BARBUDA: 22 environmental and human rights defenders facing charges for visiting contested luxury tourism construction site – serious concerns over legal intimidation

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FRONT LINE DEFENDERS

Global Legal Action Network and Front Line Defenders are deeply concerned over the repeated targeting of human rights defenders resisting destructive private luxury tourism developments in Barbuda. A group of human right defenders inspecting one of the contested construction sites on the island have been charged with unlawful trespass. Their hearing, where they could potentially face criminal charges, is set to happen on 29 September 2022.

After Hurricane Irma hit the island in 2017, the central Government in Antigua and Barbuda pushed through new laws that enabled construction of a multi-million-dollar luxury tourism resort and a golf course known as the ‘Barbuda Ocean Club’ on a protected wetland, and a private jet airstrip through 300 acres of untouched forest.

Barbudans opposing the private development of their land – which has been held communally by Barbudans ever since the abolition of slavery – have experienced harassment, intimidation, defamation, and criminalization, including threats from the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda himself. Un 2015, following local opposition to the proposal of the first project, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne stated that “economic terrorists” who wanted to “block investment … and keep our people unemployed … would have to face the full extent of the law for any infractions whatsoever”. When Barbudans filed a legal claim against the construction of the international airstrip, Gaston Browne wrote online that “these imbeciles have resorted to their ignorantly destructive ways, trying to undermine a much needed infrastructural project”.

A group of land rights defenders, including an elected member and employees of the Barbuda Council, have repeatedly expressed concern about the human and environmental impacts of the construction, which may put the island at greater risk of future climate events. It is also alleged that the approval of the development’s construction failed to meet the basic legal standards and follow appropriate procedures. In July 2020, after a protest against the main developer, PLH (short for “Peace, Love and Happiness”), Gaston Browne told the press: “Anytime they do anything illegal over there I am sending the police and army … I rather fight them and resign than to turn a blind eye.”

These threats materialized on 18 September 2020, at another peaceful protest against PLH Barbuda, when two Barbudan Council members – Paul Nedd and Devon Warner – were arrested and charged with trespass and breaking COVID-19 rules for not wearing face masks. They were part of the group of 22 locals who attempted to inspect the PLH construction site at Palmetto Point. They came to inspect compliance with the conditions of approval for the project. This move came after the Development Control Authority had issued a non-compliance notice on 31 August alerting PLH its construction activities were not in line with the conditions of approval.

On 1 October 2020, the Eastern Caribbean Court ordered PLH to halt construction at both Palmetto and Coco Points. However, locals and human rights defenders claimed to have witnessed ongoing operations. In January 2021, the same court lifted the injunction on PLH’s activities and issued an order to the Barbuda Council forbidding them from entering PLH Barbuda’s construction area for any reason, even inspection.

The group of 22 locals and human rights defenders, including Paul Nedd and Devon Warner, as well as other Barbudan Council members, are still facing charges for trespass and have been summoned to court multiple times in front of an unknown “virtual complainant”. Despite the requests for disclosure, the complainant’s identity has not been revealed yet. The group of 22 have all been summoned and are due to appear together in court on 27 September 2022. Incidentally, the police offices where the hearing is due to be held were sponsored by no other than PLH.

In June 2021, a group of United Nations Special Rapporteurs issued a joint communication to both the government of Antigua and Barbuda and the US-based private developers, expressing deep concerns “regarding the potential impacts of the Barbuda Ocean Club Project on human rights, including the rights to food, water and sanitation, housing, and a healthy environment, as well as cultural rights”. The UN Special Rapporteurs referred to the arrest of various concerned Barbudans. In a reply, PLH stated that close to 40 people trespassed PHL’s leased land and denied the arrest or the charges faced by other than two of the 22 locals.

Front Line Defenders and Global Legal Action Network strongly condemn the prolonged prosecution process, judicial harassment and repeated intimidation against Barbudans land defenders. These organizations call on the authorities of Antigua and Barbuda to drop the charges, stop the criminalization and defamation against land defenders in Barbuda and to take the necessary measures to enable them to continue to safely defend their collective rights.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s trust that the Crown will be victorious and stop this foolishness once and for all. Let the development continue. DCA and the Environmental Agency are sufficient is determining the impact and any non-compiance issues.
    Opposing a project simply for the sake of it only demonstrates a level of absurdity among a few who are willing to bastardize any meaningful projects authorized by the Crown.
    Those same people attract no development for the island other than stalling projects.

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  2. Dave Ray why don’t you go find something else to do and stop watching what Barbudans say or do, yah nah lib inna Barbuda and have any connection ova yah, talk bout arl de nonsense dat a carry-on right in yah backyard ova dey! At least our people have some backbone and stand up for what is right. Pick yah battles elsewhere because what you’re saying nah mek no sense. “Let development continue” one long chuuuuppppsss! Aryou conscience dead dead! When disaster strike now aryou get on radio and pretend like aryou care about the safety of Barbuda people…man shut yah mouth me a beg you please.

    • You have backbone in many cases which you have not won in the courts. You have failed in every single case. What does that say about your backbone? I was just in Barbuda a few weeks ago and I will be back shortly.
      I’m concerned about the illiteracy and lack of vision by the likes of you. Don’t worry about what happens in America. They have been an independent nation since 1776 with 334 million people. They can handle themselves without my intervention.
      But for an island with less than 2,000 residents, vision is deafeningly lacking.
      Let’s see how this court case turns out, my friend. I’m not mad at you because I’m fully aware that you’re an angry soul.

  3. “Those same people attract no development for the island other than stalling projects.” 🎯🎯🎯🎯🎯

  4. tell Barbudans how you really feel about them Trevor

    “…and seem to be on a protracted path of
    **GAMBLING**
    1). IDLENESS
    2). SEXUAL PROMISCUITY
    3). DRUG ABUSE
    4). ALCOHOL ABUSE
    5). BADMINDED-NESS
    6).COVETUOUS-NESS
    7).SELFISHNESS
    8).UNPRODUCTIVITY. People don’t want to work
    9)DECEITFULNESS
    10).People badminded and just covet other people
    11).LACK OF RESPECT FOR OTHERS
    12).LACK OF RESPECT FOR THOSE IN AUTHORITY
    13).Council say work til 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock. You warn go home 10 o’clock
    14).LAZINESS
    15).THE LOVE FOR MONEY
    16).GREEDINESS
    And the last one which I find is the most profound for me:
    17). OUR TURNING AWAY FROM GODLY THINGS”.
    ~Member of Parliament Trevor Walker

  5. As far as I know Trespassing is still an illegal activity and one can be charged and convicted thousands of dollars. So I hope they have the funds to pay for that.

    • And by the way we do have an environmental watch dog called the Department of Environment, running completely independent. They can enter any property when they choose to. All people need to do is present them with breaches to investigate. But to feel you have the right to enter a private property and do an investigation as you please, sorry that cannot fly.

    • TRESSPASS: noun

      1.LAW

      entry to a person’s land or property without permission.

      “the defendants were guilty of trespass”

  6. And thew sad thing is, these days we have technology such as drones to fly over people’s property and take pictures. Just like what they used to do with YIDA. I guess they got tired of flying those drones over YIDA’s property.

    • Rita that IGNORANT “fighting spirit” got them nowhere for YEARS except to be BRAINWASHED and EMBARASSED at the PRIVY COUNCIL. Headed by the Dummy-Knee-Cant Justin “Never Ready” Simon, McKenzie Frank Trevor Walker and the little boy SPENT HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to appear in person at the Privy Council only to be told…… you “have NO REALISTIC PROSPECT OF SUCCEEDING in their claim

      https://antiguanewsroom.com/privy-council-rules-against-walker-frank/

      Having a “fighting spirit” is good for the right thing. Just don’t be an ignorant arsole “fighting” against the wind.

      Save that energy to walk to the Land Registry and pay your $1 to rightfully earn piece of CROWN land.

      • Lol, I wouldn’t go that far as to refer to them using expletives….but in summary, you’re spot on…👍🏽👏🏽

  7. “Tragically, Browne contended, the contentious issue of the ownership of the land in Barbuda had been used for decades by the BPM and UPP to INTENTIONALLY ORCHESTRATE POLITICAL MISCHIEF and drive a wedge and cause acrimony between Barbudans and the Antigua-based Central Government. “The very alliance between the BPM and UPP was predicated on that ownership MYTH. “They knew better, but they have deceptively and deliberately sought to institutionalise and weaponise the MYTH of ownership to achieve, and maintain, political relevance”.

  8. Fret not 22 people. Trevor Walker can use he gas station profits to pay Lovell to represent are you. Plus de legal luminary Chaku Waku start to nuff up and edge up fu tek de GUNMAN spot in de “Shadow cabinet”.
    See UPP wannabe AG day. Yessai Chaku Waku Loco Cray-Cray 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 give Pearl “FOOTS” Quinn wan hard slap fu reject de CCJ. She mek Gaston call up Lizzy and tell the negroes on de Privy Council fu vote gence Barbuda neargah 🤣 🤣

    P.S. Chaku Waku never shat any UNARMED, YOUNG GYAL.

    Chaku is a FAITHFUL man. He soon reach are you 22 neargah

    • @UPP’s SHERFIELD BOWEN SHOT TESSA BARTHLEY
      You seem to have forgotten that they had promised Queen Ivena to assist her with her legal aid. in the end she had to beg Gaston to settle out of court. What a good-hearted man. I would never have done that. I would have made her an example.

  9. Wow wow wow never in my life I have read so much sedatious rubbish are black Antiguan are for real. I can’t believe what I am reading and hearing from our people. I believe that when the PM in a ceremony in 2018 when he said let the Chinese bring their gift and we become a colony of China it makes me wonder if we are real people I am of the view that our people are already been sold we have no value . Are you satisfied that apartied will be introduced in this beautiful twin island state just for a few domestic jobs and it is ok , are you satisfied with the introduction of Buffer Zone when they are fully implemented in this twin island state that you cannot enter you have to stay two miles from the Zone are we for real black people. You saw what happened in South Africa today thanks for the Leadership of Julius Malema the leader of the EFF we will be taking back our country we will be doing it one day here in Antigua It will not be a straight fight it will be blood sweat and tears just a matter of time . For those of you who don’t want to join the fight you will be declared as enemies of the state

  10. That’s the UPP M.O.
    Promise heaven, Lead you into danger then leave you high n dry.

    Exhibit A: Joanne Massiah and Trevor Young
    Not to mention CORTWRIGHT MARSHALL!!!!

  11. @SIDELINES: What has become of the Share,Inc. The Charity that Maria Browne was Chairperson of. Could you tell me insider, a way de money from that Charity garne.

    • Since you want to know, why not write a letter to them. Or go to the Company Registry and do your search. I don’t understand why it is you guys are so lazy to do the simple things for yourself. At least you can come back here and share your findings with us.

Comments are closed.