Antigua and Barbuda makes historic report on Rastafarians to OAS

May 14, 2018

Ambassador Franklyn Francis thanked the government of Antigua and Barbuda for its “sincere apology for the atrocities inflicted on Rastafarians due to acknowledged utilization of cannabis” during his address to the OAS

Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States (OAS), in an address to the Permanent Council of the OAS on Monday morning, informed the OAS that Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has apologised to the Rastafarian community for decades of discrimination against them.

Ambassador Sanders also informed the Council of other measures that the government has taken or intends to take to enhance the rights of Rastafarians, who are a minority group in Antigua and Barbuda.

Ambassador Sanders’ report is in keeping with Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS, which requires the elimination of all forms of discrimination and intolerance, as well as respect for cultural and religious diversity in the Americas.

“Implementation of the Charter requirement to eliminate discrimination and intolerance contributes to strengthening democracy and citizen participation in all the 34 active member states of the OAS, and the Antigua and Barbuda government is proud to show its deep commitment to the rights of all citizens,” Ambassador Sanders said.

Sir Ronald revealed that Prime Minister Browne readily agreed to his request to be joined on Monday by Ambassador Franklyn Francis, a leading member of the Rastafari community, to also address the OAS Permanent Council on the actions of the Antigua and Barbuda government.

“When Ambassador Francis – King Frank I – speaks at the OAS Council meeting, it will be an historic first for the Rastafarian community,” Ambassador Sanders said prior to the address.

“To my knowledge no other Rastafarian has spoken to an international inter-governmental organisation before,” Ambassador Sanders said. “We are making history.”

In a tweet on the OAS website, Sir Ronald noted that Antigua and Barbuda “has taken steps to recognize the dignity and worth of the Rastafarian community as an integral part of our society.”

“Discrimination prevented the Rastafarians from escaping the confines of poverty, denying them the right to explain who they are, what they believed and what role they wanted to play,” Sir Ronald said.