Never Never Never Give UP
Michael Eugene Misick, LLB
Former Premier, Turks and Caicos Islands
Wednesday 18 April 2012
Her Excellency, Navanethem Pillay High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
Ch-12011 Geneva Switzerland
Dear Madam Commissioner,
SEEKING OHCHR INTERVENTION IN TURKS AND CAICOS POLITICAL SITUATION
I am the former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a country located in the Caribbean and which is a colony of the United Kingdom.
I would like to bring your attention to, and seek your assistance regarding,a number of human rights violations that have been taking place in the Turks and Caicos Islands in general, and to me and some of my former Cabinet ministers in particular, because of the stand taken by our political party,the Progressive National Party (PNP), and my Administration which was in office from 2003 to 2009, on advancing and achieving independence for our country.
The violations have been conducted by the British Government and their Interim Administration in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
It is my submission that their actions contravene the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights plus a number of other international conventions to which the British are a signatory.
BELOW ARE EXAMPLES OF THE CONVENTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN VIOLATED
(1) UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights
Article 2 states: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race,colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
In my view, the British Government has violated this article. They have discriminated against the citizens of the Turks and Caicos Islands because of the colour of their skin and because of our status as a colony. They have also discriminated against the Turks and Caicos Islands citizens because of our desire to seek self-determination. They have taken away a number of our rights under this declaration or refused to grant us some.
Article 7: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”
Article 8: “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competentnational tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.”
Article 10: “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”
Article 11(1): “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial a which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”
Article 11(2): “No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.”
Article 12: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
Article 17: “(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”
Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression;this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Article 20: “(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.” (2) “No one may be compelled to belong to an association.”
Article 21: “(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
(2) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Furthermore, the British Government and by extension the Interim Administration, are also in violation of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Article 1 reaffirms the right of self-determination; Article 14, the right to a fair hearing; Article 25(a), the right and opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives, and Article 25(b) grants the right to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands we have not had elections for almost 3 years, although they were constitutionally due two years ago. As such, for the past 3 years the islands have been a virtual dictatorship, operating without an elected government.
Furthermore, the British-appointed Governor has sole executive and legislative powers and in addition, he appoints the Prosecutor and all of the Judges, who have no security of tenure and therefore rely on the Governor and the British government to renew their contracts, creating automatic room for abuse.
(3) UN Charter
In addition, the British are in violation of the UN Charter.
Chapter 1: Purpose and Principles. Article 2. “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.”
Chapter XI: Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories. Article73. “Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose people 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:
(a) to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the people concerned, their political, economic, social, and educational advancement,their just treatment, and their protection against abuses;
(b) to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the people, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its people and their varying stages of advancement.”
For countries that have adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the first Optional Protocol to the Covenant gives the option of recognizing the Human Rights Committee as qualified to receive and examine communication from individual people. When people or groups of people have exhausted local remedies, the Protocol allows them to petition the Committee directly about their government’s alleged violations of the Covenant.
EXAMPLES OF THE SPECIFIC VIOLATIONS AND ABUSE IN THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are faced with the following:
1. Denial of our right to self-determination and our right to freely and without fear conduct open national debate in that regard.
2. Denial of our right to hold free and fair elections.
3. Denial of our right to fair trial.
4. Denial of our rights to freedom of expressions and assembly.
5. Introduction of retroactive criminal legislation with the view of securing convictions.
6. Persons were compelled to testify against themselves at a Commission of Inquiry and that information was subsequently used to charge individuals. This is a violation of Article 14 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
7. There is no independence of the Judiciary:
a. The Governor is the sole authority in the colony in that he is the sole person that makes executive decisions, he alone makes legislation and he alone appoints the Prosecutor and the judges. The current governor is RicTodd.
b. Governor Ric Todd has said at a public meeting that all of the accused former ministers are guilty and will be convicted.
c. Furthermore in an article that appeared in the Miami Herald online on the 9th of April, Governor Todd was quoted as saying that “the elected government has deliberately and systematically stolen the assets of the people of the TCI for personal gains”.
In this light, I and former Ministers who have been accused of corruption can never get a fair trial. How can we ever get a fair trial when the person that has the sole power to appoint the Prosecutor and judges in the colony is making such pronouncements before a trial?
8. There is also interference with the right to a political life,with Governor Ric Todd and his Attorney General Huw Shepheard bringing legal action to unlawfully confiscate our party headquarters and to demolish it.They are systematically trying to eliminate my party, the PNP, from the political life in the Turks and Caicos Islands by arresting and charging most of the senior members including the new Leader who is a lawyer who has never one day served in any Government in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is my belief that the reason for this is to silence the party because its public stance has been to seek independence from Britain. It is also my belief that despite the public stance of Britain about liberty and equality for all, it is their desire and objective to retain the colonies and to pursue a purely commercial ambition from them without regard for the human rights and political will of the populations in those countries. It is well known that the British territories in the Caribbean have natural beauty and sunshine, excellent tourism opportunities and many prospects in terms of financial services, all of which can be turned to ultimate profit for the British. It is further my belief that as the British economy nose dives in the world recession, Britain is taking an opportunistic position in relation to its colonies and former colonies purely for commercial and financial gain, ignoring the harmful effect of their actions on those countries and their people.
9. The Governor has abused his powers and has had land confiscated from individuals who received land lawfully.
10. Abolishing of our right to trial by jury in order to secure convictions.
11. The Governor has changed a number of laws and procedure and has made it retroactive in order to secure a conviction of the persons accused.That is why he can speak with certainty that we will all be convicted. If a crime was truly committed why could the accused not be tried under the system that has tried thousands of prior cases. Why change a whole legal system to convict persons on charges that are politically motivated?
It is my submission that the whole Commission of Inquiry, the criminal charges, the change in the laws, the abolishing of the jury system, the suspension of elected government in the colony was all because my party and I seek to move our country to independence, which Britain does not want, for the reasons mentioned further above.
The best way for the British Government to stop my party’s movement was to drum up charges of corruption. That would allow the Governor to make the changes that they have made to secure a conviction against me and my colleagues. More disturbingly, charges of corruption are emotive and frightening to the people. These charges allow the British government to pursue almost any device in order to secure a conviction, including the suspension of democracy.
In summary we are being politically persecuted because of our political belief, being that we want to live in an independent Turks and Caicos Islands. Moreover, the political persecution is also set in a context of apparent racial superiority, on the part of the British.
The above are a number of human rights violations that have been inflicted upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a colony of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom as a permanent member of the security council has an added responsibility to uphold international laws and treaties especially those involving human rights. It is a blatant double standard when they talk about human right abuse and violations in other parts of the world and they themselves are chief offenders in their colonies.
I am therefore asking your good office to intervene as a matter of urgency and to ensure that every country complies with their international obligations no matter how powerful they are.
I end by quoting Martin Luther King Jr: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
I remain, Yours sincerely,
Turks and Caicos Islands
Don’t give up on the PNP – Galmo Williams
Galmo Williams, the last premier to rule the Turks and Caicos Islands before the British takeover, is urging Turks and Caicos Islanders not to lose sight of the visions of the vision that the Progressive National Party has for the country and so, they should stay the course with that party.
Speaking at a PNP rally at the party headquarters on Airport Road in Providenciales on Friday, March 30, the former premier said that it pained him to see how the country was currently being run and the role some locals play in its political and financial capitulation.
“It pains my heart how some of our own are trying to down-press the PNP, but the PNP will never give up. For God’s sake; for the country’s sake; for your children’s sake, never give up. It doesn’t matter where we are now, but it is about where we want to go. I believe with all my heart of hearts that our best days for this country are yet ahead.
“It doesn’t matter where we are now, but let’s look at where we want to be. When we look at our young people, when we look at all the money that we spent on education, and when we look at investment and other opportunities that we have given to our young people; when we look at tourism and the infrastructure that we have put in, we can say that the PNP is the way to the future,” insisted Williams.
He pointed out that the scores of young people that the Turks and Caicos had educated through scholarships at universities overseas, and the strides made in development and tourism, would enable the country to get back on track and power to greater success.
“So, let no one from nowhere, no colour, no creed, to tell you what we, as Turks and Caicos Islanders, cannot be. We can be whatever we want to be. We can go wherever we want to go. So, for God’s sake, for your sake, for your children’s sake never give up,” Williams urged.
The former premier told the gathering that he was happy to have been catapulted to the rank of party leader and premier, having joined the elite class of individuals such as Norman Saunders and Bob Francis, while stressing that his elevation was due to the people love and confidence in him.
“I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to share that office (Premier and PNP Leader) of the highest position of the party and our country of our great leaders like the Honourable Norman Saunders, Bob Francis and all of the leaders of the PNP. At the age of a little bit over half a century, I think it is a great opportunity, and the reason I was given that opportunity was because of the support of the people from Cheshire Hall, Long Bay and of course, all of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
published in SUN,Turks and Caicos Islands on 17th of April 2012
The British bamboozled us – Conrad Howell
Clergymen Rev. Dr. Conrad Howell said that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands have been tricked by the United Kingdom Government, who was now ruling the country in an autocratic fashion.
Speaking at the Progressive National Party (PNP) rally the party headquarters on Airport Road on Friday, March 30, Howell said that Turks and Caicos Islanders had seen critical parts of their lives changed “with the stroke of a pen”.
“We have seemed, since 2009, to be governed by persons, who have no real appreciation for what we have achieved or our way of life. And to borrow from a current phrase in the Bahamas right about now, ‘truly, we have been had, bamboozled, run amok and lied to’. We saw systems, industries, policies and ideals changed by the stroke of a pen. Institutions that we held sacred and thought were blind, now seem to be biased and bent away from justice.”
“While we prepare for elections, it cannot be the goal. Elections must only be the method utilized to achieve our goals, being backed by a firm determination, to secure the rights of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands; the preservation of their freedom, recognizing the supremacy of God, with a national commitment to self-discipline, patriotism, unity and an abiding respect for Christian values and the rule of law,” he said.
He also stated that Islanders should pledge a commitment to diversify the country through sustainable social, educational and economic development in the people’s interest, while embracing persons and opportunities that shared the common goal of Turks and Caicos Islands’ people. The clergyman also pointed out that Turks and Caicos Islanders should apply any means necessary to safeguard itself from all forms of the threat to its existence, whether domestic or foreign.
He continued: “At the UN Conference last year, I put it this way, ‘since we have had to do it for the last 300 years and since that the metropolitan cities, especially that of London think that they know best for us; one size does not fit all’. If we had learned how to survive on these rocks, then we ought to know to move it forward. We know how to make Turks and Caicos move ahead. Further, we found that Turks and Caicos only moves ahead when Turks and Caicos Islanders are making the necessary decisions. We have to do what we must, so that we can achieve what we desire.”
Former Progressive National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament Wayne Garland said that Turks and Caicos Islands people have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the British into mounting a campaign geared at crushing each other to the detriment of the country.
Garland made the statement at the PNP rally held at the party’s headquarters on March 30, 2012, where he was one of the speakers.
“We, as a people; we, as a country have been oppressed for the last three and a half years. We have been seriously oppressed, but what I want to talk to you about is about us a people coming together, and also, as a people standing up for one another. We are not being what we used to be – having one another’s back. It doesn’t matter whether you are PNP or PDM, the most important thing for us is that, we are Turks and Caicos Islanders.
“Over the last three years, we have backstabbed, we have backbite, and we talked about one another. We only wanted to see who are going to be arrested. We only wanted to see who are going to be put in prison. But let me tell you something, when we start to wish hate on one another, we are wishing hate on ourselves.
Every single one of us, from Salt Cay, way down to West Caicos, interlocked one way or the other. We have ties by family one way or the other. So every time you wish hatred on one, we wish hatred on our own. If we are going to move ahead as a progressive nation, we need to let go of the hate. We need to let go of the hypocrisy. We need to let go of trying to backstabbing one another and this genuine hate for one another,” Garland warned.
Garland told reminded the gathering that Turks and Caicos Islanders once banded together despite political affiliation, but in recent time they have allowed a cutthroat attitude to fester among them, causing the country great pain.
“We are one people. We are our brothers’ keepers. It doesn’t matter whether you are blue, brown, purple or green; we are one people. We used to live well, what happened? We allowed some British oppressors to come in and drive a spear between us and separate us as a people.
“Now look at it, whose living good? Who is living in Grace Bay in high-rises? Who can go to the stores and buy the best quality foods? We used to be like that, we can be like that again, but like I say, we should be willing to make some sacrifices,” he implored.
Injecting a bit of biblical flavor into his presentation, Garland stressed that the torrid period that the TCI was currently going through paralleled to that of the 40 days of testing that Jesus Christ went through during what is now known as the Lenten season.
“We have been tested for the last three and a half years. We have been prosecuted for the last three and a half years. It is now time for us to open our eyes and be resurrected. It is time for us to stand and take our country back. It is time for us as young people not to sit back idle anymore, but should be able to look anybody in the face and say ‘this land is ours, and we are going to take it’. Don’t be afraid, young people,” Garland pleaded.
Garland also blasted the Attorney General Chambers for making attempts to seize and destroy the PNP Headquarters, while emphasizing that any attempts to yank the structure from that party would be fiercely resisted.
“This building behind us is an institution, this is a mark, this is something that a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into. This is a symbol for us as a party, and I will be damned if any white man or British oppressor think they can come here and take it from us. It will be a cold day in hell first. Nobody is going to mess with this institution…this belong to us.
“Today, it may be the Progressive National Party Headquarters; tomorrow it could be the PDM Headquarters. Today it could be ‘Ma Jane’s shop down the road’, the next day it is going to be ‘Sister Ashley’s house up the street’. We have to open our eyes and see what they are doing to us. They are pitting us one against other,” Garland told the audience.
PDM READY TO RULE TCI
The People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) kicked off its political campaign Wednesday night, April 11, with a high-energy rally at its headquarters down town Providenciales, to drum up support among its base and the wider public in anticipation for elections this year, also using the event to express its readiness to take the reins of government once again.
Distributing party campaign T-shirts with a call for elections this year emblazoned across the front, many of the speakers, including party leader Derek Taylor, announced that a PDM Government would reverse majority of the laws now being implemented by the Interim Administration, while easing the current economic and social burden now being faced by the populace.
Taylor announced that the 10-year vision that the PDM crafted for the country sometime ago, which would bring prosperity for all the people of the country, was still relevant, and would be used as a vehicle in the party’s pursuit for political office.
He said that the PDM would reopen the civil service for employment, while balancing the budget without putting the people under duress, a feat he said was accomplished in the past by that party. Taylor said also that he would introduce legislation to create a development bank so that local businesses would be able to access loans at cheaper interest rates, while seek to introduce an equal pay law, so as to create income parity in the respective categories within the job market.
Party members said the PDM would also revisit the InterHealth Canada contract, which they said was not serving the best interest of Turks and Caicos Islanders, especially those who had lost their jobs. They said also that the Immigration and Labour laws would also be put under the microscope so as to safeguard the borders, while giving Turks and Caicos Islanders a fair shake in the job market.
“We envision a Turks and Caicos Islands with long term economic stability, and that can only happen under a People’s Democratic Movement government. We are not going to have this nonsense again,” Taylor said, referring to the economic abyss in which the country has found itself. “And we are going to engage each other every step of the way. You are going to have a government that is open, that you can challenge, that you can honestly sit down and talk to.”
“We envision a vibrant economy of Turks and Caicos Islanders that are able to sustain and exceed the growth of the past. And we envision a Turks and Caicos Islands where a strong economy and social empowerment are the order of the day for all Turks and Caicos Islanders.
“We will introduce equal pay legislation, to ensure that all workers are paid based on the work performed rather than on race, colour, gender or national origin. This will give further emphasis to what have already been expressed in the Constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands,” Taylor said.
Addressing the issue of setting up a financial institution that would provide Turks and Caicos Islanders, especially those who would be able to access loans from commercial banks, with loans at cheap interest rates, Taylor declared: “In 2003, we had already engaged the Caribbean Development Bank; we had already engaged European investment bank, with the intention of making sure that Turks and Caicos Islanders and Turks and Caicos Small businesses are able to access loans at lower interest rate.
“We are going back and we are going to engage those two financial institutions – one in the Caribbean and the other in Europe with the intention of lowering the interest rate, and we are going to again legislation for a development bank.”
In the meantime, the PDM Leader lashed TC Invest for not serving the interest of small businesses, stressing that the interest rate that it was imposing was higher than that of commercial banks.
“TC Invest was not put in place to make a profit at the expense of our people. Yes, we have to take care of administration overheads, but there should be no reason why the interest rate from TC Invest should have been higher than the commercial banks.
Taylor said also that a PDM government would utilize the Small Business Enterprise Development Centre to provide training for small business entrepreneurs and those facing problems in their businesses.
On the matter of education, Taylor pointed out that monies collected from the private sector for scholarships would be placed in a special fund by his administration, that would go solely towards its intended purpose, instead of funneling into the consolidated fund, which he said was the current practice.
“We are going to make sure that the private sector contribution towards scholarships would be placed in a special fund as we had it before, in order that you can know exactly the contribution from the private sector towards scholarships, and we are going to make sure that the private sector businesses benefit from the same also.
“Under a Derek Taylor administration, you can go sleep and wake up in the morning knowing that the public purse is intact, and it would not be attacked. You can rest assured that there will be responsibility and accountability,” he said.
Among the other speakers at the event were National Chairman, Reuben Hall; National Treasurer, Dwayne Taylor; National; Secretary General, Euwonka Selver; her father and former deputy leader of the party Clarence Selver; Cheryl Astwood-Tull; O’Neil Delancy; and Samuel Harvey.
published in SUN,Turks and Caicos Islands 17th of April