HUMAN RIGHTS IN TCI ARE SUSPENDED FOR FIVE YEARS

Written by A.Mark Fulford,Turks and Caicos Islands,on 17th December 2009

Could it really be the UK intentions to withhold the right of freedom of expression to vote for up to five years? This is a discussion worth having.

Deciphering the recent answer by Chris Bryant in the UK Parliament to the question of the recent suspension of human rights legislation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it seems that the UK has no intentions of returning power to the people in 2011.

Bryant states that the UK has gotten approval to withdraw the right of freedom of expression to vote for up to five years from the Governor, the TCI Advisory Council and the TCI Human Rights Commission.

Notice, Bryant did not state that approval was given by the people of the TCI, it cannot be inferred that approval was given by the TCI people simply because the interim government gave approval. The interim government was not elected by the people so they cannot and do not speak on behalf of the people of TCI according to the UN Charter.

Braynt further states that “this withdrawal is for a limited period until reforms have been implemented and elections held by July 2011.”

If the withdrawal is truly only for a limited period until July 2011, then why was it necessary to get FIVE YEARS approval.

READ IT AND YOU BE THE JUDGE.

Turks and Caicos Islands: Human Rights

MR. HOYLE: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the recent suspension of human rights legislation in the Turks and Caicos Islands; and if he will make a statement. [307236]

CHRIS BRYANT: While parts of the constitution have been suspended, the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are still protected under part 1 of the Turks and Caicos Constitution Order 2006, which remains in force. The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Constitution (Interim Amendment) Order 2009 has removed the constitutional right to trial by jury in certain criminal cases.

The Order in Council suspending ministerial Government and the House of Assembly for a period of up to two years was brought into force on 14 August 2009. The order left the human rights provisions of the constitution in place except for the constitutional right to trial by jury in TCI, which was suspended. This provides the possibility in future of having trials by judge alone in the TCI Supreme Court in appropriate cases. This is wholly consistent with the European convention on human rights, which does not require trial by jury. A number of countries have criminal trials without a jury and even in the UK there is no right to trial by jury in every case.

On suspension of the House of Assembly, the UK withdrew its acceptance of protocol 1, article 3 of the European convention on human rights in respect of the Turks and Caicos Islands, which requires contracting parties to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature. However, this withdrawal is for a limited period until reforms have been implemented and elections held by July 2011.

With the approval of the Governor, the TCI Advisory Council and the TCI Human Rights Commission, the right of individual petition, which had previously been accepted in respect of TCI for FIVE YEARS was accepted on a permanent basis in October.

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