By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, July 25, 2022 – A very dangerous culture of quietness grips the Turks and Caicos people and residents. This unnatural silence where people with opinions, concerns, suggestions or critiques are frozen by a fear of bringing their thoughts into open spaces is hampering the potential of the TCI by too often demoralizing and ostracizing the very thing the country needs most: PEOPLE, thoughtful people.
The “climate of fear” label of 2008 is still stuck to the back of the Turks and Caicos, make no mistake.
Only a few indulge in the freedom of expression, as far more people believe if they say what they feel or what they’ve experienced they will be washed away by a tsunami of victimization. Imagined or real, this is a prevailing view and it is a ‘kill shot’ to honest, earnest public engagement and national development.
A few weeks ago, Angela Williams of Ashley’s Learning Center – a special needs facility – decided to share her experience on a potential Ministry of Education partnership. The deal which to her once had hope, flopped when she was asked to do, what she says she could not. Williams believed the impasse developed out of some personal distaste for her by an unnamed ‘someone’ within the Ministry of Education.
A live streamed press conference from her school and media reports exposed the situation and thousands expressed outrage at the idea of the facility shutting its doors.
In uncharacteristic fashion, the Ministry of Education actually responded with notice of a press event. It was not what I expected of a seasoned Government office.
While it appeared the Ministry was innocently setting the record straight on the issue, the true mission emerged and it was nothing more than a strategic attempt, led by the highest ranking officials in the Ministry of Education to muddy the reputation of Angela Williams and her school.
The damage was done and the message was sent: when you mess with me, I will mess with you. Tit-for-tat; basically, child’s play.
A chance for enlightened leadership was missed; and partisan fans praised the Government’s response. It was not a praiseworthy moment.
Angela Williams should have been at that press conference with the Ministry of Education and the public, concerned about the welfare of dozens of special needs children, could have been given a ray of hope and a taste of something fresh from this newest PNP Administration.
The Ministry would have not only demonstrated in a tangible way its desire to see the school continue, but it would have redeemed itself without the need to utter one slight against Ashley’s Learning Center.
A focus on the partnership and using the platform to lay out the Ministry’s own plans and strides in Special Needs education would have raised the bar and demonstrated an empathy and wisdom of a government quick to care, not to cut down. I believe this approach would have even earned the Ministry a public apology and a hearty thank you from Ashley’s.
In the weeks since both press events were held, there has been silence except for word that Ashley’s Learning Center is planning to certainly close.
The Education trio – Rachel Taylor, the Minister; Wesley Clerveaux, the Permanent Secretary and Jas Walkin, Special Needs Officer – came out in a live stream and shared damaging information and then rode off into the sunset seemingly feeling victorious.
But there was no win here. It was a significant regression.
The Ministry of Education owed the public the explanation; there was no error in their swift response to the alarming claim by Mrs. Williams. But we got way more than we bargained for, way more than we needed.
In any leadership position, there are days when one is the hero and days when one is the villain. It is impossible to control how people feel, but leaders are compelled to make those individual, independent decisions as situations emerge which help to shape public sentiment – for the positive – about them and what they stand for.
The people whom leaders serve need to be confident that they can express themselves without fear of unfair retribution; Protected by the Constitution but better than that, heard at the heart of their matter by leaders who understand the dynamism of their roles.
In retrospect, once you extricate the negative vibes between Ashley’s Learning Center and the Ministry of Education, you hear of some of the most progressive plans for Special Needs Education and Support the Turks and Caicos has ever revealed.
It took Angela Williams speaking out about her plans and issues for the country to learn about the intentions of the Ministry of Education which includes the construction of a Special Needs Centre. That was a first.
Public expression has a place of importance in a country under development. It is essential to not only have but to hear the dissenting voices, to welcome other ideas, broader perspectives and constructive criticism.
In Turks and Caicos, these varied expressions become particularly vital when you consider that the Government of the day was selected to serve by only 3,500 of Turks and Caicos’ 45,000 population.
No truth to rumor, Anya Williams will remain TCI’s Deputy Governor
By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, September 29, 2022 – Manufactured as mischief or some kind of advocacy for other members of the Public Service deemed worthy of the role of deputy governor, Nigel Dakin, Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands found himself tonight denying a widely circulated rumor. He said there was no truth to the current ‘DG’ being replaced by either Wesley Clerveaux or Althea Been or anyone for that matter.
Governor Dakin was quoting, in part, Section 25 (1) of the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution, which also says, “…shall be a Turks and Caicos Islander and shall be appointed by the Governor in pursuance of instructions given by Her Majesty through a Secretary of State, and who shall hold office during Her Majesty’s pleasure.”
Magnetic Media had questioned Deputy Governor Anya Williams, directly about the rumor being shared over social media platforms. She advised that the Governor would speak to the issue, and he did. Via email, to our newsroom and other media houses was an unequivocal response.
“I also note that within that fake news both Wesley Clerveaux and Althea Been are mentioned as potential successors. In one sense it is excellent that their names are called out – they are excellent Permanent Secretaries – and the good news is there are others that could have been named – who have the capability – and there are Deputy Secretaries who could one day also aspire. The bench at this level is both wide and deep, reinforcing the present incumbent who is a ‘rock’, on which much of TCI depends – particularly at time of crisis,” informed the governor.
Still, it is Anya Williams who tops his list as tremendously competent and suited to the job at this time in Turks and Caicos. His confidence, he says is shared by the Cabinet.
“Anya Williams, is one of the most dedicated and effective leaders I’ve had the good fortune to work with.
Beyond that myself, the Premier and Deputy Premier have for example recently lauded her over her leadership during the height of Hurricane FIONA. While I am Governor, Anya Williams will remain Deputy Governor and my strong recommendation to my successor – whenever my successor is appointed – is he or she could not have a better person to be able to rely on.”
It had been reported that the tenure of Deputy Governor Williams had contractually ended and that her job was up for grabs. It had been articulated she would have to apply, along with others, for the available position. However, H.E. Dakin makes it clear that the process for this job is not like others in the public service.
“There isn’t a set ‘contract date’ and so no contract is ‘up’. If it were hypothetically up for renewal today – in that it could be terminated for good reason any day – she would be reappointed with my full and unqualified confidence.”
Her Excellency Anya Williams is the second appointed Deputy Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands and is the Head of the Public Service. She was appointed on October 15, 2012, through an open recruitment process.
50th Independence Logo & Theme Competition September 27th 2022
#TheBahamas, September 29, 2022 – With plans already in the works to mark the country’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, officials at the 50th Independence Secretariat are working to create an extraordinary and inclusive celebration for all Bahamians. Over the next several days, talented Bahamian artists will have the opportunity to participate in the country’s historic Golden Jubilee through the launch of the National Logo and Theme Concept Competition, designed to showcase the work of creative graphic designers and artists. The challenge: to create the logo and develop a theme that will be used across all 50th Independence celebrations and win cash prizes.
“We want Bahamians to not only enjoy the 50th Independence as spectators and citizens, but we thought it equally important for Bahamians especially those in the creative field to have the chance to be a part of that history as well” explained Leslia Miller-Brice, Chairman of the Independence Secretariat.
To participate, design hopefuls must complete the online entry, and release forms using the QR Codes provided on the Celebrate Bahamas social media pages. There, they will also be able to upload mockups of their various concepts. The nationwide search will allow each participant to enter as many ideas as they’d like into the respective competitions. Those submissions will then be narrowed down to ten.
“We’ve commissioned a talented panel of graphic designers and communications specialists to help us choose the best of the best,” Miller-Brice noted.
Once selected, the public will be given the chance to vote for their favorite concepts via the secretariat’s Celebrate Bahamas social media pages with the top three logo concepts fetching a prize of $1000, $500, and $250 respectively and the top three theme concepts with a prize of $500, $250, $100 . The competitions are now officially open and will close on October 10th 2022 at 11:59 pm.
“We are very excited to see our people really showcase their interpretations of what the 50th Anniversary of Independence means to them. We are looking for interesting use of symbolism and creativity in the overall concept” Miller-Brice said.
About Logo & Theme Competitions
- Open to all Bahamian citizens
- More than one submission is allowed
- Open to all ages
○ If under 18, Legal Guardian must complete the release form
Premier’s National Address: National Security Statement – Monday, 26 September
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The procurement process has started in the UK for the purchase of our own surveillance aircraft and this should be completed soon.
- We are contracting interim air support to assist law enforcement and better map their movements within communities.
- Purchased armoured vehicles should arrive within the TCI in 3 months.
- Persons without the correct vehicle plates will have their vehicles impounded and will be fined.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- The Firearms Related Offences Bill would extend the period of detention for murder and firearms offences.
- 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 –
- 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.
- 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.
- make it an offence to knowingly counsel, instruct, guide, finance or provide any type of support to a gang leader, gang member or gang.
- 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 –
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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