British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Jun 23, 2021

‘Undemocratic & secretive’ VI CoI blasted in regional media report

‘Undemocratic & secretive’ VI CoI blasted in regional media report

The secretively launched Virgin Islands (VI) Commission of Inquiry (CoI) announced by embattled Ex-Governor, Augustus J.U. Jaspert continues to face widespread criticism from across the region regarding how it was established.

CARICOM in a statement on February 26, 2021, said “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.”

And now, a media report out of Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) has shone the spotlight on the VI CoI as compared to the TCI, where the 2008-2009 inquiry launch there was widely supported and done in consultation with the then government, ahead of its launch, as compared to the VI inquiry.

Caribbean News Global (CNG) a regional publication in a March 26, 2021 article entitled 'British Commission of Inquiry in BVI bears similarities to Turks and Caicos except one,' said while there are similarities between the ongoing VI CoI and the one that took place in the TCI, like Caricom, the publication pointed out glaring concerns with how the VI CoI was established.

CARICOM in a statement on February 26, 2021, said “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.


TCI CoI had support before launch


“The Commission of Inquiry launched in the TCI had the support of a wide cross-section of the islands business and civil society and included the opposition party, but in the BVI no local support existed for the inquiry before the announcement,” the CNG report detailed.

VI Premier, Andrew A. Fahie on January 19, 2021, informed that while his administration had no objection to a transparent CoI, he said the embattled 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.

However, the controversial Mr Jaspert did not follow his recommendations and sought to announce the CoI in a dramatic manner, allegedly in collusion with the UK press; without informing the VI government ahead of that announcement.

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


No consultations in VI


Further, the regional CNG publication also pointed out that the sole UK selected Commissioner, Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom; a UK national, was also appointed without local consultation, in a similar nature to the launch of the local inquiry.

“In TCI, the outcry and calls for a commission of inquiry were very loud and clear from all segments of society including many of The People’s National Party (PNP) supporters and former officers. Visits were made to the territory by the foreign affairs committee, which called for the inquiry into the TCI; compared to a sole governor who had a history of a tense relationship with local officials who took issue with his personality,” the report said.

Former TCI Premier Michael E. Misick whose government was ousted by the 2008-2009 TCI inquiry said the UK government has shown a pattern of going after black Caribbean leaders who stand up to them. He said like Premier Fahie, those leaders are usually pro-independence and want a self-determined future for their people.


UK targeting strong C’bean Leaders – Misick


The publication characterized Premier Fahie as a no-nonsense leader who is still cooperating with the CoI, understands the wishes of his people and was at the forefront in the march against British imposition of open registers of companies in the BVI.

Former TCI Premier Michael E. Misick whose government was ousted and the constitution suspended by the 2008-2009 TCI inquiry said the UK government has shown a pattern of going after black Caribbean leaders who stand up to them.

Misick in a Monday, February 15, 2021, interview with 284 Media said like Premier Fahie, the leaders who are usually targeted by the UK are pro-independence and want a self-determined future for their people.

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