Caribbean Community Statement on the Release of the Report of the United Kingdom’s British Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry

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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) takes note of the release on April 29, 2022, of the Report of the British Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry (COI) with its far-reaching recommendations. The British Virgin Islands (BVI), a British Overseas Territory, has been an Associate Member of the Community since July 1991.

CARICOM supports the decision of the duly elected Government of the BVI to welcome the recommendations for improving governance and their commitment to work with the United Kingdom to address the weaknesses identified in the COI report. CARICOM agrees that the people of BVI and their duly elected representatives have the responsibility to ensure good governance with full transparency and accountability and should work together to achieve mutually acceptable solutions to address the concerns highlighted in the COI report.

CARICOM is however deeply concerned by the Report’s recommendation to suspend “those parts of the Constitution by which areas of government are assigned to elected representatives” and taking the retrograde step of restoring direct rule by the Governor in Council as existed in Her Majesty’s colonies during the colonial period. CARICOM supports the BVI government and people in their objection to this recommendation.

The imposition of direct rule, and the history of such imposition in the Caribbean, was never intended to deliver democratic governance or to be an instrument of economic and social development of our countries and peoples.

CARICOM believes that any action to suspend the House of Assembly in the BVI and impose direct rule from London would be inconsistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Accordingly, CARICOM reminds the United Kingdom of its international obligations in respect of United Nations Resolution 1514 of 1960 – the United Nations Declaration on The Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

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