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ACM writes Caricom on OAS human rights meeting
The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) has written Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretary-General, Irwin La Rocque, in an attempt to discourage Caribbean participation in a March meeting in Ecuador to discuss the future of the Inter-American human rights system. The ACM says, “it is our view that this meeting of signatories, which is not based on a conventional legal standard, is inconsistent with the process that has been developing for more than two years within the Organisation of American States (OAS).”
ACM president Wesley Gibbings told the Guardian yesterday, “I am disappointed that Caribbean governments have not been more involved in this matter as it has progressed. “But it’s not too late now and I hope that the Caricom Secretariat plays a leadership role in the way the region engages this issue.”
The OAS has set a March 22 deadline for members to present proposals for reforming the system. This follows a debate on the matter launched in 2011 and followed by the establishment of a working group within the OAS. The organisation has joined with hemispheric press freedom and human rights organisations in arguing that the meeting will circumvent established OAS procedure on the matter and lead to a lack of transparency.
Human rights organisations have condemned what they claim is an attempt to water down the functions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by frequently cited countries. “We believe that to discuss aspects of this process outside its natural fora—the Permanent Council and the General Assembly of the OAS, is a breach of the agreements already signed between regional states of the organisation,” the letter says.
According to the missive signed by ACM president, Wesley Gibbings, “the transparency of the process and adherence to procedural legal standards guaranteeing the discussion, are vital to establish the legitimacy of this and any reform process. “It is for these reasons that we respectfully request Your Excellency to encourage Caricom member states to dismiss as inadmissible the proposal made by the Government of Ecuador,” the letter says.
“In compliance with the agreements made by our countries of the Caribbean we further discuss this topic in an open, transparent and participatory way within the OAS, as it is of great interest to the public throughout the region.” Last December, Gibbings addressed civil society consultations of the Permanent Council of the OAS on the proposed measures.
He said the Caribbean organisation was “particularly concerned” that some reforms proposed by member states “will have the impact of significantly weakening the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression by compromising its independence and weakening its resource base.”
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