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TCI: Court Justice reports: Votes Must Count; Two Candidates rank higher, but General Election results unchanged

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#TurksandCaicos, June 10, 2021 – Two All Island Candidates got more votes than the final, official results showed and while this will not change the outcome of the general election, it does change how each person finished historically.  Both Jamell Robinson, an all island candidate on the PNP ticket and Karen Malcolm, an all island candidate for the PDM have moved up in placement because a block of voters were left out and off of their final tally.  This was concluded by Justice Carlos Simons, QC who accepted the request of the Governor to review the complaints of not one, but two candidates from the February 19 national poll.

“…His Excellency the Governor asked me to undertake this effort. Summarizing his email correspondence of 26 April and surrounding conversations, he noted the key objectives to be: a) Maintaining public confidence in the accuracy of the electoral process; b) Understanding the details that underpin Hon. Robinson’s complaint and whether and what remedy is/was available, and if there were courses of action open to him under the Ordinance that he could or should have utilized to ensure that this late challenge was not needed; and c) Produce a Report on this basis or any other basis necessary as befitting a matter touching and concerning the Constitution and the democratic process. 10. A day later His Excellency brought to my attention a similar complaint from Hon. Karen Malcolm and asked that I widen the scope of my inquiry to include that, to which I agreed,” outlined Simons in his report, which was made public on June 8, 2021.

 Justice Simons said Turks and Caicos was fortunate, this time around that the discrepancies in tallies for the concerned candidates did not change the overall election results, but strongly advises that changes be made and recommendations taken on how to ensure this never happens again. 

“We are lucky that in neither case was the diminishment of votes sufficient to affect the overall result of the election for either candidate or for their Parties. And in the absence of any evidence of fraud, it seems to me the proper response would be to see how the system can be made less vulnerable such human errors in the future. Before we go there however, I have been asked to consider what remedies the candidates might have availed themselves of under the Ordinance.”

Simons, a former candidate himself said what was most bothersome to him was that voters who would have wanted their voice to be heard in their selection of a candidate would have been missed out, had the candidates not questioned their individual and cumulative results. 

“The entitlement to vote is provided for by s. 55 (5) of the Constitution and s. 10 of the Ordinance. The issue in play in both cases here is important because each miscounted vote, or uncounted vote represents a denial, or at least a distortion of the electors’ right to choose their representatives in the House of Assembly. The fact that the numbers by which the votes of these two candidates were under reported were not sufficient to affect the overall outcome is not relevant to this fundamental consideration.”

In the case of Karen Malcolm, who was on her second run as an at large candidate; her final results after ballot counting left out all of the people who voted for her in North and Middle Caicos or ED4.  All 39 of the votes cast were left off the tally.  It takes her from the recorded 2,491 votes nationally to 2,530; she finishes in sixth place and as the top performing People’s Democratic Movement candidate; a step up from second. 

In the case of Jamell Robinson, he was shorted 82 votes and the shortfall came in The Bight, ED6.  It makes Robinson, as he had claimed, the second best performing candidate not just for the Progressive National Party but overall; falling second to Washington Misick, with his now confirmed 3,500 votes. 

The Governor in releasing the full report concludes that he accepts the findings and conclusions; explaining Justice Simons did the work pro bono.

“I accept all of his conclusions and recommendations as do the Candidates and the Supervisor of Elections.

Of importance to the two ‘All Island Candidates’, and to those who voted for them in two electoral districts, Justice Simons concludes that: Honourable Jamell Robinson and Honourable Karen Malcolm both polled more votes in ED6 and ED4 respectively than were recorded in the final election results.  The accompanying conclusion is also important because had those additional votes impacted the election results, then the impact would be significant.  That conclusion is however that the number of votes made no difference to the election result, in either case,” said the Governor in his statement on the Election Discrepancies Report.

Suggestions have been made by both Robinson and Malcolm on what “guard-rails” could be established to avoid any repeat and “These improvements will therefore be incorporated by the Supervisor of Elections in future elections,” advised Governor Dakin. 

The Governor reiterated, there was no election fraud and that electoral law is uninterested in the ranking of the five all island candidates; only that the top five finishers be counted as members of the House of Assembly and in this case, fortunately, all five of them are.

“In terms of whether the official election result – in terms of numbers polled – can be retrospectively changed, the answer is that it cannot. As far as electoral law is concerned, the Ordinance is entirely uninterested in the relative ranking of ‘All Island Candidates’ save to say they are either in the top five, or they are not.  They win or they lose. They gain a place in the House of Assembly or they do not.  While Justice Simons does not say it, the fact that such rankings may or may not be important in terms of internal party considerations, is not the concern of the law nor, therefore, the Supervisor of Elections or the Courts who must be guided by it. Justice Simons explains in his report the error made no difference to the election result, and that is all the Elections Ordinance seeks to achieve,” explained HE Nigel Dakin in his June 8 statement.  

Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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