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Bi-lateral talks with Bahamas to resume, UK gives green light to high-level TCI delegation

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#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday July 26, 2018 – A serious bi-lateral discussion between the Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas is on the horizon according to Premier, Hon Sharlene Robinson who today told media that the Governor has approved an official visit.

“On the matter of illegal migration, discussions with The Bahamas; the Governor this past week has issued the diplomatic note that would allow the high level TCI delegation to travel to The Bahamas to further this dialogue.  Persons would recall that The Bahamas had agreed to assist with the patrolling of our waters and a letter of entrustment was requested by myself and the UK Minister who has graciously agreed to allow for the exploratory talks.”

The idea of a stronger alliance between the Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas has been touted for years, including by the former Rufus Ewing Administration.

On Thursday, notes from the most recent Turks and Caicos Cabinet meeting reflected that the conversation is imminent between the two countries which share borders, waters, geography, history, family relations and more woefully, troubles brought by illegal fishing and illegal migration.

From the Cabinet report of July 25, 2018:  “The Hon. Premier reported that the TCI Government would commence talks soon with the Government of the Bahamas on possible co-operation to tackle the problem of illegal sloops from Haiti. The Hon. Premier also reported that she had received the report of the UK Border Force delegation who had been in TCI recently to carry out an assessment of TCI’s needs to combat illegal migration. The recommendations in the report were currently under consideration but were broadly in line with existing TCIG’s thinking and several were already being implemented.”

Peter Beckingham, former Governor TCI

In 2014, former governor Peter Beckingham travelled to The Bahamas where he met with the former Deputy Prime Minister, Philip Davis – acting Foreign Affairs Minister at the time.

The two leaders explained to media in July 2014 that policies were being formed to curb the issues with illegal migration from Haiti.

Philip Davis, former Deputy Prime Minister Bahamas

Mr. Beckingham, on behalf of the Turks and Caicos Islands, shared that:  “We have put in a number of measures to try and get a tighter grip on the problem of illegal migration,” he said. “It is costing human lives and it is costing our government money. So for those reasons and others we want to do more about it.  I can’t help feeling that if we can match up those two areas rather more there is an area for development. We believe that by meeting jointly with the government of Haiti there may be areas where we can exert some persuasion to encourage them to do more about the problem that they face and we face jointly. By showing that we are united in this enterprise and in this discussion we will underline the seriousness of this problem and the hope that we can do something about it.”

Soon the meeting of two nations became a tri-lateral caucus when it welcomed Haiti to the table.  The session was expected to stem the flow of illegal boats loaded with migrants fleeing Haiti.

Whatever ideas were discussed have never been publicized or implemented.  The meeting seems to have been a dud and the inundation of Haitians illegally to both the Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas in subsequent years has not waned.

During his Budget presentation in July 2018, Deputy Premier and Border Control Minister, Sean Astwood announced that illegal migration activity surged by nearly 300% in the past fiscal period for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

L-R: Jovenel Moise, Haitian President; Darren Henfield, Bahamas Foreign Affairs Minister and Hubert Minnis, Bahamas Prime Minister

“Mr. Speaker, the battles we faced as a ministry, as a government and as a country, in my mind, were unprecedented.  As a people, we endured the wrath of two major hurricanes and untold damages and displacements, and it appeared that our borders came under relentless attacks from the start of 2017.A total of 22 sloops and 1,335 persons were repatriated throughout the year. Mr. Speaker, this represents a 160% increase in sloops arrivals and a 270% increase in repatriations over the same period for 2016.Mr. Speaker, this was truly unprecedented.”

No date was given by Premier Robinson for the high-level, bi-lateral meeting in The Bahamas.

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Caribbean News

Police De-Briefing with TCI Governor Daniel-Selvaratnam

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#TurksandCaicos#Anti-Crime, February 23rd, 2024 – De-briefing Acting Commissioner of Police Christopher Eyre held a meeting with Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and Member of Parliament for Grand Turk North, the Hon. Otis Morris, today (February 21st ) at Police Headquarters, Airport Road, Providenciales.

The debriefing was to discuss concerns raised by residents during last evening’s Anti-Crime Town Hall meeting at the H.J Robinson High School, Grand Turk. Commissioner Eyre expressed his deep appreciation to Her Excellency and Hon Morris for their attendance, saying that work was already underway to address the community concerns.

Commissioner Eyre said: “I acknowledge the challenges raised and wish to assure you that the Executive of the RTCIPF remains steadfast in ensuring the TCI is safe. We listened to your concerns, and I assure you that rebuilding trust and strengthening community-policing relations are top priorities.“

The RTCIPF has taken a holistic approach in the fight against crime. Increased visibility, greater stakeholder collaborations and ongoing dialogue forums to appraise you will occur. We are accountable to you.”

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Too much secrecy with Airport Tax increase says former Deputy Premier Sean Astwood

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicos#Tax, February 23rd, 2024 – “The TCIAA should not be allowed to announce and implement new or increased taxes or fees in this already difficult financial climate without more details,” says Sean Astwood, Former Deputy Premier regarding the increase in the  Airport Development Fee from $20 to $35 describing the increase as not proactive but premature.

Astwood said there were a number of questions that he believed every Turks and Caicos Islander should ask and have the right to know the answers to including ‘Why now?’

The Opposition PDM member pointed out that only one airport has international flights and it would soon undergo a change in structure, paired with the ‘unexplainable’ delay in the completion of the airport in South Caicos and the possibility of ongoing negotiations in relation to the one in North Caicos, he queried: ‘Why not wait to see what amount or step may be needed in facilitating services in these Airports before a hike in fees?’

“In this climate, taxpayers must have more information and the benefit of a complete picture from not just the TCIAA Chiefs but from the Premier himself. The people must know what the current earnings of the TCIAA is; how has the management of the Airports increased to warrant such a large increase; how much does it cost to operate all of these airports; what is the estimated increase in revenue and how will these monies be used,” the former DP said.

He also questioned the avalanche of resignations that had recently affected the TCIAA

“I have serious concerns with the Premier’s oversight of this matter knowing that the TCIAA is no doubt experiencing a major problem with the vast number of Turks and Caicos Islanders resigning from their positions including high level positions. This alone requires a more in-depth investigation.”

Astwood also demanded information about the ongoing canopy project at the Providenciales/Howard Hamilton International which should have been completed in less than six months but was running on two years.

“TCIAA has quickly developed a reputation for big spending recently and stalled projects. We need answers as taxpayers. Why now? How much do you intend to raise? How will it be used? The people deserve a response. In a “proactive” step, this information must be provided to the public before this increase is implemented,” he ended.

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Caribbean News

Justice system instructed to improve coordination 

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicos#Violence, February 23rd, 2024 – Violence exploded in the Turks and Caicos between January 26 and February 2nd, and with signs pointing to the involvement of recently released convicts the National Security Council is on a mission to reduce the risk of flare ups when offenders rejoin society.

The Police Force, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and other criminal Justice partners have now been instructed to review how they coordinate with each other and complete their specific roles to support case progression. Assessments about public safety in respect to offenders during bail hearings are also to be given keen attention.

The NSC is also planning to engage with the Judiciary as part of this review to help with delivering verdicts in a timely manner,

Called after the January 26 killing in Grand Turk which allegedly involved a former inmate, the meeting gathered law enforcement and other partners so that the NSC could get a sense of how effectively they were working with each other to ‘secure criminal justice outcomes.’

“The NSC— sought briefings on the effectiveness of liaison between the RTCIPF, the office of the DPP and wider criminal justice agencies in respect of case progression, including the assessments made to public safety that inform representations at bail hearings,” a statement revealed.

The information detailing the January 30th NSC meeting was released on February 2nd.

With senior leadership from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF), the TCI Regiment, TCI Border Force, HMP and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the room, the NSC looked into two incidents involving recently released inmates.

Two days after the meeting the NSC chairs had to be briefed again about another incident involving a former inmate where two men were left dead on February 1.

The Council headed jointly by Washington Misick, TCI Premier and Dileeni Daniel Selvaratnam, TCI Governor says the risk reduction strategies discussed in the meeting NSC will seek to address HMP exit arrangements and risks to public safety.

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