(overseas territory of the UK)
Joined United Nations: 24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 13 October 2012
Plymouth was abandoned in 1997 due to volcanic activity; interim
government buildings have been built at Brades Estate, in the
Carr's Bay/Little Bay vicinity at the northwest end of Montserrat
note: an estimated 8,000 refugees left the island following the
resumption of volcanic activity in July 1995; some have returned
(July 2012 est.)
Elizabeth II of United Kingdom
Queen since 6 February 1952
The monarch is hereditary and holds that position for life or until
abdication. The Governor is selected by the Queen.
Next scheduled election: None
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Reuben T. Meade
Premier since 27 September 2011
Note - the office of premier came into effect with the new
Constitution Order; he replaces the Chief Minister
elections: last held 8 September 2009
Next scheduled election: 2014
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Protestant (Anglican, Methodist, Pentecostal, Seventh-Day Adventist, other Christian denominations), Roman
Overseas territory of the United Kingdom with 3 parishes. Legal system is English common law and statutory law
Executive: Monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the
majority party usually becomes premier; note - the office of premier came into effect with the new Constitution Order;
he replaces the Chief Minister
Legislative: Unicameral Legislative Council (11 seats, 9 popularly elected; members serve five-year terms)
note: expanded in 2001 from 7 to 9 elected members with attorney general and financial secretary sitting as ex-officio
elections: last held 8 September 2009 (next to be held by 2014)
Judicial: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based in Saint Lucia, one judge of the Supreme Court is a resident of the
islands and presides over the High Court)
Montserrat's early history has much in common with its Caribbean neighbors, although there are some differences. Like
many of its sister islands, Montserrat was formed millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions, giving the island its
picturesque mountain ranges and black sand beaches. Its first known inhabitants were Saladoid Amerindians. They left
traces of their way of life, which have been studied by archaeologists at several sites on the island, most of which,
however, now fall in the unsafe volcanic zone. The best known and most thoroughly studied of these sites was at Trants,
near the now abandoned W H Bramble Airport. Here, several skeletons were found, as well as many artifacts dating
back as far as 500 AD. The Amerindians named the island Alliouagana, or "land of the prickly bush," which was probably
named for the aloe plant. This name has been revived and used by several cultural groups in modern times. Christopher
Columbus sailed by Montserrat in 1493, although he did not land here. He named the island after the abbey of Santa
Maria de Montserrate, located in a mountainous region of Spain, which he felt had a similar appearance. At that time the
island was reportedly deserted, although Carib Amerindians subsequently raided the island from time to time from nearby
Guadeloupe. The first European settlers arrived around 1632, and were probably Irish Catholics from nearby St. Kitts,
fleeing persecution for their religion. Catholics from Virginia joined them, and Montserrat gradually became a refuge for
Catholics of Irish decent. It has been noted that Irish people of all walks of life came to Montserrat, from wealthy
landowners to poor indentured servants. These people gave Montserrat its now familiar name "The Emerald Isle of the
Caribbean," and several aspects of the island's heritage are attributed to the Irish. These include place names, surnames,
the local accent (supposedly similar to an Irish brogue), and perhaps certain cultural and food items. The governing
power, however, was England, with some short periods when the French took over. The wars between the European
countries were at their height, and these spilled over to the Caribbean. Remnants of fortifications with canons remind us of
these times, although some of these are now inaccessible in the volcanic area. Tobacco was one of Montserrat's principal
early crops, but was soon replaced by sugar. From the mid-1600s until 1834 came the tragic period of slavery, when
thousands of Africans were shipped to the Caribbean to work on the booming sugar plantations. These people lived and
perished on the sugar estates, enduring the harshest of conditions while they boosted the economy of the "mother
country." They were the ancestors of the majority of Montserrat's present-day inhabitants. There was one documented
slave uprising in 1768. St. Patrick's Day was chosen because landowners would be distracted with the celebrations.
Although unsuccessful the rebellion is significant, since it underlined the desire of the population to strive for freedom. It is
commemorated every year on St. Patrick's Day with a good humoured week of colorful activities, which also highlight the
Irish heritage. Slavery was abolished in 1834, but it would be many years before the population was able to shake off the
legacy of poverty and deprivation. During the early days of this century, cotton was the main crop. The rise of the trade
union movement in the 1940s and '50s paved the way to universal suffrage and the modern political and social structure
seen today. The island remains a British Overseas Territory, with a British governor and a locally elected government.
In 1989 modern comfort was disrupted when Hurricane Hugo struck, ripping roofs off buildings, gutting homes and
ruining the infrastructure. It took several years to repair this damage. By 1995, a new state-of-the-art hospital was built,
as well as government headquarters, legislative council, roads and other infrastructure. People had finally rebuilt their
homes. But most of this effort and expense was to come to nothing. As if to add insult to injury, the volcano in the
southern mountains became active in 1995, reaching its height in 1997 when Plymouth (the capital), as well as all southern
and eastern villages, was destroyed. Residents of these areas were relocated to the north, while many migrated to Britain
and elsewhere, more than halving the population. The most recent period of increased activity at the Soufrière Hills
volcano, from November 2009 through February 2010, saw ash venting, a vulcanian explosion which sent pyroclastic
flows down several sides of the mountain, and on February 11, 2010 a partial collapse of the lava dome that sent a
column of ash more than 20,000 feet (6,100 m) into the air, raining down on several nearby islands including Guadeloupe
and Antigua. Since 2010, the volcano has been relatively quiet. Despite the volcanic activity, a large part of Montserrat
remains lush and green. In February 2005, The Princess Royal officially opened a new airport at Gerald's in the north
(renamed the John A. Osborne Airport); As of 2011 it handles several flights daily operated by Fly Montserrat Airways.
Docking facilities are in place at Little Bay, where a new capital town is being constructed. The new government centre is
at Brades, a short distance away. The people of Montserrat were granted full residency rights in the United Kingdom in
1998, and British citizenship was granted in 2002. A deadly Fly Montserrat Airways crash occurred Sunday, 7 October
2012, killing the pilot and two passengers.
Source: UK Holiday Guide Wikipedia; Montserrat
Severe volcanic activity, which began in July 1995, has put a damper on this small, open economy. A catastrophic
eruption in June 1997 closed the airport and seaports, causing further economic and social dislocation. Two-thirds of
the 12,000 inhabitants fled the island. Some began to return in 1998 but lack of housing limited the number. The
agriculture sector continued to be affected by the lack of suitable land for farming and the destruction of crops.
Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcanic activity and on public sector
construction activity. Half of the island remains uninhabitable.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Montserrat)
Politics of Montserrat takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby
the Chief Minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Montserrat is an internally self-governing
overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes Montserrat on
the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative
power is vested in both the government and the Legislative Council. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and
the legislature. Military defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom.
The governor is appointed by the monarch. The Premier is appointed by the governor from among the members of the
His cabinet, the Executive Council, is appointed by the governor from among the elected members of the Legislative
Council and consists also of the Executive Council of the governor, the attorney general, and the finance secretary.
The current Premier of the island is Reuben Meade, of the Movement for Change and Prosperity, replacing the
outgoing Chief Minister, Lowell Lewis of the Montserrat Democratic Party.
On 13 October 2010, the Queen approved the Montserrat Constitution Order 2010, which replaces the office of Chief
Minister with the office of Premier. The first premier will be the chief minister in office on the date the Order comes into
force, expected to be later this year. A Cabinet will replace the Executive Council and will likewise consist of the
premier, the attorney-general, the financial secretary, and three other ministers. One of the Cabinet members aside from
the Premier must be appointed Deputy Premier to act as Premier when the latter office is vacant or when the Premier is
absent from Montserrat.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Montserrat
Transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR)--Volume II: Money Laundering and Financial Crimes
Country Database--Montserrat through Suriname
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
May 20, 2011
Montserrat has one of the smallest financial sectors of the Caribbean overseas territories of the United Kingdom. The Montserratian
economy has been effectively halted since the volcanic eruption in 1995 that reduced the population and business activity on the
island. Less than 6,000 people remain resident on the island. The island's operating budget is largely supplied by the British
government and administered through the Department for International Development (DFID). Export businesses currently based in
Montserrat deal primarily in the selling and shipping of aggregate for construction. Imports include virtually everything available for
sale on the island. An offshore financial services sector may attract money launderers because of a lack of regulatory resources.
None of the offshore banks appears to have a physical presence on the island, complicating regulation.
DO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ENGAGE IN CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS RELATED TO INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS
TRAFFICKING THAT INCLUDE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF US CURRENCY; CURRENCY DERIVED FROM ILLEGAL
SALES IN THE U.S.; OR THAT OTHERWISE SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT THE U.S.: NO
CRIMINALIZATION OF MONEY LAUNDERING:
“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: All serious crimes
Legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: NO
CRIMINALIZATION OF TERRORIST FINANCING:
Ability to freeze terrorist assets without delay: YES
UN lists of designated terrorists or terrorist entities distributed to financial institutions: YES
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Montserrat wants removal from UN Decolonisation list
31st May, 2012
BRADES, Montserrat – The Honourable Premier Reuben Meade on Wednesday asked that Montserrat be removed from the list of
non self governing countries within their Decolonisation discussions.
The leader of the Government of Montserrat made the announcement during his presentation at the UN Special Committee on the
Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,
also known as the Special Committee of 24, Regional Pacific Seminar on Decolonization in Quito, Ecuador, which runs from 30
May to 1 June 2012.
Under the umbrella of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020), the seminar will discuss
current realities in decolonisation and prospects for progress. The main conversation will centre, around the 16 Non-Self-
Governing Territories under the Special Committee’s purview in the Pacific, Caribbean, and other regions, as well as United
Nations system assistance. The seminar’s conclusions and recommendations will be considered by the Special Committee at its
substantive session in June and subsequently transmitted to the General Assembly.
Premier Meade said the people of Montserrat have made their choice in choosing to continue as an overseas territory of the United
Kingdom and do not see themselves as being a colony.
He laid out the island’s constitutional history starting with the letters patent in the 17th Century. He chronicled Montserrat’s latest
journey which brought into effect the 2010 Constitutional Order which gave the local Cabinet of Ministers the right to make all
executive decisions among other improvements.
“We are fully internally self-governing, we pass our own laws, we make our own decisions, and we make our own monetary
policies as part of the OECS Monetary Union. Despite the fact that the Police and the Public Service are within the Governor’s
remit, we pay their bills and as a consequence exercise a major voice in their management. All executive decisions are made by the
local Cabinet of Ministers. We have on 1st May 2012, signed a MoU with the Department for International Development which
focuses on Montserrat’s sustainable development plan. This indicates the commitments of DfID and those of Montserrat in making
this possible. As a show of immediate support we have obtained financing for geothermal exploration which will enable us to be
fully non reliant on fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy by 2015.
“It is useful to note as well that whereas we have full citizenship rights in the UK with all of its attendant benefits. On the other
hand non Montserratian British nationals do not have rights of abode in Montserrat.
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No Reports from Freedom House mentioning Montserrat after exhaustive search of their database. Please forward any
information you may have regarding Freedom House efforts on behalf of Montserrat to the Pax Gaea World Report
editor at the link below
Contact the editor »
Summit of the Americas fails to address human rights
20 April 2009
The fifth Summit of the Americas has failed to recognize that human rights must be placed at the centre of efforts to confront the
many fundamental challenges facing the region.
Governments from every country in the Americas, except for Cuba, took part in the four-yearly meeting held in Port of Spain,
Trinidad and Tobago, between 17 and 19 April.
The 34 heads of state and government discussed the Summit's three principal themes: human prosperity, energy security and
The Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain was adopted by consensus at the close of the Summit on 19 April. Based on the
three themes, the Declaration fails to lay out a clear human rights framework for progress in these areas.
A number of governments, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Honduras, indicated that they were not prepared to formally
sign the Declaration. Leaders agreed to instead adopt it by consensus and have Trinidadian Prime Minister Manning sign on behalf
of all leaders.
The governments that had registered objections did not feel that the Declaration deals adequately with the current global economic
crisis. They also wanted to see strong references to the issue of Cuba's reintegration into Organization of American States (OAS)
and the lifting of the US embargo against Cuba.
Amnesty International delegates at the Summit urged the governments of the region to make a firm commitment to ensuring that all
measures taken in response to the current global economic crisis fully conform to their human rights obligations. But the
recognition in the Declaration of the responsibility governments have to address the crisis does not acknowledge human rights at all.
"At a time of global economic turmoil and with a new spirit of compromise in the air between the government of US President
Barrack Obama and other governments in the Americas this Summit offered an unparalleled opportunity to lay out a strong human
rights vision for the Americas," said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, who was part of the Amnesty
International delegation at the Summit. "Instead, human rights have once again been pushed to the back."
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Human Rights Watch Commentary On Australia's Temporary Protection Visas For Refugees
I. Temporary Status is Inappropriate for Fully Adjudicated Refugees
B. Temporary Protection Should Have a Finite Duration, Eventually Allowing for a More Secure Status
In the United States, temporary protected status is granted to nationals of designated countries who are unable to return home
because of an ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or some other extraordinary and temporary situation. Again, it is a
means of immediately granting to nationals of designated countries (even those found to be unlawfully present in the U.S.) a set of
rights, including the right to work and a limited right to travel outside of the United States. Individuals who are unable to make out a
claim for refugee status can still be granted temporary protected status, and all individuals eligible can be granted temporary
protected status before they have their asylum claims processed. In other words, temporary protected status in no way excludes a
later or simultaneous application for permanent refugee protection. As of February 2003, countries (or parts thereof) designated
under temporary protected status included: Angola, Burundi, El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone,
Somalia and Sudan. Individuals who have been rejected from refugee status and who have held temporary protected status for
many years may be able to adjust their status to enjoy permanent residence under other provisions of U.S. law.
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OCTA Ministerial Statement by Hon. Reuben T. Meade
26th January, 2012
Brussels, January 24th, 2012
Heads of Delegation, Commissioner for Development, representatives of Member States, ladies and gentlemen, I wish, on behalf of
the OCT team to pay special tribute and thanks to the Commission and the organizers for the arrangements which have been made
on our behalf. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring greetings from Montserrat the emerald isle of the Caribbean.
Colleagues, I see this meeting as a critical one in terms of the precarious nature of the world economy and the fact that we are on
the verge of seeing the implementation of a new OCT Decision. These are major events each of which can define the way of life
for generations. It is therefore essential, that the Commission provides a clear and specific framework on how it sees our future
relationships. On the other hand, we need to individually and collectively evaluate this framework to ensure that we do not become
casualties of what we are all hoping would be a mutually beneficial partnership.
We have been presenting Joint Position Papers and Political Resolutions to the Commission for approximately ten years. We
continue to speak of partnerships, mutual benefits common policies or convergence of policies for a variety of reasons and the
need to respect each other. We have committed to standards of accountability, transparency and good governance and the
Commission commits to a package of assistance. The goals of our partnership are noble and the standards we aspire to are laudable
but we are all too aware of the tendency by the Commission to change the standards to our detriment. Therefore, an OCT Decision
that does not allow the territories some flexibility in responding to the individual circumstances and risks of the territory create a
governance problem that they may not have the capacity to fix. For instance, a standard legal framework across regions may
create substantial cost to the territory and ultimately a contingent liability to the member state.
Today, we meet for the tenth time in this forum to discuss many of the same issues that we have been debating year on year. It is
the eve of the old OCT agreement and the dawn of a new one. I trust we can work together in a manner that is truly beneficial to
all concerned. As we present another Political Resolution to the Commission, I trust we will have a response with firm
commitments on how we can work together as partners to address the concerns outlined in the document.
The Commissioner will no doubt agree with us that the Overseas Countries and Territories’ (OCTs) have global strategic value and
importance because of their rich cultural diversity, abundant and unique biodiversity and geographic locations. These valued assets
provide significant opportunities for the European Union and our territories that require special attention. Of course, for us in the
territories, it is essential to our survival that any future relationship should provide for the sustainable use of these assets for the
benefit of our peoples.
Capacity Building – the strategic intent is to develop a centre of knowledge, research and innovation so that the work of the OCTs
can be shared and best practices adopted across the OCTs. It is envisaged that the OCTs will have greater access to the EU
programmes from the work done in this area. OCTA intends to promote human and social development through the development
of training and educational mechanisms delivered through OCT specific or EU education systems.
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Hazel Riley working on Montserrat’s Human Rights Plan
30th June, 2011
BRADES, Montserrat – Former school teacher and communications officer for the Public Sector Reform Unit Mrs. Hazel Riley is
presently working on the National Human Right Plan for Montserrat.
According to a statement from Labour Commissioner Mrs. Denise Phillip, “as part of the project “Building Human Rights Capacity
in the British Overseas Territories”, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development, the Commonwealth
Foundation has embarked on an activity which is intended to review the current human rights situation in Montserrat with a view of
completing a matrix which will inform the development of a National Human Rights Plan.
“Government officials, with input from public agencies and civil society will use this matrix to identify gaps in the current human
rights framework and to determine what changes to legislation, policy, practice, and resources would be needed to bring about
Riley has been engaged by the Commonwealth Foundation, through the Department of Labour on a two-month assignment to
complete this project. Her programme involves face to face interviews with individuals and groups to gauge their understanding of
human rights and how well Montserrat is doing in protecting and enforcing the rights of its citizens.
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Human Rights Education in Montserrat 2011-2012
Prior to the coming on stream of this programme- Human Rights Education on Montserrat with financial assistance from the
Commonwealth Foundation, the general population had little knowledge of or paid little attention to their fundamental rights and
freedoms that are an integral part of the human condition in a free and democratic society.
With the introduction of the New Montserrat Constitution Order that came into effect through passage in the Island’s Legislative
Assembly in September of 2011, and assented to by the Governor in Council in January of 2012, it became imperative that the
resident population be exposed to and acquire knowledge of the Constitution especial the rights and freedoms that document.
This was advanced by the DFID sponsored Developing Human Rights Capacity in the British Overseas Territories Project, led by
the Project Coordinator Peter Ashman of the United Kingdom. A new booklet which simplifies the 1st chapter of the Constitution
dealing with the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals, was the main document used in facilitating the education
programmes. The Booklet was also funded by the Commonwealth Foundation.
2. Brief Summary of the activity:
Education outreach programmes were conducted with a variety of church groups and other civil society groups that focused on
the seventeen (17) fundamental rights and freedoms of the Montserrat Constitution. Participants were made aware of the
importance of individuals accepting that these rights and freedoms are inalienable and fundamental to every person living on the
island and that these rights also known as human rights could not be taken away.
Respect for the laws of the land, the responsibility of individuals to respect other peoples’ right and freedoms, how the people of
Montserrat must be treated, how they treat others and how they conduct themselves as individuals and as part of the collective
family of residents, were part of the messages reinforced through the group discussions.
This was primarily conducted in the form of group discussions led by resource persons from the Alliouagana Human Rights group
AHRG. Two of the sessions were conducted in conjunction with the representative in the Deputy governor’s Office who is
coordinator for the establishment of the Commissions identified in the Constitution including the Complaints Commission.
Support promotion included the use of Billboards, key rings, book markers T-shirts, a music jingle created by the group – www.
How did the activity meet its own and the Foundation’s objectives?
4. Key objectives:
To help residents on Montserrat become familiar with their fundamental rights and freedoms as set out in the 1st chapter of the
new Montserrat Constitution.
To introduce and distribute to residents a new Booklet which is a simplified version of the 1st Chapter of the Constitution
To arrange education programmes for a percentage of the local resident population to help them acquire knowledge of their
fundamental rights and freedoms.
To facilitate the sessions in a manner that would help empower residents to better take charge of their lives and gain the
confidence to seek redress if they think any of their rights and freedoms have been violated.
To develop promotional materials in support of the Human Rights education programme.
Those of the population who have participated in the sessions have responded positively with all groups contacted welcoming the
invitation to participate.
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Governor since 8 April 2011
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