Above: the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The new constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands took effect Monday, marking the “beginning of the end” of the three-year UK interim administration, according to UK Minister for the Overseas Territories Mark Simmonds.
“Today is an important day in the Turks and Caicos Islands as the new constitution comes into force,” said Simmonds, who was named Minister for the Overseas Territories following a cabinet shakeup by British Prime Minister David Cameron in September.
The move comes less than a month after the territory will hold elections on Nov. 9.
“I am delighted with the progress that the Interim Administration has made in its efforts to reform and embed the principles of sound financial management and good governance across the structures and government of the Turks and Caicos Islands,” he said. “The new constitution is a key part of the framework designed to help ensure fair and transparent governance under a new administration.”
The UK imposed direct rule on the territory following allegations of widespread corruption under the administration of former Premier Michael Misick.
The charges were unearthed by a Commission of Inquiry led by Sir Robin Auld in 2009, which found a “high probability” of systemic corruption in government and the legislature.
That has led to some controversy and opposition on the island as it relates to the passing of legislation and other measures, like the recently-enacted Value-Added Tax.
An arrest warrant has been issued by the Special Investigation and Prosecution team charged with tackling the corruption, although Misick fled the country and currently remains at large.
Jamaican Justice Paul Harrison is overseeing criminal cases relating to the SIPT’s investigations.
To see the full constitution, click here.