By Caribbean News Global
In the public interest in the 54 member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, Caribbean News Global (CNG) is publishing a three-part series over the next three days, analyzing the stewardship of the Commonwealth Secretariat by Baroness Patricia Scotland who is seeking a second term as Commonwealth Secretary-General. The analysis was compiled and provided to CNG by a group of Commonwealth Observers in London called “Friends of the Commonwealth”. The email address of the group is – email@example.com for anyone who wishes to contact them.
LONDON, England – Baroness Scotland’s first-term was completed in April 2020 but was extended because Commonwealth heads of government were unable to meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A suggestion by the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, to renew her tenure for a second term automatically was rejected by other Commonwealth heads, as communicated in a letter dated June 8, 2020, by the British prime minister Boris Johnson in his capacity as Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth. When the Commonwealth leaders meet in Rwanda at a date to be fixed later this year, they will consider other candidates for the post.
The third part of the analysis of Baroness Scotland’s tenure, as compiled by The Friends of the Commonwealth – a UK-based group – follows:
The first and second parts of this analysis showed that irregular crony appointments and contracts, as well as compensation to staff wrongly dismissed by Scotland, including a Kenyan deputy secretary-general, cost the Commonwealth taxpayers over £3.8 million in four years.
Dominica and other Caribbean countries endorsement for Scotland’s second term
In the history of the Commonwealth, it is unprecedented for a public announcement to be made on the Secretariat’s website about an incumbent Secretary-General being re-nominated for a second term. The announcement did not reflect, as wrongly stated, that CARICOM did not endorse Scotland, because only 12 of the independent CARICOM countries are members of the Commonwealth, and at least one of the 12, Trinidad and Tobago, objected to any Caribbean endorsement.
It is also unprecedented for a public announcement to be made about the “clean” state of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s affairs on the Secretariat’s website. Yet, the communications department was instructed to do so.
Dominica diplomatic passport scandal
In a wide-ranging article, published on June 5, 2016, in the UK newspaper, “Mail on Sunday” entitled, “Baroness Brazen bought top Commonwealth job in ‘utterly corrupt process”, the expose revealed that: A former Nigerian oil minister, being investigated in Britain over corruption allegations was given a diplomatic passport by Dominica’s prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit. The newspaper stated that this was six days after the minister and Skerrit may have been introduced to each other by Baroness Scotland at an event in London.
In her wide-ranging complaint against the “Mail on Sunday” to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, Baroness Scotland did not challenge this article, or any part contained therein. The absence of a denial confirms her “role in brokering the meeting/deal between the former Nigerian Oil Minister Diezani Allison-Madueke and Roosevelt Skerrit”. This visit by Skerrit was at a time when Scotland’s candidature as Dominica’s nominee for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General was being launched in London.
The 2012 audit report of the government of Maldives stated that Baroness Scotland was paid £50,000 in excess of an agreed fee for legal advice concerning the Maldives’ suspension from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). She was be paid £7,500 a day to advise the leader of an alleged coup in the Maldives accused of torture and repression.
When this regime was booted out of office by the electorate, by which time Scotland has been appointed Commonwealth SG, the father of Maldivian democracy, Mohamed Nasheed (now speaker of parliament) was scathing about Scotland’s role in significantly delaying his country’s readmission to the Commonwealth.
What was not reported was that while visiting Malaysia in August 2016 as Secretary-General, Scotland had a private meeting with the minister of justice of Maldives, Azima Shukoor, at the Intercontinental Hotel. Azima had specially flown to Kuala Lumpur for this meeting with Patricia Scotland.
A few weeks after that meeting, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) gathered in New York (September 2016) to discuss the Maldives and less than a month later (around first half of October 2016) Maldives left the Commonwealth citing “unfair and unjust” treatment. Patricia Scotland’s conduct and lack of transparency in reporting her meeting with the Maldivian justice minister throws up the question about why she did not advise CMAG of it, and why did she not recuse herself from the meeting, when she clearly had a ‘conflict of interest’. Any objective by-stander would wonder whether she advised the justice minister that the Maldives should leave the Commonwealth before it was pushed.
On October 24, 2016, the only Maldivian employee at the Commonwealth, Shahla Ali, a research officer at the governance division and sister-in-law of Mohamed Nasheed (against whom Scotland had worked) was summarily sacked on the grounds that Maldives had left the Commonwealth. However, the precedent is, even if a country left the Commonwealth, staff who are citizens of that country are allowed to compete their contract tenure. Indeed, Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth from 1995-1999, and yet Emeka Anyaoku, a national of Nigeria, remained Commonwealth Secretary-General.
(Editorial Note: CNG invites informed and substantiated responses to this series)