Premier Gives National Address On The Constitution of the Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos Government Press Release
Delivered by Premier Robinson on November 5, 2018
My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, residents and visitors to our Shores.
Today I wish to update the country on the contents of the recent submissions made to the UK on behalf of the people of these Islands. It is important from the outset to establish 3 important facts:
1. These submissions are based on the views of the people obtained in 2015 and which have been with the UK since then having been submitted under the Rufus Ewing led Administration.
2. These 2015 Submissions were refreshed following discussions in April with the Political Party that forms the Official Opposition.
3. I have a scheduled meeting with the UK Minister on December 6th, 2018 at 10.20 am to discuss these changes. I will certainly keep the people of these Islands informed.
The following was submitted to Lord Ahmad, UK Minister together with a revised Submission by my Government.
The Government led by Former Premier Rufus Ewing and the Official Opposition then led by myself, joined together and held consultations around the Islands in 2015 to hear the opinion of the people on the 2011 Constitution. The Body consisted of a Chairman agreed by both the then Premier and myself as Leader of the Opposition and three members each appointed by the Premier and myself as leader of the Opposition.
Chairman – Daniel Malcolm snr.
Government Appointed Members Hon Akierra Missick Hon R D Gardiner Mr Carlos Simmons
Opposition Appointed Members Hon Sharlene Cartwright Robinson Hon Sean Astwood Mr Ashwood Forbes
Whilst we contributed to the Report, the Terms of Reference invited the Chairman to produce a Report. As members we were able to make some contribution to its content. Following its Presentation, the entire elected membership of the House of Assembly met to discuss its recommendations and to agree and/or disagree its contents based on applicability and experiences as elected members and members of the Cabinet. Both Government and Opposition jointly reviewed the report and offered positions. Additionally the former Government from its own knowledge of the operation of Cabinet etc, made recommendations.
Since coming to Office, I have asked the Opposition to join me in pursuing the changes. The Hon Leader of the Opposition named Hon Akierra Missick, Hon Royal Robinson and Mr R D Gardiners as those representing the Official Opposition/PNP Political Party whilst Hon Sean Astwood, Hon Doug Parnell and I represented the Government/PDM Political Party.
A Meeting was held on April 24th, 2018 where the following was agreed and a further Meeting was to be held with the Political Parties to agree the final submission.
The initial Meeting followed the Recommendations sent by the Former Premier following consultations in 2015 and the receipt of the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Body’s Report. Only points raised below are those that we as a Joint Body have added to the recommendations now before London and points the Meeting reemphasized:
The removal of the CFO was agreed to be a non issue.
Accept the Recommendations for reinstatement of Trial by Jury.
Reject the continued inclusion of Deputy Governor as full member of Cabinet and further recommend that the Attorney General and the Deputy Governor be only ex officio members of Cabinet with no voting rights.
Decisions to be made in Cabinet should follow the 2006 Constitution (emphasis on “consensus” and its meaning and the Governor should be bound to follow Cabinet unless under special circumstances as set out)
Cabinet Secretary must revert to its role in 2006 Constitution.
Both Governor and Premier should be able to summon Public Officers and should not be limited to the Governor or those who act only which includes the Deputy Governor, the Attorney General and the PS Finance.
Where we agree to adopt section 61 of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009 we have added to Clause 1 (a) he or she is a Turks and Caicos Islander otherwise than by adoption, grant or marriage; Clause 1 (c) Be an elector; Clause 1(d) Be resident in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a period not less than 3 years preceding the date of nomination. Add (f) to
Clause (3): Her Majesty’s Forces. Remove the reference to “The absence of Ministers and Notice of Leave under The Governor And The Executive – Disqualification Of Ministers” Under The Legislature – On nominating appointed members – Government 2, Governor 1 and Opposition Leader 1 as oppose to what obtains now where the Governor has 2 appointed members and the Government and Opposition, 1 each.
Under The Judicature - Amend to include language that says “high level Office” which will include Queen’s Counsels. This is to give a chance for local appointments as oppose to continue with High Legal Office. Amend the Boundaries Commission to 2006 Constitution provision that allows the Chair to be appointed by the Governor, 1 Member by the Premier and 1 by the Leader of the Opposition as oppose to the Governor’s ability now to appoint 2 Members and a third to be shared by the Premier and Leader of the Opposition. Institutions Protecting Good Governance – There are 5 IPGG and we propose to amend to allow for the submission of Annual Reports: The Supervisor of Elections; The Director of Public Prosecutions Office; The Human Rights Commission; The National Audit Office and The Complaints Commission. The Removal of section 132 from the Constitution and leave all detailed references to the path to TCI Status in subsidiary legislation or for local legislation. Attorney General – The Attorney General should be elected or appointed now that we have a Director of Public Prosecutions that is charged with instituting prosecutions. All references relating to the Governor “in consultation with” and which was “in accordance with the advice” in 2006 Constitution should return in accordance with the 2006 Constitution.
The new provisions being submitted are as follows:
Allow locally elected Government to be able to have more of a strategic say over the Police Force through a strengthened National Security Council which is now simply an advisory body. Amend Section 49 (1) (a) to ensure that this provision speaks only to those who as an adult applies for citizenship to a foreign power or state. Return Crown Land under the management of a Minister. Review the Public Service Management structure with a view to having greater harmony between elected Government and Public Service Officers.
I also informed the UK Minister that the Official Opposition has now declined to continue the Talks together with us as its Party and has advised that it is changing leadership and further that it will be seeking greater constitutional powers aside from the recommendations it submitted in 2015 as the then Government. We remain committed to continuing to make representations on the Proposals amassed following consultations with the people of these Islands.
A TCI Delegation will meet with the UK Minister on December 6th, 2018 to discuss these Submissions.
As someone who has served on the 2002 Constitution Review and Modernisation Committee under the Hon Derek Taylor led Administration; again in 2006 under the Michael Misick led Administration to complete those works that took over 4 years; and again under the Rufus Ewing led Administration in 2015, my country knows my commitment to constitutional advancement and under my Government, there will be as equal a commitment.
We will keep the people engaged and informed leading up to the Meeting in the UK so that persons fully grasp the Submissions and its impact on governance.
May God bless these Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands.
Hon Sharlene L Cartwright Robinson Premier & Minister of Finance The Turks and Caicos Islands