Premier Andrew Fahie has complained that his government is still expected to produced thousands of requested documents for the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI), despite facing severe constraints.
Many government offices have been shuttered, with staff being forced to work remotely, ever since the BVI began to experience a severe COVID-19 upsurge. This has since led to community spread of the virus and multiple deaths in the last few days.
“The government’s public officers, right now, are barely in office — well, not in office. But are still expected to produce all of the documents being requested by the COI; are still expected — whether they have COVID or they don’t, whether their family member is suffering from COVID or not, whether their family member has died from COVID or not — no matter what they’re going through with COVID, with the spike, with the stress of it, with the psychological effects of it with some of the families; are still being asked to produce [this] information,” the Premier said.
The Premier said the only respectable thing for the COI to have done was to suspend its hearings for at least two months given all that is happening, and given the extension granted to the COI.
He said while his intention is not to be disrespectful, someone needed to stand up and say “this is not right”.
Fahie said he had not spoken out before because he was often told to be careful and be respectful.
According to the Premier, the timeframe being imposed by the COI for submission of the documents was also something he considered unreasonable.
The Premier said his government has produced more than 100,000 pages of documents for the COI, yet they continue to be told that their submissions are incomplete.
Fahie suggested the missing documents likely do not amount to much and said his government will continue to endeavour to produce the requested documents as best as they can.
The COI received a six-month extension to continue its work after complaining that the documents submitted by the government for the Inquiry were in a state of disarray.
Meanwhile, Fahie said his government welcomes a transparent COI but insisted that it must yield a just outcome; this way the BVI can emerge better.
He added that even though the COI was imposed with terms of reference that are “quite questionable and very broad”, his government has nothing to hide and will continue to be transparent and just.
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