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Shocking! PDM calls for resignation of Governor, failing an apology for Cabinet breach

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#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday, May 31, 2018 – The PDM Party is calling on the Governor to resign if he is unwilling to give an apology for breaching the Cabinet Code of Conduct in responding to Magnetic Media questions on the financial management of the country.

“Although he is not a Minister, as President of Cabinet, it is incumbent upon him to abide by and uphold its rules more than any Minister or member. Members of Cabinet have access to confidential and privileged information therefore, any member found to be in breach of Cabinet’s Code of Conduct must tender his or her resignation.”

Today, a jaw dropping media release from the People’s Democratic Movement expresses that His Excellency, Dr. John Freeman was in violation of a code that assures the confidentiality of every member of the Cabinet.

Section 9 of the Code states: “The internal process through which a decision has been made, or the level of Committee by which it was taken should not be disclosed. Decisions reached by the Cabinet or by Ministerial Committees are binding on all members of the Government. They are, however, normally announced and explained as the decision of the Minister concerned”. The actions taken by the Governor undermines binding Cabinet decisions. For him to suggest that there were other options available to the Minister of Finance only seeks to clear himself from being bound by the decisions of Cabinet and therefore threaten the confidence in the Government. In the new reality of governing with a constitution that ushered in greater gubernatorial oversight at every level, the comments from the Governor seem personal.  

The two page media statement came from the desk of the PDM’s Chairman, Douglas Parnell.

In April, Premier and Finance Minister, Sharlene Robinson, addressed the nation with a strong response to the Governor’s explanations about fiscal operations in the TCI; she boldly stated that the Governor’s comments opened the door to mischievous reaction from the general public and Opposition.

“The new false perception is that we as a Government is able to spend our reserves and run a deficit Budget without UK scrutiny/approvals.  Though not stated by the Governor, I have seen these statements made and am obligated to correct these erroneous perceptions that has now been created out of an effort to correct the British image within our Islands.” Premier Robinson added, “The UK is involved every stage locally by the Governor’s role and so to say there is no micromanaging or local control is certainly incorrect.  The current Governor, as many know nationally is involved at all levels even where neither of his predecessors has been under elected Government. Hence the perception out there that he is running the country.  This is a perception he must feel compelled to correct by actions.”  

It is true that the Governor’s response during a media breakfast in April sparked significant controversy when he denied that the PDM Administration was being micro-managed by the British, specifically in the area of public finances.  H.E. Dr. Freeman explained that he was happy for the opportunity to clarify that the Government is in full control, once certain FCO standards are satisfied, and could have operated a deficit budget in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The PDM Administration had suffered severe rebuke and heavy criticism due to seemingly stunted spending and sluggish response following the catastrophic back to back major storms, which cost the country well over $500 million.

Hon Parnell in the media statement said Cabinet Ministers take seriously the bounds which are placed upon them as a result of Cabinet rules, and now feel compelled to force the Governor to recognize his breach and offer the apology.

“When the Governor violated the code by making public comments about TCIG finances he handicapped Ministers’ ability to frankly air their views and arguments in the privacy of Cabinet and with the assurance that the concealment of these views would be maintained. He undermined the “collective responsibility” to which he is a part. How can any member of Cabinet now express their views with the threat of Cabinet’s President questioning them in public?”

The PDM Party is also questioning the motive of the breach at the press breakfast.

“However, it goes further than seeming personal because with the myriad of apparatuses provided in the new 2011 constitution it is safe to interpret his actions as one who was trying to either cause embarrassment, spark political debate over the performance of this or any Government or worse he was attempting to steer the course of local Government spending priorities all resulting in the abandonment of the neutral stance that is expected from one who holds the highest office in the land. The Governor is a senior United Kingdom Civil Servant and should be aware that his actions would suggest a lack of support for the Government.”  

The Governor’s Press Breakfast meeting was a first of its kind, and based on the uproar generated since, will likely not be repeated.  It was held on April 12, at his Providenciales Office at Raleigh House, Leeward Highway and included at least five media houses.

It is unclear why it has taken the PDM Party so long to make this request of and put this shocking ultimatum to the Governor; however Doug Parnell says at the start of the statement that the party believes nearly two months after the fact, the infraction can be reviewed more objectively.

It was not stated by the PDM Chairman whether the Governor was issued a private request for an apology.

The full Media Statement by the PDM Party is published at this website.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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Premier’s National Address: National Security Statement – Monday, 26 September

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HONOURABLE CHARLES WASHINGTON MISICK

 

NATIONAL SECURITY STATEMENT

as delivered by the Premier Honourable Charles W. Misick

 

(Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Monday, 26 September 2022) My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, this evening, I wish to speak with you on the upsurge in violence over the last month and the steps the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is taking to address criminality and keep our people safe.

However, before I address that urgent matter, I want to place on record my gratitude to the Almighty who spared us from the devastation seen by other countries from Hurricane Fiona.

We were spared not only by the grace of God but because we were prepared and are a more hurricane resilient TCI.

My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, I speak to you this evening with a heavy and a sad emotion.

God spared us from the worst of Hurricane Fiona, but the criminals did not even give our country time to breathe, they have struck again with impunity and have given rise to terror never before seen in our territory.

This evening, we collectively mourn the brutal and wanton murder of four young men – cut down in the prime of their lives.

My heart bleeds for the families whose lives have been shattered by evil and hate.

I wish to convey sincere condolences on behalf of the government to all families that have lost loved ones due to acts of violent crime. We continue to pray for your healing and comfort.

We have had 11 murders in this month alone. The total number of murders for this year is 22.

My fellow Islanders, like you, I am angry at those who continue to terrorise our communities and spray our land with blood.

The violence which has flared up in recent weeks will not be tolerated by this government and must not be accepted nor tolerated by decent law-abiding citizens of these Turks and Caicos Islands.

September has seen organised crime gangs, including gangs with international and external affiliations, fighting for control of drugs, money and territory in these Islands.  We are now subject to crime not just generated from within our borders, but also from without.

We are mobilizing resources from the United Kingdom and the region, to help find those who continue to disrupt and plague our communities.

We will find them whether they are here or elsewhere and we will bring them to justice. The safety and security of our people is our first priority; always.

The government has spent significant sums on upgrading the human, physical, technical, and investigative capacity of the Royal TCI Police Force. We will spare no reasonable cost to keep our people safe and our borders secure.

To stem the upsurge in violence will take looking at immediate and longer-term action.

We will implement the following immediately and over the next several weeks:

  1. We are putting more officers on frontline duties especially in the worst impacted communities. Administrative functions – and support to the Maritime Branch – of the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force will be supplemented by members of the TCI Regiment.
  2. A letter was sent to the Foreign Secretary and copied to Prime Minister Truss, the OT Minister Jesse Norman, and the Ministers for Defence in the UK Home office following a strong call requesting military and police assistance. A reply with specific deliverables is anticipated soon.
  3. In consultation with the Governor, I have reached out to heads in the Bahamian, Jamaican, and Barbadian governments for police reinforcement. These are being considered by those countries and should result in more boots on the ground in Turks and Caicos Islands.
  4. We have requested from the US Department of Homeland Security the deployment of a surveillance aircraft to assist with policing the passage between TCI and Haiti to stop illegal entry into our territorial waters.
  5. Three British officers travelled with me from London last Thursday. They will be performing an on-the-ground assessment of crime and will help to create a more effective crime fighting plan for the TCI.
  6. The UK will be sending shortly, a Chief Superintendent and an Inspector who will set up our anti-gang unit. Twenty-three (23) officers to staff the unit will arrive in the TCI within the coming months.
  7. The procurement process has started in the UK for the purchase of our own surveillance aircraft and this should be completed soon.
  8. We are contracting interim air support to assist law enforcement and better map their movements within communities.
  9. Purchased armoured vehicles should arrive within the TCI in 3 months.
  10. Persons without the correct vehicle plates will have their vehicles impounded and will be fined.
  11. Illegal vehicle tints will not be tolerated and persons who keep them will be arrested and charged.

These immediate solutions are intended to stem the bloodshed, but we are also focused on a longer-term and more strategic approach.

While in the UK last week, the Governor and I met with Secretary Jeremy Quinn in the Home Office and Secretary Jesse Norman in the Foreign Office.

They are two UK Ministers whose cooperation is critical to security of the TCI.

We have asked them to do much more.

They understand the unprecedented and seriousness of the threats we face.

We discussed in detail the significant challenges the TCI is facing including:

  • The strategic connection between serious crime and irregular migration from Haiti
  • The brutality of recent gang-related violence
  • The heart-breaking and destructive nature of the crimes on the families that are impacted; and
  • The availability of powerful firearms in these Islands

We explained the vulnerability of our strong economy and how crime, in particular brutal gang violence, could put our tourism industry at serious risk.

We outlined the significant investments we are making in our border and internal security, not just financially but through new legislation, building new national security structures as well as professionalising and expanding our local security forces.

We said that in the latest budget, $67.3 million has been allocated for public order and safety including our police services.

Let me assure every Islander that there is no cap on investing in your safety.

Several strategic initiatives are well underway.

The first is providing the Islands with a highly technical capability to conduct lawful intercept operations against gang members, particularly those involved in violence and  people smuggling.

The appropriate legislation is being drafted and we expect that it will be passed in the House of Assembly next month as October has been designated as a month for Criminal Justice Reform in TCI.

  1. Eleven (11) criminal justice bills designed to break the back of the kind of unprecedented criminal activities we have been experiencing in the Islands will be enacted. These bills will stiffen penalties further, strengthen police investigative powers, powers to stop and search and detain, to break up gang activities and to protect those whose job it is to push back on crime on the front lines. These bills will include:
  2. The Firearms (Amendment) Bill would introduce higher penalties for possession of unlicensed firearm or possession of a prohibited weapon or ammunition. The mandatory minimum sentence for possession of such weapons would be raised.
  3. The Police Force (Amendment) Bill would provide for stop and search and the erection of road barriers in areas of high crime and to stop and search a person or vehicle if the officer thinks the person is linked to criminal activity. The officer must have “reasonable grounds” to conduct the search.
  4. The Firearms Related Offences Bill would extend the period of detention for murder and firearms offences.
  5. The Anti-Gang Bill would make it an offence for a person to be or become a member of a gang. This offence would carry a penalty of ten years’ imprisonment for a first conviction and a penalty of twenty years’ imprisonment for any subsequent conviction. The Bill would also provide that a gang leader would be liable to imprisonment for twenty-five years on conviction on indictment. It would also make it an offence to wound or shoot at persons involved in law enforcement or intelligence and would carry a penalty of thirty years’ imprisonment on conviction on indictment.

Other provisions would –

  1. make it an offence for a person to coerce, encourage, entice, aid or abet another person to be a gang member and would carry a penalty of twenty-five years’ imprisonment on conviction on indictment.
  2. make it an offence for persons to take retaliatory action against another person or any of that person’s relatives, friends, associates or property, where inter alia, the other person refuses to comply with an order of a gang leader or gang member.
  3. make it an offence to knowingly counsel, instruct, guide, finance or provide any type of support to a gang leader, gang member or gang.
  4. make it an offence for a person to harbor or conceal a gang leader or gang member or tip them off of an investigation or proposed investigation.

Other provisions would empower the police to –

  1. arrest, without a warrant, a person who he has reasonable cause to believe is a gang leader, gang member or has committed an offence under the Ordinance, and to enter and search a dwelling house, with a warrant, or to enter any other place or premises, without a warrant, where he has reasonable cause to believe that a gang member may be found.
  2. detain a person who he reasonably suspects of having committed certain offences

The Bill would also empower the Court to order that the property of a person convicted of certain offenses may be forfeited in certain circumstances.

  1. The Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Bill, Magistrates Court (Amendment) Bill, Defence (Amendment) Bill, the Integrity Commission (Amendment) Bill would to introduce higher penalties for obstructing, assaulting or threatening an investigative officer (including Immigration Officers, the Regiment, Customs Officers and Police Officers), an officer of the Court or a Judicial officer in exercise of his or her duty.
  2. The Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill would enable the making of regulations so that its mandatory that every new sim card purchased must be registered to the buyer requiring them to present valid identification at the time of purchase.
  3. The Interception of Communications Bill would to provide a single legal framework for the use by law enforcement and intelligence agencies of investigatory powers to obtain communications and communications data. These powers would cover the interception of communications, the retention and acquisition of communications data, and equipment interference for obtaining communications and other data. It would not be lawful to exercise such powers other than as provided for by this legislation once enacted.

We requested more support, partnership, and serious strategic investments to turn the tide. This will require extensive and sustained UK support.

Additionally, we need further strengthening of our defences against maritime threats.

We requested that a formal ministerial agreement is implemented to build a “Gun, Gangs and Drugs Squad”. This Squad would be made up of officers with some of the best detective, intelligence and analytical skills in the UK.

The Squad would work within our own police force making an immediate impact but also building our local capacity and capability.

While building capacity and capability in the Police is urgent and important, we need an across-the-board approach to crime and justice.

We have an excellent Chief Justice who is keen on reform, and we will support capacity building across the justice system.

I want to thank our TCI “Tactical Firearms Unit” and other members of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force who have shown great physical prowess, courage and skill over recent weeks.

They provide us with a very strong local foundation that we can build on.

My fellow Islanders, the government will leave no stone unturned in making our communities and people safe.

You should feel free and safe to go about your business without worrying about the next move of criminals, gangs and drug dealers.

We can’t do it alone.

The police can’t do it alone.

Let us turn our anger into action.

If we come together, we will defeat those who bring violence and harm to our communities.

You must help us.

You have to be vigilant.

Report criminal activities in your communities.

Work with the police.

Together we can and we will defeat the criminals who want to destroy our beloved TCI.

In closing, I declare the National Youth Day as a ‘National Day of Prayer, Fasting and

Repentance’ beginning at 9am until 3pm. We will gather at the Gustavus Lightbourne Gymnasium in Providenciales and locations in the other Islands. Details will follow soon.

May God bless you and keep our Islands and people safe from harm.

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The Turks and Caicos Islands Has Much To Celebrate on World Tourism Day!

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PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS (September 27, 2022) – The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board, the Turks and Caicos Islands’ exclusive tourism authority, is ecstatic to celebrate World Tourism Day and its 2022 theme of “Rethinking Tourism” while appreciating the country’s ability to recover strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “As we often say, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, tourism is everybody’s business. This is because it is the most significant component of our national economy.  Consequently, on World Tourism Day, we are excited to reflect on the many successes we have achieved in what can be described as our bounce-back year after the height of the pandemic”, said Acting Director of the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board, Mary Lightbourne.  “Based on our short-term projections and long-term vision, the future of tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands is very promising!”, Lightbourne added.

 Over 2022, the Turks and Caicos Islands’ ability to rebound from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkable. Preliminary data from January 2022 – March 2022 indicates that the Turks and Caicos Islands welcomed 98.5% of the stayover visitors that it did from January 2019 – March 2019, which was one of the most successful tourism quarters in the history of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

 This year, the Turks and Caicos Islands was named the World’s Hottest Travel Destination for Fall 2022 by Tripadvisor, and won “Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination” as well as “Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination” at the World Travel Awards.  Through a strategic partnership with J. Wade Public Relations, an international public relations firm, the Turks and Caicos Islands has achieved unprecedented results in media coverage.  From January 2022 to September 2022, this partnership has obtained 113 placements and 2.39 billion total gross impressions with a total media value of $238.5 million. In this 9-month span, this partnership has exceeded all of its public relations results for 2021 – and it has already secured more press trips for the rest of the year, which will continue to elevate these results.

 “The United Nations World Tourism Organization’s 2022 World Tourism Day’s theme of ‘Rethinking Tourism’ fits the Turks and Caicos Islands perfectly.  With the collective efforts of tourism stakeholders across the country, we have been able to rapidly rebound and repeat the results of one of our most successful pre-pandemic quarters”, said Minister of Tourism, Hon. Josephine Connolly.

“Now, we are looking at taking tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands to even greater heights by transitioning our Tourist Board to a Destination Management Organization and Tourism Regulatory Authority. These entities will standardize and strengthen the world-class experiences that the Turks and Caicos Islands is known for across all entities in our tourism economy and facilitate the development of an even more sustainable and resilient tourism product”, added Hon. Connolly.

 For more information on the Turks and Caicos Islands, call 1 (800) 241-0824 or visit www.turksandcaicostourism.com.

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International GANG behind DEADLY crime wave says TCI Premier

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 29, 2022 – International gangs are at least partially behind the unusual and tragic flare up of violence in the Turks and Caicos over the past month according to  Washington Misick, TCI Premier. He made the revelations in a National Address on Monday (September 26) night after the third double murder of the month.

“September has seen organized crime gangs including gangs with international and external affiliations fighting for control of the drugs money and territory in these islands. We are now subject to crime generated not just within our borders but without.”

In response, the country leader said resources were being mobilised to find those responsible ‘whether they are here or elsewhere’.

The premier did not delve into where these international affiliations were or which major organized gangs were reaching into the small archipelago.

The revelation does answer in part at least the perplexing question of why the sheer number of violent killings has risen so dramatically in a little over three weeks. For context 11 of the islands 22 murders this year were committed during that time.

It’s not only international gangs, the drug trade has been fingered by Misick as a major driver of the killings in the TCI. In a previous press conference Misick stressed, “At the heart of the gun violence in this country is drugs, that is what the fight is about and we all know that’s what the fight is about.”

In response the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is calling in the cavalry.  TCIG has requested reinforcements from the Caribbean, North America and Europe, the premier has revealed.

Several immediate actions are to be implemented in the coming weeks and they include:

  • More police officers will be deployed on the street especially in affected areas. While the regiment will not be joining them in the field they will they will take over administrative duties and maritime duties to free up more officers
  • An official letter has been sent to the Foreign Commonwealth development office and Prime Minister Liz Truss requesting military and police assistance. A response is expected shortly with “specific deliverables”
  • Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas have all been contacted to lend police reinforcement which Misick said “should result in boots on the ground” after ‘encouraging’ calls.
  • A request to the US Department of Homeland Security for surveillance aircraft  to patrol the ocean between TCI and Hispaniola to stop all types of smuggling.
  • Twenty-three officers will arrive in the coming days along with a inspector and a chief superintendent to set up a drug gun and gang unit.
  •  Interim and permanent forms of air support are being procured
  • Armored vehicles for police are being purchased and will arrive in the islands in three months

The new measures reflect the gravity of the situation and the request for heavier police presence as made by members of the public;many who are now grieving slaughtered loved-ones say the steps should have been made a lot sooner.

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