The government of Antigua and Barbuda was expected Monday to formally apologize before the Organization of American States (OAS) on discrimination against the Rastafarian community, hoping to improve relations with the religious group.
“Ambassador to the United States and the OAS, Sir Ronald Sanders, will address the Permanent Council of the OAS on Monday morning to advise that the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has apologized to the Rastafarian community for decades of discrimination against them,” said an Antigua and Barbuda government statement on Saturday.
“He will also inform 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,” it added.
The statement said 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, including the Caribbean.
“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,” Sanders said.
He said 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”, Sir Ronald said, adding: “To my knowledge, no other Rastafarian has spoken to an international inter-governmental organization before.
“We are making history,” Sir Ronald said.