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.
Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad
By Shanieka Smith
#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.
The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.
After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.
The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.
Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi
By Shanieka Smith
December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.
This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre. Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.
It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”
Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.
The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.
As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.
Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose
By Dana Malcolm
December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.
Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.
“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.
Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.
“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.
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