Today, Mr. Gary Hickinbottom (a “Sir” in England, and a “Pirate” in the Caribbean) performed an important act of heroism. He decided - against the local laws - to make public a very embarrassing audit report that the BVI government tried to hide from the public through the standard obfuscation tactic built into the English legal system used on the island.
Today, for once, my opposition to the British act of White Supremacy of instigating the illegal Commission of Inquiry (COI) against the island's democratically-elected government reminded me of my embarrassing opposition to the acts of terror committed by Nelson Mandela in his war against Apartheid.
Mr. Gary Hickinbottom has ruled - against the law and without any legal authority to do so - that he will be placing a COVID-19 audit document on the COI’s website, thus making it publicly accessible, ignoring the government's decision and against the AG's objection.
The audit covers the government’s grants to farmers and fisherfolk as well as other government economic stimulus given to local religious institutions, private schools, and daycare centres.
Several aspects of the audit document have been cited at length during Auditor General Sonia Webster’s testimony before the COI this week.
Solicitor General, Jo-Ann Williams-Roberts, who acts on behalf of the Attorney General representing government ministers, urged Mr. Hickinbottom not to publish the audit document on the COI’s website at this stage. Admittedly, she did point out a few valid reasons for this, but made them alongside the regular bureaucratic nonsense as an excuse to hide this report from the public - which in fact owns it.
“If we publish the report, then we’d obviously exclude the personal data — that’s not an issue. The only issue [you then have] is that, although it’s a final report, it hasn’t been laid before the House of Assembly yet,” Sir Gary said.
Williams-Roberts agreed and said: “I am concerned that we may misstep if we do publish the information prior to it being laid on the House of Assembly’s table,” Williams-Roberts said.
COI attorney Bilal Rawat, in his response, argued that the process of placing the documents before the HOA was essentially a ‘procedural step’ before making the documents public.
He said the AG’s document was essentially final since it was submitted to the governor. And when it’s in the hands of the governor, no changes are usually made — unless in the form of an addendum.
According to Mr. Rawat, the documents had already been sent to all interested parties in a COI hearing bundle, so it should have been obvious that there was an intention to make the documents public via Inquiry proceedings.
With the public having read the transcripts of the hearing, Mr. Rawat said they will now be aware of the contents of the document, which goes towards the aim of helping the public to understand the work of the COI.
Mr Rawat said he was not arguing for the COI to publish every document it received. But, altogether, he felt these factors outweighed the arguments made by the Solicitor-General.
The Solicitor-General, in response, pointed out the fact that placing the documents before the HOA was not a procedural step but a statutory requirement as per Section 20 of the Audit Act. She argued that the COI would be in breach of the Act if it published the document summarily on its website.
But the Section 20 of the Audit Act is an illegal law, as it’s form of procedure to hide from the public an audit report which is done for the public and belongs to the public.
Section 20 of the Audit Act is an abuse of lawmakers' power, throwing BVI back into rule by bureaucracy instead of democracy; a well known trick of colonialism that corrupt officers to act against the public’s interest.
Section 20 of the Audit Act perverts the way publicity must be done:
The soul of democracy is “for the public”. (The soul of colonialism is “for the government”).
Giving audit reports first to the Governor is wrong. (Actually, the position and function of governor is racist, anti-democratic, and against the international law. It’s pure colonialism).
Giving the audit report next only to the government, is in fact not only delays the exposure for too long, which is wrong. When the information is so urgent, it must be made publicly available while mistakes can still be fixed.
In democracy, the Auditor General serves the public, not the government. It must report first to the boss (the public) and not to the people it investigates (the government).
The law that state that the report must be given first to the suspects (the government) instead of to the owners, bosses and victims (the public) is illegal and void.