21 September 2015

Turks and Caicos Islands requests U.N. assistance to end British colonialism

TCI to petition United Nations on UK’s refusal of constitutional changes

THE TURKS and Caicos Islands Government has signalled its intention to head to the United Nations Committee to air their concerns about the United Kingdom’s refusal to accept proposed constitutional changes.

Speaking at a town hall meeting on Monday, September 7, Premier Rufus Ewing called on members of the public and the Opposition to join the Government in its petition to the international body.

He told the gathering that the issue has to be taken to the international arena, as the world needs to understand that the United Nations Convention is being violated by the United Kingdom government.

"We have another opportunity to state our case to the United Nations Committee because we have had invitations and I will extend that invitation to the Opposition and members of the public who would like to petition the UN.

"We were invited to submit our petition about our concerns such as the refusal to give constitutional advancement and we as a Government will take up that opportunity and I am inviting the Opposition members and any other member who would like to attend that meeting to rally and petition the UN because that is the only way we are going to get true representation in this country,” Ewing urged.

He added that the TCI cannot look to the British for representation, as they are conflicted.

"We have to represent ourselves with the help of others other than the UK government.”

The Premier stated that there needs to be a constitution so that the Government can do what the people elected them to do and one which will ensure that they can govern properly.

He said it does not matter which party is in power, the same problems will exist.

"For the United Kingdom to have an election, let a Government come into power and still does not trust that Government to make decisions for themselves and on behalf of the people, is not democracy.

"So for the UK government to deny and have no interest whatsoever – outrightly, blanketly and categorically state that no I am not interested in changing anything in that constitution is indeed a slap in the face of democracy and all Turks and Caicos Islanders.”

He noted that everyone knows what the UK’s trepidation is, but that the country needs to rally together to demand the changes they made an effort and a sacrifice to put together.

"It is important that we stand together on the issue of constitutional advancement and constitutional reform, it is important that we do so.”

He added that he and the Leader of the Opposition have agreed to sit and plot a way forward,
as well as put together a bipartisan team to go the UK to sit with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Members of Parliament to show them why it is necessary for the TCI to get what the people asked for.

"Every time I go to the Governor his usual question is - this is what they say, this is the constitution that you have if you don’t like it you can call a referendum.

"So I am telling you that we have to push and push at this door until that time comes and if you think that you have had enough and we think we have had enough then that is an option that we have to strongly consider and make a decision as Turks and Caicos Islanders,” the Premier advised.

He noted that it is not his decision alone, but the decision of all Turks and Caicos Islanders.


(Left) Minister of Finance Hon. Washington Misick (Right) Premier Hon. Dr. Rufus Ewing

Mon, Sep 14, 2015
Premier Hon. Dr. Rufus Ewing and Minster of Finance Hon. Washington Misick have rebuked Governor Peter Beckingham for suggesting that terrorism threats were among the reasons why the Turks and Caicos Islands Government was ordered by the United Kingdom to pay US$2.2million for extra security for Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and her team of investigators and lawyers.

In a strongly-worded press release, Premier Ewing noted that the Governor in his press release last week communicated that he was instructed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to instruct the Chief Financial Officer to use his powers under the Constitution and Chief Financial Officer’s Ordinance to authorize an additional $2.2M to fund security cost for SIPT. 

"My Government is on record condemning this action, which, while being within the legal authority of the Governor and CFO, is considered by my Government to be an abuse of power and without proper justification. Even though I have demanded I am yet to receive any information about any threat to national security or the security of any members of the SIPT that warrants such exorbitant additional expenditure," the Premier said. 

He added: "The only threat to national security that I am aware of is the constant threat of illegal immigrants and poachers traversing our maritime borders engaging in illegal fishing, and trafficking of human, guns and drugs. Such funding is better spent on the procurement of marine defense vessels and manpower to defend our boarders from these illegal activities, a responsibility that the UK Government has constantly shunned."

"The Turks and Caicos Islands is a peaceful nation of friendly people that enjoys some of the lowest crime rates globally, and we should not be compared to other countries where acts of terrorism abound. I condemn this characterization by the Governor and demand his retraction and clarification of this outlandish and unwarranted statement. The SIPT has been operating in these islands for the last five years without incident, at the expense of the tax payers of this country, and they seem to be no further ahead than when they started but they certainly are richer."

The Premier noted that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ House of Assembly, in previous sittings has "appropriated funding for the SIPT and now, so too has the CFO and without the approval of Cabinet or House of Assembly, and in all of these instances, my Government’s calls for accountability and transparency for the expenditure of the people’s money have been blatantly ignored by the Governor, the CFO and the Commissioner of Police".

Premier Ewing continued: "This is surely not an example of good governance. We have a right to know how much of the tax payers money is being spent and what specifically it is being spent on. We do not seek to compromise the investigations but making that information available after the trials have ended is totally unacceptable and we will therefore not approve another “red cent” for SIPT."

He added: "Since coming to office in 2012 I have made representation to the UK Secretary of State, the FCO and DFID, both in writing and in person requesting them to assume the responsibility for the funding of the SIPT, as previously recommended by the UK Foreign Affairs Committee and Chief Prosecutor Helen Garlick, and the UK Government has consistently refused to accept its responsibility as a sovereign nation and provide support to these islands, but instead insists on providing employment and financial opportunities for the British on the backs of tax payers in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The economic prosperity of these islands came with the hard work of this Government and the hard work and sacrifice of the people of these islands, and such economic gains should be spent as a priority for the improvement of the lives of the people of these islands and not for the enrichment of SIPT and other UK tax payers. The UK’s insistence on the brow beating of the people both by their insistence on taxing the people to pay for SIPT as well as their recent denial of the people’s call for constitutional review are acts to be abhorred."

The Premier said his Government will continue to make representation to the Secretary of State, FCO and FAC and agitate for the UK Government to live up to its responsibility as a sovereign nation and fund the SIPT or find alternate methods of exacting justice as recommended by the Report of the CARICOM Mission to the Turks and Caicos Islands and for them to uphold good governance instead of demonstrating the might of the Great British Empire in abusing its authority. 

"My Government is prepared to take this fight to Whitehall as we will not accept this or the UK’s response to the House of Assembly’s recommendations for constitutional amendments. It is past time for a frank discussion on the future of the relationship between the UK Government and the people of these “beautiful by nature” islands," Premier Ewing added.

In a separate press statement, Minister of Finance Hon. Washington Misick said: "We are amazed at the speed, and ease at which UK Ministers make decisions negatively impacting the public purse of the TCI when it is expedient to their agenda. These actions fly in the face of transparency and the generally accepted principals of public sector budgeting practise by TCIG, and insisted on by the UK.

The explanation for the unilateral appropriation of funds claim that the money is to cover expenses to the end of March 2016. The truth is that given the snail’s pace at which matters are progressing, this process will not be completed by March 2016 and may go on indefinitely thereby attracting additional recurrent cost of $4-5 million dollars annually." 

He added: "It is our view that the decision to increase funding to SIPT demonstrates bias and scant regard for the welfare of the people of these islands. Key infrastructure expenditure including that for a new/recondition RO plant for Grand Turk are routinely denied. One off expenditure such as ex-gratia payments to recently retiring low wage earners in the public service who have no prospects of alternative employment or any other means to support themselves, and who had a legitimate expectation to receive such payments based on policy have also been denied. These decisions beg the question does TCI lives matter? It is morally wrong for the UK Government to be open fisted with TCIG tax payers’ money. If additional funding is to be provided to the Police it should first be provided to fight youth on youth violence, community policing and border protection as is their international obligation which they continuously neglect."

Misick said the people of these islands have sacrificed much to return to fiscal stability, adding that it is "a slap in the face that their sacrifice is being rewarded by diverting resources away from infrastructure development and social programs".

He stated: "My Government decries the continued draconian stance by Britain towards the people of these islands and will not be silent in the face of its imperious posture."
- See more at: http://suntci.com/governor-under-attack-from-tci-government-p1890-108.htm#sthash.0TvSMQ3G.dpuf