British Virgin Islands

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

CARICOM blasts UK, Ex-Gov Jaspert over secretive CoI launch

CARICOM blasts UK, Ex-Gov Jaspert over secretive CoI launch

The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) has broken its silence over the secretive nature of the Virgin Islands (VI) Commission of Inquiry (CoI) as established by the former controversial Governor, Augustus J.U. Jasper in collaboration with the British Government days before he demitted office.

Announced on January 18, 2021, the inquiry was called over unfounded allegations of corruption and discrimination in the VI public service, with the embattled ex-governor having no consultations with the duly elected local government ahead of the decision.

At a noon press conference on January 22, 2021, in the ‘Tortola Room’ of the Arbitration Centre in Wickham’s Cay II, Mr Jaspert brought forward no evidence of the allegations, however, said it was based on reports from the 'community' and several others.

At a 12:00 pm press conference held on January 22, 2021, in the ‘Tortola Room’ of the Arbitration Centre, Wickham’s Cay II, Tortola, Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert, left, brought forward no evidence of the allegations, however, said that the evidence was based on reports from the 'community' and several others. Right is CoI Commissioner Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom.


CARICOM breaks silence


CARICOM in a statement today, February 26, 2021, has since broken its silence and said they were in receipt of a letter from Premier Andrew A. Fahie (R1) which apprised of the manner in which the announcement of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) was made.

“Heads of Government are cognizant of the disquiet that has arisen among the people of the British Virgin Islands about the establishment of the COI,” the statement noted.

“Further, the Heads of Government are dismayed at the manner in which the CoI was established with no consultation, or prior communication, between the UK government and the duly-elected government of the British Virgin Islands,” CARICOM said.

Premier Andrew A. Fahie on January 19, 2021, informed that while his administration had no objection to a transparent CoI, he said Ex-Governor Augustus J.U. Jaspert had always told local Cabinet Members, that due process must be followed ahead of any inquiry.


Associate members share VI’s concerns – CARICOM


The regional organisation further revealed that the strongly expressed concerns of the Fahie Government are also concerns shared by other Associate Members of the Community.

The statement, however, did not say how CARICOM intends to move forward with those concerns as a regional organisation given that the VI is currently an Associate Member.

Meanwhile, Premier Fahie on January 19, 2021, informed that while his administration had no objection to a transparent CoI, he said Ex-Governor Jaspert had always told local Cabinet Members, that due process must be followed ahead of any inquiry.

He said the ex-Governor advised “that before a Commission of Inquiry can be convened, that to ensure due process, all Government institutions established to ensure accountability, transparency and Good Governance must be allowed to function and produce their reports,” however, the controversial Mr Jaspert may not have followed his recommendations.

VI Auditor General, Ms Sonia M. Webster, when asked on January 20, 2021, whether she furnished the Office of the Governor with any recent report to facilitate his CoI, said her office had not done so.


No recent reports were sent to Governor's office – AG Webster


VI Auditor General, Ms Sonia M. Webster, when asked on January 20, 2021, whether she furnished the Office of the Governor with any recent report to facilitate his CoI, said her office had not done so.

Ex-Governor Jaspert at his January 22, 2021, press conference in the ‘Tortola Room’ also could not say whether he received written reports from any Government institutions to warrant the CoI.

The former controversial Governor also angered sections of the VI over what many deemed as insensitive and even racist statements, when he advocated for the preservation of names and local landmarks in honour of perpetrators of slavery who slaughtered, raped and killed the ancestors of Virgin Islanders.

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