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Quash the DMMO, PDM Supreme Court Motion heard; Judge to bring Decision on December 8

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Wilkie Arthur

Freelance Court Reporter

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 24, 2023 – It was a very bold approach by the Opposition PDM party; an attempt to have the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands quash two already passed bills which established the Destination Management and Marketing Organization, DMMO as a replacement to the TCI Tourist Board.

Interesting arguments were laid before his Lordship Hon Mr Justice Chris Selochan on Friday 17th November, 2023 that lasted almost the entire day. Both sides of the argument fought hard in the precedent setting matter which is an application for leave to apply for Judicial Review.

Mr. Garland is also named as one of the two applicants in this matter along with leader of the opposition, Mr. Edwin Astwood, who was not present at the hearing. However, the PDM side and their legal team were noticeably supported by former Tourist Board director and former Tourism Minister, Ralph Higgs and Robert Been, deputy leader of the People’s Democratic Movement, PDM.

At the beginning of the proceeding,  his Lordship immediately reminded both parties, meaning the (applicants and the respondents) attorneys that this is just the “leave” stage of the application, to see if there’s sufficient merit to grant leave for a full judicial review proceedings or a substantive hearing or trial by the calling of witnesses and so on.

He gave the complainants and defendants full liberty to present their arguments, ably and concisely.

The judge said, I’m not rushing you because I said that. His Lordship explained that he was simply reminding them the PDM team and the Attorney General’s Chambers, of the need to tailor their arguments according to the rules relating to “applications for leave” and not a substantive trial. This is just the “leave” stages, he reminded.

Immediately, as attorney George Missick rose to his feet to commence his arguments/submissions on the application for leave, he wasn’t able to get properly started when the Senior Principal Civil Crown Counsel, Ms. Clemar Hippolye rose to her feet in an attempt to stop or halt the entire proceedings on a point of law or clause that outlined certain decisions or ruling or orders made by the Speaker of the House in support of the respondents case or defense, could not be challenged in court unless constitutional grounds or arguments have been laid out in the application before the court.

Hon Gordon Burton, current Speaker of the House of Assembly, who was named in the case for ‘leave’ was present at the proceedings as well.

However, the Judge did not allow Ms. Hippolyte to continue as he said he will hear her in detail on the point after hearing the applicant’s case in full. She will have her opportunity to address the court on its jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Mr. Missick, attorney for the PDM was then called to continue and he without delay dived directly on the point of the judge having no jurisdiction by countering it, in with his first and most forceful point argument of “no public consultation” with respect to the DMMO before passing it into law.

Misick told the judge if we take this in its proper sequence, before the bills can reach the House of Assembly to be voted on and the Hon. Speaker can make an order that may not be challengable by the Court, we must first pass the ground of our argument regarding “no public consultation”.

He said if the court accepts that the applicants have sufficiently provided enough that there should have been public consultant and proved that there was none, to meet the guidelines outlined in the case authorities he provided from The Bahamas and elsewhere, then the issue or the clause or law of the court’s not having jurisdiction to challenge the Speaker of the House orders or decision is irrelevant.

Representing the PNP Government was the Hon. Attorney General Mrs. Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles KC (who at no time addressed the court  during the proceedings but was present throughout) and another civil attorney, who had recently joined the Attorney General (AG) Chambers, Ms. Khadija Macfarlane.

They were along with the previously mentioned lead civil attorney Ms. Hippolyte. The Government and the DMMO support team was Hon. Mr. Speaker Gordon Burton; Ministry of Tourism permanent secretary, Mr. Wesley Clerveaux (who also provided lengthy documentary evidence through affidavit), members of the newly established DMMO staff such as attorney, Miss. Sasha Arthur and others.

The AG’s defense on behalf of the Government was there was consultation, they outlined various different meetings with key stakeholders, boards that were established and consultative forums that were set up. They attempted to fortify their arguments regarding public consultation by stating that, at a press conference the media asked questions or a single question regarding the DMMO on one or more occasions. These questions reflected public concern and were answered by officials, satisfactorily according to the AG’s Chambers.

The GOVERNMENT legal team submitted to the Judge that the complainant’s application was wrongful framed and the wordings as to what relief the PDM is seeking is fundamentally flawed. They argued that the application should not have been brought by Hon. Edwin Astwood nor Hon. Alvin Garland but by People who were really affected such as the dismissed Tourist Board staff as they fall within the more appropriate criteria of the law for “sufficient interest” in judicial review proceedings.

The defence said the two members of the House lack sufficient or any interest as would meet the law’s requirement for “persons of sufficient interest” who are entitled to apply for leave to judicial review of any issues concerning the Government.

The AG team further invited the Court to dismiss or strike-out the application because it was filed outside of the statute of limitations; that the three months had already passed when the application made it to the court.

It appears to Magnetic Media that the attorneys for on behalf of the PNP government could not adequately defend against the opposition PDM case, so, they have mounted a serious legal attempt of procedures, timing and legal technicalities to get the case thrown out.

The learned judge did ask, the PDM attorney Mr. Missick to explain to him exactly what you’re seeking if leave is granted.

Missick and Garland addressed the court on this point separately but supportive of each other by stating to “QUASH” the entire DMMO ordinance and DMMO Fee bill 2023, regarding the $10.00 that all traveller’s would have to pay to maintain this new DMMO operation.

He said this must be done because, this government failed to consult the majority or any of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands regarding the DMMO and the $10.00 DMMO fee,  Missick said.

He spoke of all the persons who lost their jobs by the dissolution of the Tourist Board which has been in existence some 30 plus years. He said tourism is all we have, tourism is everybody’s business.

Ms. Hippolyte did advice the judge that some of the Tourist Board staff have been placed in other government departments, some were handsomely compensated and some are employed by the DMMO.

There was a lot more which could be said from this hotly watched matter and from the day’s hearing from both sides, however the spirit of the arguments put forth are well captured in this piece which gives the public an overview of the full nature of the proceedings.

The judge now has the matter and returns with his decision at 1pm on Wednesday, December 8, 2023.

Government

Washington MISICK challenged, and holds onto Leadership of the PNP

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#TurksandCaicos, February 24, 2024 – Magnetic Media can report that WASHINGTON MISICK has emerged and remains LEADER of the governing Progressive National Party.It has been a contentious battle today at the PNPs National General Congress (NGC) for party leadership with interest coming from: Jas Walkin, the party’s 2021 campaign manager who this week publicly withdrew his bid; Dameko Dean, former Wheeland candidate who had published an article revealing his quest to lead the PNP and E Jay Saunders who today unsuccessfully challenged MISICK for the role.Saunders has tried for leader before and has served as the party’s deputy leader, at the pleasure and selection of Washington Misick since June 2019.The run for party leader was a risky maneuver by Saunders, son of former PNP Party leader and Chief Minister Norman Saunders.Delegates cast votes, giving E Jay Saunders 58 votes and Washington Misick 88. The elder statesman convincingly retaining delegates’ confidence.It is also reported that, based on the PNP Constitution, Saunders needed 70% support from delegates in a preliminary run off.  He was unable to secure that much backing.A constitutional motion to change the selection process of the deputy leader to a delegate vote reportedly failed.It is therefore unclear what the immediate future, politically is for Saunders whose party and government roles are hinged on Washington Misick’s prerogative to have him or someone else in these posts.However Misick is already promoting a strict focus on uniting the party following the NGC meeting held at the Shore Club.

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Crime

TCI Community College staff struck and robbed, another chased in car by attackers

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – Attacks against several of its staff members last week have forced the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College to reassess its security.

“The college is robustly ending in immediate steps to review and reinforce our campus security protocols,” said a February 16 letter to staff seen by Magnetic Media.

The letter puts the date of the incidents as February 15th at one of its Providenciales campuses.

In the first,  a male member of staff was attacked and his car stolen after he left a meeting. When Magnetic Media queried police about the event, they released additional details of the robbery.

We were told around 9:15 pm, Thursday February 15, a 39-year-old male and his colleagues were leaving the TCI Community College Campus, Princess Drive, Providenciales, when a group of men surrounded his vehicle.

The man, noticing that one of the men had stopped at the rear of the vehicle, approached him to investigate and was struck on the head. In the immediate aftermath, the assailants escaped in the victim’s car, leaving the TCICC staff member injured at the scene.

The victim was transported to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center by police officers, and up until news production time, the car had not yet been recovered.

Following this incident, the Community College also revealed that a car chase had taken place.

A female member of staff this time, was chased down by suspected criminals as she left the campus. The employee managed to outdrive the people pursuing her and arrive safely at her destination, but she was described as shaken.

Now both, police officers and campus administration are urging residents to remain vigilant, especially when heading into their cars at night.

Safety tips that can help residents avoid attack, robbery, injury, or worse include:

  • Stay alert when heading to your vehicle; don’t be distracted by your phone; pay attention to your surroundings.
  • if you see anything or anyone suspicious, do not investigate on your own; go back and get a security guard or similar personnel to assist.
  • Have your keys ready in your hands before approaching your car, so you can enter the safety of your vehicle immediately.

The police have not yet arrested anyone for the robbery attack against the employee.

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News

Royal TCI Police share CAREER DAY Highlights

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – On Thursday, 8th February 2024, between 9 am – and 2 pm, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force attended a Career Day event at the Enid Capron Primary School, Five Cays, Providenciales.

Under the theme “Be aware, choose a career”, the RTCIPF showcased the many career options available in policing.

Members of the Community Policing Unit, Safeguarding and Public Protection, Anti-Gang and Drugs Unit, Marine Branch, Traffic Enforcement, Air Support Unit and Mechanical Department were present.  Officers answered questions posed by the young, impressionable minds.

Insp Ensa Wilson lectured students on various topics, including: “Good Touch, Bad Touch”, alerting adults to inappropriate situations and the importance of calling 911.

Students were asked questions following the lecture and were given RTCIPF tokens.

Sgt. Kavin Mars, along with PC Fitzlewis McDonald and Kiyon Doughty of the Anti Gang and Drug Unit, freestyled “Don’t Huff, Don’t Puff, Don’t Do That Stuff” and warned students of the dangers –health and legal – of using drugs.

Superintendent (Community Policing and Divisions) Dwight Gardiner commended the school’s initiative and applauded the representation of officers present.

Supt. Gardiner said: “Career Days often highlight the importance of community policing and underscore law enforcement’s vital role in fostering trust, collaboration, and safety within neighbourhoods.

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