Antigua and Barbuda: Treaty Breaches In US Congressional Record
11 November 2008
Article by Ian Moncrief-Scott for Mondaq.com
The Congressional Record of the Congress of the United States of America is a permanent history of official actions, decisions and debates by the members of that governing body.
On the 23 September 2008 the following statement was read into the Congressional Record by Hon. Thomas G Tancredo of Colorado regarding the expropriation of the Half Moon Bay Resort by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the consequences of that action:
"Madam Speaker, I would like to discuss a regrettable situation which we have been monitoring for some time now.
I am talking about the expropriation of the Half Moon Bay Resort in Antigua, which belonged to a group of American citizens, who developed the property into an internationally recognized vacation destination and have owned it for over 35 years.
The Hurricanes that hit the Caribbean in 1995 severely damaged the resort, making it necessary to negotiate a financial package to rebuild the property. Instead of assisting the owners in that regard, the Government of Antigua saw this as an opportunity to force the owners to sell it—at what would be its lowest value—to certain ''friends of the Government.''
When the owners refused to sell and expressed a determination to rebuild instead, the Government of Antigua responded by repeatedly blocking their efforts to do so.
The Government of Antigua made its first overt attempt to expropriate the property in December 2000.
At that time, some twenty Congressmen and Senators intervened by writing directly to the Prime Minister of Antigua and the Antiguan Ambassador in Washington, expressing their concern at such a move. That caused the Government of Antigua to back off for a few months.
However, after a short time, the Government of Antigua returned to its original plan and proceeded to a parliamentary declaration allowing the Government to exercise eminent domain over the property.
The owners defended their rights and spent the next six years in litigation—with our State Department doing little more than placing an occasional inquiry with the Government of Antigua as to how they were getting along.
In June of 2007—a year ago—the Privy Council in London reviewed the case brought by the U.S. owners and, taking the lines of our own Kelo Supreme Court Decision one step further, decided that the Government of Antigua had the right of eminent domain to forcibly acquire the property, even when ''public purpose'' is applied to competing commercial interests.
However, the Privy Council also confirmed the owner's right to fair and adequate compensation to be paid within a reasonable time. Now, a year later, the owners have once again had to return to the Courts, for an order compelling the Government to provide that compensation.
By expropriating property belonging to American Citizens and by ignoring the rights of the owners to prompt and fair compensation, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has breached the WTO International Trade and Investment Rules, as well as the Caribbean Basin Initiative and can no longer claim any rights accorded to preferred trading partners.
I hope the government of Antigua and Barbuda understands the impact this may have on their treatment under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and how this totalitarian seizure of private property will affect the future of foreign investment there."