UN Hearing, Testimony by Turks and Caicos Citizens on British Dictatorship, UK's "assault on human r
Members of the Turks and Caicos Forum, Alpha Gibbs and Ben Roberts, called upon the United Nations Special Committee to intervene on what they call UK government and human rights abuses in Turks and Caicos.
After nearly two years of hushed direct rule and democracy abuses by the United Kingdom in Turks and Caicos, this all party forum appealed at the United Nations hearing on 23 June, 2011 speaking of the dire conditions under British rule.
Earlier this month, the UK decided to impose a new constitution on the island nation without a vote by the citizens. The new constitution gives the UK unfettered decision making power as well as the only power to grant voting rights to non-citizen residents to accommodate what the UK says is the growing foreign population and the needs of the islands' stakeholders. The Turks and Caicos forum, at that time, wrote Henry Bellingham of the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office opposing the UK constitution and the undemocratic process of passing of the new UK constitution.
The passing of the new constitution is not the only problem, the two representatives that attended the hearing before the UN Special Committee on 23 June, also had some harsh words to say about widespread UK government abuses in Turks and Caicos. They said that suspending the Turks and Caicos government was improper, that the new UK government is a dictatorship and that the citizens are suffering blatant human rights abuses. They said,"The [UK] Interim Government and the British Advisers it Employed made decisions at will, using favouritism, bias and 'quiet deception'".
The entire speech at the UN hearing was a very damning account of British abuse in Turks and Caicos. Here is the speech by Alpha Gibbs and Ben Roberts:
"The Special Committee then turned its attention to the question of Turks and Caicos Islands, hearing first from ALPHA GIBBS, on behalf of the Turks and Caicos Forum. He said he was appearing before the Special Committee in order to discuss the “blatant unchecked, unmonitored failures” of the islands’ administering Power, the United Kingdom. Since the United Nations special mission to the Turks and Caicos in April 2006, the circumstances of the islands had changed for the worse. In that light, he invited the Special Committee to strongly consider executing another special mission in the very near future, noting that the deteriorated governance conditions and political uncertainty of the Territory required an impartial assessment.
In the past years, he said, at least five British parliamentarians had been tried and convicted of fraud while in office, as well as two peers from the House of Lords and three parliamentarians from the House of Commons. It was noteworthy that neither the indictments nor the convictions had resulted in the suspension of parliamentary democracy, as had a similar situation in the Turks and Caicos. In contrast, as a result of the suspicion of guilt on the part of a few parliamentarians in the Turks and Caicos, the islands were now subjected to an “interim dictatorship”, presided over by the British.
Under that arrangement, the Governor had failed to provide good governance and oversight, which were required under the prior constitution of Turks and Caicos, he went on. Among examples of poor governance were the lack of access of citizens of Turks and Caicos to any avenue of redress for grievances against the interim government; the lack of ability for citizens to voice any dissent; and the lack of transparency in processes for the allocation of Government resources and benefits; among others. The citizens of Turks and Caicos still felt marginalized as they had not been adequately represented by the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Adviser to the Turks and Caicos.
He said that in light of the current situation, the Turks and Caicos Forum requested the Special Committee to inquire of and demand that the United Kingdom provide an improved explanation of its “assault on human rights” in that Territory. It further requested that the Special Committee persuade the United Kingdom to present a definitive timetable with meaningful benchmarks for the achievement of the milestones promulgated by the Minister of Overseas Territories. It also called on the United Nations, through its various organs and committees, to establish a monitoring team to provide oversight and hold the United Kingdom accountable to its obligation in the Turks and Caicos.
BENJAMIN ROBERTS, Turks and Caicos Forum, a non-governmental organization, said that in 2009, a “damning” Commission of Inquiry, called for by the Crown, had uncovered the probability of corruption in the islands’ governance. But the British Governor and the British-provided Attorney General had not been subjected to that inquiry and, thus, had been allowed to “hit the exits”. The situation had worsened from there, as for the first time, Turks and Caicos citizens now faced layoffs, taxation and the shutdown of longstanding lucrative avenues of income generation. The Interim Government and the British advisers it employed made decisions at will, using favouritism, bias and “quiet deception”.
Moreover, he said, the Interim Government had made almost no effort to draw from the skilled Turks and Caicos professionals living abroad in the so-called rehabilitation of the Territory. Worst of all had been the British Government’s “shocking” decision last week to invite a Turks and Caicos delegation to London to make the final adjustments to a draft constitution — as it was the British alone who decided with whom they wanted to meet.
He went on to say that the principals had included leaders of both political parties, the head of the Consultative Forum, a member of the Advisory Council, a minister of the gospel, a youth ambassador and the head of the All Party Commission — none of whom, except the last member, had met with the public to share their views on the document. One could not help but ask on what grounds the British concluded it was their prerogative to host a negotiating team of their choice.
“The situation is grave in this Territory,” he declared. The administering Power, after a long absence, had re-inserted itself into the Territory, and the problem was that “no one is overseeing the overseers”. He again urged the Special Committee to ensure that the administering Power abided by its obligations to usher Turks and Caicos forward in a progressive manner “out of its slumber of colonialism into a fruitful era of nationhood”. He recommended that it deputize a group — such as his forum — to serve under the Special Committee’s auspices as an observer to catalogue the concerns of Turks and Caicos residents and present them to members for review, which would help guard against abuse by an unquestioned administering Power."
Tags: Turks , Caicos , British , UK , United Nations , Un , Ben Roberts , Alpha Gibbs , Overseas Territories , Dictatorship
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