16 January 2013

Defend former Premier Michael Misick's fundamental human rights

By Oswald O Skippings

I am probably the voice that is least expected to champion the cause of Michael Misick, but his "ought to be" champions are conspicuous by their front line absence in defending his cause and their silence is nothing short of deafening. 

Oswald O Skippings, former Chief Minister
 and former leader of the People's Democratic Movement
Let me be clear! The sole issue that I'm dealing with here is the blatant violation of Michael Misick's human rights and the abuse of those rights by the powers that be, by holding him in that prison in Brazil and preventing his return home to face justice.

But I, as his most sought after political rival, am highly disappointed at the lack of concern and effort that is being generated by his own camp, so I can imagine how Mike must feel at this time considering what he is going through and who benefitted most from his reign. 

My questions include: Where are the thousands of supporters and sympathizers? Even more important, where are the leaders among them to lead this justifiable charge? Where are the voices of authority who are now duly and democratically elected who were babbling before they had such governmental authority? Has Michael Misick been thrown to the dogs now that elections are over and they have become the government and there is now no more need to take his advice and ride on his sympathy and popularity?

Then again, where are the human rights activists and those in authority who are being paid to look after our human rights? Many of us may be convinced that Mike is a criminal who has done this country and its people much wrong, but even so he is still a human being and he still has fundamental human rights, both locally and internationally, and someone needs to represent those rights on his behalf because he can't do it for himself in the situation that he's in.

He is now incarcerated in a strange country with no lawyers, no family, no friends and no sympathizers. It seems that the powers that be have ulterior motives in keeping him away from home based on the fact that he is not resisting coming home to face his fate. In fact, from the offset he has volunteered to come home and therefore there is no need for any extradition proceeding to delay his return.

His attorneys were not allowed to see him; his brother was denied the same privilege. That is a violation of his basic human rights and so is his detention in a maximum security prison, especially in a country like Brazil where he has committed no crimes and has not refused to voluntarily leave the country and be brought to justice at home.

How do we know that he is okay? If he is now, how do we know that he will continue to be okay? Why is he being kept over there and prevented from coming home to face justice? Who is afraid of his coming and why? 

Parliament met at least twice since Mike's arrest and I am yet to hear of the debate on the violation of Mike’s human rights and a resolution to effectively deal with the situation at a level where it really matters and where something will have to be done as a result of such a resolution.

Even though I'm one who suffered as a victim from a violation of my human rights by Michael Misick's regime and he is the person that singlehandedly persecuted me and viciously besmirched my character the most over the years, I am still compelled to speak out against the injustice that I see going on concerning holding him in that prison and preventing him from coming home to face his criminal charges. The truth of the matter is that I fear for his safety. 

Mike, in his hand scribbled letter, did request that representations be made on his behalf to the Latin American countries, the UN and the UK. Has that been done, has any such human rights requests been made to the USA and our English-speaking neighbours in the region? 

I would like to know because there is absolutely no momentum to accompany it. CARICOM, and the English-speaking countries in this hemisphere and even the EU, would not shirk their responsibility to deal with this human rights issue if they are officially informed of the circumstances and even more so if they are requested to do so. The absence of PNP government and party's momentum in this justifiable issue for their former leader is shameful to say the least.

It must be understood that Mike is more of a threat to the same status quo while incarcerated and particularly if he's in the TCI, than while on the loose. That is why there were no efforts made to keep him here in the first place. That is also why there are no efforts being made to bring him back home now. How long are they going to wait? Until we hear of some prison incident of which he was an innocent bystander who became a victim, or some other concocted story?

Why keep him in one of the worst prisons in Brazil, locked down for 23 out of 24 hours each day? The longer he is there in a state of limbo, the greater his chances are of being a victim of inexplicable fatal circumstances. There are those of us who understand that the stakes are high and that there are high rollers in this game who Mike could expose.

Considering the possible damage he can do to the high and the mighty, don't you think that there should be some justifiable fear for his safety? After all he was neither the master nor the mind behind the skillfully executed en masse corruption or, as Sir Robin called it, systemic corruption that shook this country at its very foundations.

All you so called Michael Misick supporters and human rights gurus, now is the time to stand up and be counted if you really care anything at all about Michael Misick as a human being and as a Turks and Caicos Islander and if you would like to see him return here safe and sound. Or equally important, if you seriously care about the protection of one's human rights.

Will the elected government show some concern, show some testicular fortitude, some grit and some inkling of diplomatic authority in dealing with this matter. This is a very serious matter. You now have power, use it! Be wise and demonstrate that you know how; and instead of taking on some of the other foolish issues that you take on regarding him, stand up for the fundamental human rights of Michael Misick and get him home safely ASAP before it’s too late!


Extradition not needed, says former premier
TCI News Now

According to a recent series of emails, a scanned handwritten and later typed press release, it appears that former TCI premier Michael Misick has tired of his fate in a Brazilian prison cell since his arrest last month.

In the original handwritten release, which was purportedly approved for release by the former premier, Misick said that formal extradition from Brazil is not required and he will return voluntarily to the TCI. This, he claimed, was his position when he was arrested. 

He also said that he told a TCI police officer Tony Noble, who he claimed was present at his arrest, that he would prefer to return to the TCI and that extradition proceedings were not required.

The document repeated claims by Misick that he was legally residing in Brazil. It also attacked the leader of the special investigation and prosecution team (SIPT), Helen Garlick, because she would not make arrangements to return Misick to the TCI. However, Britain had reportedly begun extradition proceedings.

The press release repeated the claim by Misick that he is being politically punished contrary to his human rights for having successfully developed the TCI and moving it a step towards independence.

In his release, apparently written on December 24, Misick claims he has not seen the sun in three weeks. 

According to the Brazilian Federal Police, Misick had been residing in Rio de Janeiro since October 2011 in an upscale neighbourhood, where he was described as living comfortably. He reportedly had a work permit but it was not revealed how he was employed. 

It appears he was living with a woman and, while police were aware of his presence and were watching the residence, they could not access the apartment without a warrant apparently because it belonged to the female in question. However, when they learned Misick was alone at Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont airport on December 7, they arrested him as he attempted to board a domestic flight to Sao Paolo. He was reportedly surprised but cooperated with police. 

Misick had reportedly applied for political asylum in Brazil some months back but this was refused by the Brazilian authorities. On the day of his arrest, he was apparently en route to Sao Paulo to seek advisers and lawyers in order to stay legally in Brazil.

Following his arrest, Orlando Moreira Nunes, federal deputy head of Interpol in Rio, requested that Misick be remanded into custody because of his importance.

“We wish to discredit the idea that big criminals can come to Rio and live peacefully,” he said.

Nunes said that Misick would be interrogated, and then be taken to the Ary Franco prison, which has been described as one of the worst prisons in the world. In June, a UN panel recommended the immediate closure of the Ary Franco prison, citing detailed cases of torture and other inmate abuse and characterizing the cells as filthy and bug-infested.