Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has indicated plans to bring the territory’s recently conducted Self-Governance Assessment Report before the House of Assembly so residents can understand the options to achieve political independence from the United Kingdom.
Earlier this year, the BVI hired an international expert on governance, Dr Carlyle Corbin, to conduct an independent self-governance assessment and in a summary of his findings, he argued that the territory has all the tools it needs to become sufficient in self-governance.
Dr Corbin also noted the only thing currently lacking in the BVI’s quest for self-determination or self-governance is the actual transfer of power from the United Kingdom.
Premier Wheatley, speaking at a recent press conference, argued that the report is very good and relevant, especially with all the conversation ongoing about the partial suspension of the Virgin Islands’ constitution.
He said any move to suspend the constitution would take the territory backwards.
“If we go based on international laws and what the United Nation charters have required — which the United Kingdom and all nations are signed on to — we will see that really our democracy is something that should be maintained and we will see that we have to continue along with our development towards the number of options which have been presented by the United Kingdom for us,” Dr Wheatley said.
“Our status right now is a temporary status. And that is not me speaking that, it is the United Nations speaking, And of course, we must move towards one of those options. We want to be able to continue our development and of course, it is the people of the Virgin Islands’ choice which option they want to choose and how they want their government to look,” the Premier added.
Meanwhile, the BVI’s status as a British Overseas Territory was something Dr Corbin examined. He said it ought not to be deemed acceptable or permanent.
The international expert noted in the report’s summary that the current overseas territory status remains preparatory to the full measure of self-government, according to international law.
He continued that the current democratic status cannot be accepted if political inequality and unilateral authority remain its overarching feature – regardless of how modernised the dependency arrangement with the UK may be projected to be.
It is for this reason the Premier wants the report to be made public and for the people of the territory to be familiarised with the findings by Dr Corbin.
“Of course, we are going to constitutional review as well, so, I think it is important for people to read that report and educate themselves on the political status. It gives us a history of our political status going back to slavery up until now and I think it will give us a firm grounding as we go into constitutional review and any discussion on the future status on the BVI,” Premier Wheatley said.
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