COHA takes down article on Dominica because of “flaws”

COHAThe Council of Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) has taken down an article published on its website on Dominica because of ‘flaws’ and ‘lack of sufficient evidence’.

Director of the Washington DC-based organization, Larry Birns, told DNO on Thursday that COHA felt the article was not adequately researched.

“We’ve taken down the controversial piece off our web spot because we felt there was reasonable doubt that there were flaws in the research analysis,” he stated. “We basically felt that we were accepting the opposition’s position without adequately researching the issue.”

The article named “Democratic integrity in Dominica” was published on August 6, 2014. It was authored by Ryan Eustace Research Associate at COHA and it alleges violation of election laws, describes the island Electoral Commission as ‘nominally independent,’ and also alleges the ‘stifling of reforms’ in Dominica, among others.

Interviews were done with Dr. Clayton Shillingford and leader of the United Workers Party, Lennox Linton.

On August 20, the government responded to COHA describing the article as one-sided, biased, and littered with grave misinterpretation of the facts.

It also asked COHA to withdraw the article with an appropriate retraction and apology.

Birns told DNO that COHA had doubts whether “the investigation took place in an entirely independent way.”

“When I started peeling over the observations (of the government), I just felt that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to bear the claims that we were making and that we have to go back and start all over again,” he stated. “I don’t think the the opposition particularly tried to manipulate us, if they did, they were particularly successful.”

He noted that the author of the article is not a highly regarded research fellow.

“He just had limited experience and probably found himself over his head and I felt part of the mistake was that he felt because the opposition sounds good, that their position has to be credible,” he noted.

When asked whether an apology, as demanded by the government, was coming, Birns said the taking down of the article is in itself “a de facto apology so far in terms of the fact that we are doing this has raised reasonable doubt on the part of our own conduct.”

Birns defended COHA’s reputation.

“We take our own reputation seriously, we are not used to this sort of controversy,” he said. “We are an organization with an extremely lofty reputation for accurate research. I myself would go to the world to protect that reputation.”

He said COHA is in “no one’s pocket” and he doesn’t want it to appear that he is showing favoritism to the opposition in Dominica.

“I have no particular reasons to show favoritism,” Birns said.



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  1. Emile Zapatos
    August 22, 2014

    If you are writing a research paper on Democracy in Dominica ,would you talk or interview only two people with obvious political bias. Would you not visit the setting and examine documents and reports. If not, your article would have only propaganda value.

  2. Emile Zapatos
    August 22, 2014

    What can I say, I WAS RIGHT. Raglan Riviere and his gang said I was writing ” DIATRIBE”. All kinds of people supporting the uwp , Lennox and Shillingford called me all kinds of negative names. The topic was not properly researched and COHA was taken for a ride
    The PM and his administration show the have the courage and are able to defend the country.
    Good job DNO for reporting the facts.

  3. Help
    August 22, 2014

    Francisco Telemaque

    I hope you are alive and well.

    I would value your comments on this article.


  4. Enough
    August 21, 2014

    How long will Dominicans tolerate this type of MADNESS. This individual is like a runaway train! How long will this man embarrass himself, his party, and the island? Is there anyone within the party who thinks differently from this uneducated individual. He is a national embarrassment. Is that the best we have? This individual always have to put his head in the sand and his backside up blowing hot air. When he is elected our island is gonna be the laughing stock of the world. Don’t you know when to quit! How can people in their right state of mind follow your arrogant baseless ideologies. Stop tarnishing the integrity of a democratic elected country. The majority of the people elected the government that is presently in power and the majority will also vote them out when it is necessary.
    In your twisted mind your have called for boycotts,demonstration, boots on the ground, and everything else and all has failed. Now i believe your trick bag is empty. Turn Dominica around by making your contribution towards humanity. For the love of country.

  5. Affa
    August 21, 2014

    Political strategy takes many turns, and makes for strange bed fellows. That’s not research….I would like a change of gov’t but that was indeed a cheap shot.

  6. Watcher
    August 21, 2014

    Even Clayton Shillingford, the architect of the article found it to be a damning expose on Dominica. See what he wrote later? The article should have said the “DLP” and not “Dominica”. yet still he is says he is “non-partisan” – my foot.

  7. IFF I WUZ
    August 21, 2014

    Parry, I would compliment the Prime Minister for the manner he has handled this controversy. So far, his handlers appear to have everything under control. It might be considered a victory, therefore, I believe he should enjoy it and let sleeping dogs lie. He has been famous for making outrageous statements. Reputable agencies like COHA never go down without a fight, therefore stay put, don’t allow a bad response to give your detractors an advantage they appear to have lost.

  8. Anonymous
    August 21, 2014

    Anyone can negatively criticize – it is the cheapest of all comment because it requires not a modicum of the effort that suggestion requires.

    Chuck Jones

  9. fool dem pm
    August 21, 2014

    Was anything stated in the article nonfactual? Thats what silly Dominicans need to ask themselves. Instead of worrying about COHA and its writers, think about what the contents of the article references and ask yourself what it means for the daily lives of Dominicans.

    Count the # of defamation law suits in the past 5 years.
    Count the amount of money spent to influence or bribe voters.
    Count the number of cases stuck in judicial review, and which ones move quickly through the court system.
    Must I mention a PM attacking a doctor in parliament? What would be their explanation for that?!

    You can deny one or two allegations. But COHA and any objective party, with the immense amount of EVIDENCE pointing to wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power would make similar conclusions. They should indeed query the government, but their response cannot change the FACTS that were presented. Not opinions but FACTS!

    COHA certainly received threats, and probably asked themselves “is this article worth the controversy” whether it is true or not. A small nation of less than 100K people. Silly banana republic, let them play their silly politics with each others lives….not worth them getting embroiled.

    • Anonymous
      August 21, 2014

      If your above response is how you console yourself, by all means, go ahead and hold on to your belief. But I strongly suggest that if you ever find yourself in a more lucid frame of mind, and you re read the article, the response of the Government of Dominica and Mr Birns’ explaination, your perspective would change drastically.

    • Anonymous
      August 21, 2014

      If saying that makes you sleep at nights by all means lol :mrgreen:

    • Anonymous
      August 22, 2014

      COHA received threats? From the Dominica government?

  10. Anonymous
    August 21, 2014

    If DNO likes were like election votes UWP would win by a landslide

  11. only in Dominica
    August 21, 2014

    when a country is weak and manage by outside agents these
    confusions going to happen

  12. Gary
    August 21, 2014

    I must say such a “de facto apology” by Mr. Larry Birns shows professionalism and honesty and helps to protect the credibility of his organization. I wonder how Dr. Clayton Shillingford and leader of the United Workers Party Lennox Linton feel after reading such apology. There is also something to be learned from this, the need for accurate research regarding facts especially when it is politically motivated.The Government must also be complemented for it’s response.

    • Caahhmm Awwwnn
      August 21, 2014

      Do you truly, sincerely, in your heart of hearts believe this article was published in “error”? DO you really think an org like COHA doesn’t have clear policies on publication. All the references were there so it passed their basic tests. The only mishap was the lack of interviews on the other side.

      Think about it, did Mr. Birns suggest they will get the other interviews and release a new article by XX date? There is no apology needed here, they just need to be responsible, do some more research and publish a revised article. We all know there is a ton of recent events that wasn’t mentioned in this article that will blow COHA out the water. “Democracy in question”? The new article will be called “Democracy dead in Dominica”.

      • Watcher
        August 21, 2014

        If only the article carried the government’s side of the allegations, then COHA would not have had to eat humble pie and withdrew the article. All they had to say was that the government has denied the allegations. Is that asking for too much? Recall Mr. Birn saying the young writer may have been persuaded by the clarity of the oppositions arguments – or words to that effect. But we have said before that the most successful crooks in the world have such power of speech and persuasion such that they are able to articulate their scams in a very lucid unsuspecting manner, It is happening in our society everyday. No wonder they are agitating for a debate so that their sooth talk and flowery language could be used to great effect spewing lies and unfounded accusations.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9
      • Gary
        August 22, 2014

        To Caahhmm Awwwnn

        How silly are you to ask me if I think this article was published as an error. Your opening paragraph says a lot about your lack of understanding what The director of COHA Mr. Larry Birns said was the reason for withdrawing the article, especially your statement quote “The only mishap was the lack of interviews on the other side” it is very sad if this is what you perceive and understood regarding the matter.

        Your idea that when Mr. Birns get’s the other interviews and release a new article by XX date and no apology will be needed, how nonsensical you sound. Hear is a quote from Mr. Birns “When I started peeling over the observations (of the government), I just felt that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to bear the claims that we were making and that we have to go back and start all over again,” This whole matter boils down to integrity, which Mr.Birns portrayed in protecting the credibility of his organization. The adherence to practice the highest standard of reporting with the responsibility of doing adequate research on the source of information regarding the matter reporting on. Regarding your concerns about democracy in our Country. Why don’t you look up the meaning of what this truly means before making foolish statements, is this what happens when you ingest the blue pill.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
    August 21, 2014

    All that glitters is not gold.
    You see their faces,you never know their thoughts. Quote”..The mistake was that the opposition sounds good,their position has to be credible,”,,,Really?
    Sir,now you know the sheep in wolf clothing we Dominicans and the world at large are dealing with.

  14. Anonymous
    August 21, 2014

    To co and Bee; who is blind now?

  15. CIA on the Watch
    August 21, 2014

    So why was COHA send a research fellow with limited experience to do an external research? one would think that he or she would be accompanied by one with experience and because the political system in Dominica is a two party system both parties would be approached, this does not mean that what was published by COHA does not have the semblance of truth, Dominicans live it and know it so what COHA published was not old news to all of us. A retraction was good and a republication would be even better because a thorough research will be done.

    • Watcher
      August 21, 2014

      The re-publication of the article will not contain only what Clayton – Landsgate/Transfergate maestro, has to say. It will also contain the findings of the courts (High and Appeals), the Electoral Commission, reports of the OAS and Caricom Observer Missions. Remember the court ruled on so many occasions that the UWP’s complaint are baseless and are fishing expeditions. How many names on the register of electros has the UWP objected to? I suspect none whatsoever, but they know the list is bloated. Give me a break.

  16. Wow
    August 21, 2014

    First Rule of reporting confirm your info, sources and facts…shame! shame! shame on you and our organization.

    This is so irresponsible of COHA to publish something that has not been validated and without obtaining the views of the other side.

    Also who gave you the power to discredit my country, who gave you the moral compos…look at your country and what the Republicans are doing in your country rezoning and the request for ID in largely black and minority communities jus to win seats and marginalized the voters in such communities.

    Additionally, the removing the article is not an apology and as a proud Dominican i am demanding one for defaming my country and countrymen!

    • Truism
      August 21, 2014

      COHA may have retracted but this does not mean that the article was wholly incorrect.

      The problem is that blinkered Dominicans like yourself are not prepared to take an objective view of what is actually occurring In Dominica.

      I wonder if there will be a mandate to reveal the sources of election funding?
      Will the desperate Dominicans living abroad be given free flights to Dominica to vote?
      And most importantly, can we anticipate a fair and transparency election?

      Yeah. I believe I can see pigs flying.

  17. Peter J
    August 21, 2014

    Hey, it is quiet simple, COHA come to Dominica to see for yourself.
    Now that the story is out and the two opposing tribes are claiming victory; one for having the story published and the other for having it pulled done, the most ethical thing that COHA can do is to come to Dominica, meet the opposing tribes and other relevant authorities such as the Electoral Commission and the truth will then set us free.
    Pulling down the story from the COHA website is not good enough, because there is truth in the article.

    • Anonymous
      August 21, 2014

      Every time you people write your asinine nonsense about the Electoral Commission, I will make it my business to remind you people that there are 2 UWP appointees on that self-same Electoral Commission who have appended their signatures to EVERY report put out by the Commission, thereby signifying that they have agreed with ALL that the Commission is doing.

    • Jay
      August 22, 2014

      Peter, I agree with you. Tony may just have opened a Pandora’s box by getting COHA to withdraw their article in its current form. Knowing them it will have stimulated them to carry out an in-depth and thorough investigation in order to republish it with corrections. God only knows what they will find.

    • Anonymous
      August 22, 2014

      I agree. They should come . I guarantee an apology after the visit.

  18. Whistler
    August 21, 2014

    i think the Regime will run with this..shows the Power of Tony Astaphans again to cover up things…

    honestly my view UWP won’t win this election, they do need to understand they are coming up against a fully loaded armored system which will need a bunker buster to clear things out..

    the society of Dominica talks plenty but limited or no actions
    sadly no one will make the effort to change things in Dominica…

    not sure why the opposition hasn’t noticed that..Labour will still trick the weak voters in many areas to gain victory…

    Dominicans are not hard pressuring citizens, why didn’t the Police arrest Tony re the IPO’s leaking..haha doesn’t that tell folks something…

    no change for Dominica they are highly foolish talk too much and gain nothing..leave em so…

    • .
      August 21, 2014

      There is no reason to trick me I have been studying both sides in depth. There is no competition. Labour by a landslide.

  19. Doc. Love
    August 21, 2014

    I am confused, didn’t COHA see the infamous email which was allegedly written by Tony to the Prime Minister and copied to Alick, and Hartley.

    • Anonymous
      August 21, 2014

      You sure are. Poor confused soul!

    • real possie
      August 21, 2014

      HAHAHAHA you confused the truth right there in black and white, you cant see? well if the was in the Caribbean you would say the PM bought them but you cant say that now you bringing up emails now that will be dealt with in time to come my boy.

      • Watcher
        August 21, 2014

        PM Skerrit good eh. He could even buy a reputable Washington “Think Tank” He is good.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6
  20. Oh No
    August 21, 2014

    COHA took down the article but this says one thing. While claims are discrediting the author the information sounded too good to be true. Hence, there was reason to take it down. The DLP knows the high level of manipulation that takes place in the country from various vantage points of policy, distribution of scarce resources, character assassination of the unsuspecting and gullible populace etc. From a policy and credit protection point ofview COHA did tthe right thing. Their reputation would’ve been tarnished presumably one sided because this sort of exposure appeared to real.

    • real possie
      August 21, 2014

      Oh No you did not just say that LOL.

  21. Magnetic Current
    August 21, 2014

    In today’s world, many people do not admit to their flaws and take the appropriate action/s….

  22. C
    August 21, 2014

    That does not mean that the article was untrue, it just means that they were intimidated by the government. The only mistake they made on the publication was failure to seek the views of the government side during research. This was a similar mistake to what Matt Peltier had made during his allegation of the pm million dollar house on a small salary. Though Matt was not off track, he failed to seek a govt view, and thus this made his article appear biased.

    • August 21, 2014

      Why would an American public policy group be intimidated by the government of Dominica? Don’t be absurd. The given explanation makes sense here, there’s no need to jump at shadows.

      • C
        August 23, 2014

        The only absurd one is you, who seem enmeshed in a perpetual imperialist mode. You better shrug off your denial and wake up to reality.
        Certainly , a wannabe American public policy group can and were cornered and intimidated by the govt. of Dominica (a sovereign state). the proof is here for you to see. If COHA was worth their salt as you implied, they would have been operating above board and would never back down. However history would record that the govt. of Dominica stared them down and they buckled like a hapless maggot in the sweltering sun.

        COHA for your information is a 2-bit quasi-academic group that derive scholastic orgasms by bullying ‘third world’ nations with their erratic publications. Generally they are ignored by the other countries who consider them ‘beneath them’ , however the beleaguered labour government called their bluff and challenged them. Like any feckless bully does in the face of a concerted challenge, COHA cowered shamefully and miserably.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3
    • .
      August 21, 2014

      You know what they say about a drowning man.

      • real possie
        August 21, 2014

        @ . trust me you would know what drowning men grasp to your party been doing that for the last fourteen years. But this is that last straw after this election a new party will be formed.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 12
    • Watcher
      August 21, 2014

      He also swallowed all the evidence he had and agreed to go to his grave like a sheep – moo moo. He could have nailewd Skerrit for ever, he tpold us. Say that too!

  23. Anonymous
    August 21, 2014

    “I don’t think the the opposition particularly tried to manipulate us, if they did, they were particularly successful.”
    Indeed they were very successful!

    When all you finish, point the finger as usual on Tony Astaphan, Lennox Lawrence and the rest.

  24. Get it straight
    August 21, 2014

    Does any of this surprise anyone?? Can you not imagine the many behind the scenes calls that were made to pressure the organization into “double-checking” themselves. Give me a break…the article cited numerous, diverse sources of evidence, from a wide range of open publications. We can all read the OAS recommendations, the law suits and judges’ decisions. Puh-lease.

    For those morons who like to hide behind protecting Dominica’s “good image”…take a long hard look inwards. There is plenty available for anyone with eyes and half a brain to see that the country is slipping quickly into a police-state with limited freedoms. Which country on this planet is perfect? The best ones are simply those who refuse to be in denial about their issues, are courageous and intelligent enough to point them out then work hard to improve!

    Keep burying your heads in the sand and see how long you have any image at all left to protect!

  25. real possie
    August 21, 2014

    Where them? all those that got the thirty plus thumbs up, you know they have a saying when you say something and turn around and answer yourself I think Hunter called it fou-ism. And to Mr. Brins you claim your Organization is a reputable one, how is it you let a none high standard fellow write a story on a country that is legally Govern by people of free will? Sir who monitor the monitors? the bucks stops with you the damage has already been done, everyone knows when they are working for reputable Organizations you don’t just do things on your own, they know that you have to go to more than one old head in the Organization to make sure they don’t go wrong, I think the so called fellow knew exactly who and what type of Organization he was reporting for. And yes Sir. as a born Dominican I would like to go to your site and see an apology to me and all Dominicans till you do a complete investigation. The way I feel right now is not good at all I might just sue to the fact that I said exactly what you think is your findings and all the thumbs down I got yesterday am twitching like an old coyote am just not in a right frame of mind right now.

  26. Anonymous
    August 21, 2014

    Very irresponsible by COHA to have allowed to article to be published in the first case. And to add salt to the injury the Director is quoted as saying that the author of the piece has limited experience. So who did the vetting and article review BEFORE it went online.So many senior research fellows as part of staff. Not ONE identified the weaknesses in the presented piece. So the article can be dubbed as a defamation of Govt. Character!!!!! A law suite should have followed.

  27. August 21, 2014

    Something don’t sound right. There is more to this let’s just wait and see.

  28. hmmmm
    August 21, 2014

    But what is this COHA? Are these quotes for real? This man sounds ridiculous and weak! Which editor/director in this case, throws his staffer under the bus like that?

    This is a laugh.

    • *
      August 21, 2014

      The article was misguided and so he must be humble. They were manipulated!

      • August 21, 2014

        Indeed! COHA was manipulated by the so-called Government Response. Why get embroiled in a small island’s political problems during an election year? COHA knows the truth and so do you.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7
    • ME
      August 21, 2014

      A COHA that was said to have been established 39 years ago to police the Caribbean and Latin America but can be easily manipulated by the opposition; don’t know the difference between fact and fiction.Take that Clayton Shillingford and Co.

  29. Brian
    August 21, 2014

    A victory for the good name of my lovely Dominica

  30. Brian
    August 21, 2014

    A victory for the Dominica

  31. Anonymous
    August 21, 2014

    Let the labourites come out now

    • anonymous
      August 21, 2014

      they will not be able to get past the DNO moderators. You must be the only one who hasn t observed the one-sidedness of the comments in the blog lately. I dare
      DNO to publish this.

      • A Doubting Thomas
        August 21, 2014


        True? I haven’t noticed. If my post appear late at night after I posted early in the morning or sometimes as much as three days after I’ve posted them would that count? I don’t know. But I guess DNO gets so many posts some naturally are delayed in moderating.

        I am happy this horrific article was removed, though the damage has already been done. I am appalled it was there in the first place, because many people may have already read it even before most Dominicans did I am almost sure. And those who caused it to be there in the first place, may have had the effect they wanted, only time will tell. So can we ever trust them again? I don’t know. That is a question all Dominicans must ask themselves.

        I read it earlier and I checked the COHA website again after listening to the Heng this morning when the host of the program told listeners that she called COHA and what transpired in her call and she were to call him again after 11:00 AM. He told he it was removed but when I checked it was still there. How did the person from COHA referred to Dominicans again? I cannot remember but I know it was not flattering?

        And guess what, he would be referring to all of us, of course including those trying to bring the country down? Did they think they would see them as some superheroes? He put us all in a box. Make that be a lesson to us all.

        I check the site again and indeed the article is gone. Thanks to the Government of Dominica for looking after our country and standing up for our rights. Something all Dominicans should take pride in doing.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 9
  32. i must speak
    August 21, 2014

    zooorrrrrrrrr! look story 8-O

    what is this o? i am happy that they took it off!!!

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