October 24, 2013
Note: This column and the next are dedicated to young Bahamians, white, black and other hues, of varied ethnic and national origin, straight and gay, male and female, and other identities of association or belief, who form a rainbow of possibilities for One Bahamas, who have benefitted from the promises of majority rule and independence, and whose privilege of citizenship is to help to extend these promises and to realize promises partly fulfilled or promises not yet met.
Following the heartbreak and dismay of the November 26, 1962 general election in which the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won the majority of the popular vote, but lost the election, attaining far fewer seats than the United Bahamian Party (UBP) because of gross gerrymandering, key figures in the PLP nonetheless realized that the days of minority rule were numbered.
Having won the majority of the popular vote, the PLP intensified its program of nonviolent direct action and its efforts to heighten the political and social consciousness of the black majority and to defeat the economic and political misrule of a classic oligarchy wedded to white supremacy.
Through its major public communications organ, Bahamian Times, edited by Arthur A. Foulkes, the PLP increasingly and effectively countered the propaganda of the UBP, which had concocted insidious themes such as the party's 1962 election propaganda aimed primarily at black women: "Vote PLP and starve".
Just as the General Strike of 1958 heightened the political consciousness of black Bahamians, especially those living at New Providence, Black Tuesday, April 27, 1965, proved a pivotal moment in the struggle for majority rule, bolstering the opposition to the UBP and radicalizing the consciousness of many more Bahamians, now even more determined to effect political change.
That change, the denouement of a certain stage of the struggle, when the consciousness of the majority reached a historic apogee, arrived on January 10, 1967 when the Second Bahamian Emancipation was ushered in by the mass of Bahamians.
On the evening of the 10th the numbers trickled in from the various constituencies, cut along farcical boundaries largely unchanged from 1962. But this time, on that day, the PLP won not only the majority of the popular vote.
The party tied the UBP 18 to 18 in the number of seats in the House of Assembly, with Sir Randol Fawkes representing the Labour Party winning a seat as did independent candidate Sir Alvin Braynen.
More on the numbers needed to form a government momentarily. But this for now: The political arithmetic on the 10th meant that minority rule was effectively finished.
The masses immediately understood the new arithmetic and the new political calculus. Celebrations erupted that night as soon as the final results were tallied and despite the tie, which some revisionists putatively and incorrectly assumed and assume still to have been an inconclusive result.
Waves of celebrants marched from Over-the-Hill to Bay Street, flooding the precincts of the UBP's political and economic power with songs and chants of freedom and choruses of appreciation for newfound empowerment.
Majestic sounds of cowbells and goat skin drums shook some of the oligarchy's most hallowed grounds, announcing a new era for a mass of people locked out of economic and political power and historically allowed limited access to Bay Street where they were discriminated against and segregated into inferior status.
The celebrations were euphoric, spilling over into a new dawn. Throughout the night car horns trumpeted the victory. There were spontaneous rush-outs throughout Nassau with jubilant crowds gathering at various places such as the Taxi Cab Union complex on Wulff Road.
Now that the change had come, it was time to form a government. There is often the temptation to historical revisionism by some, for all manner of reasons. Yet the facts and reality of certain events often prove stubborn.
Sir Randol, a PLP ally, was part of the progressive movement, running with the full support of the PLP.
It was inconceivable that the firebrand, regarded as being even more radical than the PLP, would betray the movement and support the UBP. His expected support afforded the PLP a majority. The problem was that the party had to elect a speaker.
Had Sir Alvin supported the UBP, there would be a tie of 19 to 19, with another election almost inevitable, a contest in which the UBP would have been slaughtered, as they were in the 1968 general election subsequent to the death of PLP MP Uriah McPhee.
But it was widely known that Sir Alvin was not on good terms with the UBP and that the idea of becoming speaker of the House of Assembly was not unappealing to him. The story is told that when Sir Lynden telephoned Sir Alvin the conversation began:
Sir Lynden: "Mr. Speaker!"
Sir Alvin: "Yes, premier!"
Sir Alvin, who hailed from Current, Eleuthera, grasped the moment and sided with the majority, becoming the first speaker in a majority rule government.
While the formation or the christening of the new majority rule government took place a few days later, the new birth of freedom was ushered in on January 10, 1967.
That new birth of freedom of January 10 was a triumph of democracy, a day of celebration for all Bahamians.
Following the bitter loss of 1962, an election which many PLPs were convinced they would win, especially after women were newly enfranchised earlier that year, a group of men approached Sir Lynden about the party's response to an election they felt that the UBP had stolen by massively outspending the PLP and through outrageously undemocratic means.
These men and others were not prepared to accept the defeat and the continued rule by a racist and greedy oligarchy determined to retain economic and political power by manipulation of the instruments of state and government.
One of the men who approached Sir Lynden was enraged by such a defeat and wanted, in the words of some, "to tear down the town".
Having considered democratic politics ineffective and nonviolent action insufficient, there were those who wanted to immediately march on Bay Street and wreak mayhem.
To his everlasting credit, Sir Lynden, supported by his closest colleagues, quenched the rage and stopped what would have been a disaster for the country, the movement and the PLP. He intended for his party to triumph at the ballot box.
In a circular read to thousands of students on Majority Rule Day this year, Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes, a key figure in the struggle, enthused: "On the 10th of January 1967 the will of the majority of Bahamians was freely expressed in a general election based on universal adult suffrage where all men and women of adult age, regardless of property qualifications could vote to determine who would govern them."
The celebration of Majority Rule Day and the path to an official holiday has been characterized by fits and starts, and by the politicization of the history by some and the hostility and ambivalence of others, most of which has proven deeply disappointing and narrow-minded.
There is the need for a broader understanding of the struggle for and the attainment of majority rule, beyond certain partisan, racial and historically myopic mindsets.
Next week: Towards a shared understanding and celebration of Majority Rule Day.
o email@example.com o www.bahamapundit.com.
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October 21, 2013
"My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results... but it is the effort that's heroic, as I see it. Win or lose, I admire those who fight the good fight..."
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October 19, 2013
The number of child workers across the world now stands at 168 million, a one-third drop since 2000. This is both encouraging and worrying. It is encouraging because 11-year-old boys have been rescued from being child soldiers in Myanmar, girls in Malawi no longer work from dawn till late at night doing domestic chores and can now attend school, and children forced to beg in Romania are now safe in rehabilitation centers.
But it is worrying because 168 million is still a very large number. If all the child workers were grouped in a single country, this would be the world's eighth most populous country, more populous than Bangladesh or Russia. Even with the progress of recent years, the world will not, at the present rate meet the target to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by 2016, which was agreed by the international community in 2010 in The Hague.
According to the latest global estimates from the International Labour Organization, there are 85 million five- to 17-year-olds around the world doing work that directly endanger their health, safety and development. The vast majority work in agriculture but they are present in other sectors too, working in mines, being trafficked or abused in the sex trade, made to beg, exploited in domestic work, forced to join militias or armies. Just under half of child workers are between five and 11 years of age and most are boys (although the figures may underestimate the involvement of girls in less visible forms of work such as domestic work). Asia-Pacific has the most child workers (78 million) and sub-Saharan African has the highest incidence of child labor (21 million). But this is not a poor or developing country problem: there are child workers too in rich countries, including the U.S. and Western Europe.
Child labor is a global problem that needs a response from all sides. This means measures to help reduce poverty, improve education, enforce laws, improve employment prospects for adults and ensure there are no benefits in employing children under working age.
With the right policy choices and technical cooperation and donor support where necessary, child labor can be tackled. Take Malawi, one the world's poorest countries where about 30 percent of children aged five-15 are trapped in child labor. Children like eight-year-old Ethel, who has to miss school to help her parents pick the tobacco harvest, and suffers from headaches and stomach pains.
Malawi has a national action plan combining a monitoring system, investment in infrastructure and community involvement, from district child labor officials with the power to inspect farm fields and arrest landowners who exploit children to traditional chiefs who promote the eradication of child labor. The plan has been funded by the U.S. Department of Labor since 2009 and has already freed 5,500 child workers.
And yet, even as we need to redouble efforts, countries may feel less encouraged to fund programs to combat child labor precisely because numbers are dropping.
As dozens of countries gather in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, at the third global conference on child labor, they have a unique opportunity to show what determined international effort and national political will can achieve. They must renew their commitment to rid the world of the worst forms of child labor by 2016, and to eliminate it completely by 2020. There are 168 million reasons to do so.
o Guy Ryder is director general of the UN's International Labour Organization (ILO). Published with the permission of caribbeannewsnow.com.
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October 18, 2013
One Caribbean writer once remarked that the reason why there is so much extortion among the Caribbean population is because of its history of buccaneerism, where all sorts of activities took place that resulted in the deprivation of Caribbean people, as a result of the forced acquisition of major sectors of their resources by the actions of various groups of buccaneers with the tacit, and often open, support of their country of origin.
We should remember that the buccaneers were not citizens of any one country, but several. And as some historians say, they were often used by their governments to wage a low budget proxy war against their rivals.
But the point is that those European governments that encouraged the buccaneers often gave them a license which made their operations legal, in return for a share of what was acquired. However, many of those who operated this way often disregarded the provisions of the license, and exploited their own opportunities for private gain. They failed to observe the terms of even the valid letters their governments allowed them.
Defining buccaneer politics
So how do we define buccaneer politics? This concerns the different methods used by various power groups to influence, threaten, frighten, even cajole others into getting what they want, which results in deprivation, some say exploitation, at the expense of those who have been affected by these actions. The people, or even a country, are manipulated into becoming a part of a certain situation, which often ends up with the weaker vessels receiving the bitter plants, while those with position power, political power, influence and connections end up weighing heavy. This is buccaneer politics at its best.
But sadly, it is the ordinary everyday person who gets the bad cards. In one independent country, there was the case of a single minister of government who got a number of acres of land from his government, and party, with the stated intention of providing housing for local people. He received payments for lots he promised to allocate. But after more than a few years had passed, nothing happened, and those who were promised houses protested about the situation. The minister did not deliver. And it took the parliament of that country to write off the minister's debts to the people and reimburse them. Buccaneer politics for real?
During periods of Caribbean history, the more powerful countries either captured islands from each other, settled islands, took over the resources of the people, did away with their culture, introduced different, not better, ways of doing things and even depersonalized them. Is this a form of buccaneer politics? The natural resources of these countries were taken over by different groups, and different interests, often backed by the political heavyweights in their overseas countries, and the entire way of life of the indigenous people was affected, often negatively. One Caribbean historian said that the industrial revolution was only able to gain traction because of the capital that came from the unpaid slave labor in the different colonies. Was buccaneer politics at work here?
In this modern period of Caribbean politics, one Caribbean political scientist has described his country as a gangster state. He feels that what goes on in the political system, there is actually a rip off of the country's resources, by those who were elected to develop those resources in the interest of the people who put them there. They did not get the mandate to milk the country. Does this mean that buccaneer politics from within has replaced parliamentary politics?
But others argue that parliamentary politics is actually buccaneer politics in disguise. They say that some politicians in league with local and outside interests actually use their power, authority and influence to buccaneer the system, even following what are apparently the procedures the system has itself made valid. Legislation is formulated and enacted not in the interest of the citizenry, but in the interest of those who enact it. The particular country is seen as a private business to be manipulated and sourced for personal benefits that make those involved far better off than when they entered politics, while the people who put them there live basically on the fringes of the society.
Taxes and other methods of revenue extraction are then imposed, along with benefits some politicians accrue from outside investments, and this helps to keep the political class in power, while enjoying the fat of the land. The people shrink in importance until the next election. Politics then becomes a game, where the main players, the politicians, are out on the field where all the action is, while the people are mere spectators watching the sport. Is this buccaneer politics in a subtle form?
In a political context where politics is king, buccaneer politics flourishes. Development initiatives become self-serving, a mere political strategy to further re-jig the system in the interest of the political class, while the people sit down by the rivers of Babylon and weep for the days when things were much better, and politics was about them and their interests, while the country was put first, ahead of narrow private interest. Politics then, according to some, has become not a tool for development and progress, but a form of buccaneerism, where the politicians behave like feudal lords from another age, while the people are reduced to serfdom.
Fake attempts to appear to act in the people's interest, by engaging in contentious issues with others, have nothing to do with the betterment of the country. Rather, it has to do with seeking greater power through a change in the constitutional process, so that the political class can have greater access to the fat of the land. The more weight gained by politics, the greater the burdens that are placed on the people, giving free reign to buccaneer politics.
The continuing system
More specifically, buccaneer politics is seen when particular groups of people in positions of social power, occupying non-political positions, use their influence, or position power to game the system. It is seen where those who allegedly come to show how institutions should be properly managed, engage, somewhat, in the same maneuvers it is said caused the system to be audited in the first place. Buccaneer politics is also represented where people are brought into a country to perform responsibilities, with uncertain work performance records, and are given benefits they never dreamed of in their own countries, and indigenous people are either left out or ignored. Here, the system is not only gamed, but also buccaneered.
Any individual, or group, who uses connections, or contacts to obtain top positions in another person's country, and shows no evidence of bringing about transformational change in the processes of the country they came to, but is shown to benefit from the resources of that country, without evidence of quality contribution to it, has buccaneered the system, even though the system condones it.
Remember the traditional buccaneers also received official letters giving them permission to game and exploit other countries and their people.
So is buccaneer politics alive and kicking? We see it in the operations of formal two-party-system politics. It is seen where influential social groups game the system. It is represented where citizens on a one-on-one basis game each other for benefits, and a won-lost situation results. It is reflected where certain business interests seduce persons into agreements that are unfair, make conditions that over time cannot be met and then foreclose on the persons concerned.
It is further noticed where some loan agencies that sought to help indigenous people, may be taken over by a feudal system of governance, and the loans sourced to certain groups, which then make demands on those who, because of economic reasons are unable to sustain their payments. And, when these persons are unable to sustain the conditions of their loans, they may find themselves faced with dispossession. No compassion. And no sensitivity to the peculiar situation these persons find themselves in, precisely because the economic context has changed, with no fault of their own.
Buccaneer politics is unhealthy politics. It is an unethical practice. It causes society to be further impoverished and creates divisions between and among people. When a system is being buccaneered, it stalls development efforts, contracts the economy and causes mistrust and a lack of faith. Just as the British put an end to buccaneering and piracy in the Caribbean, so must people of good will raise their voices to stop the practice of buccaneer politics wherever, whenever, and however it may raise its head.
o Oliver Mills is a former lecturer in education at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. He holds an M.Ed degree from Dalhousie University in Canada; an MA from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in HRM and training, University of Leicester. He is a past permanent secretary in education with the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Published with the permission of caribbeannewsnow.com.
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October 17, 2013
In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope John Paul II wrote movingly of the value of human life, rooted in the Roman Catholic social tradition's touchstone of the dignity of the human person.
In addition to addressing issues such as abortion and capital punishment, Pope John Paul II spoke to the matter of culture and how a culture influences attitudes towards life and death.
In every land, in every time, the cultures of life and death contend for the human spirit. In this time, in our country, the battle is waged on many fronts, but particularly so in a culture awash in criminal violence and an acceptance of and willful connivance in all manner of criminality by some.
We like slackness here at home. Slackness is deeply rooted in our culture. And culture makes all the difference in terms of the promotion of life or death, violence or non-violence.
Abroad, we tend to abide by the laws and mores of the jurisdiction we are visiting. But many of us can't wait to get home so that we can throw trash from the car window, ignore traffic signs, park anywhere we like, behave in an uncivilized or vulgar manner or ignore basic civilities and manners.
A number of young men who probably think of themselves as good citizens nevertheless see nothing wrong with roaring through this city on noisy motorcycles, generally disturbing the peace while police do nothing.
A 17-year-old visiting the U.S. will be carded if he or she attempts to buy alcohol. Yet many of us have no problem sending someone underage into a liquor store to buy a couple of beers or a bottle of rum.
Many store owners have no problem selling liquor to minors. Some police and parents often turn a blind eye. We like it so. We like slackness.
A dear friend tells of watching a group of young teens walking around in public late one evening drinking from a bottle of Carlo Rossi. Not only were they up and about way past an acceptable hour, they were cavalierly drinking from an open bottle on a public roadway, which of course is illegal even for adults.
The teens were breaking several laws. But in a culture which tolerates all manner of laxity and slackness, they cared not a wit. These boys were learning from an early age that law and order are flexible concepts in a culture which tolerates a high degree of lawlessness and disorder.
There aren't that many years to graduate from those boys drinking on that street to boys selling drugs on those same streets to more hardened criminals laughing at the state struggling to prosecute them in a criminal justice system overwhelmed with cases and defendants.
On those same streets such boys will every few blocks pass illegal numbers houses sometimes guarded by off-duty police officers. It all reinforces a culture of lawlessness.
The spread of a gangland culture spawned by the scourge of drugs and violence of the late 1970s and 80s metastasized over the ensuing decades into the virulent culture of violence and antisocial behavior which haunts us today with all manner of crimes and viciousness we thought impossible for Bahamians.
Our culture is sicker and more pathological in various ways than we dare believe. In our own slack behavior and tolerance for various types of crime we contribute to a culture of lawlessness and violence.
Slackness is a slippery slope. We have been slack as parents, public officials, business people, religious leaders and as citizens. Our children know it and the criminal class counts on our slackness.
Take the criminal justice system. The courts are so overwhelmed that many criminals believe that the consequences for crimes committed today, may be years down the road, if ever.
The last Ingraham administration sought to address a number of the problems in the criminal justice system in terms of prosecutors, judges and courts. The Christie administration should continue to convert existing buildings into more courtrooms and judges' offices as necessary.
While aggressive policing is required to address today's criminal class, there is an urgent need for a program of unprecedented social intervention to address potential criminals, mostly young men, who may wreak havoc on our society in the years ahead.
The culture of death must be met by a culture of life-giving possibilities beyond the death dealing of gangs, guns and other avenues and instruments of violence.
The children of light in our country must summon the willpower, the wiles and the imagination to defeat the stratagems of the children of darkness.
There are those for whom life no longer matters, those not satisfied just to rob but who must also maim or kill their victims because life is that dispensable, meaningless, brutal and short.
A pastor recalls a parishioner who asked whether those criminals who are going about in the day can't see what they're doing to the country. His response: "For some who walk in darkness, no amount of light makes a difference."
But a culture of life and avenues to help others to avoid or to step out of the darkness may make a difference. Making that difference requires a sustained and massive social intervention strategy with various components.
One of the components is youth development with programs like Outward Bound and AMIkids, both of which have shown considerable success.
Outward Bound is an "experiential learning, expedition school and outdoor learning program... that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through challenging learning expeditions that inspire self-discovery, both in and out of the classroom".
The highly successful global initiative also offers a program known as the Intercept Program for At-Risk Youth and Troubled Teens. It is designed for young people from ages 12 to 22 and addresses "the needs of struggling teens and at-risk youth beginning to demonstrate destructive behaviors, as well as the needs of their families".
The Intercept Program serves "youth, young adults, families, schools and communities... at risk of academic failure, dropping out of school, delinquency or becoming chronic offenders".
AMIkids was the brainchild of a judge who got tired of seeing the same juvenile offenders returning to his court over and over. Today, AMIkids is thought to operate "some of the most effective juvenile justice and alternative education programs across" the United States.
To offer readers a clear sense of AMIkids, there are extended quotes following from the organization's website.
"Residential programs operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week with students residing in dormitories on campus. The youth are committed to these programs for approximately four to nine months and can be committed for as long as 36 months.
"The youth reside at the program and leave only for off-site, supervised program activities or approved furloughs. Family visitations vary by program. Youth have been adjudicated delinquent by the court and typically have multiple misdemeanors or felonies.
"Education curriculums deployed in AMIkids programs use differentiated instruction, individualized student planning, progress monitoring, online/computer assisted educational software and experiential education/service learning, all in partnership with pro-social relationships between staff and students.
"Many youth come to AMIkids 'deficient in a wide variety of appropriate, pro-social behavioral repertoires. They lack social skills, anger management, pre-employment skills, communication, self-management, rule following, delay of immediate gratification, etc.'
"To help students develop short- and long-term pro-social behavioral repertories and facilitate the daily management of behavior throughout the program, AMIkids programs employ procedures and techniques of behavior modification and utilize a sophisticated behavior modification system."
Like Outward Bound and other successful intervention programs, AMIkids utilizes experiential learning: "AMIkids' experiential education gives each student the opportunity to face challenges and to overcome them, gaining greater self-worth and helping to form a better value system.
"Programs are integrated based on the geographic strengths of each location and include seamanship, water safety, fishing, low ropes, high ropes, backpacking, music, gardening, culinary arts, reptile and wilderness programs to give each student meaningful and challenging experiences in a variety of ways.
" ... For those kids with more serious learning and behavioral issues, there have been startling results."
There are a number of models that we can draw upon in confronting the challenge, but there must be massive, multi-layered, national interventions now if we are to save ourselves from this culture of death and bequeath to future generations a greater culture of life.
o firstname.lastname@example.org o www.bahamapundit.com.
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October 17, 2013
Sports tourism is gaining momentum in The Bahamas and this is a welcome addition to our tourism product. Undoubtedly, the Bahama Bowl in December 2014...
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October 12, 2013
For years, nationals of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have complained of the discrimination they've experienced at the border controls of each other's countries. This discrimination has ranged in many cases from extensive questioning before being allowed entry for a limited period, to arbitrary refusal of entry and immediate expulsion.
This unpleasant treatment has galled CARICOM nationals causing them to question the benefits of being part of the organization which was set up by treaty and which stipulates the obligations of its member states with regard to the freedom of movement of their citizens.
On October 3, in a landmark decision, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) brought at least a legal end to discrimination and denial of right of entry to Caribbean Community nationals. If such practices continue in member countries of the community they will be unlawful, and affected persons can seek redress from the CCJ.
According to the CCJ decision, nationals of the Caribbean Community are legally entitled to enter and stay in each other's countries for up to six months without restriction, unless deemed as an undesirable person. Border officials also cannot arbitrarily deem a CARICOM national as "undesirable".
The CCJ is not yet the final appellate court for civil and criminal matters for all CARICOM countries, but it is not in that form that the court made its watershed judgement. The decision was issued by the CCJ as the court of original jurisdiction in relation to the CARICOM Treaty. In that form, its decisions are binding on the community member countries and they cannot be appealed.
The occasion for the CCJ's judgement was a complaint brought by a Jamaican national, Shanique Myrie, against the government of Barbados. Myrie claimed that in March 2011 the border authorities in Barbados violated her right to free movement under the CARICOM Treaty when she sought to enter the country. She further claimed that she was illegally detained and deported and her human rights were violated when she was subjected to a "cavity search" described as a "finger rape".
In a lucid, well-presented and easy to read judgement, the CCJ found for Myrie against the Barbados government on the strength of the credible evidence in her favor. She was awarded US$38,700 in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. Her legal costs are also to be met by the Barbados government.
But while the case gave redress to Myrie for her grievances, it was far more significant for its establishment of the rights of the people of CARICOM and for eliminating misconceptions of the supremacy of "national sovereignty" over "Community Law" under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas - the CARICOM Treaty.
As the CCJ stated in its judgement, among the issues of Caribbean Community law with which the case dealt, was "whether and to what extent CARICOM (or community) nationals have a right of free movement within the Caribbean Community".
On this matter, the CCJ was guided by the 28th Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in 2007 at which they agreed that "all CARICOM nationals should be entitled to an automatic stay of six months upon arrival in order to enhance their sense that they belong to, and can move in, the Caribbean community, subject to the rights of member states to refuse undesirable persons entry and to prevent persons from becoming a charge on public funds".
In arriving at their judgement, therefore, the CCJ did nothing more than give judicial acknowledgement and authority to a decision by CARICOM Heads of Government - the supreme decision making body of community law.
The court also clarified the matters of "undesirable persons" and persons who might become "a charge on public funds". Up until now, both these categories of persons have been determined by border authorities based on individual country guidelines that, for years, CARICOM nationals have publicly argued discriminate against them and make a mockery of the CARICOM Treaty.
The court has now ruled that for a CARICOM national to be validly excluded on the basis that he or she poses a realistic threat to engage in conduct prohibited by national law, "the receiving state must show that its own nationals who engage in such conduct are routinely prosecuted or otherwise subjected to some legal sanction".
Further, the court has ruled that no CARICOM national can be refused entry by border officials without being informed "promptly and in writing not only of the reasons for the refusal but also of his or her right to challenge that decision". CARICOM countries are also now required to provide "effective and accessible appeal or review procedures with adequate safeguards to protect the rights of the person denied entry".
While all of this will bring relief to all CARICOM nationals and represents a triumph for the Caribbean people in their often expressed desire to travel in the region "hassle free", the CCJ judgement does two other very important things.
First, it establishes that being a member of CARICOM does give enforceable legal rights to every Caribbean national in relation to entry to CARICOM countries for a period of up to six months. In this sense, it is an occasion for real celebration of Caribbean regionalism at the level of people - it is a rare occasion, but it will help to lift the worth and meaning of CARICOM.
Second, it has established that there is CARICOM community law - devised and agreed by CARICOM Heads of Government as the principals that the community's peoples have elected to represent them - and that such community law cannot be invalidated by the failure on any country to incorporate those decisions in their municipal laws.
The immigration and law enforcement departments of all community countries should now be ensuring that the regulations and instructions given to their border officials reflect CARICOM community law and the decision of the court.
With regard to the CCJ, the objective, impartial and learned judgement it has given should now cause all doubters to welcome and embrace it as the region's final court of appeal in all matters. In the case of Jamaica that argued to stay with the British Privy Council as its court of final appeal on the basis that Jamaicans could not expect justice from a Caribbean court, Shanique Myrie stands as the symbol of that deeply flawed position.
o Sir Ronald Sanders is a consultant and senior research fellow at London University. Send responses to: www.sirronaldsanders.com. Published with the permission of caribbeannewsnow.com.
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