Antigua gov't challenges US on human rights report

Thursday, April 26, 2018

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ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — The Government of Antigua has written to the US State Department, through its Embassy in Washington, pointing out glaring misrepresentations in the Department's 2017 Human Rights Report as it relates to Antigua and Barbuda.

“While it is not normal to release the content of its diplomatic communications with other governments, the State Department has publicly released its comments on Antigua and Barbuda and posted its report on the Internet,” said a government statement which added that a response was needed “lest not controverting them is construed as acceptance”.

The statement noted that a section of the report concerning investigations into the Brazilian firm, Odebrecht, the US report cited “media outlets” as reporting that “representatives of Odebrecht, a Brazilian international company, allegedly bribed the prime minister through an ambassador not to cooperate with Brazilian authorities in the Car Wash bribery investigation underway in Brazil”.

In its response, the Government pointed out that while an employee of the Brazilian firm, Odebrecht, himself charged with wrong-doing and giving self-serving evidence in a US court, claimed that he paid a bribe to a consular officer from Antigua and to a high-level government official in Antigua to withhold documents from Brazilian authorities who were investigating Odebrecht, the US State Department had information that discredited that claim.

“What is true and verifiable”, the Government said, “is that the Antigua and Barbuda authorities had been helping the Brazilian authorities with their investigation six months before the alleged bribery is said to have occurred, and the Brazilian law enforcement agencies officially complimented the Government of Antigua and Barbuda for its assistance”.

“By withholding this information and crediting the allegations to unidentified and amorphous “media outlets”, the US Report distorts truth, tarnishes the reputation of the Prime Minister and misleads its audience, especially the members of the US Congress for whom the Report is supposed to be intended”, the statement continued.

The Government also pointed out that: “It is also untrue that “several media outlets” reported that representatives of Odebrecht, “allegedly bribed the prime minister through an ambassador not to cooperate with Brazilian authorities in the Car Wash bribery investigation underway in Brazil”. This is either a deliberate misrepresentation by the authors of the 2017 Report or extremely loose writing, unworthy of the US State Department. In either case, the entire passage is false and damaging and warrants an apology at the very least”.

The Government has sent the full content of its Diplomatic Note to the State Department to the members of the US Congress in both the House of Representatives and the Senate who are concerned with oversight of US foreign relations.

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