill’s passage is important as it is the first time that the Constitution is providing a blanket protection for life, liberty, security, freedom of thought, conscience, belief and observances of religious and political doctrine.

Digicel boss denies
paying kickbacks

Telecoms tycoon Denis O’Brien, who owns Digicel, has denied making payments to a former Irish government minister accused of helping the businessman secure a mobile phone licence that made his fortune.
O’Brien insisted he did not pass money through secretive off-shore bank accounts to Michael Lowry, Ireland’s former communications minister.
An investigation by a judge found that Lowry played a “profoundly reprehensible” role in the award of the licence to O’Brien’s Esat Digifone company 16 years ago.
Since then, the tycoon has expanded his business interests, which include his Digicel empire in the Caribbean.
O’Brien said the probe’s findings were “fundamentally flawed”.

Cuba frees final two dissidents

The government in Cuba has freed the last two political prisoners detained during a crackdown on opposition activists in 2003.
Felix Navarro and Jose Ferrer had been serving 25-year prison sentences for crimes against the state.
Most of the dissidents – known as the group of 75 – were freed and went into exile in Spain last year, under a deal brokered by the Roman Catholic church.
The release of others was delayed because they refused to leave Cuba

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