While noting the difficultly in finally getting a local to hold the post, Premier Andrew Fahie has said if the former Attorney General (AG) Baba Aziz was a BVIslander, he would still have been in that position to date.
Aziz, who is a native of Ghana, served as AG from February 2015 to September 2020 after his contract was initially due to expire in February 2020.
Premier Fahie made the comments during a recent session in the House of Assembly after outlining the section of the BVI’s 2007 Constitution which states that a qualified local should be the first option to fill the vacant position of Attorney General.
“Look at what the Constitution advancement did in 2007 when we fought to make sure that whenever you’re looking about filling the spot of the Attorney General. Not the person in the seat, but in terms of the institution, the Constitution says that it must be a Virgin Islander/Belonger with at least 10 years’ experience to hold the seat of Attorney General.”
He added, “Thirteen years later is when it finally kicked in because somebody stood up and said that’s enough. It isn’t that I am against the former AG at all, because then they put us against each other. That’s one of my African brothers and I love him to death but the Constitution was clear. I would hire him any day. If he were a Belonger, he would be still here, but he wasn’t.”
Government had to challenge for the position
Premier Fahie said that despite the Constitution clearly having provisions that legally allows for a qualified local to fill the position of AG, his government still had to go above and beyond to ensure that Dawn Smith received the appointment.
“The only reason that the current AG is in the seat now is because they couldn’t get past the Constitution when we challenged it …But I didn’t get it just for Dawn, I get it for future Dawns,” the Premier stated.
“When Dr Smith (the former Premier) and the constitutional team put it in. You know why they put it in? I was in politics all then, all of us, all 13 were saying it is time for a local to get in the seat of Attorney General. So the crafters the framers of the Constitution did it to ensure that. And then years later, I’m going to come to fight an entity that’s trying to sidestep what the Constitution says?”
Smith became the territory’s first local to hold the post in years. Queen’s Counsel Dancia Penn is the first local to ever hold the post.
Premier Fahie and his government has made it clear that their intention is to localise the territory’s workforce to the extent where the percentage of locals exceeds the percentage of expats.
Presently, approximately 70 percent of the BVI’s labour force comprises expats while the remaining 30 percent comprises BVIslanders.
Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.