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Caribbean Updates: Inter-American Court of Human Rights holds climate change hearing

Inter-American Court of Human Rights holds climate change hearing
Inter-American Court of Human Rights holds climate change hearing

Just Caribbean Updates

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights convened a landmark public hearing in Barbados preparation for an advisory opinion on climate change and human rights. The inquiry was instigated by Colombia and Chile, which together asked the court to set out what legal responsibilities states have to tackle climate change and to stop it breaching people’s human rights.

More than 60 delegations from around the globe, including experts on human rights and climate change and from academia and non-governmental organizations, are participating in the session, hosted by the government of Barbados. (Miami Herald)

The historic hearing is part of a growing international trend by courts around the world that are increasingly making the link between climate justice and human rights, reports the Guardian.

“The Inter-American Court’s advisory opinion comes at a crucial moment in the global climate crisis,” said environmental attorney Jacob Kopas, who will address the court. “The policies and actions countries take—or fail to take—will decide whether we will live in a stable, healthy climate. As an authoritative voice on international human rights law, the court is in a unique position to show that ending fossil fuel use is one of the best ways to protect human rights and ensure a healthy and livable environment for all people.”

Speaking the Inter-American Court of Human Rights judges, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley stressed the urgency of addressing the effects of climate change on vulnerable countries, stating that it affects every aspect of a government’s operations. (Loop)

“Barbados has taken a clear position that there can be no separation between people and planet. Having spent 30 years in public life, I can say without fear of contradiction that there is virtually no aspect of government that is not impacted by the climate crisis. This is fundamentally a crisis that affects every aspect of our lives”, Mottley said. (Barbados Today)

Human Rights

  • Amnesty International has called for urgent action from Latin American and Caribbean states to protect environmental human rights defenders, highlighting their vulnerability to constant and often deadly attacks. The appeal comes just before the third Conference of the Parties to the Escazú Agreement in Santiago, Chile. (Amnesty International)

  • The Dominica high court struck down laws criminalizing gay sex, a landmark ruling that is a significant victory for LGBTQ+ rights in the country. The challenge, brought by an individual known only as “BG,” targeted sections 14 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act, which defined and penalized acts of “gross indecency” and “buggery,” respectively. (Nature Isle News)

  • The Garifuna people staged a significant protest to demand the implementation of judgments from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding cases in Punta Piedra, Triunfo de la Cruz, and San Juan, located in northern Honduras. They have set up camp outside the Honduran Congress and are insisting on a meeting with a High-Level Commission for Compliance with International Judgments (CIANCSI) of the State, indicating they will not leave Tegucigalpa until their demands are addressed. (Contracorriente)

  • The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal has rescheduled the hearing for the COVID-19 vaccine mandate appeal to May 2, 2024. This case, initially set for February 1, involves public sector workers who were dismissed under a 2021 government vaccine mandate deemed illegal by the High Court. The claimants, represented by multiple unions including the Public Service Union and the Teachers Union, are seeking enforcement of a ruling that ordered reinstatement and compensation for the affected workers. (Loop)

  • Haiti’s health system is on the brink of collapse as escalating gang violence severely disrupts medical services and supplies. Hospitals and clinics across Port-au-Prince are struggling to provide essential care amid a shortage of medications and equipment, exacerbated by gang-imposed blockades on key infrastructure, including the main international airport and the country’s largest seaport. (Associated Press)

  • “What can Haiti do to save itself? It needs a vision of a New Haiti that is more fair, provides opportunities for upward mobility to the poorest and holds the powerful accountable. And it needs a long-term plan to carry it out. Too many interventions have failed because foreigners implemented programs without buy-in (or input) from Haitians”, wriets Joel Dreyfuss is a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists and a former Global Opinions columnist for the Washington Post, for POLITICO

Climate and Environmental Justice

  • The Caribbean has been grappling with a severe sargassum seaweed invasion since 2011, causing widespread economic and health issues across the region. Despite the ongoing crisis, local governments have struggled to implement a coordinated international response, leaving communities to face power outages, job losses, and health risks.  The situation highlights the urgent need for a global strategy to address the impacts of this environmental challenge. (Inside Climate News)

  • Guyana’s oil discoveries have not yet translated into widespread economic benefits for its poorest communities, like Smith Creek in the northwest. However, a new initiative led by indigenous Warrau women cultivating and selling Wiri Wiri peppers suggests a potential shift towards economic independence and development for the community, reports the BBC.

  • The newly opened Six Senses resort at La Sagesse, Grenada, is under scrutiny for environmental and cultural impacts. Originally a natural mangrove and bird habitat, the area was transformed, raising concerns about ecosystem disruption and pollution from resort operations. Additionally, the development is near archaeological sites and faces legal challenges over its approval and environmental practices. Critics question the sustainability claims of the resort, given its significant alterations to the local landscape and potential harm to native wildlife and cultural heritage. (Grenada Land Actors)

  • The Saamaka people of Suriname, an Afro-descendant community launched a petition to address ongoing human rights violations and environmental degradation in their homeland. Despite a 2007 ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in their favor, the Surinamese government has failed to halt logging and mining concessions, recognize their land rights, or demarcate their territory.

  • In Trinidad and Tobago, the poui trees’ vibrant bloom has become a symbol of resilience and hope amid challenging times, writes Janine Mendes-Franco in Global Voices.

  • The Caribbean Green Awards 2024, presented by E-Finity, have announced their winners, showcasing leading efforts in sustainability across the Caribbean. (Caribbean Journal)

Democratic Governance

  • Watch the recording session of the Financing resilient prosperity in SIDS  conference hosted in Washintogn D.C. during the ODI event week. This debate brings SIDS finance ministers together with International Finance Institutions and development partners to identify concrete actions needed to ensure this vulnerable group of countries can access the finance needed to cope with shocks, manage debt sustainably and advance towards resilient prosperity over the next decade.

Reparations and Decolonization

  • Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley halted plans for British Conservative MP Richard Drax to receive £3 million for the purchase of 53 acres of the Drax Hall plantation, which he owns. Critics argue this land, historically tied to slavery, should be used for reparations rather than benefiting Drax financially. The government plans to develop the land into housing for low- and middle-income families, framing the purchase as unrelated to reparations but necessary to meet housing demands. (The Guardian, The Guardian)

  • Portugal’s president said the country needs to “pay the costs” of slavery and other colonial-era crimes, “a rare instance of a European leader seemingly backing the need for reparations”, reports the Guardian.

  • Last week, Trinidad and Tobago celebrated 58 years since Haile Selassie’s historic visit to the island, an event that significantly influenced the Rastafarian community and Pan-Africanism in the Caribbean. (CNC3)

  • Teri Helenese, a senior official in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) government, is advocating for the U.S. Department of Justice to repeal the Insular Cases. Helenese’s call for change underscores the need to address what she describes as an “undemocratic colonial framework” that compromises both the dignity of these citizens and the integrity of American democracy. (Loop)


  • Trinidadian cricketer Brian Laras set a world record for the highest score in a test match, 30 years ago, scoring 375 runs. “Thirty years later, Trinbagonian cricket fans still remember Lara’s feat with pride,” writes Janine Mendes-Franco in Global Voices.

  • The Third Horizon Film Festival, known for its innovative approach to Caribbean cinema takes place in May and will feature over 40 films from 20 countries. (Repeating Islands)

  • The Little Haiti Book Festival, a vibrant celebration of Haitian culture and literature, will take place in Miami on May 5 with an online continuation on May 19. (Repeating Islands)


  • From June 28 to July 13, photographer Maurice-Alain Lima will hold an exhibition at the Arawak Beach Resort in Le Gosier, Guadeloupe, titled “The Beauty of Innocence.” This event, supported by opera singer Carole Venutolo and the Voix-Arc-En-Ciel hotline, aims to support the LGBT+ community in Guadeloupe and tackle the hypocrisy within the local Catholic Church regarding the acceptance of homosexuals, without directly confronting the Church. Register

Victoria Mendizabal contributed research and drafting assistance this newsletter.

Just Caribbean Updates/Jordana Timerman
https://caribbeannewsupdates.blogspot.com 04/25/2024

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