CTI’s Caribbean event opens with the Bahamas becoming the newest UNCAT State party!
Saint Lucia, 5 June 2018: The CTI’s regional event for Caribbean countries, being held this week in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, started with the great news that the Commonwealth of the Bahamas has become the newest State party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). Bahamas’ ratification on 31 May makes them the 164th State party to the Convention, and brings the CTI one State closer to its ultimate goal of universal membership.
H.E. Mr. Eduardo Bonilla, Ambassador of Chile in Jamaica and concurrent in Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica and Saint Kitts and Nevis, speaking on behalf of CTI’s core States, welcomed the news:
“It is exciting for us at the CTI to be able to congratulate the Government of the Bahamas on taking this significant step. The Bahamas’ experience and process of taking this decision is an inspiring one – not only for their neighbours in the Caribbean, but also for other regions.”
In delivering a keynote address during the opening session, the Bahamas’ Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mr. Elsworth Johnson, reflected on Bahamas’ ratification:
“At its lowest common denominator, the Convention defends and protects the dignity of the human person and does not take cognisance of race, religion, origin or sex. For the Bahamas, this is the key reason we ratified, because it makes the Bahamas a better place for everyone.”
The CTI is pleased to have collaborated with the Government of the Bahamas over the past year, including a visit to the Bahamas in November by a CTI diplomatic delegation and the holding of a seminar for government officials and relevant stakeholders on UNCAT ratification and implementation.
Also speaking at the opening, H.E. Mr. Ramses Joseph Cleland, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations in Geneva, confirmed:
“We welcome this important ratification. In ratifying UNCAT, the Bahamas has expressed its commitment that all of its citizens and residents can enjoy a peaceful society built on human rights and the rule of law, a goal all CTI core States share. We look forward to continuing to support the Bahamas in their next steps.”
Also speaking at the high-level opening were Hon. Ms. Kindra Maturine-Stewart, Minister of Legal Affairs of Grenada, Hon. Ms. Marlene Malahoo Forte, Attorney General of Jamaica, Hon. Mr. Jaundy Martin, Attorney General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Hon. Ms. Maureen Hyman, Senator of Antigua and Barbuda.
Being held in collaboration with Wilton Park, CTI’s regional event has attracted the participation of 10 Caribbean States,* along with representation from the UN Committee against Torture, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Organisation of East Caribbean States, OHCHR, and other experts, as well as supportive governments from within and outside the region. Over 40 participants are attending the meeting, which focuses on the fair administration of justice and UNCAT, with sessions on professionalising the police, prison reform, and juvenile justice.
The CTI would encourage States that are interested in joining the Convention to get in touch with the CTI Secretariat, Dr. Alice Edwards, firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Participating Caribbean States are Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Fiji, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the Seychelles joined the meeting to share their experiences, along with representation from Argentina, Mexico, the UK, the US, and CTI core States of Chile, Denmark, Ghana and Morocco.