Not for sale!

THE Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS), in praising the Government’s decision to stand down on ratifying the new African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-EU agreement, the Samoa Agreement, on November 15, says while it knows the financial gains derived from being party to various European Union (EU) pacts, the country cannot afford to barter its sovereignty and children for money.

“We understand that, and we understand the pickle that the Government is in. But, nonetheless, it is good to say we reserve, because what we would be doing is handing over our sovereignty and our future and our children’s future to these people for money. We must be able to say we don’t agree with this,” head of the JCHS Dr Wayne West told the Jamaica Observer on Sunday.

“We are not against trade, we are all for trade, but these types of things have never been linked to this agreement before, and this is a new strategy by the EU. This agreement has been from the days of Michael Manley, but the EU is now introducing this social, ideological component, imposing [it] on the ACP countries. So we hope that other ACP countries will say let’s do trade, but we won’t be part of that,” he continued.

“The reality is that if we allow the EU to get away with what they want, parents will lose control over their children from the time they get to school, because the children are going to be indoctrinated in the schools about these various ideologies about being transgender and LGBTQ, and just generally having a nihilistic approach to sexuality. So this is one of the objectives of that agreement: They want to indoctrinate, educate, and force into the children these things,” the JCHS head warned.

“And not only that, if you follow what is happening overseas, you will see that the schools are beginning to take away the rights of the parents. In some places in the United States, for example, a child can go to school and the teacher can allow the child to go through a transition without telling the parent. That’s what they want. The parents are going to lose control over the children, they are going to lose the right to say what the child should be because they are going to use the schools and the teachers and so on to impose their ideology on the children, and we have to resist that,” Dr West stated further.

He is, however, wary as to the impact that the Government’s decision to withhold its signature at this time will have, if any.

“Our understanding is that the time for making these amendments has passed, so we really don’t know how the Government is going to approach it,” Dr West said, adding that, “Jamaica is not the only Government that is not signing.”

“Namibia has also indicated concerns over the same issues that we are concerned about, which is basically imposing LGBTQ ideology and abortion, so-called human rights, and indoctrinating our children in schools with comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), which is really teaching children pornography and presenting it as acceptable, and that behaviours can be as nihilistic and as anarchist as people want. We heard that another one or two African countries may not be signing as well. We are still waiting for confirmation, but possibly Rwanda and Uganda may not be signing as well,” he said.

Article 99 of the convention, in respect of duration and revision, says, “The parties may submit proposals for amendments to this agreement to the [Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States] OACPS-EU Council of Ministers no later than six months prior to the meeting of the OACPS-EU Council of Ministers. Any amendments shall be approved by the OACPS-EU Council of Ministers and be subject to the procedures laid down for the entry into force and provisional application of this agreement.”

It further adds that, “OACPS-EU Council of Ministers may refuse to give its consent for an amendment deemed not consistent with this agreement and shall notify the relevant Regional Council of Ministers of the reasons for its refusal. The absence of a refusal of consent within 120 days from the date of notification is deemed to constitute consent. The amended regional protocol shall enter into force on the first day of the second month following the date of consent.”

The agreement, which is scheduled to be signed in Samoa at the upcoming ACP-EU Ministerial, has been described by the JCHS as a “comprehensive new, binding 20-year agreement with the EU that will reintroduce the rejected CSE curriculum back into Jamaican classrooms and undermine Jamaicans’ fundamental rights and freedoms”.

Last week the JCHS, in a last-ditch attempt to reason with the Andrew Holness-led Administration, issued a statement which capped 27 months of advocacy in which it urged the Government to reconsider “the glaring danger of multiple clauses” in the pending treaty.

The JCHS said, “The agreement will bind Jamaica to undefined human rights obligations tied to trade sanctions; reintroduce CSE back into schools despite parents’ outrage in 2012 with regards to CSE’s sexualising content; trap the nation in yet-to-be-negotiated international instruments; and demand the acceptance of terms that directly threaten citizens’ freedom of conscience and speech, among other alarming concerns.”

The obligations referenced by the JCHS are contained in articles 101(7) General Pact; 48(7), Caribbean Pact; 36(2) General Pact; 9(2) and 20(1) General Pact of the Agreement.

On Friday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said Government will delay the signing of the agreement to facilitate ongoing consultations but would still participate in the meeting of the ministerial councils as customary.

“Throughout the negotiations, which concluded in 2021, the Government had taken on board the views of the various stakeholders, including members of civil society. After what was, in fact, three years of challenging negotiations, the Government was satisfied that the language of the text in the final agreement would not supersede Jamaica’s domestic legislation. Notwithstanding, the Government has taken note of concerns which continue to be raised by stakeholders in the domestic space, so we will continue consultations with the aim of providing assurances regarding the Government’s unfailing intent to always protect the interest of Jamaica and Jamaicans with the laws of Jamaica as our guide,” she said.

Johnson Smith, in the meantime, pointed out that the Samoa Agreement is the successor to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the principal development framework through which Jamaica and other OACPS states have obtained grant funding from the EU since the year 2000.

“The EU has been and remains Jamaica’s largest multilateral grant donor under this and prior agreements. Parties to the Samoa Agreement stand to benefit from new financial and technical cooperation programmes,” she said.

The JCHS has been at pains to point out that while, historically, the agreements have focused on trade and economic development relations, the new agreement is unprecedented in its extensive coverage from trade and development to data protection, war crimes, terrorism and violent extremism, illicit trade in drugs, education, health, food security, social inclusiveness, youth, culture, environmental protection, climate change, human rights, democracy, gender equality, and human trafficking, among other subject areas.

In the meantime, Dr West said Jamaicans should view the Government’s decision to hold off in a positive light.

“We commend the Government. People must support the Government if the Government is taking a stand that is in the interest of the people. We are not unaware of all the politics and the issues and so on, but what we are saying is that the people of Jamaica have to protect the future of our children,” he said.

“Do you want a society in which you don’t know what a woman is and your children are going to school and teachers are causing them to remove their breasts and all kinds of things because they are supposed to be transgender and parents don’t know? We have to wait for these things to die their natural death because they are foolishness. The fact that the Government is bold enough, we should commend them and support them for doing that.”

He said the coalition has decided to cancel a protest scheduled for today in the wake of Government’s decision.

“We will not be protesting because they have backed away. We are continuing to monitor what is happening and we are continuing to inform the public and we are continuing to recommend to the people of Jamaica that they take a stance against these foolish ideologies because they really are very foolish, but they are going to cause great harm to children particularly and the next generation, so we need to protect our children and we will see where we go from there,” Dr West said.