29 May 2011

Gil Scott Heron joins the Ancestors

Sign of the Ages
 Gil Scott Heron

It’s the sign of the ages
Markings on my mind
Man at the crossroads
At odds with an angry sky
There can be no salvation
There can be no rest
Until all old customs
Are put to the test
The gods are all angry
You hear from the breeze
As night slams like a hammer
And you drop to your knees
The questions can’t be answered
You’re always haunted by the past
The world’s full of children
Who grew up too fast
Yea, but where can you run
Since there a’int no world of your own
And you know that no one will ever miss you
When you’re finally gone
So you cry like a baby
Or you go out and get high
But there ain’t no peace on earth
Maybe peace when you die

We will miss you, my brother
Rest well

Dutch Minister Says Independence for Aruba, Curacao & Sint Maarten not far off

Daily Herald

The last step of the "continuous dissolution" of the Dutch Kingdom, namely the complete independence of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, is not far off, if things progress the way they are now, according to Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner.

Donner made his remarkable statement at a gathering of the Antillean Network Association VAN in Amsterdam Friday evening. Donner, who was the main speaker at the event that kicked off a weekend of activities themed "The Islands Adrift," explained that the process of continuous dissolution actually started in 1948.

The Round Table Conference in that year kicked off a process that led to Suriname's independence and a status apart for Aruba. With the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles in October last year the last but one step was taken in the process of continuous dissolution.

"Only one step remains: the dissolution of the Kingdom ties and the complete independence of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. The Netherlands would remain a Caribbean country, the consequence of the decision to take up Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba into the Dutch Constellation. And that step is not too far if we continue in this manner," said Donner, who made clear that the Netherlands cannot take that step.

Donner's speech was remarkable because it was the first time that he openly spoke about the future of the Kingdom, indirectly giving his vision on the Kingdom, a position that the Dutch Second Chamber has been asking for several times. The Dutch Government is currently preparing an official vision on the Kingdom.

The fact that the question is posed whether the Kingdom has a shared future shows that this is not the case, said Donner. "We are not busy either with the question whether the provinces have a shared future."

Yet, the Netherlands has never really answered the question what it wants for the Kingdom. "The Kingdom was just there. It was the Netherlands and the former colonies were a Dutch responsibility. The Netherlands could and cannot unilaterally make them independent," he said.

Donner said the Kingdom was more than a commonwealth of independent states. The Kingdom consists of the countries of the Kingdom that look after their own affairs, care for the interests of the Kingdom based on equality and offer each other mutual assistance.

"But it concerns the past as long as the Kingdom is merely a legal tie and political guarantee. Than the Kingdom is only a result of responsibility and accountability of the Netherlands as a former colonial power. We are busy with the past as long as we only deal with the responsibilities and restrictions of the Kingdom. We are talking about the future when we speak of the possibilities of the Kingdom," said Donner.

The transformation of October 10, 2010 was especially a reaction to grievances and problems of the past. It wasn't based on a joint vision on a positive filling in and ambitions of the new situation. "That is worrisome because the Kingdom is not a goal on its own. Than we are busy with a renovation of a constellation of which we don't know whether it is worth the while to maintain it."

Donner said it was "high time" that the partners asked themselves the question what they wanted for the Kingdom. "We can continue by reproaching each other in a loud voice, but it will only restrict the options and speed up the moment of a definite bearing up," he said.

The Minister said there were three scenarios for the Kingdom. The first scenario was to continue on the current path whereby each of the countries would go their own way without making something good of the relations and with the Kingdom relations being little more than a legal tie.

Under the first option the Kingdom would mostly have a guarantee function with the Netherlands being responsible for integer and proper governments, a solid structure of law and order and the protection of human rights. "The Netherlands would be seen as the police officer who looks after law and order in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom," he said.

In the second scenario, partners would find a basis of joint interests and of own interests which are strengthened by cooperation. The third scenario is that the countries mostly focus on their own individual interests but that the cooperation strengthens their relation.

Donner didn't indicate a preference of any of the three scenarios, since it concerned a decision of all Kingdom partners. He said the "love and tie should come from two sides and has to be stable."

The Netherlands wants to keep the ties with the other countries of the Kingdom because it has an interest in maintaining and strengthening the Kingdom. He said it was a "misunderstanding" that especially Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten had an interest in continuing the current relations and the Netherlands didn't.

He pointed out that the Netherlands had a direct interest in stability and prosperity of the Dutch "public entities" Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba which can serve as a "showcase" for the Dutch and European private sector in its trade relations with South America. Furthermore, the strategic location of the Dutch Caribbean islands make them an important partner in the fight against organised crime in the region.

Donner said there was much to gain from good and close ties in the Kingdom. A prerequisite, however, is that each country sees it as its own interest and responsibility to make sure that there is proper governance, healthy government finances, integrity, justice and safety for its inhabitants.

"Own interest because citizens want to be governed in a proper, trustworthy and integer manner. Own interest also because legal security, safety and proper governance play a key role in the decision of companies to set up a business in a country," stated Donner.

25 May 2011

Decolonisation in the Non-Independent Caribbean subject of high level academic discussions in Curacao


Eminent scholars to examine status of non-independent Caribbean at the beginning of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly

A high-level panel of Caribbean academics will explore the challenges faced by non-independent Caribbean territories during the 2011 session of the Caribbean Studies Association (CSA). The annual conference will convene from 30th May to 3rd June at the World Trade Center in Curacao, the former capital of the Netherlands Antilles before its dismantling in 2010 to become the third autonomous Caribbean country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with Aruba and Sint Maarten.

Under the title "Unfinished Decolonization: Proposals and Uncertainties in the Non-Independent Territories of the Caribbean," panelists will present scholarly papers on the range of political status options available to the small island non self-governing territories, and will examine how present self-governing arrangements of independence, free association and integration actually operate in practice in the Caribbean and Pacific.

Specific attention will be paid to the present political dependency status of the six British dependent territories of the Caribbean/Atlantic region, in particular Bermuda, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands Montserrat, British Virgin Islands and Anguilla. Additoinally, the U.S. dependent territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will also be examined the panel of scholars.

The panel will be chaired by eminent professor of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Dr. Aaron Gamiel Ramos, who will also present a paper on “The Limits of Representation: Regional Cooperation Efforts of Non-Independent Territories.” Ramos has published widely on non-independent Caribbean issues, and co-edited with UPR Professor Dr. Angel Israel Rivera the seminal text, "Islands at the Crossroads: Politics in the Non-Independent Caribbean."

The role of the United Nations in the decolonisation process of Caribbean and Pacific island territories will be examined in a second paper, "An Assessment of the Implementation of the International Decolonisation Mandate", to be presented by the eminent decolonisation expert Dr. Carlyle Corbin, international advisor on governance, former US Virgin Islands minister for external affairs and United Nations expert. Corbin, who is the Executive Secretary of the Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly (CPGA), will also make a presentation on Implementation of Decolonisation 2020 on a separate panel on "Identity in Non-Independent States."

A key paper on the changing dynamics in the French overseas departments entitled “The French Antilles: Historical Debates, Contemporary Challenges” will be presented by eminent professor Dr. Fred Reno, professor of the Universite des Antilles et de la Guyane in Guadeloupe.

Additional papers are also set for presentation under other panels of the conference. Accordingly, the panel on “Representation and Dutch Caribbean Sovereignty” will hear a presentation by eminent scholar Dr. Justin Daniel of the Universite des Antilles et de la Guyane in Martinique on “The Non-Independent Caribbean: Towards New Models of Governance.”

The Caribbean Studies Association (CSA) is an independent professional organization devoted to the promotion of Caribbean studies from a multidisciplinary, multicultural point of view. It is the primary association for scholars and practitioners working on the Caribbean Region (including Central America and the Caribbean Coast of South America). Its members come from the Caribbean Region, North America, South America, Central America, Europe and elsewhere. The CSA was founded in 1974 by 300 Caribbeanists and now has over 1100 members.

The focus of the CSA is on the Caribbean Basin which includes Central America, the Caribbean Coast of Mexico, as well as Venezuela, Colombia, Northeast Brazil and the three Guianas. The Association serves a critical function for scholars providing one of the only venues for persons working on the Caribbean to come together to share their work, to engage in collaborative endeavors, to exchange ideas, to meet each other, and to develop the field of Caribbean Studies.

Members of CSA have played leading roles in the Caribbean, most notably in public service and in academia. These include current and past service as leaders of governments, administrators in multilateral and bi-lateral regional organizations. Many current members serve in senior positions at Caribbean, North American, and European universities.

24 May 2011

United Nations University Offers Internship Vacancies - 15 June 2011 deadline


August 2011-January 2012

Apply Now
Deadline: Wednesday 15 June 2011

Dear Colleague,

The United Nations University Office at the United Nations in New York (UNU-ONY) is recruiting Junior Fellows for the August 2011-January 2012 session.

The title given to the Junior Fellows reflects a combination of academic excellence, professional aptitude and diligent work ethic exhibited by the members of the programme. Requirements and guidelines for application are found below. More information can also be found on the UNU-ONY website.

Please circulate this announcement to your students, colleagues and friends who may be interested in participating in the programme or in disseminating this great opportunity to young professionals.

The deadline for receiving applications is Wednesday, 15 June 2011. Please do not hesitate to consult the UNU website if you have any questions or comments.

With kind regards,
United Nations University Office at the UN, New York
2 UN Plaza, Room DC2-2060, New York, NY 10017
Tel.: 212-963-6387
Fax: 212-371-2144
Email: jpfony@unu.edu
Website: http://www.ony.unu.edu/

Rebuilding the Bermuda Economy - At the Crossroads of the Business Model


Walton Brown

Bermuda’s way out of this economic morass must be by way of a strong and genuine partnership between government and business. While government provides the framework and infrastructure for business to develop and companies provide the capital and employment to generate wealth, there are roadblocks along the way that must be cleared. Given the present circumstances, we must demonstrate a level of urgency in doing so.

It is true that Government consults widely, and often, with key business stakeholders to better discern their concerns and challenges. On the basis of these discussions, Government assesses current policy and reflects on what if any changes need to be introduced. Sounds like the perfect working relationship. The problem here is that industry does not consistently share with government the totality of its concerns; business leaders, however, do share their candid views with their peers and this information eventually gets into the public domain. The main reason business leaders are reticent about some of their deep concern on issues when their position conflicts with Government is that they want to be seen to be working with Government and not opposing policy. The unfortunate consequence is that some companies have quietly left the island and taken much needed jobs and expenditures. We need to clear this roadblock.

Another roadblock is the inevitable inertia spawned in government bureaucracies. How this comes about is simple enough to understand. Firstly, every department created in every Ministry has its own mandate and set of rules, policies and procedures. Secondly, unlike the private sector, there is no reward system for efficiency or productivity. The lazy worker is paid the same as the diligent and efficient government employee. This has created a set of conditions where many simple and routine decisions are unnecessarily delayed by months, in some cases years. Every month’s delay for a business creates more frustrated owners; it necessarily forces them to consider other options in other jurisdictions. When we have businesses ready to invest and to create jobs, we must ensure work permits, building permits, landing permits, occupation permits, fire permits and all the other permits needed are approved within a timeframe that values the importance of that business to the country. Some of us need to be reminded that it is the private sector and not Government that creates value and grows the GDP.

As companies seek new opportunities we need to assure them we value their business. There are a few things we can do in this respect. If a company is bringing a minimum size investment to the island (say $10 million) we should have a process in place a one-stop shop, if you will, where all of their requests from government can be handled by a single entity and processed expeditiously. Bermuda was once at a competitive disadvantage because of the time it took to incorporate a company. That was addressed by a sound working relationship between Government and the private sector. Let us apply this same approach with renewed vigour. A company, having invested millions of dollars, should not be told they cannot pick their own executive team. And if we do not allow them to, there are many other jurisdictions which will allow them. Preemptively, let me say there is no conflict between a policy ensuring qualified Bermudians be employed in their areas of competence and a company having an entitlement to select its key executive team.

We are at a crossroads. Bermuda’s business model once embraced our passive motto, “Whither the fates lead” but it is ill-suited for the present. We need to actively pursue strategies to bring back growth because with that growth will come renewed strength and greater opportunities for all of us

23 May 2011

Turks & Caicos Islanders Reject British-drafted constitution


by Richard Green
fp Turks and Caicos

Frustrated Turks and Caicos Islanders who attended public meetings this week overwhelming rejected nearly all proposed changes to the U.K. overseas territory’s 2006 Constitution, many demanding that no changes be made.

However, it remains to be seen if the new coalition U.K. government will reverse its requirement that a new Constitution be in place before the government is returned to local rule. The current timetable is for the Privy Council to receive a new Constitution for approval in July.

Four representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office got a raucous welcome May 16 from more than 200 people crammed into the Community Fellowship Centre on Leeward Highway on Providenciales.

“Every time I open my mouth, you shout me down,” FCO constitutional advisor Ian Hendry said at one point while trying to answer a question during the nearly four-hour public consultation.

Many speakers from all walks of life vented their frustration over British rule since the 2006 Constitution was suspended in 2009, even some who supported the action. They are upset that the FCO refused to include local politicians and Belongers in negotiations to draft changes to the Constitution, and they question whether public consultation will make any difference.

They are not encouraged by the fact that very few objections and suggestions given to Constitution advisor Kate Sullivan during her consultations made it into the March 4 draft now being considered.

Despite all the cheering, jeering and often off-topic comments and speeches at the Providenciales meeting, the FCO team got the message loud and clear that the people especially oppose increasing the power of the governor, changing the way to obtain Belongership and altering the method of electing members to the House of Assembly.

Some accused the former Gov. Richard Tauwhare and the FCO of being just as responsible for alleged corruption and problems as former ministers now under investigation. They questioned the wisdom of giving more power to governors, who come and go every three years and may not have the country’s best interests at heart.

The 2006 Constitution gave most power to local ministers, requiring the governor to go along with ministers in most cases. After Sir Robin Auld said in his 2009 Commission of Inquiry report that the Constitution need strengthening to prevent future problems, the U.K. government hired Sullivan to revise the 2006 Constitution to do just that.

Hendry negotiated with the former TCI government during the writing of the 2006 Constitution, which he believes is a progressive document that could have led to independence, but he said his marching orders come from the British government.

“Obviously, while the Turks and Caicos Islands are an overseas territory and not an independent state, then the British government can call the shots,” Hendry said.

More power is proposed for the governor “because the U.K. remains responsible for the territory, internationally and constitutionally in terms of answerability to the U.K. Parliament,” he said.

“Please do not overreact and assume that because there are these powers, that they will be used every day of the week,” Hendry said, pointing out that territory governors rarely overrule local governments.

Progressive National Party Leader Clayton Greene was among those at the Provo meeting who asked about the possibility of holding a referendum on changes to the Constitution.

Hendry said there have only been two national referenda in the U.K. and none in the TCI, but that decision would be up to U.K. ministers.

At May 17 meetings on Salt Cay and Grand Turk, Hendry and his team got similar objections.

Grand Turk residents were at times as vocal and boisterous as those on Providenciales, but some of them gave thoughtful criticism and suggestions to the team.

The main concern of a polite, orderly group on Salt Cay was representation — they want a minister from their tiny island of fewer than 100 people. They say they have been overlooked for many years in matters affecting their residents because of a lack of representation.

The proposed new election method would give one representative to each island and nine others elected at large countrywide, answering Salt Cay’s prayers. However, most objected to the complicated compensating voting system proposed for selecting the at-large members.

Hendry explained that the compensating voting system is used in London to elect its mayor and members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

Sullivan suggested using a mixed system to preserve the current, popular first past the post method to elect island representatives, including Salt Cay, he said. The compensating voting system for countrywide representatives is aimed at preventing one party from getting a large majority of seats with only a narrow margin of victory, which can happen in first past the post elections, he said.

Members of the Middle Caicos community were cordial to the panel, which said it had a productive two and a half hour discussion on similar topics.

While many opposed the suggested voting system, one resident explained the benefits it could offer the smaller communities such as those on Middle Caicos.

“Proportional voting has a large number of positive values in a small community,” she said, noting that during the last election only 52 percent of the electorate elected 13 out of 15 elected members of government. “Forty-eight percent of the electorate was not well represented by two members of government. So I would really ask people to be open to this idea of proportional voting to make sure you understand what it is.”

She said the six island representatives would be “fabulous” because it elects six people to government who are going to do nothing but putting forward what is best for their island.

“This is a radical departure and would add something to the House of Assembly and to the way government functions to help move us away from corruption … doing things under the table.”

FCO Deputy Director of Overseas Territories Helen Nellthorp responded positively, saying, “These are drafts, these are proposals, but these are the sorts of things we would want you to be talking about locally and deciding what you want these governance principles to be.”

After several meetings, the team said it had heard clearly the strong feelings that the draft Constitution has created, and the team will be reporting this quickly and accurately to Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham. “We are already giving consideration to possible changes to the draft to present to the minister,” Nellthorp said.

“We hope everyone will understand that our work and the work of Kate Sullivan has been to ensure that TCI does not return to the difficult times of recent years. We want to work together to help reach the milestones needed to return to elected government.

“We will report faithfully all of these points, and more, back to ministers in London.”

Anguilla CM Assures Support for Financial Sector


The Anguillian

Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, Hubert Hughes, is of the view that the offshore financial industry can derive significant benefits for the Government and people of Anguilla. He made the point, however, that in order to accomplish this, it was necessary for Government to support the initiatives of the private sector Financial Services Association and work in a harmonious relationship with the body.

The Anguilla Government leader made the comments in a keynote address to a Financial Services Strategy Planning Conference at Paradise Cove Hotel on Friday, May 6. The conference, involving financial services personnel in the public and private sectors, was organised mainly by Anguilla Finance Ltd, a company aimed at marketing the island’s financial services, whose Chief Executive Officer is Stephen Garlick.

“I would admonish the industry to be vigilant; to continue to work closely with Government as a partner,” the Chief Minister went on. “Together, we can really, for the first time in our history, create the jobs and the revenue stream as a sustainable industry, but we must work together in order to achieve that end.

“It is accepted that a well-regulated industry can only result in prosperity but one must be mindful …that we can regulate the industry out of existence. There must be a balance and this has been and continues to be the challenge. We must also recognise that there are many countries competing for this business.”

Mr. Hughes hoped that the private sector financial services industry leaders, with whom the Government was working, would be able to produce a marketing budget and an accompanying marketing plan for consideration. “This Government is serious about moving forward with this industry so that it can derive all it can for the people of Anguilla,” he stated. “We will continue to do so even though the portfolio is not truly carried by the Minister of Finance, an anomaly that we must fix through constitutional reform.”

The Chief Minister thanked Anguilla Finance Ltd., the company he said was charged with marketing the Anguilla jurisdiction, for putting on the event and working so hard to move the island’s financial services agenda forward. “This will undoubtedly benefit the Government and people of Anguilla,” he stressed. “The private sector representatives have put their money where their mouths are, as all the costs have been met by their professional services providers in Anguilla. Government must do its part to support them both with legislation and marketing dollars because a lot of service providers are talking about cutting back or closing down. We need to ‘stop the slide and grow the pile’ and the only way to do so is to do what my Government has decided to do and, that is, to work with them and invest with them. In order to make money, we must spend money.”

Mr. Hughes saw offshore financial services as being second to the island’s tourism industry in which all the stakeholders had worked tirelessly together to produce a world leading asset. “The financial services industry must do the same,” he added. “All the stakeholders both here, and globally, must form themselves together, making the best use of best practice,…to achieve a product and a level of service that can surpass all jurisdictions that are household names.”

Mr. Garlick was pleased with the turnout of Government and financial services officials and outlined some of the proposals of his company.  He issued a booklet entitled, “Anguilla Finance: Working Together for the Common Good,” in which he stated that his company’s proposal was to be the marketing entity for the island’s financial services community as a whole.

Mr. Garlick listed various steps to be taken to significantly develop the financial services industry. They included looking for new markets; creating unique selling propositions; utilisingall the resources available to British Overseas Territories; creating a user-friendly and manageable website to allow members to post press releases, articles and brochures; working with British and Anguillian Government bodies;reviewing target markets and databases; organising events such as trade shows; speaking and sponsorship opportunities; and working closely with Chambers of Commerce, Embassies and Consulates in Anguilla, the Caribbean and worldwide.

Mr. Garlick noted that there must be a review of the cost effectiveness of all activities in order to move forward. This included a review of itemised expenditure; client satisfaction surveys; a review of closed deals and revenue generation.

President of the Anguilla Financial Services Association, Palmavon Webster, expressed gratitude to the Chief Minister for pledging Government’s support including the funding of part of the marketing programme.

She said all stakeholders had a significant role to play in the interest of Anguilla and its people. According to her, it was not about playing second fiddle to the tourism industry but, like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the BVI, Anguilla could equally distinguish itself in the development of its financial services.

Ms. Webster congratulated Anguilla Finance Ltd for taking the lead in marketing the industry. She underscored the Chief Minister’s desire to see the offshore financial services industry developed to a point where it would result in increased employment for Anguillians and financial business for the island’s economy. “What we need to achieve our goals, is to band together,” she added.” We can follow the lead of the tourist industry and do it better. We must not be complacent…I think we have an incredible opportunity to go forward now in a very logical and methodical way.”

Other speakers were Registrar of Commercial Activities, Lanston Connor whose topic was Working together for the Common Good; Paul T. Mason who spoke on The Growing Need for a Real Presence; John J. Koresko who gave an American view on the subject: How to make Anguilla an attractive destination given the current administration’s attitude to offshore financial centres; Martin Evenleigh, Chairman of Altlas Insurance Management whose topic was: Captive Insurance: What clients require from a jurisdiction; and Peter Reichenstein who spoke on Foundations: A legislative process case history.

22 May 2011

PM of Sint Maarten Responds to Dutch MP's 'insalubrious' comments



Daily Herald

PHILIPSBURG--"It is with disbelief that the Government of St. Maarten took note of the personal name-calling by some members of the Dutch Parliament directed to the Prime Minister and Vice Prime Minister of the country St. Maarten," said Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams on Thursday.

She said government had become accustomed to the oftentimes critical remarks from members of the Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber, but a few members had "clearly overstepped the boundaries of decency," during the May 18 meeting.

"Little mafia boss, Mr. Ten Per Cent." That is how Second Chamber Member of Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) referred to Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger at the meeting in The Hague. And Member of Parliament Eric Lucassen of the Party for Freedom PVV referred to Wescot-Williams as a "conceited diva."

Wescot-Williams expressed appreciation for the handling of the issue by Dutch Minister for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Donner and Acting Chairman of the Second Chamber's Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations Jeroen Recourt, but condemned the statements by members Van Raak and Lucassen in the strongest possible manner.

Donner said, "That doesn't fit in the manner we talk about other governments and ministers. It is not conducive to a fruitful cooperation." He added that he had "felt the urge to leave the room" while Van Raak spoke.

It is "a public secret" that some members of the Second Chamber had opposed St. Maarten's new status up to "the very end," the prime minister said. "No reason, however, for the disrespectful display by these same members. Let it be made abundantly clear that the Parliament to whom the government of country St. Maarten is accountable sits in Philipsburg.

Wescot-Williams said, "Dutch legislation, like our own legislation, describes the political relationship between the Parliament and the government. Now maybe, locally we make too much fuss about what individual members of Parliament say about St. Maarten. Perhaps even there are just a regular few who make the St. Maarten dossier their preferred pastime."

"However, it needs to be said and it needs to be said clearly that the Dutch Parliament's concern and supervision, if you wish, is on the Dutch government and these direct and subtle threats towards St. Maarten serve no purpose and have no place in our constitutional system."

The counterpart of the Dutch Parliament is the Parliament of St. Maarten, as far as St. Maarten is concerned, and not because St. Maarten is now a country the Dutch MPs have been granted a new responsibility for the country, she added.

"Let's keep the constitutional lines clear. In fact, not any more than any other citizen of the Kingdom, the members of the Dutch Parliament can ask any question they feel like, but they should not be showering their Minister of Kingdom Relations or any other minister with questions that regard the internal workings of the governments of the other countries in the Kingdom. If we overstep our bounds in the area of foreign relations and international relationships, then by all means. If we engage in actions that compromise the interests of the Kingdom, then by all means."

Wescot-Williams continued, "But someone would need to explain us the Dutch Parliament's role with respect to St. Maarten's budget and St. Maarten government-owned companies. Better yet, explain the Parliament's role regarding a meeting between the government of St. Maarten and the CFT [Committee for Financial Supervision-Ed.]."

Government has gone "to great lengths" to establish institutions to provide the necessary checks and balances, not because the Dutch Parliament said so, but because it is good for St. Maarten.

"And mind you, if the criticism and the subtle threats are levelled with the objective of helping find solutions for whatever perceived misgivings, then again, by all means. Until then, we demand respect from members of the Dutch Chamber and in fact from all partners in the Kingdom," she said.


St. Martin Movement for Advancement of the People (MAP) Readies for elections


Daily Herald

MARIGOT--Opposition Councillor Louis Mussington will head the list of the Movement for the Advancement of the People (MAP) in the 2012 Territorial Council elections, he confirmed to the press this week. Currently the group is sending out questionnaires to the public to get feedback on the critical issues important to them.

"We're in the process of putting the best political platform possible together but we want to involve the people in the survey," he said. "We are hoping the questions we have asked in the questionnaire will be responded to in a constructive manner. The feedback will help us to shape our ideas and policies. We want to be sure our platform reflects the concerns and aspirations of the people, and not the other way around by us pretending to know it all."

He added this would also be achieved by visiting all the districts and listening to the concerns of the population and having two-way dialogue.

"We want to get rid of the old style politics. It's got to be a partnership with the people. We want to be able to speak boldly and forcefully to the authorities, whoever they may be in Paris or St. Martin, on behalf of the people because we will know what is troubling them. So we encourage the people to work along with us."

Mussington indicated the opinions of everyone are welcome, not only from those sympathetic to the MAP cause. Not only will MAP members be in the field visiting the districts but there will be a website as well.

"We hope the website will be ready in a couple of weeks at which time we will start the field trips. The people can look out for us in all the relevant districts. These will be fruitful exchanges to serve the general interest. It's very critical people get involved because the current situation is a total disaster, both from an economic and social perspective."

MAP will begin analysing and gauging the response to the survey from the beginning of July.

Mussington has been in politics for thirteen years. He has served as General Councillor, Regional Councillor, and substitute to President of the Regional Council Victorin Lurel, and attended many seminars in Paris.

"I have the intellectual and spiritual experience to take on this challenge," he said.

20 May 2011

Palau President Continues Monthly College Lectures

President Toribiong talks on historical, political development of Palau

Island Times
President Toribiong this week will resume his lectures at Palau Community College on the historical and political development of Palau.

The (most recent) lecture...was scheduled for Thursday, May 12, starting at 6:30 pm. The president discuss(ed) the Compact of Free Association between the Republic of Palau and the United States. PCC Dean of Continuing Education Willy Wally said the lectures have become popular with students and many look forward to the monthly events. PCC President Dr. Patrick Tellei is a regular attendee and the lectures also draw teachers, students and the general public.

Before assuming the presidency in January 2009, Toribiong was a successful attorney, and also served in various capacities throughout his more than three decades of professional life here in Palau and Micronesia. He is a former lawmaker, one of the authors of the Palau Constitution and a member of the two Constitutional Conventions.

His long and successful career, both privately and publicly, has given him many perspectives on Palau’s evolvement from its Trust Territory days to today’s modern elected government.

The public is invited to attend the lectures, which are free and held at the former PCC library, now the assembly hall.

U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Convenes at United Nations Headquarters

From United Nations Press Release

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to Review Progress at United  Nations Headquarters

Implementation of Recommendations on Development, Environment, Consent to Be Focus

More than 1,300 delegates...attend the tenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at Headquarters in New York from 16 to 27 May. This year’s Permanent Forum will be especially significant, since it is a review year, which will focus on the implementation of Forum recommendations on economic and social development, the environment and free, prior and informed consent.

At its previous nine sessions, the Permanent Forum made 131 recommendations related to economic and social development, 127 on the environment and 35 related to free, prior and informed consent. The Forum has received appraisals on the implementation of about half of these recommendations.

The Permanent Forum will engage with Member States, United Nations agencies and civil society. Delegates will include the United Nations, intergovernmental organizations, Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations, non-governmental organizations and academia.

During the second week of the session, the Permanent Forum will hold an in-depth dialogue with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to obtain a better understanding of its functions, and also to consider some of the challenges and opportunities faced by United Nations agencies in discharging their mandates, especially those related to indigenous peoples. The dialogue will include brief presentations from senior UNICEF officials, as well as regional coordinators.

The special regional focus of the Permanent Forum is on indigenous peoples of the Central and South America and the Caribbean region. Other special features include a discussion on the Permanent Forum’s mission to Colombia, a half-day discussion on the right to water and indigenous peoples and discussions on studies completed this year by the Forum (during the second week of the session).

The Permanent Forum expects some 30 United Nations and other inter-governmental organizations and about 60 Governments to participate. The Secretary-General, the President of the Economic and Social Council, and the Under-Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs will attend the opening of the session.

Human Rights

The Forum has invited the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to have a dialogue during the first week. Members of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Chairperson of the Forum will also participate.

Other highlights of the session include discussion on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, during the second week of the session; discussion on the Rio+20 Conference, again during the second week of the session; and follow-up recommendations and action on the various studies that will be presented during the Forum.

Cultural Exhibition on Indigenous Peoples and Water

During the Permanent Forum session, there will be an indigenous exhibition at the United Nations, which aims to present the ways in which water is tied to indigenous peoples’ spiritual, cultural, political and economic systems. The exhibition includes photographs from a number of internationally recognized artists, such as Wayne Quilliam, one of Australia’s most respected indigenous photographers. Mr. Quilliam is the first indigenous photographer to be featured at the International Photo Biennale and has created and curated more than 100 exhibitions throughout the world. Other artists whose works will be on display include Ina Hume ( Bangladesh), David Hernandez-Palmar ( Venezuela), Brian Adams ( United States), and Troy Donovan Hunter ( Canada).

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the opening of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in New York, today, 16 May:

It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you today. I am happy to open this tenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. At the onset, Madame Chair, I would like to congratulate you on your election as the chair of the tenth Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and, under your leadership, I hope that the well-being and rights of indigenous peoples will be fully guaranteed. And as Secretary-General, you can count on me.

A warm welcome to all the indigenous representatives from around the world. You have travelled long distances, physically but also in the struggle to achieve your rights. Welcome also to the new members of the Forum. I look forward to working closely with you. This is the Forum’s tenth anniversary; 10 years of fighting against decades of marginalization; 10 years of uniting different cultures to reach shared goals; 10 years of pushing for indigenous rights.

The road has been tough, but the rewards are real. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples finally has the consensus it deserves. Now we need to make the Declaration’s principles a reality. To those who do not grasp the Declaration’s importance, I say: protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples benefits us all.

We see examples around the world. In Peru, indigenous communities are responding to climate change by re-introducing native varieties of potatoes. They have support from a United Nations-backed fund benefiting poor farmers. Now they are helping conserve the Earth’s biodiversity. We know that indigenous peoples have a close spiritual relationship with nature. Now we have to make the connection between their knowledge — your knowledge — and our world.

Indigenous peoples have been living in a “green economy” for centuries. When economists today look for new ways to achieve sustainable development, they should look at old practices in indigenous communities.

Ancient indigenous traditions can help overcome modern problems. The goal is not to appropriate your knowledge — to extract it or exploit it — but to respect indigenous peoples and help preserve their traditions.

There is an indigenous saying that, “When an elder dies, it is like a light burning out.” This is a beautiful expression of respect for the wisdom of age. But it could also be a warning. We could just as easily say that, “When an indigenous custom dies, it is like a light burning out.”

If that is true, our world is growing darker. Today, one indigenous language dies every two weeks. Indigenous cultures are threatened with extinction. Millions of indigenous peoples continue to lose their lands, their rights, and their resources. They make up one third of the world’s 1 billion rural poor. And they are among the most vulnerable and marginalized of any group.

Indigenous women, who are the custodians of so much rich heritage, often suffer the most. We do not have enough studies of the problems, but the studies we do have show appalling gaps. Indigenous peoples do not live as long as others. They suffer higher rates of diseases like diabetes and tuberculosis. Their children are less likely to survive past the age of five. Their communities are less likely to thrive.

This Forum can play a dynamic role in changing this deplorable situation and helping indigenous peoples around the world achieve the self-determination they deserve. Your success can build momentum towards the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples planned for 2014. You can identify ways to bring to life the principles enshrined in the Declaration. And you can shape other important events on the international agenda.

Two decades ago in Rio, indigenous peoples were active at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development. Maybe some of you were there. We need you now even more with the Rio+20 Conference coming up next year.

From the forests to the oceans, from the mountains to the deserts, around our world you are guardians of nature. We need you to help influence the decisions we make today on energy and the environment — decisions which will affect generations to come.

Earlier this year in Guatemala, I met with Rigoberta Menchu. I remember when she won the Nobel Prize in 1992. Just before they made the announcement, people kept asking her, “What if you win? What if you lose?” Here was her answer: she said, “With the Nobel Prize, there are no losers or winners. There is a chance to hear about the struggle of people who are oppressed, a chance to be heard, and we hope that this chance never ends.”

We must end the oppression, and we must ensure that indigenous peoples are always heard. Raise your voices here at this Forum and beyond. I will urge the world to listen. Thank you.

19 May 2011

Anguilla - Sint Maarten begin functional cooperation

~ Governments agree to meet quarterly ~

PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten and Anguilla have agreed to what Anguilla's Chief Minister Hubert Hughes calls a "functional cooperation" between the two territories, similar to the kind of cooperation that exists among the Scandinavian countries.

(OTR Note: A formal functional cooperation mechanism between the elected governments of the neighboring British Virgin Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands, known as the Inter Virgin Islands Council, was established in 1994 as a successor organisation to the Inter Virgin Islands Conference, itself created in 1990.) 

Hughes stressed the long-standing relationship between the two islands and the strong family ties that bind them together during a meeting in Anguilla on May 13, with a high-powered St. Maarten delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger, which included Justice Minister Roland Duncan.

"These are indeed reasons for us to have a stronger and more structural relationship," Heyliger said. "There are many areas in which we can make our cooperation more functional and meaningful," he added, pointing to Princess Juliana International Airport as a sub-regional hub. Other areas include the possibility of joint marketing activities and the Tourism Statistical Information System (TSIS).

The St. Maarten delegation, which also comprised Angelique Roumou who represented Tourism Minister Franklyn Meyers, Director of Tourism Regina LaBega, and officials of St. Maarten Tourist Bureau as well as Peter Mazereeuw, gave a presentation on TSIS to the Anguillan authorities who were reportedly "very excited" about it.

"TSIS offers the opportunity to obtain psychographic information about visitors, which means not just their profiles, but also their behaviour patterns," explained LaBega. "There is an opportunity to build on the system and add Anguilla's inventory to it, thus being able to provide valuable information about visitors going to Anguilla from St. Maarten, information that would be important in attracting visitors by air as well as strengthening the hub facilities."

Providing residents and visitors of Anguilla "smoother entry" into St. Maarten was another major point of discussion at the talks. It was agreed that the process for visitors to Anguilla via St. Maarten needs to be simplified, and service needs to be improved.

St. Maarten needs to facilitate the immigration processing of in-transit visitors to Anguilla, which, according to the authorities of that island, sometimes takes visitors up to five hours waiting time. It was suggested that an in-transit line and an information desk could hasten the process.

Duncan mentioned the strategy of the immigration office at the Simpson Bay bridge staying open late to accommodate visitors heading to Anguilla via St. Maarten. The Justice Minister also revealed that the immigration process is already being worked on to allow, for example, Guyanese legal residents of Anguilla to travel to St. Maarten to shop, since St. Maarten is viewed as a shopping mall for Anguilla residents.

Another area of cooperation that was discussed was cooperative marketing, in particular, a US$ 90,000 joint venture with St. Maarten and COPA airlines to attract visitors from South America.

Furthermore, Anguilla demonstrated initial interest in cooperating with WestJet and Jet Blue from Puerto Rico in view of the loss of the American Eagle flight from the said market. However, it was noted that the increase of flights by Jet Blue should take the transfer in and out of Anguilla into consideration.

Also, the Anguilla government and private sector indicated their commitment to attending the 10th anniversary of St. Maarten Annual Regional Trade Show, SMART. This would be an opportunity for Anguilla to learn first-hand about the TSIS system and how it can enhance their individual products, Anguilla, and the sub-region, in general.

"I am very happy at the outcome of the meeting," Heyliger said. "Although we met on Friday the 13th, there was nothing scary or superstitious about the talks," he mused, adding that these were overdue and would be structured into a periodic consultation between the governments of these islands.

Heyliger had led a St. Maarten delegation to St. Barths on a similar mission a week earlier and explained that these meetings formed part of the government policy to establish a closer working relationship with our immediate neighbours, which would be beneficial to all parties. The Anguillan authorities applauded the initiative taken by St. Maarten and expressed confidence that it would yield concrete, positive results for both parties.

OTR Note: Anguilla is a Caribbean territory under the administration of nthe United Kingdom whilst Sint Maarten is a an autonomous country in association with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Inter Virgin Islands Council Convenes to Discuss inter-territorial cooperation


 First Meeting of the Council since 2006

Virgin Islands Government Press Release
Virgin Islands London Office

Thursday’s meeting marked the first time Premier O’Neal and Governor de Jongh met in this forum. It created an open dialogue for both leaders and their senior government officials to share concerns and gain common ground in key areas confronting both territories including law enforcement, disaster preparedness, tourism, pleasure boating and sports fishing, cooperation on inter-island transportation of cargo and the commissioning of the new incinerator at Pockwood Pond.

Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE and United States Virgin Islands (USVI) Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. both dubbed the Fourth Meeting of the Inter-Virgin Islands Council (IVIC) held yesterday a cooperative and collaborative success.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Premier O’Neal explained the relationship and ongoing dialogue between the territories signalled the unity of both governments and its people.

“I am pleased to welcome the USVI delegation, our good neighbours, and to have this important dialogue on issues that would make these two Virgin Islands a better place for all of us to enjoy,” he said. “With our cooperative willingness to work together, we can achieve much more.”

Governor de Jongh said the forum provides a tremendous opportunity for both counterparts to jointly determine the shared experiences, interests, challenges and commonalities of both territories and its people.

He said, “We are charged with building an economy that gives hope to our young people, comfort to our seniors, while providing tremendous opportunities that grow our two economies.”

Governor de Jongh added that creating unified strategic partnerships to attract larger communities is crucial for ensuring quality of life for all people in both territories.

In a brief closing ceremony, Premier O’Neal and Governor de Jongh signed a Memorandum of Understanding for fingerprinting and ballistic to strengthen cooperation in the area of law enforcement. Now both territories can engage in further intelligence sharing and monitoring of firearms trafficking.

Officials from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and the Virgin Islands Police Department said the relationships between both counterparts are “close” and “unshakeable”.

In closing Premier O’Neal said, “Today we have achieved something.” He added that reports from both sides have led to pledged cooperation and good friendship. “We have to make the Council work” so that people benefit from the collaborative decisions made, the Premier said. “He [Governor de Jongh] will push from his side, and I will push from mine.”

Both leaders shared that pooling resources, leveraging federal partnerships and formalising relations are important components for continued dialogue.

(Virgin Islands) Government’s delegation included officers from the Premier’s Office, Deputy Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Chambers, Ministry of Health and Social Development, Solid Waste Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Conservation and Fisheries Department, BVI Tourist Board, Immigration Department, Her Majesty’s Customs, Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, BVI Ports Authority and Department of Disaster Preparedness.

The USVI delegation included representatives from the Office of the Governor, Department of Justice, Virgin Islands Police Department, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, VI Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), Department of Tourism.

The Inter-Virgin Islands Council was established following the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Virgin Islands and United States Virgin Islands in May 2004. The IVIC sets forth the framework for consultation and collective agreement between the territories. The fifth meeting is scheduled for May 2012 in the USVI.

18 May 2011

Institute for Commonwealth Studies discusses modernised British colonial arrangements



The United Kingdom Overseas Territories: Continuity and Change

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Chancellor’s Hall, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

School of Advanced Study, University of London



Welcome – Professor Philip Murphy, Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and Professor David Killingray, Goldsmiths.

First session – Governance and the UKOTs

The Coalition Government’s Policy towards the Overseas Territories (Ian Bailey, Overseas Territories Directorate, FCO)

An OT government perspective (Janice Panton, Chair of UK Overseas Territories Association)

An EU perspective (Paul Sutton, London Metropolitan University)

Coffee Break

Second session – Constitutional developments

Constitutional reform in the UKOTs (Ian Hendry, Constitutional Advisor,

FCO/Andrew Allen, former Head of Southern Ocean Team, Overseas Territories Directorate, FCO)

Constitutional change in the Dutch Caribbean (Gert Oostindie, KITLV)

Constitutional developments in the French overseas territories (sic) (Nathalie Mrgudovic, University of Aston)

Lunch Break

2.15‐ 3.30
Third session – Economic and Financial Issues

Contingent liability or moral hazard after the Global Financial Crisis: Cayman, Westminster and global finance (William Vlcek, University of St Andrews)

Followed by a Q&A with representatives from the UKOTs

Fourth session – Human Rights and the Environment

Building human rights capacity in the UKOTs (Vijay Krishnarayan, Commonwealth Foundation)

The Environment and the UKOTs (Iain Orr, UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum)

4.45 END

This event has been made possible with the kind support of the Political Studies Association, the University of the West of England, Bristol, and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Curacao Replaces former Neth. Antilles in International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)


 British Virgin Islands, Tokelau and Wallis and Futuna among new applicants

by Michael McElroy

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is now the second largest sports federation in the world. This was as a result of the inclusion of five new members in the ITTF.

It has overtaken the International Federation of Association Football or Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) with 208 members. The ITTF has now 215 members in total and it is almost near to the world's largest sports federation that is the Federation International Volley Ball (FIVB) with a total 221 members.

Recently Mozambique, British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, the Wallis and Futura Islands and Tokelau have recently sent applications for the membership. The membership of the Netherlands Antilles is now transferred to Curaçao.

The President of the ITTF Adham Sharara said, “My knowledge of geography has advanced a great deal”.

The ongoing World Table Tennis Championship has gained the attention of more than 300 journalists from around the World. The Dutch table tennis has never received that much attention from the world media. The publicity will play a key role in making the sport known on international platforms and to attract more youngsters to play the sport.

In the history of sport none of the federations have played any key role in bringing countries together to play on one platform. The ‘Ping Pong’ diplomacy has always worked. In November this year the ITTF will bring India and Pakistan, United States of America and Iran and South and North Korea to play together.

They will not be fighting a war, but will be standing united on the tables to play side by side for the international ping pong tournament. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) along with the Sport Foundation are organising an international table tennis event at Doha, Qatar.

Prince Albert of Monaco, who is one of the members and ambassador of the Peace and Sport organisation, said, “Sport can play an important role in world peace. Look at this tournament; we have got India and Pakistan together and also North and South Korea.”

The membership of Kuwait is suspended by the Olympic Committee. However, the ITTF restored their membership with the federation. The World Table Tennis Championship was also to be held at Qatar, but the ITTF officials decided to hold it in Japan to support the disaster victims.

The ITTF is playing a major role in the development of players, federations and referees. The federation will soon become the top sports federation of the world.

17 May 2011

Turks & Caicos Peoples Democratic Movement Rejects UK-drafted Constitution for the Territory



We, THE PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT, REJECT the FCO draft constitution. Offered below are a number of reasons why it is unacceptable for our people and country at this stage of our development.

Background and recent history

The 2010 review of the constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands comes from an unfortunate period of maladministration and corruption exposed by a far reaching Commission of Inquiry requested by our party for the good of the country.

The findings of the Commission were shocking, and it did expose numerous failings on the part of individuals in the last Government including individuals in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Governor. Ironically, while the Commission was in oral hearings the Turks and Caicos Governor was still busy signing off on transactions where there was alleged corruption. The final report does not cite one constitutional failure as a cause for these alarming acts on the part of Ministers.

It must be pointed out that this was not the first Commission of Inquiry to be requested. If former Gov. Richard Tauwhare is to be believed, he also declared at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in May 2008 that he had requested the FCO to call a commission of inquiry as far back as 2005. This was during a period before the 2006 constitution was enacted in reality the Governor did have greater authority and responsibility to act and correct failures of the local Government at that time.

The FCO did not listen. What remains to be seen is whether the FCO will listen to the voice and wishes of the people to return our 2006 constitution or whether the FCO and its Ministers will turn a deaf ear towards our concerns on OUR constitution.

As for the information in the Commission of Inquiry the PDM stands resolute in our stance that “WE TOLD YOU SO” and can safely say that we did what was right during this period of maladministration unlike Governor Poston, Richard Tauwhare, Meg Munn and Leigh Turner who did what was wrong and ignored our concerns of corruption, and gross maladministration when they were brought forward and were summarily dismissed as lacking sufficient evidence.

The greatest obstacle to good governance and deterrent to sound financial management is a lack of hearing and adherence to the already existing laws of the Turks and Caicos Islands on the part of persons in authority. When this happens with locally elected officials we have a remedy at the polls through a General Election, but when this happens with UK officials at the FCO the people of the territory have no recourse and we suffer for years, sometimes even decades.

Even today the FCO is not listening to their own MP’s such as Andrew Rosindell and Lord Nigel Jones who have both warned that a constitution cannot and should not be forced on the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Even to this day the FCO has neglected to pave a path for DIRECT NEGOTIATIONS with the political parties on any change to the constitution as called for by our party and the British Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Turks and Caicos Islands, despite the precedent set during the 1986 suspension.

The FCO must remember that it has appointed over the years Governors and Attorneys General who have not served the interest of the people, but who served their own interest and broke the law.

The FCO cannot simply look at the last 8 years and try to impose a constitution on the people based upon this period but it must look back and honestly assess its own failings, gross neglect and incompetence in administering its constitutional obligations to the Turks and Caicos People and our territory, obligations that is has agreed with the world to uphold and move towards. Yet, in this FCO draft constitution the UK’s UNITED NATIONS obligations are being DISREGARDED. It is clear that the FCO is attempting to move the country backwards to an era of colonialism. It is seeking to extend temporary Direct Rule into permanent authority over the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands through its proposed draft constitution. This is unacceptable and we utterly REJECT IT.

One of the measures being used to extend permanent authority over the Turks and Caicos people and their Government is by granting greater authority to the Governor under the pretext to correct failures of the past. The Governor would be granted the authority to:

1. reject the decision of cabinet,

2. make decisions contrary to cabinet; and

3. solely make appointments to public bodies.

Two cases come to mind that discredit this theory that granting greater constitutional power to Governors will avoid corruption or conflicts of interest. Specific examples arise namely Attorney General Terrence Donnegan and Governor Christopher Turner. These two such cases involve abuses of constitutional power. One was convicted and deported after the 1986 inquiry and the other left the territory in disgrace after granting special concessions to close relatives which ended up costing the Turks and Caicos Islands people millions of dollars to correct. The FCO and the British Government did nothing to pay for their mistakes. The people of the Turks and Caicos Islands cannot trust their constitutional destiny to a Governor with unchecked power and authority over the three branches of Government, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Our history has proven that Governor’s can and will fail to act with integrity and honesty in their decision making powers. This draft FCO constitution also grants the Governor unchecked power and authority over the institutions protecting the three branches of Government making him a complete and total constitutional dictator.

We have been down this road before where the level of incompetence and corruption in Government by locally elected officials coupled with the incompetence and neglect at the FCO has caused our country’s constitution to be temporarily suspended. We have equally been down the road where the imposed solutions to fix the equal failings of the locally elected Government and the FCO robs the people of their democratic, constitutional and fundamental human rights. We wish not to go down that road again as proposed in this draft constitution. Again, we respectfully REJECT IT.

In introducing the draft 2006 constitution for public consultation and debate Lord Triesman remarked, “The UK has only retained those powers, including for the Governor, which are – and will remain - necessary in TCI to ensure the implementation of international obligations; to protect itself against contingent liabilities; and to ensure good governance.” So what happened to the Governor and its constitutional ability to ensure good governance? Again, it was not the people or the constitution that failed. It was the individuals the FCO appointed who failed in giving the necessary attention to the Turks and Caicos Islands. The FCO now seeks to cover up its failings and problems by imposing an untenable constitution on an unwilling people. Again, we REJECT IT.


The fact is the FCO failed to uphold their responsibility to good governance, yet the people are being punished for it through a draft constitution that is regressive. This draft represents a major backward step for the people and the protection of their fundamental rights. Specifically, it has components that ignore the WILL OF THE PEOPLE as expressed through their representatives in our Parliamentary system of democracy. This document would eliminate Parliament’s authority on specific matters. The message communicated is one of distrust and suspicion. We can only conclude from the constitutional proposals that the FCO does not trust the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands to make sound decisions through their representatives and the mechanisms to make law because decisions can be overridden, limited and removed from Parliament’s ability to handle the country’s business. This is dangerous. Here are the points we make against the spirit of the constitution.

1. In this document, the tone is undemocratic allowing, for instance, the Governor to remain as he is now under direct rule; a constitutional dictator.

2. In this document, the constitution insults the will of the people by subjecting the principal of the sovereignty of Parliament to non elected bodies such as the Integrity Commission. Parliament cannot for instance set payment for its members.

3. In this document, the other partner, the UK, accepts and offers no constitutional scrutiny for their obligations to the people and their elected representatives.

All of the changes proposed can be dealt with in subsidiary legislation and not enshrined into our constitution. We do not accept any proposed changes that marks for constitutional regression.



The constitution should not diminish the rights of people and must have a presumption for the right to trial by jury. We agree that all persons must be equal before the law. We accept that there may be rare occasions for the use of trial by Judge alone, however, the constitution cannot be completely silent least we have a greater situation develop of corruption in our justice system. The temptation will be there for the judiciary to have absolute power over the lives of our people. Our people are capable of making sound decisions and should not be shut out of the process and it should not be enshrined in our constitution. Our view is that the jury system provides a form of checks and balances on the justice system. Our history has proven that we cannot simply leave the matter of trials of persons simply up to the “system”. The people must have a voice and the jury system acts as the voice and will of the people in deciding whether or not persons should be convicted based on evidence. The system will become weakened if the constitution does not provide speak positively of a presumption to right to trial by jury. This right should not be unduly denied.

Definition of legal representative Section 22

In the interpretation section the issue of definition of what a legal representative is should be redefined to mean someone “admitted” to practice law in the islands and not simply someone “entitled” to practice law. The constitution could do harm to accused persons if for any reason that person is not admitted and cannot help the accused.

Lawful administrative action Section 19

When section 19 is read in conjunction with section 126 it raises the concern that the grant of Belongership is something that the FCO wants as a procedure and that if someone applying for Belongership feels they have been adversely affected that they can appeal. There must be no appeal when a person applies for Belongership and is denied. Belongership is not a right. It is discretionary, and as this constitution conceives, it is based upon the views of a commission of Belongers who would have considered the issues.

Part II Section 23-29 The Governor


The constitution rewards the British Government through their Governor with increased and advanced powers when the truth is that the FCO and the Governor was culpable in causing the crisis that now exists. Richard Tauwhare made this known when he publicly announced before he departed that he had requested a commission of inquiry into Government corruption in 2005 but his request was rejected by the FCO at the time. In 2005 most of the allegations of corruption had not occurred and had this request by former Governor Richard Tauwhare been granted the people could have avoided this painful episode of the Interim Government.

29 (2) b. The governor has veto power and can ignore the will of the people. We reject it. The Statement of Governance principles can be best be described as a set of moral and ethically values that will be interpreted by The Governor to impose yes or no decisions on a Government elected by the will of the People. The Governor will sit not just as a constitutional dictator but a constitutional JUDGE. This concept is completely foreign to any parliamentary democracy. Besides, we have had Governors; such has Mr. Poston who has been a complete and total moral failure according to the morals and values of the Turks and Caicos Islands people. The will of the electorate cannot be subjugated to this type of bizarre constitutional arrangement.


We reject the Statement of Government principles. This section is completely against the will of the people. The Governor cannot sit as a constitutional judge and dictator. This represents constitutional regression. It also speaks to the attitude that the FCO has toward the territory. As if the FCO and the Minister does not want to be bothered with serious decisions that the Governor has to take when history shows that the Minister must and should take an interest in the matter that the Governor raises to avoid the situation that we now find ourselves in. This is a recipe for chaos and uncertainty. We are now in a period of uncertainty and it has resulted in disastrous results for the people of the TCI. The provision for the governor to act contrary to the advice of Cabinet in an area of ministerial responsibility is contrary to the principles of parliamentary democracy. This has to change. The Governor’s powers should be limited to his reserve responsibilities. If HMG would like to increase the reserve powers of the Governor that is another matter but there has to be a clear line between local Government and HMG responsibility for oversight.


The deputy Governor must constitutionally be a Belonger without exception. The clause allowing the Governor to act contrary to this based on his or her opinion is wrong and we reject it. Additionally, there must be consultation and move towards advice of the cabinet on the choices that the Governor is considering for deputy governor.


Section 31 the Cabinet

The size of the cabinet must not be reduced. This is regressive. We reject any change to it. The size of the cabinet has not been proven to be the cause of any corrupt act.

Section 37 Governor’s special responsibilities

The special responsibilities of the Governor need to be seen as being taken on by a Minister of Cabinet to promote and enhance political development. Therefore we believe subsection (3) should simply mention that the Governor may delegate after consultation with the Premier any responsibility of section 37(1). We reject the notion that some of the Governor’s reserve power cannot be delegated to a Minister. If the Turks and Caicos Islands are to develop politically then a Minister must be seen as being competent and trustworthy in the constitution, if not in deed, to administer these responsibilities.

SECTION39 (5) Proceedings and quorum in Cabinet

The Governor should not be allowed to unilaterally publish information without consultation of the cabinet.

Section 41 Attorney General

Since the Attorney General will be the principle legal adviser to the Government his appointment should be subject to the advice of cabinet not in the Governor’s sole discretion.



The Legislature consists of a single House of Assembly. For accountability and transparency reasons, it is important for the size of the Parliament to be larger than 15 Members. We recommend that the 19 members remain as is. In order for the committee systems to be effective, there has to be sufficient members to select from to be on committees. In addition, the rules of the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly have to be amended to allow the opposition to have majority members on certain watchdog Committees. Again, the size of the House of Assembly has not been proven to be the cause of any corrupt act.


The proposal to change the WAY MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ARE ELECTED IS COMPLETELY REJECTED. This voting and election system as many drawbacks including:

1. It is completely foreign to the voters in the TCI and will create confusion in the minds of voters. This will lead to lower voter participation. Each voter has two set of ballot to mark; the election of the island member and nine other persons from a list of quite a number of candidates is alien to the people and will cause a great delay in the balloting process. This process will be overly consuming. Many people turn away from the polls now because of the waiting time where only one choice has to be made. Many will refuse to wait and leave before voting. This runs counter to the system of Parliamentary democracy and the outcome will not be the settled will of the people.

2. This system will usher in a period of lack of accountability by elected members to the population because he or she will have no set constituency, no one to answer to or no cause to fight for. Is this the desired outcome where there is no one to whom the people can call on in case of need?

3. We feel that there has to be a better system that works to bring about a bicameral system with some form of proportionality while maintaining some semblance of geographic cohesion produced by defined constituencies.

4. This system potentially produces nine people pulling in 9 different directions without a cohesive plan will ensure that the Governor has the ultimate authority over decisions of cabinet if there was a coalition Government. This will return the Turks and Caicos Islands back to unfettered colonialism.

5. Provides for disenfranchisement because different communities will not have any one specific representative to address their concern.

6. Against the fundamental rights of organizations to organize and contest elections.

7. This system will pit Political party members against each other vying for votes.

8. The system is designed to kill the party system under which we have enjoyed all of our advancement.

Section 48(1) Declaration by candidate for election to House of Assembly

The legal fees associated with a candidate having to defend him or herself against court action must be borne by the judicial system and not the candidate. This can amount to a serious impediment to candidates.

Prorogation and dissolution

Section 55(1) The Governor cannot be in a position to unjustifiably deny the Premier the right prorogue the House of Assembly. This is against all conventions of Parliamentary democracy.

Section 55(2). The Governor cannot be in a position to unjustifiably deny the Premier the right to dissolve the House of Assembly.

Section 59(1) This section allows the Governor to deny the House of Assembly the approval of the Standing Orders by giving him the authority to approve or disapprove the standing orders acting in his or her own discretion. Alarmingly, this is one change that is not highlighted by The FCO, even though it is added in at the end of the paragraph. This violates again the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty.



The main watchdog institution is the Official Opposition. The draft FCO constitution seeks to deny the Government and Opposition from appointments to these bodies. This is wrong and we reject.

The integrity commission should not have the constitutional power under Section 120 of the constitution. Again, this insults the convention of Parliamentary Sovereignty. The people elect representatives to make decisions on their behalf. The Integrity should not have the role of expressing its opinion on what is a lawful salary for a Member of Parliament; that role is for the Government and the other members of the House. The Integrity Commission should not be makeup of an equal number of members as is recommended in Section 98(1).


The cabinet should have the determination of disposal of crown land, if the Governor feels otherwise then he should notify the house of assembly to have the matter debated by elected representatives of the people. Crown land should only be disposed to Belongers or a scheme involving direct Government ownership in the land. This draft constitution introduces a system of legal maneuvers to allow the Governor to grant land in his sole discretion. We reject it.


This section may cause the Government to face two political campaigns, one before taking office and one after during the consultation on public finances. In general, these provisions should be placed in subsidiary legislation and not form part of the constitution.


The public accounts committee does not reflect the numerical strength in the House of Assembly and does not hold the Government to account because it lets the committee co-opt members who will be chosen by majority. This debunks the theory laid out by Sir Robin Auld that it was the committee system that failed. The proposed Public Accounts Committee system will result in the Government having authority over that committee. It limits the Official Opposition to the chair and not the numerical strength of its membership of Parliament.


Where there is to be an appointment to the PSC, JSC or any other public body it should explicitly state who the Governor should take advice or consultation from i.e. one appointment after consultation with the Premier and one appointment after consultation with the leader of the opposition. Consider section 82(2) (b). This can create confusion and the Governor can use it to his advantage not to make specific appointments. The draft constitution robs the Premier and Leader of the Opposition with the authority to make appointment by advice to the Governor and moves all appointments to a system of consultation of which the Governor is not bound to accept. This is extremely regressive.


We reject this system proposed because it transfers control of who is granted Belongership to the British Government and not the Turks and Caicos People. The only persons who could be seen as being granted Belongership are the persons whom the British Government will deem acceptable. This is prejudicial and robs the Turks and Caicos people of controlling who it allows into the country. We have to ensure that, procedurally, the grant of belonger status is not automatic. When combined with Section 19 it may take the will of the grant of Belongership out of the hands of our people. The FCO seems to be saying if they cannot enlarge the voting franchise then the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands will not be able to grant Belongership except it is someone the Governor approves of.


In exercising its remit in the Turks and Caicos Islands the FCO should be concentrating on fulfilling its commitment made to the rest of the world in the United Nations charter.

The UK will argue, wrongly, that it is not bound by International obligation as former FCO Minister, under the Labour Government, Lord Triesman pointed out in his speech to the Turks and Caicos Islands on April 24 2006, he said “In this context, it might be helpful if I set out the UK position on alternative forms of relationship, some of which I know have been discussed here in TCI in recent weeks. UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 set out some options for the relationship between Administering Powers and Territories, including independence, integration and free association. The UK did not vote in favour of that resolution, and does not regard itself as bound by it”.

However, we are eager to point out to the FCO that not being bound to 1541 does not mean there isn’t still an obligation to Turks and Caicos Islands under the UNITED NATIONS Charter. The text of Chapter XI of Article 73 paragraph A and B of the United Nations Charter DECLARATION REGARDING NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES reads, “Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end:

1. to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social, and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses;

2. to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement;

Clearly, if we are to hold the British Government to account for their role in helping the Turks and Caicos Islands and our people with achieving any measures of advancement the grade would be low. The fact is this exercise of constitutional change is counter and opposite to the obligations that the UK Government has agreed to the world to uphold with regard to Turks and Caicos Islands. We reject it and will continue the work on drafting a constitution for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands.