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BREAKING NEWS Genel

BREAKING NEWS!!!!Turks and Caicos Premier Dr.Rufus Ewing Response to Mr.William Hague

20130320-235317.jpgDr. Hon. Rufus Washington Ewing

Statement

March 20, 2013

As Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands I, on February 10, 2012, wrote to the Rt. Hon. William Hague, First Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, requesting without prejudice, the recall of the Chief Financial Officer, His Excellency the Governor and the Attorney General. In my letter to Rt. Hon. Hague I outlined the concerns of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and cited reasons why those persons named should be recalled. My dissertation on the past and current state of the affairs of the Turks and Caicos Islands that was presented to CARICOM, also articulated my concerns and those of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands indicating the need for intervention and assistance from our regional neighbours.

As Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands and as someone who was elected to represent the people of these islands, I am disappointed but not surprised, that I am being chastised by the Foreign Minister for exposing the facts and representing my people. I take exception to this and at the same time, stand by my position on both of the matters in question.

In my address to CARICOM I stated that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands acknowledged that the allegations of corruption and maladministration of the previous administration necessitated investigation. The Commission of Inquiry was presided over by a single Judge, Sir Robin Auld. After hearing evidence in those proceedings, Sir Auld concluded that there was a “High probability of systemic corruption amongst the Ministers, members if the legislature and public officials in the TCI” as a result of these conclusions our constitution was suspended. What was indeed unfortunate, but an indisputable fact, was that this conclusion was drawn without including the then Governor Richard Tauwhare, the TCI Head of State who was at the time entrusted with the responsibility for good governance and who was responsible for presiding over and signing most, if not all of the transactions that were cited in the commission of inquiry report as being corrupt.

The professional integrity and dignity of many hard working and dedicated Turks and Caicos Islanders, including our first Premier and Ministers, are now under question, because of the conclusions of Sir Auld. Furthermore, the fate of all accused persons now rest in the custody of a system designed to entrap and secure conviction of some whilst, at the same time, others walk free in exchange for money and information. It is also obvious that the accusations made against former members of government have moved from an alleged “high probability of corruption” by Sir Auld to what amounts to a verdict of “corruption” by the Secretary of State and the Governor. In these circumstances, I cannot state with any degree of confidence that the system of justice as it relates to the accusations of malfeasance is fair, as all of the actions thus far by those entrusted with investigations and administration of those accused, seem to be directed more at securing convictions at all cost and by all means, especially of persons of a particular political affiliation, rather than the pure pursuit of justice. I support the laws of this land being upheld, and the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” must be adhered to and the system of justice must be fair and balanced irrespective of who the accused is, from where he hails and what political party he or she is associated with.

 I have no need to misrepresent the facts about the past or present as the facts are there for all to see.

I speak directly to my people of the Turks and Caicos Islands to say that The Progressive National Party (PNP), of which I am Leader is an institution of the people, by the people and for the people. The label of corruption may justly or unjustly be placed upon individuals within any institution or organization, the clear distinction needs to be however made that the institutions or organizations themselves should not bear this label. I therefore resent the attempts by the Governor’s Office and the Foreign Office to repeatedly tarnish the name of any political party or group, by labeling it as being corrupt as it influences the minds of voters and prejudices the image of new officers of such parties.

It is my belief that the constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands was partially suspended, to exclude representative democracy in the legislative and executive arms of government so as to avoid interference by the local populous whilst the Interim Administration went about the many reforms that they desired to have implemented. It is well known that the Turks and Caicos Islands has been responsible for its own financial upkeep for decades without assistance from the United Kingdom, save for DFID grants in the past and EU grants as of recent. I cannot say that our lives have been made easier with the UK guarantee of a 260 million dollar loan that Turks and Caicos Islanders are now required to repay in a very short period or that we necessarily agree with the decisions made as to how that money is being spent. If the Interim regime had focused on expanding our economy in addition to employing less drastic cost cutting measures, then we would be in a much better financial position than we are now. The fact that our national debt is more than 3 times what it was in 2009 highlights this situation! In a nutshell, had better financial strategies been implemented there would have been no need for a loan guarantee nor would there have been a need for the yet to be repealed VAT initiative. Though we are grateful for the Secretary of State’s decision not to enact the VAT bill on April 1, 2013, the cries of our people through a resounding vote for repeal by a democratically elected House of Assembly are still being denied and democracy is still yet to be served.

During the reign of the Interim Administration a slew of legislations were drafted and enacted, including the 2011 Constitution. These pieces of legislation sought to achieve, among others, the following objectives:

1. Empowering the Governor with greater power and influence over the executive and legislative arms of government.

2. Total control and influence over financial matters

3. Enhancing good governance and greater accountability for persons in public life

4. Improving the chances of conviction of those accused of malfeasance by enactment of Trial without Jury and Hearsay laws to be used retroactively

5. Dismantling of the system of political patronage

It was stated clearly by the Secretary of State that he has full confidence in the Governor despite our overwhelming lack of confidence in the leadership of the present Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is also widely known that the Attorney General has been absent from duty for several months now and the many public failures of his office in the past several weeks have brought question to his level of competence and leadership. I therefore stand by my request for the recall of the Governor and the Attorney General and also the summonsing of Governor Tauwhare to the Turks and Caicos Islands to speak to the allegations against ministers for which he was a possible co-conspirator.

As Premier of this country, my responsibility is to ensure good governance whilst creating a higher quality of life for my people, and to make representation in their best interest. Given the many governance challenges being experienced by the UK and the lack of transparency and accountability on the part of UK appointed officials to the TCI, I will also not hasten to use the UK Government as a yard stick upon which to measure good governance. I proudly say that I was born and raised here in the Turks and Caicos Islands and that I share the dreams and aspirations of my people.

The future of the Turks and Caicos Islands is bright, but there are many challenges that we have to overcome as we govern in the best interest of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. My responsibility as Premier of this country is to represent the interest of the electorate, like the Secretary of State does for his electorate which I am sure takes precedence over ours. I will continue to respect his office but will also continue to represent, to speak, to act without fear or favour, in the interest of my people.

In regards to our position of independence, it is without a doubt independence is indeed our destiny. It may or may not come under my leadership, but whenever it comes, it will be by an act of the determined will of Turks and Caicos Islanders. When the timing is appropriate the question on independence will be asked through a referendum and I am confident that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands will be given the same opportunity as those in the Falkland Islands to answer the question as to whether it is their wish remain a UK Dependent territory.

I call on all Turks and Caicos Islanders to stand for what is right and what is just for all Turks and Caicos Islanders. I call on all Turks and Caicos Islanders to be vigilant, be honest and dedicated to the future of a brighter, prosperous nation that we can continue to proudly call our own.

Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands

N.J.S. Francis Building, Pond St, Cockburn Town, Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands

Tel: (649) 946-2801 ext 40101 – Fax: (649) 946-1803 – email: [email protected] – Twitter: @premier_tci

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BREAKING NEWS Genel

BREAKING NEWS!!!!FORMER PREMIER MICHAEL MISICK’S LETTER TO MR WILLIAM HAGUE

Letter from Michael Misick to William Hague

March 14 th , 2003

William Hague
Secretary of State
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
London SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr. Hague:

I read with amazement your letter of arrogance that is in the public media to our Premier Hon Dr Rufus Ewing.

The contempt that British officials at the highest level have for Turks and Caicos Islands and its people is astonishing, and the second such letter where a public dressing is handed down to the leader of our country because of his public stand that the local elected government should be able to govern including allowing the elected parliament to enact legislation for the benefit of our people and our country.

I also think that because of Dr Ewing stance, and indeed the PNP party’s stance, our Country should be moving towards Independence. You and your colleagues are doing everything in your power to undermine his government. The evidence is in all of the confusion about the elections and misrepresenting the true facts that transpire with my tenure as Premier of our Country.

Here are the facts:

The Turks and Caicos Islands during my time in government experience one of the highest GDP growths in the world. When we came to office the GDP was $150 million dollars when we left office it was close to a billion dollars in six (6) short years.

During our PNP party’s time in office we attracted billions of dollars in inward investments, particularly in the tourism sector and has firmly put the Turks and Caicos Islands on the map as a premier Tourist destination in the world. We attract investment from the Amanyara and Seven Stars hotel to the Carnival Cruise Terminal in Grand Turk and as a direct result of this example and many others Tourism has grown from when we took office from under 200 Thousands visitors to well over one million Tourist nowadays.

The PNP government invested tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure, building modern roads in all of the islands including the Middle and North Caicos causeway, parks and recreational facilities like the Gus Lightbourne arena, the National Stadium, The Five Cays Community Center, Horse-stable Beach Park and other parks, The South Caicos Community Centre, and Clinic, the two Hospitals in Grand Turk and Providenciales just to name a few.

We invested tens of millions of dollars in Education and Scholarships, providing hundreds of Turks and Caicos Islanders with university degrees at the best universities in the US, UK and the Caribbean. We built institutions such as TCInvest, National Insurance, TCI Bank, TCI New Media and your Government along with the British Interim Government has either destroyed or closed them all.

We hired hundreds of civil servants, paid and them properly, and instilled national pride in them and in all of our people. Our citizens were proud to be Turks and Caicos Islanders.

We provided the best medical care for all, young and old regardless of their political affiliation, race, religion or creed. There were no questions asked, we took care of our sick people.

We had six (6) straight years of a surplus budget and have never run a deficit budget. When we left office the government total borrowings was no more than $75 million dollars.

These are the facts Mr. Hague and they speaks for themselves, so no matter how much you and the British Government put misinformation out there to hide your true agenda and to cover up for your incompetent officials, it will not change the facts nor the heart of Turks and Caicos People that the British has worn out their welcome in the Turks and Caicos Islands and their days are numbered. The clock is ticking and political Independence and freedom for our people cannot be stopped.

Here are some other facts that you do not want the Turks and Caicos people or the world to know.

The fact is that the British Government has destroyed the Turks and Caicos economy, its judicial system and eroded the rule of law over the past 4 years.

The borrowings that you refer to in your letter were borrowings that your British occupation government did to prop up an illegitimate interim regime and to spend tens of millions of dollars in a political motivated investigation to politically persecute me and my colleagues because of our views. No elected Turks and Caicos Government should have to pay back money that you borrowed.

You talk about Robin Auld, a sole hand picked commissioner by the British government to carry out their instructions in a commission of inquiry whether outcome was predetermined. If there was nothing to hide than there should have been a transparent commission of inquiry with at least a commissioner with eminent Judges from the Caribbean included on the panel.

You also talk about the UK government high standard of maintaining the rule of law, respect for human rights and upholding the judiciary.

Do I need to remind you of the UK history of slavery, colonization abuse and torture in places like Kenya and India? Nothing has changed the only thing has happen that the British have modernized their abuse of human rights and rig-judiciary under the disguise of good governance.

Ask yourself why, if my colleagues and I have committed a crime and not being politically persecuted, did you have to change the constitution? Why did you have to change the laws and the whole judiciary system to assure a conviction? Why did you have to violate my human rights by abolishing my colleagues and my right to a jury trial? Why did you have to change the hearsay laws and other laws on evidence targeting us? How can we ever get a fair trial when you, who is responsible for appointing the governor, the judges, passing laws for the colony, but in your letter you have implied that my colleagues and I are guilty of corruption when after four years of investigations and 60 million plus dollars there has not even been a plea and directions hearing.

You mentioned in your letter that the Attorney General is properly and legally seeking my extradition from Brazil and that I am resisting return by seeking political asylum. Why you did not inform the people that you and the British has violated my human rights by having me arrested and put in a maximum security prison for two months although my asylum process was not completed and I had temporary political asylum and that since my release you and the British are continually trying to re-imprison me? Why did you not tell the public that during my imprisonment, In spite of my political persecution I offer to voluntary return and you and the British government has refused to allow me to voluntarily return home.

Why did you not tell the people that since my release I have offered to voluntary return with the only condition that my colleagues and myself is assured a fair trial, that is a jury trial and you and the British Government have refused to guarantee me a fair trial?

Why don’t you tell the people that you and the British really don’t want me to return to Turks and Caicos Islands, that you just want me in jail, any jail but not back home?

Why did you not tell the people, that maybe you believe that my presence in the Turks and Caicos Islands may interfere with your plans as I still have broad support among my beloved people or maybe you feel that I have information base of meetings that you have had with me that will implicate you and others close to you?

In any event what is clear is the relationship between the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Government is over. It is now not base on mutual respect but based on a bullying and arrogant superiority complex that should be relegated to the dust bin of history. If you are so confident that the Turks and Caicos people want to remain British why don’t you carry out a referendum on the question as you just did for show in the Falklands, or as Scotland is doing in 2014? That referendum and only that referendum will determine the true desire of the Turks and Caicos people.

You should manifest your claim of belief in democracy and act honest, transparent and behave responsibly.

Michael Misick
Former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands

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Genel News

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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Genel News

RESPONSE TO MR WILLIAM HAGUE REGARDING PREMIER RUFUS EWING CARICOM SPEECH

Response to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague RE-Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing Caricom Speech
Published in TCI POST on 15th of March 2013
Dear Mr. Hague,
I appreciate your latest correspondence as of March 12. I am encouraged by your reaffirming the ideals and objectives lined out in the Overseas Territory White paper. Let me assure you that we in the TCI are equally interested in a flourishing partnership with the UK. However, as I have pointed out before and will point out again, the current situation is nowhere close to the ideals and standards that the White paper prescribes. The remarks at CARICOM were in no way meant to offend, but to correct the path that our friendship has taken in the past 4 years. Unfortunately, previous attempts to address these issues on a less public level had all fallen on deaf ears. As such, these remarks should be seen as an attempt to strengthen the relationship between our nations, and a strengthening of this relationship can only happen on terms that are perceived as fair, transparent and appropriate by both the TCI and the UK.
Before I go into detail on what we have perceived as wrong and unjust, let me make one point very clear.
The current PNP administration can in no way be held responsible for any alleged wrong-doings that happened during the previous PNP government under Michael Misick. While we still wait to see evidence presented in a court of law concerning the alleged actions of select individual of that former administration, let me remind you that the current government consists of a totally different set of persons and none of them have been implicated in the investigations surrounding the old government. As you might recall, there were a number of highly publicized scandals in recent years which involved a large numbers of British politician, both Labour and Tory. However we would never discredit your party, the Tories because of the failures of these few individuals in the past. And we will not discredit your coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, because of Chris Huhne’s personal failures and his recent criminal conviction. And neither will we discredit the good reputation of the United Kingdom and Her Majesty’s Government because of these past yet regrettable scandals. I will kindly ask you to adhere to the same standards when you refer to my party, the PNP, to my government and to the Turks and Caicos Islands as a whole. We have come a long way to reform our party and we won the recent democratic elections, bringing a group of young and energetic Turks and Caicos Islanders into government. My government deserves a chance to prove itself and we do not agree with constant comparisons and finger pointing to former members of parliament, and I am sure you will understand our concerns.
Let me move on to point out some points that we find troubling and that have caused a great amount of misunderstanding between our nations.
First of all, we welcome your acknowledgement of a broad responsibility for good governance in our territory. In fact, we would have much welcomed this commitment in previous times while alleged Mal-governance and serious wrongdoings by elected officials are said to have caused the dire financial situation we find ourselves in. But let me remind you that the judicial process was and is in no way expeditious or transparent. While our country and our people have already been burdened with a $260 Million loan for undisclosed liabilities, humongous ongoing costs of the prosecutions, the loss of democratic representation, the threat of ever rising taxes, not to mention the loss of self confidence and dignity for our nation – we have yet to see evidence presented in a court of law. While the verdict for our electorate has already been spoken and the punishment has been executed on our people over the past years, we have yet to see the bigger picture and hard facts of how all of these alleged crimes could have taken place under a British Governor and FCO.
In regards to the process of these investigations, many of my countrymen are deeply worried about the fact that foreign developers of a certain skin color involved in these alleged crimes were given the option to settle their cases for multi-million dollar settlement fees, while our own people have not been offered this option and are now facing criminal trials and jail time. It is further worrisome that the investigation stops short of investigating some individuals at all, if I can just mention the fact that no British bureaucrat has ever been mentioned in this investigation, yet it is alleged that $3 to 5 Billion in crown land assets have been removed from our country and the Governor at this time signed off on every single transaction. It is hard to see transparent and responsible action in this process.
In regards to the outcome of this investigation, I have to remind you that the recovered amounts are only barely higher than the costs of the investigation which currently stands at over $13 Million, leaving only a tiny amount of net gains after lawyers’ fees. In the scope of the overall scope of the alleged crime, this can only be labeled as the proverbial drop in the ocean.
In regards to the case of Mr. Michael Misick, let me assure you that it is totally beyond the power of myself or my government to control the actions of this one man. Mr. Misick is a grown man and he is making decisions for himself. I can only assume that he is trying to protect his legal rights and human rights during this investigation, which he is very much entitled to.
However at this point, I will have to remind you that it took the British Government more than a year to fund the investigation against Mr. Misick and a few more years to come up with official charges, and then Mr. Misick was given again more than 9 months to allegedly conceive a child in Brazil, all of which has massively deteriorated chances of bringing a proper judicial process against this one individual into motion. Once again, the current situation is unfortunate for all of us however it is not the time to cast blame on my administration which was just elected less than 5 months ago.
Then let me move on to the issue of VAT, which in itself has stood out as a frightening example of a heavy handed, non-transparent and irresponsible approach to governance executed by the British interim administration, particularly by current Governor Ric Todd and the CFO McGarel-Goves. To implement such a massive new tax burden without proper consultation, against the will of the whole electorate and the whole business community, without any consideration of our economic situation and without any fine-tuning to our specific circumstances, this alone has all the markings of an arbitrary dictatorship and not the flourishing partnership that you cited. I could go on and fill many pages on this topic, however since the whole dilemma is so well documented, I will leave it at that. I will however mention that the recent refusal to sign the VAT repeal bill and to leave the tax hanging over our heads is an unprecedented case in both the TCI and UK legislative process. This has only lead to a further hardening in emotions for my people, which was so easy to avoid had we only been listened to early last year – this is what a flourishing partnership would have easily prevented from happening.
To close my response, let me make clear that we stick with our call to recall Governor Ric Todd and the Attorney General, and that we are relieved that the current CFO is leaving and will hopefully be replace by an individual that has an ear for our concerns and a heart for our country. The country is spiraling out of control with Ric Todd at the helm. Not only has he alienated every political and religious denomination in this country, he has caused much sorrow and distress for my long suffering people. We are a forgiving people but in his case, too many lines have been crossed, and too much disrespect has been displayed towards our country and culture. On top of that, we are faced with a deteriorating health situation and a rise in crime which has lead to the historic Travel Advisory by the US embassy issued yesterday. We are thriving to accomplish a flourishing relationship with the UK, however this will only be possible with a new set of representatives and a fresh new beginning.
Let me conclude by reiterating my believe that not all is lost, and that the TCI and the UK can move forward as a partnership between equals, and that we can learn from each other rather than pull each other down. There is a lot that is still to be achieved to improve our relationship, and we will not turn down any honest attempt to assist us and pave the road to the future. I hope this open discourse will set the foundation for a process that ultimately leads to the achievement of our goals.
Rayer

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Genel News

Falkland Islands Referendum For The Future

Falklands referendum, 10-11 March

March 7, 2013
Published by Leigh Turner,General Consul UK,in Istanbul Turkey

Stanley from Mt Tumbledown, Falklands

In June 2012 the Falkland Islands announced their intention to hold a referendum in order to give the Falkland Islanders their say on the future.

The referendum will take place on 10-11 March. Some background is here, including the full question which will be put (which includes the notably clear text: Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom? YES or NO).

This is fascinating and important stuff. I worked on British Overseas Territories a few years ago and had the privilege of visiting the Islands, and meeting the islanders – an outstanding group of people. Just under a year ago I wrote a blog about the Falklands. Here is the text of that blog (for Turkish version see link above):

The Falklands: a way forward?

I’m sitting next to a senior diplomat from a respected European country at dinner when conversation turns to the Falkland Islands, known to Spanish speakers as the Malvinas. “A key fact,” I say, “is that the 3,000 people who live in the Islands want to remain British.”

“Ah,” says the top diplomat. “But how do you know that? Opinion surveys can always be manipulated.”

This comment surprises me. I ask whether the diplomat knows from which country the people who live in the Falkland Islands originate or what language they speak; has ever spoken to a Falkland Islander; or has ever been to the Islands. The answer in every case is no.

In a way, it’s not surprising that, 30 years after the Argentine invasion and occupation of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia led to the tragic loss of 255 British and 649 Argentine military personnel, even some top diplomats don’t know much about the Falklands. The Islands are a long way from most places – including over 1500km from Buenos Aires. It’s easy to imagine that they fit neatly into some kind of post-colonial template, with an indigenous population straining under the yoke of colonial masters.

In fact the Falkland Islands are known as the Islas Malvinas in Spanish because the first people to establish a colony on the Islands were French people from the Breton port of Saint-Malo in 1764 (the French called the Islands the Iles Malouines). Before this there was no indigenous population on the Islands. The British arrived in 1765 and claimed sovereignty. At this time, Argentina did not exist – the Argentinean Declaration of Independence was issued by the Congress of Tucuman in 1816.

In 1767 Spain arrived in the Islands and gradually built up its presence. In 1776 the British left, leaving behind a plaque asserting continued sovereignty. Spain continued to rule the Islands from Buenos Aires until 1811, when they too departed, also leaving a plaque. The following years saw various people come and go, including the United States and numerous whaling ships. There was no Argentine claim to sovereignty until 1832, when Argentina, now independent, set up a short-lived settlement. This was followed by a return of the British in 1833 who again asserted British sovereignty. The Islands have remained British ever since, with the exception of the 74 days after the Argentine invasion on 2 April 1982.

For the next century or so, there was no dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina about the sovereignty of the Islands. Indeed, in 1850 the two countries ratified a convention for the settlement of existing differences, thus acknowledging that there was no territorial dispute between them. During those years many people, most from the United Kingdom, came to live in the Falklands.

In the late 20th Century, at a time when democracy in Argentina was weak, the country began to reassert its sovereignty over the Falklands. This culminated in 1982 in Argentine forces invading and occupying the Islands; and in the British action to recover them. The Argentine government does not now assert that the invasion was right: on the contrary, it states that the invasion was a tragic mistake made by a military dictatorship which cost the lives of many conscript soldiers.

In 1994, Argentina incorporated its claim to the Islands in the Argentine Constitution, stating that this claim should be pursued in a manner “respectful of the way of life of the Islanders and according to the principles of international law.”

Since then, Argentine policies towards the Falklands have varied. In the 1990s, perceiving that the Islanders were suspicious of Argentine intentions after the 1982 invasion, the Argentine government pursued a policy of seeking to gain the Islanders’ trust, for example by making travel to and from the Islands easier and by launching discussions with the United Kingdom about management of fish and squid stocks (squid, having no sense of national boundaries, migrate annually between Argentine and Falkland territorial waters).

In the past decade, however, Argentina appears to have abandoned its policy of trying to win the trust of the Islanders and to have developed a policy of making life as difficult for them as possible. This has included making it hard for cargo ships to travel between the South American mainland and the Falklands; preventing cruise ships which have docked in the Falklands from visiting Argentina; taking action against businesses involved in oil exploration in the Falklands; and so on. The policy seems designed to put economic pressure on the Islanders in the hope this will make them want to negotiate about sovereignty.

These policies have not helped to build trust in Argentine intentions on the Islands. This is unfortunate because the most important fact governing the future of the Islands is the principle and right of self-determination enshrined in Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations. This means that, if the people of the Falklands wish to remain British, there is no question of the British Government forcing them to be anything else. This is why the UK has said that it will only talk to Argentina about the future of the Islands if the people of the Falklands wish this to happen.

What could happen next? The people of the Falkland Islands are keen to trade and have people-to-people links with Argentina and the rest of South America, as happened frequently before 1982 (when some Argentines, for example, lived on the Islands as Spanish teachers). In a 21st century interconnected world, open trade and improved communications benefit everyone. I’ve been to the Falklands and met many of the Islanders. Their main goal is to get on with their lives.

I’ve also been to Buenos Aires. I have no doubt of the strength of feeling amongst ordinary Argentineans about the Argentine claim to sovereignty. This is not surprising, since the Argentine claim is part of the school syllabus in Argentina and the subject is a mainstay of political discourse there. But, as we all know, strength of feeling does not necessarily have a direct relationship with being right or wrong. The key question is what could be done to move the process forwards.

How could relations between Argentina and the Islands be normalised? One suggestion often put forward would be for Argentina to stop trying to put pressure on the Islanders and instead to be nice to them – in other words, to recognise their democratically expressed views. The events of the last 30 years mean it will not be easy to rebuild trust. But rebuilding trust is vital if there is to be any long-term normalisation of the relationship between the Islands and the South American mainland. That does not mean the Islanders will automatically start wanting to talk about sovereignty – I could see no sign of that at all when I visited the Islands a couple of years ago. But history shows that charm offensives with no pre-determined outcomes are almost always a better way to win friends and influence people than the reverse.

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BREAKING NEWS Genel News People

DEMOCRACY IS IN DANGER IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS AND I AM A VICTIM

Democracy is in danger in Turks and Caicos Islands and I am a victim of this.

In July 2008 The Governor of Turks and Caicos – representing the UK Government – appointed a Commission to conduct an Inquiry into “possible corruption or other dishonesty” in Government. Hearings were held – presided over by His Lordship, Mr. Justice Sir Robin Auld – in January of 2009, concluding in February of the same year. In August 2009, His Excellency, then the Governor of the Turks and Caicos islands, Gordon Wetherell brought into force an Order in Council suspending portions of the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution. Under this move Ministerial Government, and the House of Assembly – which is the only means of representing the people – was dissolved and all representative seats were vacated, with the promise of elections in 24 months. Amongst the astounding changes was that the basic right in the European Declaration of Human Rights to a Trial by Jury was also suspended, and confirmed recently by law. The sole political power in the Turks and Caicos Islands is now the Governor, appointed by the British government. He has appointed an Advisory Council and a Consultative Forum. However, as the appointment documents make clear, the Governor has no obligation to follow or regard their recommendations. This undemocratic move, which is totally inconsistent with Article I of the United Nation’s Charter on the Right to Self-Determination, is still the case in Turks and Caicos, and still, now nearly 2 and a half years later.

And still there is no date for elections.

My involvement in the Turks and Caicos dates from early 2005. In June of that year we purchased a private island called Dellis Cay, to develop a USD$1 billion project with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and villas with world famous architects – including Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, Kengo Kuma, Shigeru Ban, Piero Lissoni and Carl Ettenspenger. The development proceeded in an unremarkable fashion, with usual succession of planning permits, from the start construction date of June 2008 to October 2009. A mixture of funds from my own resources, sales of residential units and loans from the Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation funded the development.

In June of 2008, we bought a second island, Joe Grant Cay, from the Crown (The government of Turks and Caicos), presented the deal structure to the British Governor of Turks and Caicos – who was then His Excellency Richard Tauwhare – with the development agreement signed in November of 2008 by the new Governor, His Excellency Gordon Wetherell, with the objective of developing a resort with Bulgari Hotel and Villas.

In January 2009, in the course of hearings by the Commission of Inquiry, the Premier of Turks and Caicos disclosed political contributions by several businessperson and companies toward his party’s elections, two years before, in 2007. He disclosed a political contribution made by our company as well; which is normal all over the world, including in Britain.

Neither the Inquiry, nor the Judge, nor the Governor made any request of me, or my representatives to provide answers about these contributions. Yet, our actions were remarked upon adversely in the Commission’s report.

In June 2009, we asked the High Court of Turks and Caicos Islands to undertake a Judicial Review of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry, with the result that the Supreme Court called for the removal of any and all adverse references to my or our companies. In his ruling the Chief Justice agreed with us, that there was a “Clear and almost total failure by the Commission to follow its own procedures”. His Lordship stated further that I had not been given a fair hearing, and said that if any adverse statements were included in the Final Report, they should not be published.

It must be understood that even though this court is in Turks and Caicos, it is an English court, applying English law and procedures. Yet, four (4) weeks later, in July of 2009, the Final Report was published, with text unredacted, so that the adverse statements made about me and my companies, which were judged to have been unfair and unlawful, were made public; even after the Chief Justice ruled they should not be published.

Despite my attempts to cooperate and assist the lending bank for our projects to understand the issues relating to the Commission of Inquiry and their unlawful published reports, it was no longer possible to avoid the entrance into Receivership of the Dellis Cay project in favour of the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation in October 2009.

This failure of the Commission to follow the law has therefore done me harm because I provided personal guarantee to the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation.

Since that time – January 2010 – the bank has obtained a worldwide freezing order against me. The Attorney General of Turks and Caicos issued a Writ and Statement of Claim regarding Joe Grant Cay in July 2010.

I have appealed both actions.

After three (3) years, in October 2011, I was finally able to explain my side of the allegations of bribery for the political contributions above. In the meantime, my assets in Dellis Cay and the assets of buyers in that development have been destroyed; even though I have never bribed anyone in Turks and Caicos, or anywhere else.

I have been made a victim of the politics of Turks and Caicos. In English law, the saying is that “justice must not only be done, but it must be…seen to be done”. I speak now to warn that this is not the case in Turks and Caicos and to say that human rights, and property rights, democracy and justice are under threat in Turks and Caicos

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Genel News

No Democracy with Debt in Grand Turk

Regarding Caribbean News Now Minister for International Development Alan Duncan said Britain had been “firm but fair” by telling the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) it could have elections once it sorted out its budget deficit.

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Minister for International Development Alan Duncan

In December 2010, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) minister with responsibility for the Overseas Territories, Henry Bellingham, announced a formal list of “milestones” to be passed before the TCI can return to internal self-government, following the imposition of direct rule by Britain in 2009.

The eight requirements include:

— Constitutional reform
— New legislation covering elections, integrity in office 
— Public financial management reform
— Balanced public budgets
— Reform of laws for granting belongership
— Progress with criminal prosecutions and civil recovery, plus support for continuing investigations beyond the next election
— Crown Land policy reform
— Civil service reform

“We’ve been firm but fair – the understanding we have is that if the islands can meet eight milestones, which include governance and reforming the public sector, but of course, crucially, getting the budget deficit into surplus, then they’ll be able to have elections again…” Duncan said.

“They’ve had to reform the public sector yes, they’ve had to sack some people… The governor – and I have to say the people of the Turks and Caicos — have been very good at facing great austerity, but if we get it back on course, then their politics will be back on course as well,” he added.

Duncan described how he had discovered the problem.

“George Osborne went into his office and there was a bit of paper saying ‘there isn’t any money’. Well, on my first day as Minister for International Development, I went into mine and there was a bit of paper saying ‘Minister, the Turks and Caicos Islands have got a budget deficit of £30m and it’s growing’,” he said.

The Department for International Development (DfID) is the department which, under the International Development Act, has the duty of care for the finances of Britain’s overseas territories and Duncan said he had “to leap into action and say you know, we’ve got to cut this deficit.” 

He acknowledged that the British government wants to have elections in the TCI in 2012 but he said, “We’ve got to get the money right first – otherwise we, DfID, the government here, are going to have a massive bill.”

“So we are really doing … is trying to turn around a massive mountain of debt and getting the money back on track,” he said.

posted in Caribbean News now 13.02.2012