The world is still only receiving trickled news of the British take-over of Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, though it commenced on August 14, 2009. The British take-over was executed under the authority of Great Britain’s Commission of Enquiry report, concluding that the earlier government of Michael Misick bred a climate of fear among its citizens.
Many countries around the world have condemned Britain’s actions citing their discontent with colonialism. Prior to August 14, 2009, Turks and Caicos Islands had its own constitution and government which is now “suspended,” for what Great Britain says will be a period of at least two years.
What makes this a sensitive subject is not necessarily that Great Britain seized the government of Turks and Caicos, alleging corruption by then Premiere Misick, but that a newly elected government had been installed since March, following Misick’s resignation. Galmo Williams had been the newly elected Premiere for five months prior to Britain’s take-over. By all accounts, world governments found Great Britain’s move to be excessive and improper.
The United Nations’ Special Committee for Decolonisation has released its report dated September 23, 2009, entitled: Report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples for 2009. In the report, section X (4), the United Nations addresses Turks and Caicos Islands’ direct rule by Great Britain and specifically calls for, “restoration of constitutional arrangements providing for representative democracy through elected territorial Government as soon as possible.”
On October 6, 2009, The United Nations published its declaration with respect to eradicating colonialism, “Eradication Colonialism Requires Fresh, Concrete, Creative Impetus.” This document affirms the United Nations “Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010).”
Generally, The United Nations condemns colonialism by Great Britain and it has made several resolutions and declarations to that end. But it has also specifically addressed the British take over of the Turks and Caicos Islands of August 14, 2009, as improper.
Furthermore, a team of international attorneys working on behalf of Turks and Caicos argued to The United Nations that the suspension of Turks and Caicos’ constitution, “contravenes European Union law.”
Among the most outspoken of Great Britain’s critics in this regard is CARICOM, a multi-nation Caribbean governmental body whose mission is to “provide dynamic leadership and service, in partnership with Community institutions and Groups, toward the attainment of a viable, internationally competitive and sustainable Community…” CARICOM is said to be a type of United Nations of the Caribbean.
After CARICOM’s summit in Guyana, CARICOM announced once again that it is “deeply disturbed” by Great Britain’s decision to suspend Turks and Caicos Island’s constitution.
In a statement following the summit, CARICOM announced its condemnation of Great Britain’s “…rejection…of the new Premier.” and expressed its favor, “to allow the people of TCI to elect a new government which could have adopted and implemented the measures required to improve the administration of the territory and strengthen integrity in public life was, regrettably, a lost opportunity.”
Many Turks and Caicos Islanders are asking questions as well. What will happen during this two year period of governance by Great Britain? What will happen at the end of the two-year period? Why has Great Britain suspended its citizens’ right to a jury trial? Governor Gordon Wetherell, now in charge of the islands’ government, has been quoted as follows, “The constitutional right to trial by jury is also suspended with immediate effect. In accordance with the Order in Council, this will be for a period of two years, subject to extension or abbreviation as necessary.”
It has also been reported that another Caribbean nation, St Lucia through its Foreign Affairs Minister Rufus Bousquet, has recently announced that it joins CARICOM’s “profound concern” with Great Britain’s decision to dissolve self-governance and independence as to Turks and Caicos Islands.
With so many international communities weighing in on the controversy of Great Britain’s direct rule over Turks and Caicos, why is Great Britain still installed on the island territory? Governor Wetherell dismissed claims that the British government control is a take-over of Turks and Caicos or colonialism.
However, simple cursory reviews expose the standard of colonialism or imperialism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines colonialism as “political and economic control over a dependent territory.” It further defines post-modern colonialism as a foreign entity governing that is not of the same culture or history of the territory.
It is not yet clear what position Great Britain will take in light of the world community’s views on its takeover of the Turks and Caicos government. However, the citizens of Turks and Caicos are sure to demand an answer as to Great Britain’s intentions. Great Britain will undoubtedly be taken to task if the world community has a say.