Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran has met with his Ecuadorean counterpart, Ricardo Patino, as diplomatic efforts increase to encourage T&T's support for contentious proposals to reform the Inter-American human rights system.
Yesterday's meeting in Port-of-Spain precedes Friday's Extraordinary General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS).It also follows over 18 months of deliberations by a special working group convened to "reflect on the workings of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with a view to strengthening the Inter-American human rights system."
The measures have been roundly criticised by hemispheric human rights organisations as an attempt to reduce the powers and influence of the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).The General Assembly is to consider a resolution replacing an earlier version presented to the OAS Permanent Council last Wednesday which attracted the fire of countries such as the United States, Canada, Jamaica and Barbados.
According to diplomatic sources, Dookeran, will not be in attendance. He met with OAS Assistant Secretary-General, Albert Ramdin, on Friday.T&T also did not contribute to last week's debate on the draft resolution which included the decisions of a controversial conference of subscriber countries to the American Convention on Human Rights, in Guayaquil, Ecuador on March 11.
T&T denounced the Convention in 1998 in order to facilitate the execution of the Dole Chadee gang in 1999. Only six Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries are active parties to the convention.During deliberations by the OAS Permanent Council on the draft last Wednesday, Canada's representative to the OAS, Amb Allan Culham, noted that his country, which is not a state party to the convention, had been denied observer status at the Guayaquil meeting.
He said the draft resolution was "unbalanced" and "not reflective of expressions of the (OAS permanent) council. His US counterpart, Amb Lawrence Gumbiner said: "The resolution does not reflect any of the discussions that have taken place in 18 months" and was "reflective, almost verbatim, of an exclusive meeting."
For his part, the first secretary of the Barbados mission to the OAS, Ricardo Kellman, expressed concern that "some have been left outside the pale of the (Guayaquil) discussion."
Though Barbados was invited and had planned to attend, changes within the country's Foreign Affairs Ministry following the February 21 general election there had prevented it from attending the meeting.