Saturday, November 28, 2015
Lead Institute

PM Statement on Baroness Scotland’s Appointment as Secretary General of Commonwealth

Baroness Scotland
Baroness Scotland

The following is a press statement from Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on the appointment of Baroness Patricia Scotland’s Confirmation as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth

“It was with delight that I received word from H.E. President Charles Savarin, who so expertly and diplomatically piloted Baroness Patricia Scotland’s candidature through the selection process in Malta on our country’s behalf, that Baroness Scotland was today chosen as the 6th Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

I congratulate Patricia Scotland on her achievement of being the first woman to be elected to this position, and for the honour she has brought to Dominica and the Caribbean as a whole. She follows in the footsteps of worthy holders of the position, including another Caribbean luminary, Sir Shridath Ramphal and we are confident that she will admirably acquit herself of her responsibility to the Commonwealth as it faces the harsh realities of the 21st century.

I remain tremendously proud of Patricia Scotland who throughout her life has shown herself to be a change-maker and an implementor. Her campaign for the past two years has demonstrated her ability to make things happen. With few financial resources and a small team, she has been able to present her vision of a re-vitalised and reformed Commonwealth to governments, civil society and the private sector, and to listen to their aspirations for a more vibrant Commonwealth.”


OECS Authority Issues Communique Following Meeting in Dominica


oThe Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has issued a communiqué following the 62nd meeting of the OECS Authority in Roseau, Dominica, under the Chairmanship of Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada from November 18 to 19, 2015.

All member states with the exception of Anguilla were represented. The Regional Council of Martinique was also present. Also in attendance were the director general of the OECS, the secretary general of the Caribbean Community, the director general of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority and a representative from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

In the main, the meeting focused on, inter alia:

(a) Arrangements for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission
(b) ICT Strategy for the Economic Union
(c) Health Development Agenda
(d) Financial Services Sector
(e) Expansion of the Membership of the OECS
(f) Freedom of Movement of Persons
(g) Climate Change and Environmental Management
(h) Assembly Matters

The Authority noted the tremendous progress being achieved by the Economic Union and reaffirmed their strong commitment to The Revised Treaty of Basseterre and the establishment of the Protocol as being extremely relevant to the economic, social and political advancement of the OECS.

The Authority expressed their support for Dominica after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika and applauded the leadership of the government of Dominica in the reconstruction efforts. Further, The Authority reiterated the continuing support for Dominica’s reconstruction efforts and called on the international community to assist in providing critical support for Dominica’s rebuilding efforts.

The Authority agreed that the lessons from the devastation wrought by tropical storm Erika in Dominica, has served as a wake-up call to the dangers of climate change and mandated the Commission to pursue initiatives aimed at further strengthening the OECS disaster response and post recovery mechanisms.

Heads of government (HOG) expressed their profound condolences to the government and people of France for the brutal attacks on Paris which claimed the lives of so many innocent people. OECS Heads affirmed their solidarity with the government and people of the French Republic.

(a) Arrangements for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission

To enable the OECS Commission to fulfill its strategic priorities under the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, The Authority approved a proposed organizational re-structure which includes the establishment of a new Health Unit. Heads agreed to the proposed budget and work-plan until the period June 30, 2016, and reconfirmed their commitment to measures for financial sustainability of the Commission.

Heads reaffirmed their Treaty commitment to more closely coordinate positions in foreign policy and further agreed to rationalize Foreign and Diplomatic mission as a matter of urgency. The Authority mandated a meeting of OECS Foreign Ministers at the earliest opportunity to advance these and other issues critical to the deepening of the OECS Economic Union.

Heads agreed to give effect to the decision adopted at the 60th meeting of the Authority to provide for the automatic financing of the Economic Union including the Pharmaceutical Procurement Services (PPS) as well as key integration projects such as CARICOM IMPACS.

(b) ICT Strategy for the Economic Union

The Authority noted the tremendous progress being recorded by the OECS in developing an ICT strategy for the Economic Union. HOGs expressed satisfaction at the Economic Union membership of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and their collaboration with the Service Research and Innovation Institute (SRII) in advancing key aspects of information and telecommunications in the sub-region. Heads continued to coalesce around a vision of high quality and affordable broadband services throughout the region.

(c) Health Development Agenda

The Authority acknowledged that a healthy population is inextricably linked to member state economic prosperity. Under this precondition, The Authority noted the work and progress made in the areas of health during the Ebola crisis, execution of various HIV/AIDS projects and the operations of the Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (PPS).

In particular the Authority noted the continued success the PPS continues to make in centrally procuring pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies while leveraging substantial group discounts for all member states. The Authority noted the challenges in the present fiscal climate of ensuring the PPS remains sustainable and responsive to the needs of all citizens. The Authority committed to continuing allocating appropriate resources toward the financing of the PPS and exploring options for the financial sustainability of the Health Sector as a whole. The Authority noted that select Member States have been pursuing National Health Insurance options.

(d) Financial Services Sector

Heads agreed to the establishment of the Financial Services Task Force which is a technical body chaired by the BVI but involving top experts from OECS member states as well as persons from the OECS and ECCB and the Association of Indigenous Banks. The Task Force will monitor the landscape of financial services, to review compliance with international requirements, to advise the OECS Authority on proactive measures for the protection of our financial services sector and will offer support to the CARICOM Ministerial sub-committee on financial services.

(e) Expansion of the Membership of the OECS

The Authority noted the progress of negotiations leading to the possible accession of Guadeloupe and St Martin to associate membership of the OECS. The Authority endorsed an action programme presented by Martinique, which included inter alia, initiatives in areas of health care, climate change and disaster response and mitigation, transportation, trade, and youth exchange programmes for deeper integration into the OECS.

(f) Freedom of Movement of Persons

Heads emphasized the imperative of expanding rights pertaining to Economic Union membership consistent with the revised Treaty of Basseterre. In this context Heads noted the progress made on the policy pertaining to the rights contingent to the free movement of persons.

(g) Climate Change and Environmental Management

The Authority affirmed their commitment to climate change talks within the framework of COP 21. Heads agreed that the OECS, within the framework of CARICOM would intervene through CARICOM Spokesperson, The Prime Minister of Barbados, Frendell Stuart and the Lead of Sustainable Development, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony in order to articulate a strong united Caribbean position.

Further, The Authority approved the Marine Research Strategy and mandated the Member States to work closely with research institutions and other stakeholders in the implementation of the policy.

Heads of government noted the progress being made in the development of a model Water Policy and Bill for member states within the context of climate change and mandated the Commission to expedite and move to finalize this initiative.

(h) Assembly Matters

The Authority agreed to convene the second sitting of the Assembly in the first quarter of 2016 with a motion on the OECS Growth and Development Strategy. Given the critical projected impact of climate change on member states, the Authority decided to convene a development seminar on climate change and disaster risk reduction to coincide with the second sitting of the Assembly.

The 63rd Authority meeting was agreed to be held in Montserrat on May 20 – 21, 2016 when the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Timothy Harris will assume the Chair.

Conspicuous by its absence was any mention of the ongoing controversy over a regional consensus candidate for the post of Commonwealth secretary general: OECS heads ‘extremely disappointed’ in Dominica PM

-Caribbean News Now

AIDA Diva Makes First Call to Dominica

AIDA Diva in port
AIDA Diva in port

AIDA Diva Makes First Call to Dominica

The ship, carrying about 2,000 passengers and 600 crew, docked at the Woodbridge Bay Port early Tuesday morning.

“It’s a pleasure to have you here,” said CEO of Dominica Air and Sea Port Authority, Benoit Bardouille. “We are aware that you will be making nine more calls to Dominica. The product which we offer as the Nature Isle of the Caribbean is a unique product for your guests and we would like to ensure that your guests get off the vessel and enjoy themselves on the Nature Isle. We want for all your passengers to return with high ratings because we depend on those ratings to help us [grow].”

Gerard Jean-Jacques is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism.

“If you see something right now and you think it’s awesome, just wait to see what it’s going to be like 3-6 months from now. We believe that the relationship will be a rewarding one for both AIDA and Dominica and we look forward to your continued presence. Thank you for coming and welcome,” he said to Captain Vincent Cofalka.

Hans Victor represented the ship’s agent, H.H.V. Whitchurch and Co. Ltd.

“We want to hope that you will enjoy your stay here in Dominica and your passengers and crew will get a chance to view our beautiful island and enjoy the scenery and sites.”

As usual, the ship’s captain and the Dominican party exchanged tokens.
The AIDA Diva will make 10 calls this season- one every other week.

The ship is based in Germany and most of its passengers are German followed by Austrian and Swiss.AIDA_Diva_Mayor_Captain

Before Dominica, the ship docked in St. Lucia and after Dominica, AIDA Diva will visit Guadeloupe.

One hundred and seventy-four calls are projected for this cruise season which includes nine new cruise ships.

The next inaugural call is planned for December 2nd.

[Her Worship the Mayor of Roseau, Irene John hands token to Captain Cofalka


DAIC Visits Martinique


mMembers of the Executive of the Dominica Association of Industry & Commerce (DAIC) are on a three day visit (Nov 25 – Nov 27, 2015) to Martinique in response to an invitation from the Martinique Chamber of Commerce.

The Contingent includes DAIC President Jeffrey Baptiste as well as its Vice President Kira Thompson-Aird and Anthony Joseph, Board Director.

During the trip, the team will visit the Agro-processing Research Center, the Martinique Chamber of Commerce Business School with particular focus on its training program as well as its Registration Centre.

The visit’s agenda focus’s heavily on collaboration between the two chambers of commerce’s with a high priority being placed on immediate support for local businesses affected by Tropical Storm Erika and the nation’s overall reconstruction efforts.

The DAIC expects to set firm plans for collaboration between the both Organizations with special emphasis on sharing best practices, and building strong partnerships between businesses in Dominica and Martinique.


PM First in CARICOM to Have Facebook’s Blue Check-mark


skerrit facebook check markPrime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, like all other sitting Prime Ministers in the OECS and wider CARICOM, has social media presence including Facebook.

On Wednesday, November 25, 2015, Roosevelt Skerrit’s Facebook Page became the first among the OECS and CARICOM Heads of Governments, to be reviewed and verified by Facebook. This verification is signified by a “blue check-mark” next to his name indicating that it is his “official presence on Facebook”.

Prime Minister Skerrit has also been “approved for Facebook Mentions”, a new way for “influencers to keep in touch with their fans and each other”. Facebook Mentions provides features such as Q&A’s and Live Video.

For more information visit

Press Release

VIDEO: Agriculture Minister Updates on Abattoir Readiness

Drigo at Abattoir on Nov 25, 2015
Drigo at Abattoir on Nov 25, 2015

On Wednesday November 25, 2015, Johnson Drigo, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries visited the Abattoir in Layou Park where he witnessed a test run of the operations.

The over EC $10 million abattoir is financed by the Government of Venezuela.

20,000 birds and 250 pigs will be slaughtered weekly when the abattoir becomes operational.

“Today I was able to witness a test run of the operations at the Abattoir in Layou Park. Over the past couple years we have been promoting the Abattoir as a pillar to transform the Agriculture sector. Over the next few days, 4,000 birds and 250 pigs will be processed at the facility. We remain eternally grateful to the Government and People of Venezuela for keeping faith with the Government of Dominica in this $10 million project.”

See Minister Drigo’s full remarks below:


CARPHA Official Appeals for Balance When Pursuing Economic Growth in the Region


eExecutive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr C James Hospedales said economic growth should not come at the expense of healthy people and a healthy environment; and referred to this imbalance as one of the greatest challenges this Region faces. Dr Hospedales was speaking at the opening of a three-day Caribbean Environmental Health Conference co-hosted by CARPHA, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Saint Lucia.

Dr Hospedales pointed out that while economic factors can significantly influence decision-making, in recent times, there is stronger demand for social and environmental justice and protection of health and well-being. He said “Protection of the natural environment not only protects health through pollution and disease prevention, but also protects livelihoods,  environmental services such as flood mitigation that can safeguard against injury during disasters.”

PAHO Engineer, Adrianus Vlugman commended the Caribbean on the strides made in water supply and basic sanitation. However, he said integrated water resources management, water safety planning, liquid waste management and excreta disposal, the management of  solid and hazardous waste (including medical waste) remain areas of great concern.

UNEP’s Chis Corbin agreed with Engineer Vlugman, emphasizing that these “bread and butter” environmental health issuesimpact on human health and security as well as the critical sectors for growth, such as Tourism, Fisheries and Maritime Transportation.

The theme of the Conference is “Meeting Environmental Challenges in the Caribbean through Partnership” and will focus on a holistic, all-inclusive approach that targets all levels of impact and influence. Regional and international professionals with competencies in health, environment, water, waste management, physical planning, finance and tourism will develop innovative, Caribbean-specific solutions to environmental health and sustainable development challenges.


Commentary: Time to Defund International Criminal Court

The Hague NL International criminal court.
The Hague NL International criminal court.

The Assembly of States Parties is meeting this month in The Hague to review the work of the International Criminal Court and to discuss the ICC’s budget. The ASP is the International Criminal Court’s management oversight and legislative body.

The Assembly also elects the judges and prosecutors and decides the Court’s budget. The court’s proposed budget for 2016 amounts to €153.32 million, representing an increase of €22.66 million, or 17.3 per cent, over the 2015 approved budget. At face value, far from increasing the budget for the ICC, the Assembly of State Parties should be demanding a refund.

Established in 2002, the ICC is an impotent billion euro white elephant. 2015 has been a particularly bad year for the court. It has botched the Kenyan cases it has undertaken and its continuing alienation from Africa was centre-stage internationally when South Africa, previously a keen member, publicly ignored ICC arrest warrants and appears on the verge of withdrawal from the organisation – something seen by observers as a death knell for the court.

The International Criminal Court has self-evidently failed across the board. In 2010 the ICC-friendly Economist had already found it necessary to publish an article about the ICC entitled “International justice: Courting disaster?” Things have worsened considerably since then. The ICC has consumed more than a billion euros in its 13-year existence and has only secured two deeply questionable convictions. The ICC’s claims to international jurisdiction and judicial independence are institutionally flawed and the court’s reputation has been irretrievably damaged by its racism, blatant double standards, hypocrisy, corruption and serious judicial irregularities. The Assembly of State Parties should also accept that it has grotesquely neglected its responsibility to manage the court. The ASP has turned a blind eye to systemic failure on the part of the ICC.

While the ICC pretends to be the world’s court this is simply not the case. Its members, however, represent under one-third of the world’s population: China, Russia, the United States, Pakistan and Indonesia are just some of the many countries that have remained outside the court’s jurisdiction. India, the world’s largest democracy, has chosen not to join the ICC because the court is subordinate to the United Nations Security Council and because it does not criminalise terrorism and the use of nuclear weapons. The United States has forcefully pointed out that the ICC is a kangaroo court, a travesty of justice open to political influence, and has said that no American citizen will ever come before it. That said, Washington is perfectly happy when it suits American foreign policy objectives to demand that black Africans appear before a deeply flawed court peddling sub-prime justice.

The ICC pretends to be independent. Far from being an independent and impartial court, the ICC grants special “prosecutorial” rights of referral and deferral to the UN Security Council – by default its five permanent members (three of which are not even ICC members). The court is also inextricably tied to the European Union which provides over 60 percent of its funding. The ICC has come to be seen within Africa very much as a European-funded and directed instrument of European foreign policy. The Office of the Prosecutor, for example, has to date received approximately 9,000 complaints about alleged crimes in 139 countries. From these almost nine thousand alleged instances of serious abuses of human rights, the ICC has acted in eight African “situations”, and indicted 39 Africans, to the exclusion of any complaints implicating white Europeans and North Americans or their protégés. The ICC has turned a blind eye to self-evident human rights abuses well within its jurisdiction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanistan is an ICC member state. As a result the court can investigate alleged war crimes committed by citizens of any country, ICC Member State or not, within its borders. Tens of thousands of civilians have died and well over one hundred thousand have been injured in the conflict in Afghanistan, many of them at the hands of NATO and US forces. The ICC has however ignored any allegations of war crimes by NATO, US or EU citizens in Afghanistan.

The ICC promised “swift justice” but took several years to bring the first accused to trial for allegedly using child soldiers. The Nuremberg trials, which addressed infinitely more serious charges, were over and done within a year. The ICC pretends to be victim-centred yet Human Rights Watch has publicly criticised the ICC’s ambivalence toward victim communities. The court promised to usher in a new era of gender justice. Women’s rights specialists such as Professor Louise Chappell have noted that the ICC’s record in this respect “has been partial and inconsistent”, and that “The ICC’s legitimacy is fragile.”

Despite having consumed more than one billion euros the ICC has also shown itself to be stunningly dysfunctional. The court’s proceedings thus far have often been questionable where not simply farcical. At the heart of any judicial process is testimony provided by witnesses. The court has produced witnesses who recanted their testimony the moment they got into the witness box, admitting that they were coached by non-governmental organisations as to what false statements to make. In its first trial, that of Thomas Lubanga, a process that lasted seven years, the judges found all but one of the alleged former child soldiers presented as witnesses by the Prosecution to be unreliable.

Dozens of other “witnesses” have either been similarly discredited or disavowed their “evidence”. This hallmark of incompetence continues to this day. Most recently the ICC prosecutor had to admit that one of its own star witnesses in its case against Kenyan Vice-President Ruto was “thoroughly unreliable and incredible”. In reality it is the Office of the Prosecutor that has been revealed to be thoroughly unreliable and unprofessional.

There have been scandalous examples of prosecutorial misconduct, not least of which the ICC Chief Prosecutor hiding hundreds of items of exculpatory evidence, which should have ended any trial because they would have compromised the integrity of any legal process. The ASP has simply stood by doing nothing.

That the International Criminal Court is corrupt is also self-evident. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines “corrupt” as “destroyed in purity, debased; vitiated by errors or alterations.” The Assembly of State Parties is responsible for the appointment of judges to the ICC. It is in the selection of judges that the ASP and ICC have been at their most corrupt. ICC judges – some of whom have never been lawyers, let alone judges – are the result of grubbily corrupt vote-trading within the Assembly of State Parties amongst member states and delegates. The relationship between appointments to the ICC and vote trading between states is an open secret. Selecting International Judges: Principle, Process, and Politics, a ground-breaking study of international judicial appointments, written by Professor Philippe Sands QC, and others as part of Oxford University Press’ International Courts and Tribunals Series, concluded that “the evidence leads unequivocally to the conclusion that merit is not the main driving factor in the election processes.” The study also revealed that “[m]any individuals who participate in the ICC process believe it to be even more politicized than other international judicial elections.” The sheer corruption of the process aside, the reality is that vote-trading results in mediocre judges which in turn leads to a dysfunctional, politicised court.

It is clear that the both the Assembly of States Parties and the International Criminal Court are simply unfit for purpose. Far from granting the ICC yet more money, both the ASP and the ICC should be defunded and disbanded.

By David Hoile

Dr David Hoile is the Director of the Africa Research Centre and author of Justice Denied: The Reality of the International Criminal Court, a 610-page study of the ICC. The book is available to read or download at The author can be contacted by email at

BAM Continues to Work Despite Erika – Official


Director of Agriculture Ricky Brumant has said that the Banana Accompanying Measures will progress with its assistance to Dominica’s agriculture sector.

The director says with the passage of Tropical Storm Erika the programme is expected to see slight changes, but none the less accomplish its objectives.
“One of the important areas which we have looked at is the feeder roads,” he said. “There was quite a bit of damage to some of the roads planned for by BAM. We’ve been able to discuss with the EU putting more funds into those roads. That has been given very sound consideration and the consulting firm has been here to look again at the level of damage. Some of the areas which have been more difficult to [address] under BAM, we will be able to redirect the funds to roads.”

Although a number of activities under the programme may be dropped, the Director says Government will continue with its core programmes.

“We’re moving on with our National Certification Programme and our farm audits. That pilot programme has been completed. Some work has been completed with bananas and we continue with the banana plantlets. We have another batch [currently being hardened] to issue to another group of farmers.”

Before the end of the year, the programme is expected to assist Dominica with 20,000 bags of fertilizer for bananas and plantains, as well as 34,000 gallons of oil for Black Sigatoka management.

The aim of the $54m BAM programme is to revitalise the agriculture sector by improving productivity, competitiveness, diversification and food security.


VIDEO: Dominica Fully Supports Its Candidate for Commonwealth Secretary-General

Minister Francine Baron
Minister Francine Baron

Dominica has said that it remains fully supportive of its nominee, Baroness Patricia Scotland, for the soon to be vacant post of Commonwealth Secretary-General.

The clarification by Dominica’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Francine Baron, became necessary since it had been suggested in the media that OECS leaders had agreed on a single candidate.

Watch Minister Baron’s clarification comments at a Press Conference at the conclusion of the 62nd Meeting of the OECS Authority below





On Wednesday November 25, 2015, Johnson Drigo, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries visited the Abattoir in Layou Park where he witnessed a test run...