The Commission of Inquiry (COI) has announced its intention to host the first live-streamed hearing of its proceedings tomorrow, Wednesday, June 2 at 10 am.
During the hearing, Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom will hear legal submissions on behalf of Attorney General Dawn Smith on “the extent to which Cabinet documents should be disclosed to the COI and thereafter to the public”.
“For reasons that have been explained previously, the initial hearings of the COI were conducted in private … However, going forward, wherever possible, COI hearings will be conducted in public. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the public are not able to attend the hearings in person; but the hearings will be live-streamed via the COI’s dedicated YouTube channel,” Secretary to COI Steven Chandler said in a statement released Monday afternoon.
He added: “There may be occasions where for good reason it will be necessary to hold a private hearing or go into private session (e.g. where some confidential government document is being considered). However, the Commissioner will ensure that these occasions are kept to a minimum.”
“The live stream will be subject to a three-minute time delay. In the event that a witness gives an answer which contains information that may not be made public, then the time delay will allow either Counsel to the Commission, the legal representative of a participant or a witness to raise the matter. The Commissioner will then direct that the live stream be paused and the hearing will go into private session. Once the Commissioner has determined the matter and any confidential evidence heard in private, the live stream will be resumed,” Chandler further said.
According to Chandler, the Commissioner has not received any application that tomorrow’s hearing should be in private. It will therefore be live-streamed. The transcript of the proceedings will be made available on the COI’s website thereafter.
The COI was issued on January 19, 2021 to look into whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty may have taken place amongst public, elected and statutory officials in recent years; and to make appropriate recommendations as to governance and the operation of the law enforcement and justice systems in the BVI.
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