LONDON DENIES CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS FOR TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

Self-Determination for Falklands but Nowhere Else in the Remaining British Empire

London denies constitutional powers to Afro-Caribbean population in the Turks and Caicos

By Wayne Madsen
Global Research, March 19, 2013
Strategic Culture Foundation 17 March 2013

Britain is loudly proclaiming that the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, the South Atlantic island group that is hotly contested between Britain and Argentina, voted 99.8 percent to remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. British Prime Minister David Cameron publicly rebuked the Argentine government and the new Pope, Francis I, for their support of Argentine sovereignty over the Falklands. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio supported Argentina’s historical claim to the islands.

If only Mr. Cameron were as dedicated to the wishes of the inhabitants of some of Britain’s other far-flung and nearer –to–home territories as he is toward the “Kelpers,” as the Falkland Islanders call themselves.

In the cases of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla in the Caribbean, the Tory-Liberal Democratic government in London has rolled back the self-government previously afforded the two island colonies.

The British government imposed direct rule on the Turks and Caicos in 2009, citing misrule and corruption by the island’s then-premier, Michael Misick. Britain appointed a Commission of Inquiry led by Sir Robyn Auld that recommended direct rule of the islands from London through Governor Gordon Wetherell; his successor Ric Todd; Attorney General Huw Shepheard; and Chief Financial Officer Hugh McGarel Groves. The Commission of Inquiry was replaced by a Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) that began investigating Turks and Caicos government officials for corruption.

The new Premier, Galmo Williams, declared, “Our country is being invaded and re-colonized by the United Kingdom, dismantling a duly elected government and legislature and replacing it with a one-man dictatorship, akin to that of the old Red China, all in the name of good governance.”

The British neo-colonial government brought criminal charges against a dozen Turks and Caicos official, including five ministers in the Misick government, including Misick himself. The former premier fled to Brazil and was arrested pursuant to an extradition request from Britain. However, the breakdown in relations between London and Latin America over the Falklands issue may have compelled the Brazilian government to release Misick on bail awaiting a final determination on the extradition request.

Last November, an election was held in the Turks and Caicos and the Progressive National Party of former Premier Misick barely eked out a victory in an 8 seat to 7 seat vote for the opposition People’s Democratic Party in the House of Assembly. Dr. Rufus Ewing became Premier and among his first acts was to demand London restore constitutional powers from the abrogated constitution to the elected government and sack the governor, Attorney General, and other appointed officials. Cameron and Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary William Hague have resisted these calls. Essentially, when the white population and government of the Falklands demand something from London, they are heard and the request in positively acted upon. However, when it is an Afro-Caribbean population in the Turks and Caicos that makes a demand, they are ignored. It is the British colonial way.

In a letter to Hague, Ewing wrote that the investigation of the previous Misick government was a “farce, impregnated with cloak and dagger acts on the part of the Governor, AG Chambers and SIPT, to incarcerate Turks and Caicos Islanders at all costs, even the cost of the violation of the principles of justice and the human rights of individuals.”

Ewing told a summit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Port au Prince, Haiti, “We are today being governed by a constitution that was conceived in Whitehall, and was, for all intents and purposes, thrust upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, at a time when they were without representation.” Ewing was referring to the 2011 Constitution that afforded the island less rights than the previous Constitution of 2006.

One of the main objectives of the London-appointed government was to impose a tax hike and austerity measures on the Turks and Caicos. Hague rejected Ewing’s request and stated: “We expect the territories to meet the same high standards of good governance and public financial management as in the UK.” That is rich coming from a British government that has been mired in financial and sexual scandal since it came to power. But, again, the rationale in London is based on the fact that when white ministers and Tory and Liberal Democratic MPs are engaged in scandal, it is a minor infraction, but when a government composed of people of color are accused of scandal, an unconstitutional, anti-democratic, neo-colonialist sacking of the entire government ensues.

It is clear that the Turks and Caicos wants to join its fellow CARICOM partners as an independent nation but London has thrown in a number of obstacles to full sovereignty. The Turks and Caicos are not alone in having neo-colonialism imposed on them from the halls of power along the banks of the Thames.

Britain, working with France, the Netherlands, the United States, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, and Australia, has sought to diminish the role of the United Nations’ Special Committee on Decolonization in speeding independence for the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories recognized by the committee, which includes the Turks and Caicos and another Caribbean island where Britain has re-stamped its colonial imprimatur, Anguilla.

In the 1960s, Anguilla declared unilateral independence from the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla because it wanted to retain its ties to Britain and not shed them in favor of a colonial status within a West Indies mini-federation. However, after some forty years, things have started to change on the island. Britain, instead of allowing Anguilla more self-government under Anguilla Constitutional Order 1 April 1982, amended in 1990, has reversed course and started to retain and retake more powers for itself. This has resulted in more Anguillans bringing up the independence option decades after the Anguillan Revolutions of 1967 and 1969.

Britain is trying to eliminate a provision in the Anguillan Constitution that provides for an option of independence. It is clear that Britain is trying to do to Anguilla what the Netherlands did to the three small Caribbean island territories of Bonaire, Saba, and Saint Eustatius after the dissolution of the self-governing Netherlands Antilles, make Anguilla part of Britain and incorporate it into the United Kingdom and European Union. The Netherlands incorporated its three territories as municipalities of the Netherlands in a move that was not clearly explained to the residents of the islands.

Last year, Anguillan Chief Minister Hubert Hughes told the UN that his government “decided that the Anguilla people will have to decide whether they want to stay in slavery or go on to freedom.”

As with the Turks and Caicos, Britain has imposed economy-crippling austerity on Anguilla using the pretext that the island is rife with financial corruption.

As bad as the Turks and Caicos islanders and Anguillans are in being re-colonized by Britain, no people have suffered more than the Ilois of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. In the 1960s, they were removed by Britain against their wishes and relocated to Mauritius where they live in squalor. Britain removed the islanders to make way for a U.S. nuclear weapons, intelligence, and, more recently, a gulag for detainees, on the island of Diego Garcia.

So, while Mr. Cameron lectures the Pope and Argentina on respecting the wishes of the Falkland Islanders, he continues to run roughshod over the wishes of the peoples of the Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, the Chagos Archipelago, and even those closer to home in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, who would opt for independence if not for the heavy jackboot of British colonial rule…

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WAR OF WORDS BETWEEN BRITAIN AND TURKS AND CAICOS CONTINUES

War of words between Britain and Turks and Caicos continues
Published on March 15, 2013,by Caribbean News.

TCI Premier Rufus Ewing (L) and Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague

By Caribbean News Now contributor

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — In a statement to the House of Assembly in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) on Thursday, Premier Rufus Ewing accused Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague of corruption.

Responding to a strongly worded letter on Tuesday from Hague, which had described Ewing’s speech last month to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government as a substantial misrepresentation, Ewing said that the release of Hague’s letter just prior to election petition court hearings and before a potential by-election was an attempt by Britain to influence the voters and the courts and is therefore a corrupt act.

Ewing then went on to defend his address to CARICOM. He repeated his position that CARICOM was a key factor in Britain’s recent agreement to shelve the imposition of value added tax in the TCI. However, none of the CARICOM member states or associate members has made any public statement expressing any opinion in relation to the TCI and/or VAT.

Hague had chided Ewing for failing to mention the dire state of the economy coming out of the previous Progressive National Party (PNP) government led by Michael Misick who, Hague pointed out, remains a fugitive from justice.

Ewing said there was no need for him to mention this because “we all know about these events.”

Ewing went on to say that he was sure that many TCI citizens now favour independence.

For the first time, Ewing, who is himself a medical doctor, spoke about the pressing health care issues in the TCI.

Weeks earlier, Ewing had celebrated the idea of the third party use of the hospitals and health care facilities for medical tourism. As these facilities are operated by private contractors funded by the TCI government, media questioning as to who benefits from the practice has been ongoing.

Ewing said he will be making sure that the TCI gets a share of the third party operations of InterHealth Canada, which is are operating the hospitals.

TCI taxpayers are responsible for paying a $120 million mortgage on the two small hospitals, which also includes an excessive 12 percent rate of interest. The National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP), in the creation of which Ewing was reported to have played a central role, is costing the TCI over 40 percent of every tax dollar collected.

On three separate occasions, Ewing has claimed that financial audits of the hospitals were underway but the new InterHealth Canada CEO said that no audits had been started.

Ewing also blamed the downturn in the economy for people losing their jobs and no longer paying 6 percent of their wages into the health plan.

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BRITAIN SLAMS TURKS AND CAICOS PREMIER’S SPEECH

Britain slams Turks and Caicos premier’s CARICOM speech
Published on March 14, 2013

By Caribbean News Now contributor

LONDON, England — In a strongly worded letter on Tuesday, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague described Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Premier Dr Rufus Ewing’s speech last month to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government as a substantial misrepresentation to the people of the TCI and to the leaders of the Caribbean.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague
“I have seen the speech you gave to CARICOM heads of government on 18 February about the relationship between the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United Kingdom. I regret to say you substantially misrepresent both the past and the present situation to both the people of the TCI and to the leaders of the Caribbean,” Hague said.

Hague went on to remind Ewing that the previous government run by his Progressive National Party (PNP) “left behind a chaotic situation including — through incompetence, abuse of power and corruption — rapidly deteriorating public finances.”

“As a result, TCI was, in effect, bankrupt. In 2009 the UK government provided emergency funding to enable public workers to be paid. In 2010 we provided a guarantee that enabled the TCI government to borrow up to $260 million at an affordable interest rate in order to enable the government to maintain essential services while bringing public finances back under control,” he continued.

Hague said that Britain accepted broad responsibility for good governance in its Overseas Territories and referred to the 2008-2009 Commission of Inquiry in the TCI, which concluded that there was a high probability of systemic corruption among ministers, members of the legislature and public officials in the then TCI government.

The inquiry documented detailed information on corruption, dishonesty and abuse of public office by former premier Michael Misick and other ministers in the previous PNP government and recommended criminal investigation. As a result, Britain suspended parts of the TCI constitution providing for ministerial government and the House of Assembly.

Subsequent investigations have led to 12 former ministers and others being charged and the attorney general is seeking Misick’s extradition from Brazil to the TCI.

“Misick is resisting return to TCI and seeking political asylum,” Hague said.

He also pointed out that a prominent international law firm was appointed to recover misappropriated assets and has so far recovered $16.6 million, with a further $2.6 million ordered to be paid, as well as nearly 2,500 acres of Crown land recovered; all to benefit the people of the TCI.

The British Interim Administration implemented a broad programme of reform to deal with this situation and to help prevent it being repeated. It established a robust framework for good government and sound public financial management and integrity and accountability in public life.

“These steps should help minimise the chances of a few corrupt people exploiting the assets of TCI for their own benefit, instead of these assets being available for the good of all the community. We will allow neither this framework to be rolled back nor the delivery of good and honest government to be undermined,” Hague said.

He also referred to an earlier open letter by Ewing that raised the issue of value added tax (VAT).

Hague reminded Ewing that the British government in 2010 was presented with a situation in which the TCI had an annual deficit of £30 million, which was set to grow significantly.

“This unsustainable situation led to the UK Department for International Development appointing a chief financial officer whose responsibilities were to ensure that this deficit was reduced and that TCI’s finances returned to surplus,” he said.

Eight milestones were then set, before which elections would not be permitted.

“Despite the financial milestone not yet having been met, the UK government agreed in good faith to permit elections in the expectation that an incoming government would administer the island’s finances so as to build an increasing surplus and release the
UK government from its government guarantee,” Hague said.

According to Hague, introducing VAT was central to this and seen to be in the interests of the TCI and the UK. That said, UK ministers have consistently made clear that a decision to introduce VAT is one for the TCI government, and that credible alternative measures would be considered

“The TCI government is responsible for delivering sustainable public finances. As you know this means that you and your government have to meet the public finance framework, which includes debt reduction targets and should enable you to refinance your debts without a UK guarantee after 2016. UK ministers have recently accepted your proposal not to introduce VAT on 1 April but instead to set public spending at a lower level commensurate with the absence of VAT, the uncertainty about alternative revenue streams, and the weakening outlook for some existing revenue streams. We are now awaiting your specific proposals on what additional expenditure cuts and alternative revenue measures you will put in place to ensure your adherence to the public finance framework,” he reminded Ewing.

Haig said that the UK government set out a clear vision in its Overseas Territories White Paper last year.

“We want the Overseas Territories, including the Turks and Caicos Islands, to flourish in partnership with the United Kingdom. We want you to build a strong and sustainable local economy and to develop as a community. Our relationship with you entails responsibilities for both parties. We have a broad responsibility to support the Territories and to ensure security and good governance. We expect the Territories to meet the same high standards of good governance and public financial management as in the UK,” he said.

According to Hague, Britain accepts a broad responsibility for joint security and continues to provide a range of support and training for public servants, such as police, prison and immigration services.

“We expect the elected government of TCI and other territories that wish to remain British to abide by the same high standards as the UK government in maintaining the rule of law, respect for human rights and integrity in public life, delivering efficient public services, upholding the judiciary and building strong and successful communities,” he said.

Hague also referred to the issue of independence that Ewing had raised and confirmed that this is an option for the TCI.

“If the people of TCI express a wish for independence through a clear and proper process, the UK government will meet its obligations to help the territory to achieve it,” he said.

Hague concluded by reiterating his belief both in democracy and that government must be honest and transparent and behave responsibly.

“The TCI government has the chance to shape the future of your islands. The UK government has invested much in helping put TCI back on the right path. TCI has a growing economy, modernised legislation and a committed public service. I hope you will use this inheritance wisely,” he said.

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The Electoral and Constitutional Fiasco in Turks and Caicos Islands

Published in TCI POST on 09th March 2013.

The Attorney General vs Ms. Amanda Missick
The Acting Attorney General of the Turks and Caicos Islands has filed in the supreme court against Ms. Amanda Missick stating the following:
“Following receipt of copies of the section 49(1)(f) Notices and related correspondence supplied to me by the TCI Integrity Commission and having caused background research to be undertaken in the Lands Division of the Chambers, I have come to the conclusion that I should act under section 50(3) of the Constitution, and today a challenge to the veracity of the declaration made by Ms. Amanda Missick, PNP candidate for the upcoming by-election in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill Electoral District on 22 March 2013 has been filed before the Supreme Court.
FACT: It is a fact that Ms. Amanda Missick has a property 60804/138 with a TCIG belonger discount charge (see exhibit A)
According to the Integrity Commission and the Attorney General such a charge is considered to be a contract with Government and the Candidate shall to give NOTICE to the Integrity Commission on or before Nomination Day, in accordance with Section 49 (1)f of the TCI Constitution.
Disputable: It is disputable whether someone who has a Crown freehold property with a subsistent belonger discount charge (having had the property for less than 10 years after obtaining freehold title), is considered as having a contract with Government.
FACT: If a potential Candidate does not comply with Section 49 (1)f of the TCI Constitution 2011 he /she shall not be qualified to be an elected member of the House of Assembly. It states: 49.—(1) No person shall be qualified to be an elected member of the House of Assembly who, on the date of his or her nomination for election: (f) is a party to, or a partner in a firm or a director or manager of a company which is a party to, any contract with the Government and has not, by that date, disclosed in a notice to the Integrity Commission the nature of such contract and his or her interest, or the interest of such firm or company, in it;
FACT: The Constitution does not give a defined time period prior to Nomination Day during which such notice of contract with Government should be made. It simply states that such contracts should be “by that date (NOMINATION DAY), disclosed in a notice to the Integrity Commission the nature of such contract and his or her interest, or the interest of such firm or company, in it”
FACT: There is no prescribed form for giving such notice of contract with Government to the Integrity Commission. It simply says “disclosure in notice to the Integrity Commission”. This fact is also supported by the varied instruments of submission used by other elected members of the House of Assembly during the 2012 nomination process, who have made declarations under section 49 (1)f. Some used emailed submission, some used written hand delivered letters and some could have even called in.

Amanda-Lease Cancellation
THEREFORE:
FACT: Ms Amanda Missick made a Declaration to the Integrity Commission in on Oct 24, 2012 and this was publicized by the Integrity Commission in a Contracts Notice Register (see exhibit B). This declaration should have satisfied the condition under Section 49 (1)f of the Constitution, for nomination in the By-election, since such the notice is not time bound prior to nomination day and there is no legal requirement to make another declaration to the Integrity Commission unless there is additional information to be declare or remove, which is not the case with Ms. Missick.
Conclusion: Ms. Amanda Missick should not be disqualified. She did declare her interest to the Integrity Commission on time as she did so on October 24, 2012 and again on February 15, 2013, on a form used for members of the House of Assembly to declare their registrable Interest (including contracts with Government) which is a public document.
Also if the Judge rules that Crown freehold land with subsistent belonger discount charge is NOT contract with Government, then Ms. Missick would have had nothing to declare and should not be disqualified.
Furthermore:
If it is determined by the Courts that Crown Freehold title with subsistent belonger discount charge is a contract with Government, this should not affect Ms Missick as she made declaration of such contract on October 24, 2012 and again on February 15, 2013.
I rest my case and the learned Judge should see it likewise.
So I am encouraging all PNPs to Stay the Course!
Cheshire Hall Voter (Plaintiff) Vs Oral Selver

Oral Leasehold
A Cheshire Hall Voter filed in the Courts on March 8, 2013 against Isaac Oral Selver on the grounds that he failed to comply with the provisions of Section 49(1)f of the TCI Constitution.
It has been discovered that Mr. Oral Selver is the Leasee of Crown land 50206/1/1 – North Caicos (2.5 acres) which was issued on 12.11.2004 for a period of 3 years. Mr. Selver failed to pay his lease and in April 2011, he wrote to the PS of the Lands Department to have his lease extended. His letter was acknowledged in April 2011, and he was given conditions upon which the lease would be extended. The conditions included obtaining a building permit which he had, as stated in his reply letter and payment of arrears on the lease. Mr. Selver accepted the Offer and paid the arrears on the Property on December 24, 2012 (shortly after 2012 general elections).
Oral Lease Payment
The Plaintiff is of the view that Mr. Selver had a contract with Government on nomination day 2012 (October 25, 2012) and did not declare this interest at that time as required by Section 49(1)f of the constitution.
The Plaintiff is also of the view that Mr. Oral Selver still has a contract with Government i.e. the lease on property 50206/1/1 as he has accepted the conditional offer to extend the lease and is actively engaged with the Lands Department to retain the lease, which still remains in his name on the Lands register (see exhibit). Also of note is that the application procedure by the Lands Department for the termination of the lease has not been done. This procedure was use in the termination of a Conditional Purchase Lease (CPL) owned by Ms Amanda Missick, on property 60400/277 –Chalk Sound. Ms. Missick obtained the CPL around the same time as Mr Selver in 2004 and was denied extension without hesitation, that culminated in the cancellation of her lease on March 22, 2010.
Therefore:
We conclude that Mr Oral Selver failed to declare his contract with Government by nomination days October 25, 2012 and March 1, 2013 and should be disqualified under Section 49 (1)f.
The Attorney General
Vs
George Lightbourne
Hugh Derek Taylor
Josephine Connelly
Edwin Astwood
Vaden Delroy Williams
The Acting Attorney General is challenging the defendants listed, under section 53(2) of the constitution “An application to the Supreme Court for the determination of any question under subsection (1) may be made by the Attorney General or by any person who is a registered elector; and an application for the determination of any question under subsection (1)(b) may also be made by any member of the House of Assembly” It has been determined that the defendants have not filed all of their contracts (Crown freehold property with subsistent belonger discount charge) with Government and should be disqualified.
Contracts Notice Register – General Elections_001 Copy
The question for the Judge to rule on in this case is whether Crown freehold land with subsistent belonger discount charge is a contract with Government. If the Judge rule that it is then all of the elected members listed above will be disqualified and cease being members of the House of Assembly.
The next question to be determined by (Judge or AG?) is how should the vacated 5 seats in the House of Assembly be filled?
I am of the view that:
A constituency in the 2012 election, which had more than 2 candidates contesting but returning only 1 member to the House of Assembly (eg Wheeland), should go to a By-election if the elected member is disqualified.
A constituency in the 2012 election, which had only 2 candidates contesting and returning only 1 member to the House of Assembly (eg Grand Turk North or Grand Turk South), that the seat should be turned over to the other candidate upon disqualification of the elected candidate. If the non-elected Candidate is unavailable then the seat should go to a By-election.
A constituency in the 2012 election, which had more than 2 candidates contesting but returning more than 1 member to the House of Assembly (eg All-Islands Constituency), that the vacated seats due to disqualifications should be filled using the non-elected candidates based on the next highest number of votes and availability.
The British has indeed made a mockery of our democracy and the judicial system has fallen victim to the poorly drafted and ill-conceived laws enacted by the British, including of 2011 Constitution which is top of the list.
This is indeed a time for the PNP and PDM to come together and form a coalition Government and to fast track this country towards independence. I firmly believe that it is our people as opposed to our leaders and elected officials that are against unity and coalition in preference of the euphoria of partisan politics. It is however, our leaders who must make that bold decisions and lead the people in the direction of a united front in the best interest of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Who is behind the New Political Chaos in Turks and Caicos Islands?

MEDIA STATEMENT BY ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL RHONDALEE BRAITHWAITE-KNOWLES ON CHALLENGES AGAINST MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

“Separate and apart from the confidential declaration required to made to the Integrity Commission under the Integrity Commission Ordinance by a person in public life, the Constitution requires a candidate for election, on nomination day to make a declaration that he or she is qualified for election and that no disqualification mentioned in section 49(1) of the Constitution applies to him or her. In addition, section 49(1)(f) of the Constitution requires such a candidate to notify the Integrity Commission, prior to nomination day, of the existence of any contract between that candidate and the Government. Failure to so notify the Integrity Commission would result in a candidate being disqualified to stand in an election.

“Following receipt of copies of the section 49(1)(f) Notices and related correspondence supplied to me by the TCI Integrity Commission and having caused background research to be undertaken in the Lands Division of the Chambers, I have come to the conclusion that I should act under section 50(3) of the Constitution, and today a challenge to the veracity of the declaration made by Ms. Amanda Missick, PNP candidate for the upcoming by-election in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill Electoral District on 22 March 2013 has been filed before the Supreme Court.

“On the basis of the background research undertaken I have also come to the conclusion that the election of certain sitting members of the House of Assembly should be challenged under section 53(2) of the Constitution. In that regard, challenges have also been filed today before the Supreme Court challenging the elections of Mr George Lightbourne elected member in the House of Assembly for the Grand Turk North Electoral District; Mr. Edwin Astwood elected member in the House of Assembly for the Grand Turk, South Electoral District; Mr. Derek Taylor member in the House of Assembly for the All Islands Electoral District; Mrs. Josephine Connolly elected member in the House of Assembly for the All Islands Electoral District and Delroy Williams elected member in the House of Assembly for the Wheeland Electoral District.

“The basis of each of these challenges is that when each of the individuals made their section 50(1) Nomination Day declaration to the Supervisor of Elections for the 9th November 2012 General Election and the upcoming 22nd March 2013 by-election, a disqualification mentioned in section 49(1)(f) applied to each them in that each of them has a contract with the Government which, by that date, they had not given notice of to the Integrity Commission, as required by section 49(1)(f) of the Constitution. The type of contract in each case is a charge to secure the payment to the Crown of a “Belonger Discount” (applicable under the Crown Land Policy) in the event of a sale in prescribed circumstances.

“I have asked the Court to determine whether in each case, the individual is or is not qualified to be an elected member of the House considering the failure to give notice of the respective charges.

“The Constitution provides for a process for challenge in each of these cases in the public interest. If the Court determines that each member is disqualified then,

a) In the case of Ms. Missick, she will not be able to stand for election on 22nd March and the sole remaining candidate will be declared elected;

b) In the case of the members of the House of Assembly, their seats will be vacated and a by-election will have to be called. A decision on their disqualification would not prevent them from standing in a subsequent by-election called as a result.

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Press Statement from Advocates Legal Group in Turks and Caicos Islands

Published in TCI Post on 01st of February

Advocates Legal Group – Press Statement Re: Intimidation and Threats by the Attorney General Chambers

ADVOCATES LEGAL GROUP
MEMBERS: Mark A Fulford, Noel T Skippings, Arthur Hamilton, Ashwood Forbes, Courtenay Barnett
PRESS RELEASE
RE: INTIMIDATION & THREATS TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH
MADE BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CHAMBERS
As Lawyers, we feel compelled to respond to the Attorney General`s public statement, as we find it to be very high handed, vexatious and wreaks of intimidation of the highest order.
Our country`s constitution guarantee us the freedom of expression, and unless the AG Chambers changes that law too, Part 1, Section 1 of the Constitution still applied to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
It is not acceptable that the Attorney General should cause to be published a threat of 10 years imprisonment when the press published and freely expresses factually based concerns about the manifest flaws and shortcomings in the justice system under the present dispensation.
It is indeed a compromise of the Constitutional enshrinement and protection of the fundamental right of “freedom of expression”. The AG’s threat to imprison by invoking the antiquated concept of contempt by way of “scandalising the court” fails to recognize the following:-
A. Contempt by way of scandalising the court was used years ago in England as a means of silencing legitimate criticism of Judges and others in authority. It is no longer used in England, and since parity by way of “gay rights” has been strenuously advanced by HMG in the TCI, the lawyers group is duty bound to insist that obsolete laws not be used in this manner to silence those who make legitimate criticism of a manifestly flawed justice system.
B. If the individual or individuals named in any article feel that they have been defamed, then sue the published on the article for defamation and do not threaten either lawyers or the press which should not be so intimidated because a Registrar, or Chief Justice or any Judge feels aggrieved for having read what was published in the press.
B. The high office of Attorney General should be, with respect, more concerned about:
Compromises in the system of justice,
Selective prosecution,
the impasse between Governor and Government over VAT,
The use of prosecutorial powers to pressure confessions and settlements,
Rather than be it implied or expressed be seem as silencing legitimate criticisms of a flawed justice system.
END
31 January 2013

Posted by john Glasgow on Feb 1 2013.

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