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Governor says NO ONE is above the law and convenes tribunals for two high ranking Civil Servants

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 29, 2022 – Every biennial anniversary of the Integrity Commission is the due date for specified public officials to file their financial declaration with the Turks and Caicos Islands Integrity Commission.

It is the law and it is what everyone in this category of public sector worker contractually agrees to upon being hired in the civil service.

On Thursday, information surfaced and was later confirmed that two prominent members of TCIG were placed on suspension as a result of potentially failing to comply with Section 39 (1) of the Integrity Commission Ordinance.

Anthony Swann of the Immigration Department and Edwin Taylor, the Labour Commissioner were confirmed as suspended by Anya Williams, Deputy Governor and head of the civil service in TCIG.

“…their suspension relates to a potential breach regarding their obligation to file with the Integrity Commission,” said the DG in response to questions by Magnetic Media.

Rumors had claimed as many as six individuals were a part of a corruption ring, which led to the suspensions.  However that would later be said to be untrue.  Comments from both the Deputy Governor and Governor affirm a different version of events.

“With regard to your question about the DG’s involvement in the suspension of Mr. Swann and Mr. Taylor, the DG is Head of the Public Service so is of course involved in any decisions involved in members of staff who serve in the Public Service.  But the integrity Commission reports to me, and so it is myself who – without prejudice – has asked for Tribunals to be convened to weigh the issues.

Should it need to be made clear, there is no member of the Public Service or Police Force who – if a case is developed by the Integrity Commission – is safe from escaping due process,” said Nigel Dakin, Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

His Excellency added, “I can confirm that no other member of the public service has been – in recent days – placed on administrative leave although the DG reserves the right to move staff to different duties should that be in the interests of the public service,” but he did say, “For completeness, several months ago, we placed on Administrative Leave, to progress through an internal-disciplinary process, ten members of the Immigration Ministry again following investigations by the Integrity Commission.”

The section in question requires:  “Every person who is a specified person in public life, not being a member or staff member of the Commission, shall— (a) on or before 30 June 2012 and every two years thereafter, on or before the biennial anniversary of that date; and (b) where such person ceases to be a specified person in public life, within ninety days from the date on which the person ceases to be a specified person in public life, file with the Commission a declaration containing the particulars referred to in subsection (3) and each of the members or staff members of the Commission shall file with the Governor similar declarations on or before the dates on which such declarations are required by other persons in public life.”

Mr. Swann and Mr. Taylor are allegedly in breach.  Failure to file or falsifying a filed declaration is an offence and could attract hefty penalties, including a $15,000 fine or one year in prison.

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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