#Providenciales, May 15, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – A specially convened meeting and assessment carried out in the last budget cycle has enhanced the operations of the Ministry of Border Control. The former minister, Deputy Premier Sean Astwood explained the goal and the results of that period of border enforcement during his presentation earlier this month to the Budget Debate at the House of Assembly.
“The assessment was undertaken over a two (2) weeks period and included a review of the enforcement strategy. The team met and interviewed thirty (33) three persons from senior government officials at all levels including myself.”
That exhaustive exercise proved helpful said the Deputy Premier and was an important complement to direct assistance from the United Kingdom as little Turks and Caicos, on its own, tried to stem the flow of illegal migration from nearby Haiti.
“In April 2018, the Premier requested and received support from the United Kingdom Government to send a team of experienced UK staff to the TCI to conduct a review of the Immigration control system. This came as a result of the increasing threat of illegal vessel landings and possible alignment with criminal activity. The team commenced work in the TCI on May 14, 2018.”
DP Astwood reported on a string of accomplishments which were both breakthrough and expensive for the Turks and Caicos.
“For the period January 2018 – April 2019 some 3,402 illegal persons have been removed from the shores of these islands. Equally important to note is that out of this amount exactly 1,414 persons were picked during our land base enforcement activities,” Hon Astwood earlier explained, “In addition, Mr. Speaker, in comparing the same periods for prosecutions, I am pleased again to report to this House that successful prosecutions increased from 17 in 2017 to 79 successful prosecutions in 2018, again much in excess of what was outlined in the Key Performance Strategies 2018/19.”
But that special convening and review focused on capacity building at the Ministry when it came to Border protection and on July 19, 2018, the findings and recommendations were presented to the Premier; many of the requests have been met said the DP.
“I am pleased to inform this House, that many of the recommendations have been addressed. Protective gear, particularly for front line staff including the Enforcement Unit have been procured and should arrive shortly. Mr. Speaker, I am also aware that body cams identical to that used by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have also been procured and should also be arriving shortly. These body cams will be to the benefit of the public and our Officers. New digital cameras have been purchased for the Enforcement Unit and Detention Centre, and additional surveillance equipment will be procured to upgrade the efficiency of the Department.”
Deputy Premier Sean Astwood, in a Cabinet shuffle which took effect on May 8, 2019, has been moved over to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Planning with the Border Control, Employment, Labour and Citizenship portfolio turned over to Minister Delroy Williams.