British Virgin Islands

Monday, Sep 20, 2021

We’re compliant! Gov’t submits nearly 4K documents to COI already

We’re compliant! Gov’t submits nearly 4K documents to COI already

In an effort to fully comply with the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI), Premier Andrew Fahie said his government has already disclosed nearly 4,000 official documents to the investigating team led by UK judge, Sir Gary Hickinbottom.
The documents were disclosed through the Inquiry Response Unit (IRU) that the government set up to facilitate the flow of information to the COI.

Premier Fahie said the government could have held back some documents because of possible issues of confidentiality, legal professional privilege or public interest immunity.

But the Premier said his administration did not hold these documents from the COI. Instead, he said his government asked the COI to ensure that these documents were treated with much confidentiality.

Although the government has complied with nearly everything, Fahie revealed that the IRU refused to give the COI sensitive information relating to personal hardships faced by some people after the 2017 hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This refusal was made after the COI requested personal details of persons who had received a grant from the government during the times of these disasters.

“The IRU, therefore, informed the Commissioner’s team that it would only provide the sensitive information of individuals if a legal justification were given. At that point, I’m glad to say the Commissioner’s team agreed — for now — to accept the IRU’s proposal and withdraw its request for the indiscriminate disclosure of the hundreds of personal and human tragedies that we know Irma and coronavirus have caused the people of the Virgin Islands,” Premier Fahie explained.

He added: “That was the first and only time when the IRU had said it would not divulge official information and only then because it so intimately affects the lives of Virgin Islanders and no adequate basis has so far been given [on why the COI believes it should get this information].”

The Premier said much work goes into satisfying the requests made by the COI. But he said this work is being managed effectively by the IRU which falls under the Office of the Attorney General.

“Indeed none of these systematic and organised efforts to which I have referred could have taken place within these very short time scales unless the government had made the commitments it had to the COI and then implemented them through the IRU,” Premier Fahie indicated.

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