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Big 18 rolled out; recommendations would return Turks and Caicos to ‘strongest constitution ever’

Photo by TCIG Press Office

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – November 6, 2018 – The PDM Government is moving to get 18 amendments to the Turks and Caicos 2011 Constitution; the document has long been cited as ‘regressive’ and this latest thrust by the near two-year old PDM administration is bold and seeks to have more power put in the hands of the people elected as opposed to the people appointed.

If Premier Sharlene Robinson and her delegation, which is due to meet with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on December 6, 2018, get their way for the Turks and Caicos people then it will mean an end to voting rights for the UK-appointed Attorney General and Deputy Governor in Cabinet. 

“We agreed that the removal of the CFO was a non-issue, two we accepted the recommendations for the reinstatement of trial by jury under Fundamental Freedom. Three, we rejected the continued inclusion of the deputy governor as full member of Cabinet and further recommended that the Attorney General and the Deputy Governor be only ex-officio members of Cabinet with no voting rights.”

It would mean more say for elected officials in policing, a return of Crown Land management to a cabinet minister, reinstatement of trial by jury, removal of the mandate for the path to TCI citizenship at the constitutional level and the changes would return Cabinet to operations more akin to what was in the 2006 Constitution, where the Governor would follow the consensus on any given matter at Cabinet.

“Decisions to be made in Cabinet should follow the 2006 Constitution, emphasis on consensus and its meaning and the governor should be bound to follow Cabinet unless under special circumstances as set out,”  she continued later during that press conference with four newly crafted provisions by her administration. “Allow locally elected government to be able to have more of a strategic say over the Police Force through a strengthened National Security Council which is now simply an advisory body.”

Two other new provisions from the PDM Government are likely to be favorites among Turks and Caicos Islanders and were described as, “Return Crown Land under the management of a Minister.  Review the Public Service Management structure with a view to having a greater harmony between elected Government and Public Service Officers.”

The Premier said the recommendations have come from the citizenry during the consultation which was commissioned under then PNP premier, Rufus Ewing in 2015. Sharlene Robinson believes the season is better to make the requests for changes and added, there is no time to waste.

“These talks do not take two and three years,” reflecting on her previous role in constitutional construction for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Robinson added, “When we did the work in 2002 we never got the change until 2006.  So it is not a short period of time that we have back and forth in terms of consultation and agreeing with the UK.  I believe there is a spirit in the UK and an appetite for the all of the overseas territories.”

To our question on what the recommendations, if accepted in full or in part would result in for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Premier Robinson said:  “It takes us back to the strongest constitution we have ever had, 2006 where local government was really in charge of managing its country.  What we have now is a constitution that follows what transpired that caused the then 2006 Constitution to be suspended and it’s unfortunate that the UK believed the way to move forward and grow this country and to take us to where we need to be under their United Nations obligation was that they had to put so much controls in place.”

The plan to push for the Constitutional changes was explained in a press conference on Monday at the Office of the Premier in Providenciales.  It was also shared that the Opposition PNP will not be joining the government in London this coming December for the high level meeting.

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