British Virgin Islands

Sunday, Aug 01, 2021

Health Minister rebukes ‘blunt instrument’ of CoI

Health Minister rebukes ‘blunt instrument’ of CoI

Minister for Health and Social Development Hon Carvin Malone (AL) has blasted the ongoing Commission of Inquiry called by controversial ex-governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert, saying that a review of governance would have been better served.

Honourable Malone expressed his sentiments during his opening statement to the Commission of Inquiry on June 21, 2021.

The Health Minister noted that while the ultimate goal of the CoI is to fulfil the Terms of Reference, as outlined in the appointment letter, it is by contrast, his ultimate goal to fulfill his duty as a democratically elected representative of the Virgin Islands, “part of which is to educate, protect and defend the political, economic and social advances gained by present and past leaders of the Virgin Islands, our fathers and our forefathers and to fulfil the needs and aspiration of the People of the Virgin Islands, generations past, present and future.”

Many in the Virgin Islands see the Commission of Inquiry as an imperialist move to possibly impose direct rule and set back the territory's constitutional advancement, as has been seen in other Overseas Territories. The takeover is usually initiated with a CoI called under allegations of corruption and then a suspension of the territory's constitution as was the case in the Turks and Caicos Islands.


A slap in the face?


Ironically, the CoI was called just a month after the Virgin Islands House of Assembly (HoA) met in honour of the 70th anniversary of the restoration of the legislature in the Virgin Islands and the same day recognised by the United States and some in the Virgin Islands as Martin Luther King Jr Day- January 18, 2021.

Hon Malone added it is predicted that, though not originally envisaged, the final Commission of Inquiry Report would serve as a blueprint for the UK’s discharge of its obligation to prepare the Virgin Islands for future political advancement.

Is UK committed to UN declarations?


“As with all other Administrating Powers, this is what the United Kingdom committed to and is obligated to provide under Resolution 66(1) of Chapter XI of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Under Chapter XI of the Charter of the United Nations, the Non-Self-Governing Territories are defined as "territories whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government”.

The General Assembly, on February 9, 1946, approved a resolution on Non-Self-Governing Peoples.

Among other things, members of the United Nations are to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement.

Members are also to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitation as security and constitutional considerations may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social, and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible for.

'Blunt instrument'


“This, I contend, would have been better served in a review of governance in the Virgin Islands as opposed to this blunt instrument of a Commission of Inquiry being conducted without disclosure of the specifics represented to United Kingdom officials by Governor Jaspert, upon which it relies,” Hon Malone stated.

“These allegations were however issued in a statement in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State, Dominic Raab on January 18, 2021 and carried widely in British Press,” Hon Malone added.

There have also been concerns and speculations as to why Mr Jaspert is not part of the CoI or has not been called to give evidence.

Political pundits said the absence of such a critical element as Mr Jaspert further undermines the credibility of the CoI.

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