10 April 2012

Pacific Community (SPC) Convenes Meeting on Women’s Civil Rights in Customary and Common Law

SPCThe Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), through the Union des Femmes Francophones d’Océanie (Union of Francophone Pacific Women), which includes French-speaking women organizations from French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, convened a meeting to discuss women’s civil rights within the framework of customary and common law, in Noumea, New Caledonia.  

According to SPC, people from one of the eight Kanak nations in New Caledonia have their entitlements defined by their specific status, with specific impacts on women. Those under customary status do not have access to the common law system and the judicial systems can be confusing.

At the event, testimonies of Kanak women about adoption, divorce and domestic violence were presented to a panel of customary assessors, common law practitioners (including judges, lawyers and academics), social workers and representatives of civil society organizations. Other testimonies showed common gender inequities, as well as the difficulties women experienced while attempting to access the law.
SPC reported that the customary assessors believe traditional institutions are protective of women’s rights, but that they admitted that they are not equipped to address the reality of today’s circumstances. the event revealed that many women are unaware of their rights.

Former opposition party in Turks & Caicos Islands calls for August elections amid continued delay in return to elected government

by Vanessa Narine
PDM calls for elections on August 1st - Taylor says past time for people’s will to be expressed

PDM Leader Derek Taylor, second from left, with other senior party members

The People's Democratic Movement (PDM) is  calling for elections to be held on August 1st this year and party Leader Derek Taylor maintains that it is past time that the will of the people be expressed. 

“We (the PDM) are ready to lead the people to better times,” he said at a press conference last Friday, which followed a meeting with members of the PDM earlier in the day.

Taylor said the matters discussed included the milestones, the civil service, investments, the Pathway to Citizenship, border control and the milestones.

He noted that the milestones, whose completion the Governor maintains is the benchmark for a return to elected power, is at the discretion of the United Kingdom’s ministers, while the will of the people is not heeded.

“This is wrong,” he said.

According to him, there are many problems facing the Turks and Caicos Islands, adding that the PDM is willing to work with all stakeholders to find resolutions.

He acknowledged that when the British stepped in the situation was dire and if left to continue the country would have been brought to her knees, but maintained that they have had enough time. 

“We needed the Interim Administration to prevent a crisis,” Taylor said.

He added that looking and the changes from 2009 to date, the total dynamic, it is time to move on.

“We have waited and now it is time to move on,” Taylor stressed.

He noted that the people have received no clear answers form the Governor at his public meetings and enough is enough.

The PDM Leader stressed that the date proposed is a realistic one and maintained that the TCI people have had enough. 


The criticism was raised that the PDM has been quiet on many issues for many months while many actions, adversely affected many, have been taken by the Interim Administration. 

“We are determined to go forward in a peaceful way,” he said.

Taylor pointed out that the TCI came through an Interim Administration before and moved on to progress “ we can do it again; we can put the country back on track.”

Pressed for a response, the PDM Leader broke his silence on several controversial matters that have gripped the TCI society.
He made it clear that when it comes to the Special Investigative Prosecution Team (SIPT) investigations, justice must take its course.

According to him, the PDM has pointed out time and time again the shortcomings of the previous regime.

Taylor, commenting on the Pathway to Citizenship consultations, noted that the TCI welcomed people into the country as part of the global village.

However, he stressed that the ultimate decision as to who should live among the TCI people should be left up to them. 

The PDM Leader maintained that the TCI people must be engaged; all stakeholders must be engaged, for the TCI to move forward successfully.

“I believe that minds can meet and we can move forward together,” he said.

Taylor said the party is willing to work with all stakeholders to make the TCI a better country.


Asked about the possibility that the British want to keep their footprints on the TCI when it comes to governance, the PDM Leader pointed out that the British position had always been to grant independence once it was clear that that was the desire of the majority of the people. 

However, Taylor stressed that independence must be the expressed will of the people, all factors considered, not independence for the sake of independence.

“We are accountable to the people,” he said, adding that this must be considered, if there was a push to seek independence from the United Kingdom.

According to him, the TCI has to reach that stage of progress where it is ready for independence, and not seek it prematurely. 
Taylor stated that the PDM will be increasing its engagements with the public.

He stressed that the PDM has a record of accomplishment to stand by and noted that what the TCI needs is a clear path for the development of the people, development that happens in an environment that reflects honestly, accountability and transparency.

“The PDM is much alive,” Taylor said.