Barbados turns to China for military assistance

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image (Sitting at left) Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Reverend Joseph Atherley, seated next to him is Major General Zhang Bangdong. (Standing from left), Permanent Secretary Randolph Straughan, BDF Chief of Staff Col. Alvin Quintyne, along w

Bridgetown, Barbados, August 7, 2006 - China is providing BDS$3 million (BDS$2 = US$1) in assistance in strengthen the Barbados Defence Force. The specific details of the assistance were not disclosed.

An agreement was signed last week by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and Security of Barbados, Captain Randolph Straughan, and by Major General Zhang Bangdong on behalf of the Chinese.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Reverend Joseph Atherley, said Barbados was highly appreciative of the Chinese assistance saying that “our openness as a small island state, provides serious challenges for us and we must rely on the BDF to help us meet some of these challenges.”

He lauded the Asian state for what he termed its “amazing socio-economic growth” and saluted its role in international affairs, particularly in “reducing tensions in Asia”. He said the future looked bright for Barbados/China relations.

The agreement comes three years after the United States blacklisted Barbados and five other CARICOM states as punishment for not signing  its Bilateral Immunity Agreement (BIA) or so-called "Article 98" agreement which would bind Bridgetown from surrendering, to the International Criminal Court (ICC), any American citizen.

While former President Bill Clinton had signalled that the United States would join the ICC, President George W Bush did not ratify the treaty creating the Court. The country's main objections are the interference with their national sovereignty and a fear of politically motivated prosecutions.

In addition to the interference with national sovereignty, the US duly feels that the Rome Statute circumvents the provisions in the UN charter for criminal courts and tribunals and, in doing so, robs the U.N. of some influence in a matter the U.N. was created to oversee.

In 2002, the US Congress passed the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), which contained a number of provisions, including prohibitions on the US providing military aid to countries which had ratified the treaty establishing the court (exceptions granted), and permitting the President to authorize military force to free any US military personnel held by the court, leading opponents to dub it "The Hague Invasion Act." The act was later modified to permit US cooperation with the ICC when dealing with U.S. enemies.

The US has also made a number of Bilateral Immunity Agreements, or so-called "Article 98" agreements, with a number of countries, prohibiting the surrender to the ICC of a broad scope of persons including current or former government officials, military personnel, and US employees (including non-national contractors) and nationals. The United States has cut aid and development funding for many countries cooperating with the ICC. Countries who have lost aid include Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, South Africa, and several other Latin American and African countries.

Caribbean states which signed the Bilateral Immunity Agreement are Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, and Haiti.

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