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Published:Saturday | September 6, 2014 | 9:00 AM

Jamaica records increase in stopover arrivals

The tourism sector has registered a 2.4 per cent growth in stopover arrivals between January and July this year, when compared to the same period in 2013.

Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, in making this announcement at a JIS Think Tank on Thursday, said preliminary figures up to August are showing a 3.3 per cent growth over last year.

Of significant note, he said, is that the month of July, which saw a record 221,000 stopover arrivals, the largest the country has ever seen in a single month.

He said there has been growth from all markets with significant increase in arrivals from the United Kingdom (UK).

"Up to 2012, we had four consecutive years of negative growth coming out of the UK …. Each year, we would have had less arrivals than the previous year. Last year, we saw a 4.7 per cent increase and this year, up to the end of July, the arrivals are up 14 per cent and the month of July alone showed phenomenal success of 22.5 per cent growth," the tourism minister said.

He credited the marketing and promotional thrust during the London Olympics in 2012 as the medium which spurred the continuous growth.


Cops in unlawful prisoner removal case say they were framed

Two of the police officers who allegedly unlawfully removed a prisoner from the Freeport Police Station lock-up in Montego Bay last year told the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate's Court on Thursday that they were being framed.

Constables Raymond Johnson and Alicia Hutchinson-Brooks, who are on trial for corruption, told the court in their respective testimonies that they were not in St James on January 30, 2013, the date on which they allegedly took part in the release of prisoner Greg Taylor from police custody under questionable circumstances.

"I know I am not involved in this allegation. I think they are trying to save themselves, and they are using me as a scapegoat … . I was at a party at Big Bridge in Westmoreland, because it was my friend's birthday," Johnson said.

"Who comprises the 'they'?" prosecutor Natalie Malcolm asked Johnson, under cross-examination.

"The persons who are involved in the allegations," Johnson replied.

"Do you know of any reason why Corporal Orville Williams (the officer in charge of the Freeport cells at the time) would have pointed you out as the person who took Greg Taylor?" asked Malcolm.

"No, ma'am," said Johnson.

In her evidence-in-chief, Hutchinson-Brooks said that at the time Taylor was reportedly being removed from police custody, she was on duty in Savanna-la-Mar, where she was stationed at the time.

"I was on street-crime duty, paying special attention to the Savanna-la-Mar area. I was in the company of other persons," Hutchinson-Brooks testified.


Indigenous Convention supporters weigh in on Mario Deane case

Local spokespersons for the Indigenous and Tribal People's Convention of the United Nations have joined the ongoing discussion on the controversial death of Mario Deane, who died in hospital after being severely beaten while in police custody for possession of a small quantity of ganja.

During a press conference to acknowledge the 23rd anniversary of the Indigenous and Tribal People's Convention, human-rights spokesman Dwight Darmand asserted that not enough attention has been paid by Jamaica's highest-ranking officials to the human-rights issues arising from Deane's death.

The convention, which addresses the rights of indigenous peoples, was held at the University of the West Indies, Mona-Western Jamaica Campus, yesterday.

"In the recent Mario Deane incident that has sparked local, regional and international attention, there has not been enough local action being taken from our upper levels - from the prime minister (Portia Simpson Miller) all the way down - to deal with the issues that we are facing," Darmand said.

"The Government's security forces have demonstrated a clear and convincing historical pattern of hate, genocide, wanton disregard and disrespect for the sanctity of the Jamaican human life," Darmand added.