Sunday, August 16, 2009

CNN seizes islands; UK does something else

That was the link line on the CNN piece: "Britain seizes control of islands" ...sounds impressive, doesn't it?

1) Turks and Caicos Islands are a Dependency of the United Kingdom.
Turks and Caicos is a UK overseas territory and residents there have British citizenship.


Once a dependency of Jamaica, the islands become a crown colony when Jamaica gained its independence in 1962.

2) What really happened was an imposition of Direct Rule:
The UK government has been threatening action for several months after an inquiry commissioned by the Foreign Office returned a damning verdict.

It examined the actions of the Turks' Cabinet and Assembly and found "information in abundance pointing to a high probability of systematic corruption or serious dishonesty".

It also concluded there were "clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of a general administrative incompetence".

3) We've been here before:
It is extremely rare for the UK to impose direct rule on an overseas territory.

The last similar move also involved Turks and Caicos, in July 1986, when an inquiry found ministers had "indulged in unconstitutional behaviour, political discrimination and administrative malpractices".
The only thing different this time is the names named and the directions of finger-pointing.

It is the responsibility of any sovereign to see to the administration of any dependencies held in their name. Her Majesty's Government did the right thing this time. Here's hoping 2 years of the oversight of direct rule can root out some of the corrupt practices and set things back on course. A few trials of those accused of stealing Crown Property for sale would be a good place to start.

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