British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

UK has duty to help VI achieve its political aspirations

UK has duty to help VI achieve its political aspirations

Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities and 5th District Representative in the Virgin Islands (VI) House of Assembly (HoA), Hon Kye M. Rymer has reminded that the United Kingdom (UK) must help the territory achieve its aspirations as a people.

The Minister was at the time speaking during the January 5, 2021, House of Assembly debate on the proposed Disaster Management Bill 2019, at Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff's Bottom, Tortola, where he illustrated that moves to have local government achieve more autonomy should be supported by the UK as an obligation.

“If the preamble to our constitution is not convincing enough or is not enough jurisdiction then, Mr Speaker, perhaps we should reference the United Kingdom's obligation to the Virgin Islands that is penned in United Nations Charter,” he said.

Governor Augustus J.U. Jaspert has been accused of meddling in the affairs of local government and hampering the territory's economic progression.

UK must help VI develop progressively - Hon Rymer

Hon Rymer continued, “Mr Speaker, in article 73 of the UN Charter, it calls on the United Kingdom to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspiration of the people and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its people and their various stages of advancement.”

According to the Minister, the UK should strive to build a world free of colonialism and is supposed to assist the VI in achieving its aspiration as a people, as stated in the VI constitution and the UN charter.

However, even as the Legislature has indicated that the UK is duty-bound to help the VI achieve more autonomy, over the years, legislators have complained that the UK has instead been in a constant power struggle with the territory over new areas of economic development.

The United Kingdom has been accused of neglecting its responsibility to help the Virgin Islands achieve political autonomy.

Local Gov't rendered powerless in some situations - Legislators

Further, the outgoing Governor, H.E Augustus J.U. Jaspert, as a representative of Her Majesty The Queen, has been accused of meddling in the affairs of local government and refusing to assent to bills aimed at improving the economy of the Territory.

One of such bills stalled by the Governor is the VI Cannabis Licensing Act 2020, which is aimed at setting the framework for the Virgin Islands to start its medical marijuana industry.

Legislators like Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) and Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) have complained of being rendered powerless in situations like disasters when the local elected representatives should be on the forefront of disaster relief efforts.

Hon Rymer said that as the VI moves to review its constitution, the territory should be able to do more to manage its own affairs. He added that it is the hope the UK would assist the territory to enrich its destiny and achieve its political aspirations.


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