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Leaders urged to speak out

marciadottin, [email protected]

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AN EMINENT Persons Group (EPG) has signalled a new initiative to “end public silence” on human rights violations and erosion of democratic values in nations of the 54-member Commonwealth, including those of the Caribbean Community.
The 11-member group of Commonwealth nationals, headed by Malaysia’s Tun Abdullah AhmadBaldawi, have already held two meetings in London, headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
It is scheduled to hold at least four other meetings between January and March next year, before settling down to write its report, as mandated, in time for the 2011 Commonwealth Summit in Australia.
Initial indications given after their recent meetings in London, called for Commonwealth Heads of Government to “speak publicly”, as required and to “act with greater authority on serious or persistent violations of values, including democracy, the rule of law and human rights”.
The Eminent Persons Group, which includes two CARICOM nationals (Jamaica’s Patricia Francis and Guyana’s Sir Ronald Sanders, as well as representatives from Britain, Canada, Australia, Kiribati,
Ugana, Ghana, Pakistan and Mozambique), said in a statement:
“We want the Commonwealth to continue to be a powerful voice with moral authority, speaking out on major issues . . . And we are committed to sharpening the impact, strengthening the networks and raising the profile of the Commonwealth association.” (RS)