Police seeking legal advice on flogging of Vryman's Erven student

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
June 20, 2001

The recent General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Costa Rica made important progress on meeting key Summit of the Americas mandates that promote democracy, human rights, and peaceful dispute resolution. It took unprecedented steps towards further strengthening democratic institutions.

Among its accomplishments, reliable sources told Stabroek News, were the following:

1. It reaffirmed the democracy clause agreed to by the heads of state at the Quebec City Summit and reached unanimous agreement on a base document for the proposed Inter?American Democratic Charter. This Charter will solidify the political commitment of the region to democracy and its institutions, and help the OAS better promote and defend democracy in accordance with the instructions issued by the heads of state at the Summit. The OAS Permanent Council has 90 days to review and enhance the Charter base document. This process will include extensive consultation and dialogue with national governments and civil society. Foreign Ministers agreed to meet again in Lima, Peru, at the end of September in a Special General Assembly to formally adopt the Charter.

2. It approved a formal resolution that asks the Inter?American Development Bank (IDB) to ensure its lending practices are consistent with the values and goals of the Summit including the Summit "democracy clause." Like the proposed Democratic Charter, this resolution helps ensure that the democratic values and practices identified at the Summit guide all the decisions and activities of the Inter?American system.

3. It re?affirmed an evaluation mechanism for the Inter?American Convention against Corruption. The Convention is the most comprehensive anti?corruption instrument in the world. It commits member states of the OAS to criminalize a wide range of corrupt acts, step up enforcement, enhance legal and judicial cooperation, and strengthen preventive measures, such as codes of conduct for public officials, disclosure of assets, and "whistle?blower" protection. The evaluation mechanism will gauge how well the 22 countries that have ratified the Convention are living up to their commitments. Transparency International, whose input helped develop the evaluation process, has strongly endorsed the mechanism.

4. It approved a formal resolution that instructs the OAS to substantially increase resources to the regional human rights system. This will further strengthen and improve OAS bodies that investigate specific allegations of human rights violations and recommend concrete remedies, many of which have been implemented by member states.

5. It called for increased contributions to the OAS Peace Fund by OAS member states and observers. The Peace Fund established last year at the General Assembly in Windsor provides financial assistance to help countries peacefully resolve territorial disputes. This will help settle disputes that have hampered trade, investment, and economic development in some parts of the Americas.

6. It approved a strong resolution on Haiti that creates a framework for OAS engagement to help resolve that country s electoral and political difficulties. The resolution instructs the Secretary General to increase his efforts in Haiti, working with the Friends of Haiti and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The resolution also urges the government of Haiti to follow the resignation of the seven contested senators with the establishment, in consultation with the opposition, of a credible provisional electoral council by June 25, 2001.