Letter to Rt Hon William Hague-Premier of the Turks and Caicos Calls for the recall of the Governor, the AG and the CFO
February 10, 2013
Rt. Hon. William Hague
First Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Dear Hon. Hague,
I take this opportunity to write to you in your capacity as first Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with overall responsibility for the Governance of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Hon. Hague as stated in my address to Minister Simmonds and Members present at the recently held Joint Ministerial Council, I thank the UK Government for the restoration of democracy in the Turks and Caicos Islands through the holding of elections that have enabled the establishment of a democratically elected Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Hon Hague, I however expressed our concerns as it relates to the good governance of the territory during this current post election period. As a newly elected government we are committed to good governance and the rule of law, but adherence to such principles should apply to all persons, at all levels of government, including the Governor and Attorney General.
Hon. Hague, I recalled attending a town hall meeting in early 2012 hosted by the Governor. Amongst the matters tabled at this meeting was the issue relating to VAT. At that meeting, there were several members of the community who expressed their displeasure at the arrogant and dictatorial manner in which the Governor handled the affairs of the country. At the end of the meeting I posed a simple question to the Governor, “Would an elected Government be able to repeal and reverse any of the laws and decisions of the Interim Administration?” His answer was simply, “Yes as long as it is in conformation with the Constitution and the law”. The answer was perfect, and he said it with a chuckle. Hon. Hague, this brings me to this point, our current Constitution.
Hon. Hague, many of the current atrocities and wrongful acts that are being committed by the Governor and the Attorney General are being done contrary to the stated principals and ideals of our Constitution and international laws of human rights, and some of these acts are being perpetrated under the cover of the Constitution. These actions seriously bring into question, both the character of these individuals, as well as questioning elements of the Constitution, its legality and its fairness.
Hon. Hague, the Turks and Caicos Constitution Order 2011, is not a Constitution of the people, by the people or for the people, and hence it should be amended and advanced, and we should start this process immediately through the proper procedures and dialogue. In the interim, we would expect that the territory of Turks and Caicos be governed by the 2011 Constitution, but with fairness, and the real best interest of the people, as expressed by themselves or through their elected government. This position has been articulated on many occasions in the past. It was stated on many occasions on behalf of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, that the very suspension of the 2006 Constitution was unnecessary. It was well established that there were many other options available to address alleged corruption and maladministration of a government of which the former Governor Tauwhare, was at the centre and head. During the Interim Administration, the Governor had absolute power, and exercised this power, regardless of the expressed wishes of the people of our country! During this period, there was a total disregard for the Constitution with respect to the appointment of a Belonger Deputy Governor. In the absence of the Governor, other members of the Interim Administration were appointed as Acting Governor, in direct contravention of the constitutional order laid down. There was the passage of an Appropriations Bill by the Governor himself. We also witnessed the passage of other laws, such as trial without jury, the hearsay and equality law, components of which go against our principles as a Christian Nation. During the period of the Intermin Administration, the Governor became comfortable to a dictatorial style of rule. Now, however, in the presence the newly elected repreventative government, the Governor and other remaning officials from the former administration, the Attorney General and the Chief Financial Officer, have demonstrated a reluctance to facilitate the transition of governance back to the the people of this country.
Hon. Hague, the alleged wrongdoings of members of the former PNP Administration and associates is quickly being exposed as being a farce, impregnated with cloak and dagger acts on the part of the Governor, AG Chambers and SIPT, to incarcerate Turks and Caicos Islanders at all costs, even at the cost of the violation of the principles of justice and the human rights of individuals. There is now a growing focus by the regional and international community on this matter, as blatant acts of “justice for sale” have been conducted here in the TCI under the disguise of plea bargaining. Such cases include many well-known expatriate developers who have secured their freedom from prosecution, both by monetary exchange under the guise of “Civil Recovery” and by providing evidence against accused local politician “co-conspirators”. Hon Hague, the sale of justice is not an example of good governance! Furthermore, it is quite evident that the Governor is deeply involved with the day to day operations of the SIPT, hence, is subject to impaired judgment, or has questionable motives in overseeing the affairs of this country.
Hon Hague during the period of the Interim Administration, the Governor asented to numerous pieces of legislation and undertook many reforms which were meant to create an environment of good governance and effective and efficient administration during a period of economic downturn. However, these legislations, reforms, austerity measures and tax policies that were implemented in preference to robust revenue strategies resulted in high unemployment, social neglect, large emigration of members of the workforce, abundant business closures and much civil unrest. These effects were coupled with a Governor, who ruled without a social conscience, and had no respect for the business community or indigenous local community, many of whom have publically expressed reciprocal sentiments of the Governor. The Governor and his administration, in their haste to expedite their mandate or agenda ended up violating many principles of good governance that had recently been approved and committed many acts that were similar, or identical to those that members of the previous administration were alleged to have committed. These acts were of such magnitude that even those persons who called for the intervention of the UK Government were calling for the recall of the Governor and regretted the method of intervention by the British.
Hon. Hague, the financial trough that the Turks and Caicos is currently in, due in part to the preferential austerity measures by the Governor is not insurmountable, as the potential of the Turks and Caicos is great and the future is bright. We acknowledge our properly verifiable debt, and are committed to the repayment of this debt. However, the financial strategy for economic growth and loan repayment via VAT that is mandated by the various financial mandates of the CFO and the Governor, are not the way to prosperity. The arguments against VAT in the TCI, and the need for the current method of taxation and economic diversification and growth as avenues to prosperity have all been well articulated by many. The people of this country from all sectors and the representatives of the people, in the House of Assembly, have all said “NO TO VAT” and are all in agreement with the economic strategies put forward by the government. Denial of the expressed wishes of the people, would be a clear indication of democracy not being restored to the people of the TCI!
Hon. Hague as stated already, our beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos has a bright future. But the current Governor, Attorney General and CFO, as remnants of the previous administration are obstacles in the way of prosperity. They never have, and even more so now, enjoyed the trust, confidence and support of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. I am hereby requesting that Governor His Excellency Damian Todd, Attorney General Huw Shepard and the Chief Finanical Officer Hugh McGarrel Groves be recalled and replaced by unbiased individuals, better suited to adapt to and to work synergistically with a democratically elected government, the business community and the local community. This will ensure that all stakeholders will have a fresh start at governing the Turks and Caicos Island in the best interest of our people.
Dr. The Hon. Rufus W. Ewing
Turks and Caicos Islands