Debunking Mr. Ramos’ Human Rights Claims

Keywords: UDHR; Universal declaration on Human Rights, ICCPR; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICESCR; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  

 Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. – UN office of High Commission of Human Rights (1996)

Together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), make up the International Bill of Human Rights. In accordance with the Universal Declaration, the Covenants recognize that “… the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can be achieved only if conditions are created whereby “everyone” may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights.”

A Brevity of main Human Rights;

The ICESCR (1966); Article (1) speaks of self-determination. Including the right to determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Moreover, Article (3) speaks of equal rights of men and women to the enjoyment of all rights in the said treaty, but, Article (4) states that; Limitations may be placed on these rights only if compatible with the nature of these rights and solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society. In addition, Articles (6, 7 & 8) speaks of the right to the Work and Article (11) speaks of right to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing. Everyone has the right to be free from hunger which can also be found in Article (55) (a) of UN Charter and Article (25) of the UDHR 91948). Also, Article (13) speaks of everyone has the right to education.

Under the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights; Article (3) speaks of everyone having the right to life, Article (4) No one shall be held in slavery or servitude and Article (5) states that; No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Moreover, Article (6 & 7) speaks of the rights to recognition before Law and equal before Law respectively. Article (13) speaks of the Right to freedom of Movement and Article (17) speaks of the right own property. In addition, Article (19) speaks of the rights to Freedom of Expression and Article (20) speaks of the rights to peaceful assembly and association (Protest, March etc.). In the ICCPR, Article (25) speaks of the right to vote.

For more information on Human Rights;

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/  UDHR (19480

http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx  ICCPR (1966)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx ICESCR (1966)

http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/ UN Charter (195)

Also, important to note;

In accordance with international law Human Rights laws such as in the ICESCR (1966) are NOT justiciable because it was a resolution adapted in the General Assembly and not in the UN Security Council. Hence, the said rights mentioned are not binding on States and can’t be recognize in a court of Law. However, if ANY of the rights outline in the treaty becomes “customary international law, state practice and or gain

“opinion juris” they can become “justiciable”. Moreover, if states implement them in their local policies and constitution making them apart of their law of the lands then they can become justiciable.

The Unity Labor Party “ULP” Human Rights Track Record & Mr. Ramos Erroneous Claims;

From the very inception I knew that Mr. Ramos was up to no good and was never to be trusted. However, Mr. Ramos recent actions in regards to his slanderous email that he sent to the U.S. state Department, U.S. Embassy (Barbados) and Amnesty International only prove my concerns. Furthermore, Mr. Ramos have highlighted that he is indeed ignorant to International Law and International Human Rights Laws. It is clear, from his erroneous claims (in the email), that Mr. Ramos has absolutely no clue what International Human Rights+/ Humanitarian Laws are about. In addition, Mr. Ramos claimed St Vincent and the Grenadines is a “Police State”, but, yet he was free to come and go and even engage with people – only a Blinded idiot (Yes Blinded one too) will swallow this poisonous pill he is trying to sell people. A “police state” is a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the people, especially by means of a secret police force.

In a nutshell, a police state will see grave violations of fundamental Human Rights. For instance, states like Myanmar (Burma) was once deemed as a police state and perhaps somewhat in some sense is still deemed as such. Indeed, a much better example will be the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, in short; North Korea. St Vincent and the Grenadines don’t have a large enough police force armed with Guns, much less to have a “secret police force” for any government to curb people’s fundamental Human Rights. Mr. Ramos claims about St Vincent and the Grenadines being a “police state” is factually untrue.

Also, Mr. Ramos claimed that Vincentians are in fear of speaking out. Now, if this was the case we would not have seen groups like; War Room 1 & 2 and many people of the opposition party constantly lambasting the Government on a daily basis. In addition, there are even people who work in the Public Sector that excoriate the Government on a regular in Public spaces and even on Social Media, but, yet still no one has been thrown in prison and there are no evidence of “arbitrary arrest”. Hence, Article (19) of the UDHR (1948) speaks of the right to Freedom of Expression which evidently ALL Vincentians enjoys under the ULP Government.

In addition, to the many “untruths”, constant name calling and utter disrespect of the Prime Minister no one has seen their social, economic and political life ripped from them. Moreover, No ONE is in prison for their grotesque behavior and total disrespect of our Christian Tradition at the E.G Lynch Funeral which by our laws they can face Jail time.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines no one is forced to vote or not to vote for any political party. For instance, there are no “Garrisons” in St Vincent and the Grenadines liken to “Tivoli Gardens” Kingston, Jamaica. Thus, since the ULP Government have been in power people have been exercising their rights to Vote covered in Article (25) of the ICCPR (1966).

Under Article (11) of the ICESCR (1966) along with Article 55 (a) of the UN charter we’ve notice that the Government (ULP) have establish the “Housing revolution” and have assisted many people through numerous social programs.

In addition, Article (13) of the ICESCR (1966) which speaks of the right to Education; being fully respected via the ULP Government passing the Education Revolution Act of 2005 making primary and secondary education universal. Moreover, it was just last year the NDP had a rally in Kingstown in which the ULP Government did not in any way infringe on any of the NDP members fundamental Human Rights (article 20 of the UDHR, 1948).

In a nutshell, we have not witnessed any Fundamental Human Rights being violated by the ULP Government at any time in accordance with international Laws and International Humanitarian Laws. However, I understand that people of differing “political party” may not always see “eye to eye” with each other on every issue. Moreover, you will have differing perspective on issues and the governance of the country. But, we can also find commonalities even on the most contentious of issues only if we allow rational thinking to Prevail and resist the poisonous venom of “ignorance”. On that note, I urge my fellow Vincentians be it Red, Yellow or Green to refrain from slandering your country envisage political expediency.

The Leader of the Opposition Party; the Hon Mr. Arnhim Eustace once said “Everyone has the Right to Speak even if they talk foolishness”. Owing to Eustace, Mr. Ramos embark on his mission to speak untruths and foolishness about the ULP Government.

– Emmanuel Quashie

ASK Ralph……?

Good Governance – Let have an Honest Conversation 

St Vincent and the Grenadines is a Sovereign State (independence 1979) and a relatively small island located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean with a population of “102,918 “(CIA, World Fact Book, July, 2014). In addition, St Vincent and the Grenadines GDP sits at $736 million (Official Exchange Rate) on the other hand, GDP Purchasing Power Parity sits at $1.184 billion.  What does this mean? Economy has always been employed as a “measuring stick” to determine a country’s strength, progress and how well they are doing. To stress the point, economy have been used since the Roman and British times to determine “Superpower” and today it is still employed as such. For instance, we hear the constant debate about China’s rise to “Global Superpower” status in regard to its “economic power” match up to the United States.

Now, St Vincent and the Grenadines is no “Superpower”, but, we’ve noticed much progress since the inception of the Unity Labor Party (ULP) Government. For instance, St Vincent and the Grenadines GDP per Capita currently sits at $10,500 an increase from $3,076.29 in 1999. What this simply means is that, the average person’s income today is Three (3x) times the amount it was prior to the ULP taking office in 2001.

Often times, any discussions regarding the state of a country’s economy almost always results in a debate about the country’s poverty/indigent poor levels and how the “average person” hasn’t felt it in his/her pockets.

 

Digression; According to The World Bank; extreme poverty is defined as average daily consumption of $1.25 (USD) or less and means living on the edge of subsistence. Today, extreme poverty remains a thorn that refuses to capitulate to the behest of solutions made by loquacious politicians, NGOs and other “actors” of the like to completely eradicate it once for all. Albeit, we have witnessed some accomplishments made thus far to eradicate poverty once and for all. For instance, the MDG 2015 (Millennium Development Goals) have reported that; “the global poverty rate sits at $1.25 (USD) a day fell in 2010 to less than half the 1990 rate. Also, 700 million fewer people lived in conditions of extreme poverty in 2010 than in 1990. However, at the global level 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty (UNMDG2015, 2014).

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, poverty eradication remains a top priority for the ULP government.  According to reports made by Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) in collaboration with World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2012 stated that; 30.2% of the population in St Vincent and the Grenadines was poor, a decrease from 37.5% in 1996. The reports also found a marked decrease in the proportion of indigent poor which fell from 25.7% in 1996 to 2.9% in 2008.

Thus, the statistical reports as it relates to poverty/indigent, highlights that St Vincent and the Grenadines is not immune to the disease known as “poverty”. Also to point out, that in the reports there are no explicit labelling as “extreme poverty”, but, the indigent poor in St Vincent and the Grenadines were/and are living on the “edge of subsistence” (Characteristics of “extreme Poverty). Moreover, a survey done by Kairi Consultant Limited in 2007/2008, estimated that the “indigent poor” representing in dollars ($) to be EC$2446 ($905.92 USD) per adult per annum or EC$6.70 ($2.74 USD) per adult per day. Also, the dollar ($) figures establishes the minimum amount required to maintain good bodily health and affordability of basic food just for survival. Hence, during the NDP Government the indigent poor in St Vincent & the Grenadines who were living on the “edge of subsistence” sat at 25.7% (1996). Now, under the ULP Government the indigent poor sits at 2.9% as of 2008 – such a huge decrease is a “Big F**k*** Deal” in the words of the United States Vice President Joe Biden.

Nonetheless, poverty remains a social issue in St Vincent and the Grenadines like every other country in the World. For example, in the United States of America; 16% of the population live in poverty, including almost 20% of children (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Let’s take a more relative example, St Lucia poverty rate sits at 45% coupled with the highest rate of indigent poor (St Lucia Project, 2013).

Thus, the ULP government has realized this and took several approaches to eradicate poverty and reduce indigent poor since they came into office. For instance, the “Housing Revolution”, Education Revolution act (2005) and the Basic Needs Trust Fund Programme (BNTF); just to name a few. The “Housing Resolution” is a programme that has brought untold benefits to the lives of many Vincentians who are the beneficiaries. First there was the 100% mortgage programme at the then National Commercial Bank, a programme that the leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, said was not workable. However, a number of civil servants, including teachers, police officers and nurses, took advantage of this development, and now have their own homes.

Over the years, the ULP administration has implemented the “middle income housing” policy, the “low income housing” policy, and not to be undone, the “no income housing” policy. For instance, the “No Income” housing project was designed to address the shelter needs of those Vincentians whose monthly income were $700.00 EC or less ($259.25USD) per month and are unable to access credit from financial institutions to construct or renovate their homes. However, the program was made possible by a $9 million grant from the government of Venezuela (Ministry of Housing, SVG, 2014). In addition, many people today have received keys to their new homes and especially those who have lost their homes ensued by recent events of “Climate Shocks”.

On the other hand, the “Education Revolution” was aimed at “eliminating poverty, improving living standards, helping young men and women find employment, fighting drug trafficking and abuse” (Dr Ralph Gonsalves, 2007). For instance, the 2005 universal access to secondary education in St Vincent and the Grenadines were the corollary of the “education revolution act of 2005. In addition, under the “Education Revolution” we’ve noticed a lot of students were able to attend top universities abroad amidst they were able to access funding through the “Disadvantage Student Loan program”. So in other words, prior to the said program persons could not have accessed student loans unless you had some form of “collateral” (Land, assets, House, Business etc.). Today, many people can now access student loans envisage obtaining a higher education and pursuing their dreams with their “Wings unclipped”. Especially, those of the population that don’t have the means (collateral) to be approved for funding. Today many “lower income” earners have been lifted out of poverty/indigence ensued by the ability to access funding to attained a higher education and many have been able to put their children through University ensued by the “Disadvantage Student Loan”.

Furthermore, the Basic Need Trust Fund Programme (BNTF) is a Caribbean Development Bank flagship programme aim at reducing poverty across the Caribbean, but, has operated in St Vincent and the Grenadines since 1979. However, on June, 3, 2013 the ULP Government in collaboration with Caribbean Development Bank launched a $4.7 million US dollar Project for poverty alleviation in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In closing, today poverty (extreme, indigent) remains a “thorn” to both developed and developing countries and there are no easy fix/solutions to see its complete eradication. However, the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (ULP) and by extension the benevolence of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves have created policies and measures that are more proactive and pragmatic in eradicating poverty in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Hence, the policies and measures put in place thus far have been successful in reducing the level of poverty/indigent from 1996 to 2008 (25.7% to 2.9%).

Important to note; Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves have even received an award of recognition from the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 for his work in several areas, but, especially in the area of helping the poor. Thus, the ULP government remains highly committed to eradicating poverty/indigent in its totality once and for all.

#ULP2015                                                                                                                                                – Emmanuel Quashie

Media Matters…………   “Politics as Usual” – SVG

Keywords; ULP; Unity Labour Party, NDP; New Democratic Party, SVG; St Vincent and the Grenadines

 I remember in 2008 the global financial crisis the World and a new President was elected into the White House. President Barack Obama was inaugurated on January, 20, 2009 amidst the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

However, I remembered, quite clearly, when a senior United States Senator from Kentucky and member of the Republican Party, now Senate Majority Leader “Mitch McConnell said; “Our mission for the next Four(4) Years is to make sure that President Barack Obama doesn’t get a Second Term. Not fixing the economy nor passing reforms to ameliorate the housing crisis and so on. Why? Because the Republicans had no policies/plans in place envisage improving the lives of ordinary citizens.

Today, in St Vincent and the Grenadines the NDP opposition Leader the Hon. Arnhim Eustace political rhetoric is liken to that of Mitch McConnell back in 2009. Mr. Eustace inability to highlight non-existing faults with a party that have govern the country for the last 15 years, only stands as proof that St Vincent and the Grenadines under the governance of the ULP Government have in fact improved substantially. Amidst the 2008 global financial crisis we’ve noticed more people matriculating to Universities abroad & indigent poor reduced to 2.9% from 25.7%.

Now, no one is perfect and of course at times there will be set backs. Especially when building a major project like an International Airport envisage reducing St Vincent and the Grenadines vulnerabilities.  St Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island developing state with a GDP of approx. $1.184 billion (2014 EST.). Moreover, our annual budget sits at approx. $185.2 million. Hence, we do not have the economic capabilities in order to complete the International Airport at a much quicker pace as we would love to, but, the idea is not to rush such an important project. Rather, it is to improve the Lives of all Vincentians in the long term. However, the contemporary political atmosphere emboldens this sort of tendency to employ “political bigotry” aim at distracting you the people from the broader goal of establishing the Argyle International Airport, by way of, constantly speaking on the issue of “Timeline or deadline missed”.

As of late; the NDP Opposition Leader “Arnhim Eustace” embarked on a Garifuna campaign envisage winning the next general election. However, Mr. Eustace seems to be running for the Prime Minister of a “Garifuna Nation State” instead of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The Opposition Leader seems to have enlisted the assistance of Mr. Ramos in regards to matters concerning “Garifuna issues”. It is important to note that; Mr. Ramos is not on any UN Envoys/Mission appointed by the UN Security council nor adopted in the General Assembly to advocate on matters pertaining to Garifuna….nor does he have the rights to speak on matters pertaining to St Vincent and the Grenadines be it Garifuna or any other matters. Also, there are no International Laws which speaks of any sort of inherent rights to Garifuna as it relates to “Honorary Citizenship” or any nationality of that matter.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1949) speaks of everyone has the right to a nationality” and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality”. However, this is pertaining to the protection of the Citizens of the relevant State.

However, “Garifuna” fiasco seems to be mixed with confusion, excitement and even severity, but, the differing emotions varies across party lines. However, As a citizen of St Vincent and the Grenadines I am concerned about the economic, social and security impacts it would have on my Island, if we are to grant some approx.. 800,000 individuals – view on…[Garifuna] “Honorary citizenship”.

Also, I must admit that I’ve enjoyed some of the most laughable moments I have ever seen on the “internet” and in politics as it relates to the NDP and their Opposition Leader Mr. Eustace. However, I have become somewhat bemoaned and quite frankly ashamed by an incompetent Opposition Leader. Arnhim Eustace is neither opposition nor is he a Leader, but, rather the complete “opposite” of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Mr. Eustace and the NDP supporters miss the point of what a general election is all about. This upcoming election is not about the “Candidates”, but, rather it’s about You and Me, the proud people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Governments should work for us not against us. So when an Opposition Leader who wants to someday be the head of government refuses to answer the proud people of St Vincent and the Grenadines questions, whom in which he intends to govern is something of grave concern and worry.

The NDP Supporters like to make reference to the “Bigger Bigs” Case in an attempt to substantiate their claims that, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP Government have done the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines wrong. Here they clearly miss the point again; Government should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but, for every Vincentian who is willing to work and be honest. Bigger Biggs was dishonest and took advantage of St Vincent and the Grenadines for years; making a lot of money while paying little to no taxes and selling his commodity to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines at a high price.

Good Governance, not only means people in political office must be held “accountable”, but, also civil societies, private sectors and we the people must all account for our actions. The NDP supporters must be held accountable for their disruptive behavior on July.20.2014 (E.G Lynch Funeral) and for the total disregard in respect to “the rule of Law” (violation of our Christian Tradition).

Promise kept: “Good Governance”

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves once said “we should fly like an eagle with our wings unclipped” in reference to bringing Universal access to Education. We’ve seen the Education Revolution Act (2005) did just that. By making education more “equal and equitable” for ALL Vincentians. The ULP have tapped into technology making Government more “Efficient, Effective and improved transparency”. In our recent, December.24.2013 flooding that saw families and friends lost love ones, Homes destroyed an a double digit hit (approx.13%)  to our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) , we’ve noticed a more “responsive” government.

The Hon Dr. Ralph Gonsalves took the time out to return home and stand with families and the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines whom lost loves ones. The ULP Government responded with a “Housing Revolution” initiative that saw so many people receive Houses that they’ve lost ensued by the December 2013 flooding and have since broaden the initiative to include members of society who are at a disadvantage either economically, physically and mentally.

On that note; we’ve seen a society that is more inclusive and a government whose policies promotes “Equity and Inclusiveness”. President Barack Obama said at the recent Panama Summit (2015) in addressing “Civil Societies” that; “We know that economies attract more Trade and Investments when citizens are free to start a new business without paying a bribe”. We’ve noticed this under the ULP Government lead by Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. For instance, “St Vincent and the Grenadines FDI (Foreign Direct investment) sat at $34 million USD in 2002, but, FDI sits at $115.4 Million USD as of 2012” (CARICOM; FDI 2002 -2013 Report, 2014).

St Vincent and the Grenadines as a SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is fashioned with a range of “Vulnerabilities”. Our small size makes it difficult for us to have a “wider tax space” and consumer base. Thus, making us dependent on external markets if we are to see real economic growth. The Argyle International Airport is a vital infrastructure that will see increase in areas of Trade, Investments and Tourism. Moreover, we’ve seen Min. Foreign Affairs et al Camillo MIchael Gonsalves embarked on a mission that will see Vincentians with less travel restrictions (Visa Free to 26 Countries in the Schengen Zone).

St Vincent and the Grenadines is also, vulnerable to Natural Disasters and under the ULP Government we’ve noticed more resilient building policies envisage mitigating the effects of natural disasters. Our vulnerabilities are also exacerbated by “exogenous shocks” such as; “Financial shocks” and the 2008 Global Financial crisis hit countries economy around the globe and especially developing states were some of the worse hit. We’ve seen St Vincent and the Grenadines under the ULP Government displayed a leadership role in the U.N. Conference on the Global Economic and Financial Crisis. At home no one was lay off or fired from the “Public Sector” meanwhile Barbados had to fire some 3000 public servant and even St Lucia and Bahamas saw lay offs of approximately 1000 employees.

– Emmanuel Quashie