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Saturday, Oct 16, 2021

Statement by the Caribbean Community on UK’s Commission of Inquiry in the British Virgin Islands

Statement by the Caribbean Community on UK’s Commission of Inquiry in the British Virgin Islands

The heads of Caricom members have released a weak, stuttering and cowardly message in response to the scandal that the dubious governor Augustus "Gus" Jaspert caused on the island before he left. The cowardly message does not express the loyalty, brotherhood and support expected from the common victims of crimes against humanity that the British committed against them in the past.

In an anti-democratic and tyrannical operation that is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes such as Ceaușescu’s Romania and Stalin’s Soviet Union, the dubious Governor Jaspert decided, on his own and without any consultation with the government, to appoint a fake committee of inquiry (a one-man “committee", not a group of independent experts). 

The establishment of that fictitious Commission of Inquiry - whose job it is to find something wrong that someone in the government may have done -  came surprise, surprise!  immediately after the BVI government demanded the British government apologise for the past and compensate the descendants of the victims for the crimes against humanity committed by the British against the BVI citizens (and all their Caricom neighbours).

So the Commission is supposed to investigate what? Well, nothing specific or known as yet. Their task is just to search and search until they can find something to point their fingers at and blame the democratically-elected government (as if their own UK government is oh-so perfect and not corrupt at all).

This illegal Commission obviously has all the characteristics of corruption itself, both in those who appointed it and in those who agreed to serve in it, as it is an investigation which is not based on any complaint or alleged suspicion of wrong-doing ("Prima Facie evidence").

As we know, only in the darkest regimes in history did the secret police knock on the door and interrogate people without any suspicion that they had committed an offense. The dreaded police assumed that if they searched hard enough, they would eventually find something wrong, some fly that could be described in court as an elephant, to enable the detainees wto be found to have sinned. Such easy sins could also have been found in the investigators themselves, if they too had been interrogated under a magnifying glass, and without any suspicion that they had committed an offense.

I am not so naïve as to think that there are no cases of corruption on the island. But I am not so dumb as to think that the corruption that can be found on the island, when one looks with a magnifying glass, is greater or different from the corruption that can be found in any democratic government in the rest of the world.

But the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry without any suspicion of any offense and without prima facie evidence of any wrongdoing is in itself a criminal libel, and a serious violation of the principle of the Presumption of Innocence on which both English law and the international human rights charter are based.

What disappoints me and saddens me greatly is reading the weak, dry and loose statement posted by Caricom. 

Undermining democratically-elected government and local watchdog institutions just to find out “if” there is any wrong-doing is a dirty, brutal act of intruding on the autonomy of an overseas territory. 

Only in the dark tyrannical regimes of the past did the police knock on the door - prior to any evidence or complaint - just to check “if” they can find something wrong!

This anaemic statement does not convey the reassuring tone of solidarity that should have been loudly broadcast by the Caricom brotherhood.

This empty message expresses not even the slightest mutual loyalty that one would expect from the common victims of the crimes against humanity committed by those who now insist on undermining the autonomy of the islanders, marking a return to the dark days of their colonialist crimes.

Here is the full, empty Caricom Statement:

“Heads of Government received a letter from the Premier of the British Virgin Islands which apprised of the announcement on 18 January 2021 of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) “to establish whether there is evidence of corruption and abuse of office or other serious dishonesty” in the British Virgin Islands. The COI was ordered by the then sitting Governor.

Heads of Government are cognisant of the disquiet that has arisen among the people of the British Virgin Islands about the establishment of the COI. Further, the Heads of Government are dismayed at the manner in which the COI was established with no consultation, or prior communication, between the UK government and the duly-elected government of the British Virgin Islands.

Heads of Government noted the strongly-expressed concerns on this matter by the British Virgin Islands government, which concerns are also shared by other Associate Members of the Community.”


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