The seventh Biennial Conference of the Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CAROA) whose theme was ‘Towards exemplary public service ethic in challenging times: the role of the Ombudsman’ was held at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort in Sint Maarten and hosted by the Ombudsman of Sint Maarten.
Participants included ombudsmen, legal luminaries, scholars and practitioners from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Haiti, Montserrat, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Sint Maarten, St Kitts/Nevis, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, The United States of America.
The conference was officially declared open by Mr. Eugene Holiday MSc., Governor of Sint Maarten. Mrs. Marianne von der Esch, Head of the International Division at the Office of the Sweden Parliamentary Ombudsman, delivered the Keynote Address.
Officially Declared Open
At the conclusion of the Conference the following Communiqué was issued:
- Integrity, defined as honesty, trust, accountability, fairness and wholeness of the person, is the hallmark of good governance. It is a common thread that should run through all ombudsman and ombudsman-like institutions in the region. In this vein, it is vital that ombudsman functionaries invest in building the public trust, continue to support one another and network with other oversight agencies in achieving their respective mandates;
- The concept of ombudsmanship has grown in popularity in the Caribbean region over the last few decades so much so that both common law and other legal systems have enacted laws to establish the office. The support of governments in the region is vital for the advancement of the ombudsman concept and, in turn, the strengthening of democratic processes. The conference endorses the view expressed the Governor in his opening address, that he called the conference “a celebration of our continued quest for freedom from injustice through the promotion of democracy and the rule of law” and he affirmed the need for institutions like CAROA “to continue to strengthen and promote the development of Ombudsman institutions throughout the region and the world”.
- CAROA welcomes the first female Ombudsman from Haiti and the delegation from Montserrat at their first CAROA meeting. We look forward to the appointment of an ombudsman for Guyana and Turks and Caicos respectively. Countries of the region that have not yet established an office, such as the Commonwealth of Dominica and St Vincent and The Grenadines, are encouraged to do so;
- In order to reinforce the idea that integrity is the cornerstone of the institution of ombudsmanship, a Code of Ethics should be developed to guide the offices in the region;
- Given the significant role of the office of the ombudsman in the region, a concerted effort should be made to secure recognition of and participation by CAROA as a regional body in CARICOM.
- While acknowledging the support extended to them by their respective governments Ombudsmen still face considerable challenges because of the ever-growing expectations of citizens and the changing environment within the public sector. The Conference urges governments to be more responsive to the financial needs of the office to better enable the ombudsman to carry out his functions.
The Conference notes the passing of the former Ombudsman of Trinidad and Tobago, late Mr. Justice George Anthony Edoo, April 2013, a champion of ombudsmanship in the region. It extends condolences to his family and former colleagues.
Through the financial assistance of the International Ombudsman Institute, the Protector du Citoyen of Haiti, was able to attend this Seventh Biennial Conference.
The Conference congratulates Ms. Arlene Brock, Ombudsman of Bermuda and former Regional Vice President of IOI (Caribbean and Latin American region) on her induction as an Honorary Life member of the International Ombudsman Institute.
The conference highly commends the Ombudsman of Sint Maarten and her staff for hosting a successful conference.
The conference was happy to welcome the attendance and participation of the President of the International Ombudsman Institute and Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand, Dame Beverly Wakem, who gave a presentation on the Growing trend of Privatization of Public Services and the Consequences for the Ombudsman as well as the keynote address “Ensuring procedural fairness and administrative justice for all citizens at a time when entities, governance and administrative arrangements are undergoing fundamental changes” at the closing ceremony.
Sonesta Maho Beach Resort
Sint MaartenGiven this 9th day of May, 2013 in Sint Maarten by the Members of the Caribbean
Ombudsman Association (CAROA).