Government Of Barbados Delivers Belly Searcher To Its Rastafari Community

A gut wrenching belly searcher was delivered to the Rastafari community, when the Minister of Agriculture confirmed on Down To Brass Tax, that the permission to legally use cannabis for sacramental use by Rastafari would be determined by a public referendum.

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I wonder what religious or spiritual grouping of people would allow one of their fundamental practices to be determined by what others thought of it. The ringing of the Spiritual Baptist’s bell was once outlawed.   How would they have felt, if the implementation of an action to  change the law to legally allow for the ringing of their bell had to be determined by a public vote of yes or no? I am sure they would not have stood for that. Suppose the Bible was banned and it was illegal to own or read one. Then the government says, “we will pass a bill so that we can sell Bible story books, because internationally those story books are in high demand and there is money to be made.  Christians who would have been fighting for the legalization of the Bible for decades were then told by the government, “however your right to own and read the Bible will be determined by a public vote. Keep in mind that previous to the Bible story revolution, the public had been fed a constant diet of misinformation that fabricated a great potential for negative behaviours by persons who read that book. I am sure Christians would have spoken out about this. Amen!

 

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The government owes the Rastafari community an apology and actions of redress for that misguided statement. 60 acres of land cannot purchase the silence of  thousands of Rastafari in the face of this grave injustice.

The Minister of Agriculture speaks in clear terms of international treaties and conventions that Barbados is signatory to as one reason why only Medical Cannabis can be legislated at this time.

I invite you the read the international standards on freedom of religion or belief, as presented on the United Nations, Human Rights, Office Of The High Commission’s website.

It says, “The primary sources of law underpinning the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief are article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

The work of the mandate is also guided by the relevant articles of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

The mandate is also guided by relevant resolutions of the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and other organs of the United Nations (see resolutions), as well as relevant jurisprudence of the treaty bodies and provisions of international humanitarian law. The Special Rapporteur also takes into account relevant human rights instruments and jurisprudence at the regional level.”

Continuing, please note information that is in “Bold Text’.

 

FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
Freedom to adopt, change or renounce a religion or belief 
[25 years mandate practice]
UDHR 
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief […].”
ICCPR 
Art. 18 (1): “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice […].”
1981 Declaration of the General Assembly 
Art. 1 (1): “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice […].”
Human Rights Committee general comment 22 
Para . 3: “Article 18 does not permit any limitations whatsoever on the freedom of thought and conscience or the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of one’s choice; “.
Para . 5: “The Committee observes that the freedom to ‘have or to adopt’ a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one’s current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one’s religion or belief.”
Freedom from coercion 
[25 years mandate practice]
UDHR 
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom […] either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and
observance.”

ICCPR 
Art. 18 (2): “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”
1981 Declaration of the General Assembly 

Art. 1 (2): “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.”
Human Rights Committee general comment 22 
Para . 5: “Article 18.2 bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to their religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert. Policies or practices having the same intention or effect, such as, for example, those restricting access to education, medical care, employment or the rights guaranteed by article 25 and other provisions of the Covenant, are similarly inconsistent with article 18.2. The same protection is enjoyed by holders of all beliefs of a non-religious nature.”
The right to manifest one’s religion or belief 
[25 years mandate practice]
ICCPR 
Art. 18 (1): “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom […] either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
Art. 18 (3): “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”
1981 Declaration of the General Assembly 
Art. 1 (1): “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
Art. 1 (3): “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”

 

Since the use of cannabis for sacramental use by Rastafari does not threaten public safety, order or health, or morals or the fundamental rights of others, any limitations imposed on Rastafari as it pertains to their sacrament is illegal. As such trying to determine if this fundamental right of Rastafari as guaranteed by the above, should be allowed, by way of public opinion vote, is in itself illegal.

 

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Seeing that the position of the government is clear on this matter, it is necessary that Rastafari take legal action and not only seek the upholding of their religious/spiritual rights, but sue the government for its injustice and non-compliance with this United Nations mandate which I am sure they are a signatory to. Also they totally ignore the findings and recommendations of the CARICOM Regional Task Force on Cannabis and their own constitution. Arm yourselves with the right information.

 

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Finally, the assertion that any Barbadian can be a part of the impending Medical Cannabis industry needs to be questioned very carefully. Any Barbadian can partake of Barbados’ main industry, Tourism. All well and good, but look into that industry and tell me what levels do you see black Barbadians working at? Hewers of wood and stone is what you will see if you take an honest look. Are we to always be satisfied with gathering the scraps from the big table?

 

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It is said that those that make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable. Looks like I am headed to court Mr. Minister, and by the looks of things I will not be alone.

Paul Rock (Simba Simba)

Cannabis Activist

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