Caribbean under scrutiny as OAS reforms human rights system

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Hemispheric human rights organisations are fearful that what is viewed as Caribbean complacency on civil liberties may contribute to the undermining of the inter-American human rights system through recent initiatives led by some members of the Organisation of American States (OAS), as Wesley Gibbins reports in this article for Trinidad’s Guardian.

The test will come at a special session of the OAS General Assembly in March when member countries decide on a process to reform the human rights system through adjustments to the powers and influence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

The measures are being championed by Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil and several other Latin American states. They include limits on “precautionary measures,” re-allocation of financing, greater accent on the “promotion” of human rights and changes in reporting mechanisms for the Commission. Foreign minister Winston Dookeran is asserting that T&T will support all measures to “strengthen” the Commission.

“We believe,” he told Sunday Guardian, “that the Commission should be strengthened and there are certain aspects of the operations of the Commission that require some more teeth.” However, some analysts argue that the proposals will in fact weaken the Commission and undermine the role of its Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. They believe a united Caribbean response can avert the worst dangers.

The OAS Caribbean Community (Caricom) caucus comprises a potentially influential 14 of the organisation’s 35 member states. Only six Caricom countries are however signatories to the American Convention on Human Rights and only three (Barbados, Haiti and Suriname) have acceded to the compulsory jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

T&T was an early signatory to the Convention in 1977 but announced its denunciation of the Convention in 1998 which, with one year’s notice, saw the country’s departure in 1999. This, together with a reservation registered under the United Nations Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, made way for the prompt execution of the Dole Chadee gang in June 1999.

The country, however, still falls under the scrutiny of the IACHR which has a mandate to receive, analyse and investigate individual human rights petitions from all OAS member states.

Human rights advocates in the USA, Canada, Latin America, and to a much lesser extent, the Caribbean, are concerned that specific proposals to limit the ability of the Commission to act independently to impose legal “precautionary measures” to protect persons may significantly undermine its credibility.

They also believe changes to the mandatory processing times for cases, adjustments to reporting mechanisms for organs of the Commission and a greater emphasis on the “promotion” of human rights as opposed to affording protection will have the impact of watering down its influence.

So far, Caribbean interventions on the issues have been relatively muted. But, in a submission to the OAS Permanent Council in November, Jamaica ’s ambassador to the OAS Prof Stephen Vascienne admitted that Caricom states believed through the work of the Privy Council and the Caribbean Court of Justice “our human rights issues are already properly addressed.”

He also pointed to the vexing issue of low Caribbean visibility within the Inter-American system. There are two Caricom nationals on the seven-member Commission Vice Chair Tracy Robinson of Jamaica and Prof Rose-Marie Belle Antoine of T&T, and just one full-time Caricom lawyer on staff.

“If the Commission wishes to encourage a stronger feeling of ownership among Caricom states, it cannot ignore the availability of nationals from these states for service in the Commission,” Vascienne said. However, civil society organisations addressing the OAS Permanent Council on December 7 believed the focus should be on ensuring greater levels of awareness on the part of all member countries about the seriousness of the proposed measures.

The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) was the only Caricom civil society organisation in attendance and argued that, among other things, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression faced special risks, should the reforms be enacted. Dookeran said T&T will support “all measures to protect freedom of the press (but) we believe that the process for dealing with human rights violations must be able to stand up to scrutiny.”

Civil society organisations gathered in Washington DC in December, however, suggested in their presentations that the “scrutiny” being prescribed by some states is a euphemism for greater state control of the system and may spell danger for the 53-year-old commission and its work. The March meeting promises to deliver a significant verdict on the issue.

For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-01-06/caribbean-under-scrutiny-oas-reforms-human-rights-system

4 thoughts on “Caribbean under scrutiny as OAS reforms human rights system

  1. To who this may concern:unlawful arrested in Guyana and illegale extraidite to Suriname.I am searching a International investigation.my fundamental rights has been voilated.Suriname,Guyana high level politiek underworld link.I am a citizen of Guyana born on the 3″day of june 1982 at the New Amsterdam Hospital,Berbice,Guyana,to my parents Jerome Clarke and Claudette pamela Sweeny.I present detained in Suriname by the local Police.That i am living between my parents at lot 348 Sukhu Street,Canje,Berbice where i started my bussines like a electrician.

  2. On the 5 day of august 2010 Sherwin Edward Clarke booked inn at Princess Hotel Casino in Georgetown Guyana.To do my local bussines in Georgetown i needle my car,so i whent back to Berbice canje to uplift my Toyota Carina car registration No 3666.chassis No A7212-0059361.engine No SAH 302908 that i bought on the 4 day of august 2010.On my way back to Georgetown while i was driving without a driving licene on the West Berbice Publice road officers from the Guyana Police stopped Sherwin Clarke at a road block and detained and arrested me and took me to the Fort Wellington Police Station where i was questioned and place handcuffed in a cel.Without telling me the cause 3 Police office search my car.I was force to take my closeh off.my passport,nokia cellphone,180 G corrency was lodge in the accornce and general principel book.

  3. After i was arrested on the 6 day of august 2010 i was transferred to New Amsterdam Police Station where i was broad to Assistance Commissioner name Steve Merai who threaten to shoot me.Steve Merai told me that i’m wanted in Suriname by the local police.He say he has the power to send me there,so here is what i shall do.Give back the dealer the car and i should split the money with him or pay him (5000) 5 thousand american dollar when i refuse he say i will regret this and my car will stay and rotten there.He told me pay the 5 thousand or ten years in prison.I was then taken a way walking on the street with my hand and feet handcuffed then place in the lockup where i was kept over night without food or water.I was not allow to call anny one strickly orders was given by the commander.On the 7 day of august august 2010 i was told that they will be taken me to the C.I.D in Georgetown for a investigation but they lie the took me at Whim Police Station.my wife hurd about it and broad food for me.i spend almost 5 hour at the Whim Police Station.After i met my wife i told her to get a lawyer and after 5 munite i was taken at 63 beach where Suriname police took me out of the hand off 3 Police officer Steve Merai include at gun point.At whim police station i was force to since a book without seeing whats whritting inside.Gun pointed to my head sign that f….c book quick.I was extradite the illegale way.my passport number was taken at the Whim Police Station No 1058886.

  4. I was lifted up and pulled,dragged by the Suriname Police.they then place there own handcuffs on my hand and feet.I Was told to laydown flat in the speedboot.Shohan a officer from Suriname Police force dumped a black bag in the river and place it over my head.could’nt bread so i try to get air and i was kicked and cuffed by Shohan.I was sentence on the 25 day of oktober to (10) ten years in prison.I was sentence behind close doors.Guyana the corrupted country are denieing what the did.Suriname Police told court i was arrested on the river,thats was they writt in the news paper.I Ask the judge to call the police officer to wittness he never did.I was not allow to spreak much in court.I was sentence by Annan Koemar Charran.My case was open for public but later transferred behind close door.I am arrested on one day of in two diffrent country.7 day of august 2010.I was band by directeur of Duitsburglaan prison to contact media.After i still contacted the media i was transferrend on the 13 day of feb 2013 to C.P.I Centraal Penitentiaire Inrichting Santa Boma.I was deprive of my life liberty.denied equal protection of the law of Guyana.Suriname and Guyana do’not have any extradition treaty.

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