September 27, 2020

Dominica confuses and embarrasses CARICOM


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baroness_scotlandFrom News Now

, USA — The insistence by the government of Dominica to sponsor the candidacy of a sitting member of the British parliament and former minister in the British government for the post of Commonwealth secretary-general when the office comes up for election in November 2015 is causing confusion and embarrassment to other Caribbean Community () governments.

The start of a scheduled meeting of CARICOM foreign ministers in New York in the margins of the UN General Assembly last Thursday was delayed when those attending found Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal, a Labour Party peer in the British House of Lords, sitting in the Dominica chair.

CARICOM representatives objected to the presence of the former British government minister and current member of the British Upper House at their meeting at which the position of their governments on several sensitive international matters was scheduled to be discussed.

Following a hurried discussion outside the meeting room, the British baroness was quietly asked to leave the room.

Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit claims that he is sponsoring ’s candidacy for the post of Commonwealth secretary-general because she was “born in Dominica”, even though she left there when she was just two years old and has never worked for any Dominica government, Caribbean government or Caribbean institution.

Her presence at the CARICOM foreign ministers meeting appeared to be an obvious attempt to promote her Commonwealth candidacy even though other CARICOM nominees for the post were not at the meeting.

Scotland’s nomination by Dominica does not sit well with other CARICOM governments, which point to the fact that her entire career has been in Britain — she is part of the British establishment and she has worked exclusively for the British government, holding several positions in the government and legislature for 17 years.

One senior Caribbean minister posed the rhetorical question, “Given the baroness’s many ministerial positions in the United Kingdom, why is she not a UK government nominee?”

Scotland chose to take the title of her peerage — Baroness Scotland of Asthal — from the village in Oxfordshire, England, in which she lives.

She has been a member of the British parliament since 1997 and has served in many ministerial positions in the British government, most notably as attorney general of England and Wales and advocate general for Northern Ireland.

Her previous British ministerial positions included minister of state in the Home Office, parliamentary secretary in the Lord Chancellor’s Department and parliamentary under-secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Scotland has reportedly never worked for any Caribbean government or Caribbean organisation and, as a senior member of the British government, she is said to have worked for the British government to persuade Caribbean governments to accept British positions.

The Commonwealth secretary-general is elected to a maximum of two four-year terms and the incumbent, Kamalesh Sharma of India, is due to demit office in April 2016 on the expiration of his second term.

The election of the secretary general is held in a restricted session at a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in which only heads of government may be present.

Sharma’s successor is due to be elected at the next CHOGM in Malta in November 2015.

IMAGE: Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal

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Baroness Scotland gets Dominica’s support for top Commonwealth post

Baroness_Scotland_800154588From Caribbean360

ROSEAU, Dominica, Tuesday September 30, 2014, CMC – The Dominica government is supporting the nomination of Baroness Patricia Scotland for the post of Commonwealth secretary general and has dismissed a regional media report that said she had been asked to leave a meeting in the United States last week because of an embarrassment to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Dominica’s ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Vince Henderson said a report by the online publication, Caribbean News Now, headlined “Dominica embarrasses and confuses CARICOM” regarding the nomination of Baroness Scotland was “totally erroneous”.

The publication had also alleged that Baroness Scotland, 59, the youngest and first Black woman to be appointed Queen Counsel in the United Kingdom, was asked to leave a meeting after CARICOM representatives had objected to her presence while several sensitive international matters were being discussed.

But Henderson, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio Monday said this “is far from the truth.


“At no time Baroness Scotland or anybody of the Dominica delegation asked to leave any meeting at the margins of the 69th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session,” he said, adding that the story “is the furthest thing from the truth”.

He said Baroness Scotland is a Dominican national who has distinguished herself as a lawyer by profession and had been called to the Dominica Bar in 1978.

Henderson said that Baroness Scotland served with the British government in various capacities including the position of Attorney General.

“Baroness Scotland has put herself forward as the candidate for office of secretary general to the Commonwealth Secretariat. As a Dominican national the government feels obliged to provide her with our support and to a platform for her to present herself not only to CARICOM but also the other members of the Commonwealth and the 69th session of the UNGA…presented an excellent opportunity even if she is one of three CARICOM candidates for that position,” Henderson said.

He said the other two candidates are from Antigua and Barbuda and Trinidad and Tobago.

Media reports in Port of Spain have indicated that the Kamla Persad Bissessar administration has nominated Planning and Development Minister Dr. Bhoe Tewarie for the post, but the government has not officially made any public statement.

“We saw an opportunity to present out candidate throughout the Commonwealth because all the member states were present in New York,” Henderson said, insisting that Baroness Scotland was part of the Dominica delegation.

“We were happy to accommodate her and she joined us in several meetings including the CARICOM foreign ministers meeting, the Commonwealth foreign ministers…as well as other meetings that took place on the margins of the UN general debate,” Henderson said.

“To say she was asked to leave any meeting is the furthest thing from the truth,” the Dominican diplomat said, noting that when the opportunity came for discussion on candidature he asked her “politely to excuse herself because the matter was coming up for discussion”.

“She stepped out…we discussed the matter with the CARICOM ministers and when that discussion was over, I…informed her she could return. She came and we sat there throughout the meeting,” he added.

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