Barbudans want the Commonwealth to intervene in dispute with government

Barbudans living in the diaspora have written to the Commonwealth Secretariat, calling on that office to address what they say are “human rights injustices” and “failing democracy” in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

In the letter dated April 17, the Barbudans are asking the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to hold Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, accountable for “hostile actions by his government against Barbudans.”

They are also accusing his Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) administration of a lack of transparency and accountability in the collection and planned use of funds from around the world designated for hurricane recovery.

According to them, the government did nothing to ensure access to the basic necessities of life and essential services, including running water and electricity; and also failed to prioritise the resettlement of the Barbuda population, and in effect the reunification of their community, back onto the island after the hurricane.

They are telling the Commonwealth Secretariat that it is unacceptable that a member is being treated this way and it is time for the international community to stop condoning these actions with their own silence and inaction.

The ongoing land issue in Barbuda is another factor that was addressed.

The government plans to repeal the Barbuda Land Act at the next sitting of Parliament.

But, Barbudans are calling it an assault on their historical land rights enshrined in law and they say they will take every legal step to prevent it.