LONDON, CMC – Britain has defended its decision to postpone “free and fair’ elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) saying that the move is for a limited period “until the principles of good governance have been resorted”.
London in August 2009 resumed daily administration of the affairs of the British Overseas Territory, disbanded the locally elected government and suspended the legislature after a Commission of Inquiry said it found widespread corruption under the administration of former premier Michael Misick.
The former premier, who resigned in March 2009, after the Commission made its findings public, has called on all Turks and Caicos Islanders, churches and political parties to put differences aside and “unite to fight the common enemy, the British.
In its annual human rights report released here, London said “this action was taken to enable the Governor to restore the principles of good governance, sustainable development and sound financial management to the Territory”.
In September last year, London announced that “this suspension would continue and that the elections that it had been hoped would take place in 2011 would be postponed”.
It said the 2009 Order left in place the fundamental rights chapter of the Constitution whichreflects the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“It removed the constitutional right of an individual to trial by jury. This does not mean that trial by jury has been abolished; rather it allows the local law to provide for trials without a jury in appropriate cases.
“This is wholly consistent with the European convention, under which there is no automatic right to trial by jury.”
But the “ Human Rights and Democracy: The 2010 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report” noted that on suspending the island’s constitution, the UK withdrew its acceptance of Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention in respect of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Article 3 requires the holding of free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature. The withdrawal is for a limited period until the principles of good governance have been restored and elections held in the Islands,” said the report the statement said.
Last month, supporters of the Turks and Caicos Islanders United for Justice and Equality (TCIUJE) took to the streets demanding an end to British rule and a return to parliamentary democracy.
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