Thursday, April 18, 2024

EDITORIAL – Caricom’s challenge to the US


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THE COLLECTIVE CHALLENGE issued by the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to the Washington administration of President Barack Obama on the very sensitive issue of human trafficking in this region would not have been easily made.
The official statement they released following their recent 32nd annual summit in St Kitts and Nevis reveals how deeply disappointed and offended the community’s leaders remain over, as they said, the continuing misrepresentations in United States State Department reports about the crime of trafficking in people (TIP) in CARICOM member states.
Having failed to receive a response from the US to earlier complaints over what they view as false claims that project an unflattering perception of CARICOM’s handling of the TIP challenge, the community leaders felt compelled to make their statement, which is to be formally communicated to the US State Department.
They emphasized, once again, their strong commitment to combating the crime of trafficking in people and underlined the adoption and implementation of policies and arrangements for prevention, prosecution of offenders and victim protection in their respective member states.
Yet, they complained, the US continued to “unilaterally” place several CARICOM states on the Tier 2 “watch list” while being aware that over a three-year period this false rating would subject them to “sanctions by the US”.
What has particularly irked the community’s leaders, and quite understandably so, is the “deaf ear” the US State Department continues to reveal to firm objections raised by member governments, as well as its demonstration of an unwillingness for involvement in any constructive regional engagement that could result in an appreciation of this area’s ongoing efforts to confront the crime of human trafficking that includes children.
CARICOM’s desire for the US authorities to cease repeating, as pointed out, false allegations would be consistent with a policy to maintain historical good relations. Its commitment to the rule of law and preservation of human dignity was outlined in the joint “declaration” of the historic “Partnership for Prosperity and Security” accord signed in May 1977 when President Bill Clinton visited Barbados for a summit with Caribbean Heads of Government.
They had affirmed unswerving commitment to the norms of international law and “respect for sovereignty of states, multilateral approaches, democratic traditions, human rights, good governance, human dignity and the rule of law . . . .”
The formulation of policies, enactment of laws and mechanisms established to deal with crimes plaguing the Caribbean, US and the international community in general, including trafficking in people, all bear testimony of CARICOM’s continuing commitment to such laudable principles in defence of human dignity and the rule of law.
The US should respond to CARICOM’s concerns over the TIP allegations.


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