The speck vs the log in the eye

There seems to be no letting up on the bashing of the Caribbean by Washington when it comes to “human rights practices”. The United States Department of State, alluding to its Country Reports On Human Rights Practices 2013 just released, paints the ugliest and most unsettling picture in particular of Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana –– our proverbial partners in crime.

Washington says of Haiti that there is “insufficient respect for the rule of law” there, “exacerbated by a deficient judicial system”, and that to boot there is “chronic corruption” in every branch of government. Worse yet, the US Department of State reported that there were “isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials”.

Not to mention “allegations of use of force against suspects and protesters”, a bad habit the United States would have us believe it has itself broken since the 1960s and 1970s.

It also gives Haiti poor marks for “societal discrimination against women”; for “trafficking in persons”; for child abuse; and for its pet peeve of “social marginalization of vulnerable populations . . . [like] gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons”.

In the multiplex, entangled and inequitable state of Haiti, we can only say President Michel Martelly is doing his best.

At the top of its accusations against Jamaica are “alleged unlawful security force killings”, “abuse of detainees and prisoners” in severely overcrowded spaces occasioned by an “overburdened, under-resourced and ineffective judicial system”, “violence against and sexual abuse of children”, trafficking in persons, and the usual LGBT charge.

We are not exactly enamoured of the violence and incessant homicide that plague Jamaica, but aver that the violent crime and high number of shootings are rooted in a literacy problem –– a societal virus, we are being advised, has begun to infect us right here in Barbados.

For the US State Department, Trinidad and Tobago’s biggest crime has been “police killings during apprehension or while [suspects are] in custody”, or the lesser evil of poor treatment in detention or incarceration.

And while giving the Kamala Persad-Bissessar government some credit for seeking to punish security force officers for abuses or killings, yet noted that “there continued to be a perception of impunity, based on the open-ended nature of many investigations and the generally slow pace of criminal judicial proceedings”.

Bothersome and discommoding for sure has been the sudden spike in slayings in Trinidad already this year, including, even more disturbingly, the alleged killing of court case witnesses as they separately made their legitimate way along the streets of their residential districts. There are nigh 90 murders for 2014 already and we haven’t yet the reached the end of the first quarter.

To say it a frightening prospect for our CARICOM neighbour is an understatement.

The top of the list of Guyana’s transgressions pretty much mirrors that of Trinidad and Tobago: alleged mistreatment of suspects and detainees by security forces and unlawful police killings. And you can add to those corruption –– even among the police, according to the Washingto report, and, you guessed it, LGBT discrimination.

Actually, discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender individuals is among the most serious human rights complaints against Barbados, the US Department of State would let us know. It is up there with “unprofessional conduct” by police, child abuse and violence against women.

All this recrimination –– couched in imputation and probable distortion –– from a country whose record of human rights is by no means pristine, and to which many a human rights NGO turns a blind eye. China, we honestly cannot say is any better, but does make a point when it accuses the United States of employing human rights issues as a political instrument to defame other nations and sully their images in its own strategic interests –– one such being the brown-nosing of the gay lobby.

Secretary of State John Kerry has made no secret of United States’ deep commitment to human rights concerns of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community –– left, right, front, back and centre. Russia, Nigeria and Uganda –– for all their own excesses –– can attest to this.

Meanwhile, as Mr Kerry fights the anti-gay “affront to every reasonable conscience”, pushing LGBT dignity worldwide, left vulnerable to everyday abuses are millions more normal people: immigrants; racial and ethnic minorities; children –– hundreds of thousands of them working on American farms, bared of minimum-age and maximum-hour requirements.

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