Just two weeks before the scheduled conclusion of the Commission of Inquiry (COI), the Commission has yet again been extended.
Governor John Rankin
made the announcement in a press statement moments ago.
He said: “I have today informed the Honourable Premier that in discussion with the Commissioner, Sir Gary Hickinbottom
, I have granted a further three-month extension to the COI
, to April 2022, to enable the Commissioner and his team to prepare and deliver his final report.”
“I believe it is right that this process is completed carefully and methodically and to ensure that a complete report is delivered into the areas of concern that the Commission is addressing. Good Governance is paramount to the success of any country and I remain committed to supporting the CoI
in helping to achieve this for the Virgin Islands
,” Governor Rankin further explained.
According to the governor, the extension is because of what he indicated to be the large volume of documents the COI
has to comb through to deliver the final report.
He said the COI
has received a huge amount of documentation from the Inquiry Response Unit (IRU) on behalf of the Attorney General’s Chambers, as well as information provided by residents.
“Many of the documents are likely to be used in support of the Commissioner’s report, and his team continue to work with the IRU to ensure that any redaction applications they make (to remove or blank out information) are dealt with, so the final report is transparent and to enable its full publication.”
“Both the volume of documents involved and the time taken for the redaction applications to be made and considered have had an impact on the Commissioner’s ability to finalise his report and supporting documentation within the current timeframe.”
The Commission of Inquiry
was issued on January 19, 2021 to look into whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty may have taken place amongst public, elected and statutory officials in recent years; and to make appropriate recommendations as to governance and the operation of the law enforcement and justice systems in the BVI.
Those recommendations were originally supposed to be submitted to the governor six months after the COI
was called. However, the Commissioner Hickinbottom
later sought more time and was granted an extension to produce his final report on the one-year anniversary date of the COI
being issued. That anniversary date would have been January 19, 2022.