By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Outspoken resident Rosemary ‘Cindy’ Rosan-Jones said she would be seeking legal counsel on what she believes is a breach of her constitutional rights and a move by the Andrew Fahie administration to ‘silence’ her.
Rosan-Jones was given a warning letter on October 8 by her employer – the BVI Tourist Board (BVITB) – relating to her posts on her personal social media pages.
Among the concerns that the BVITB — a government statutory body — outlined in the said letter is the ‘bad publicity’ that Rosan-Jones’ posts reportedly bring to the territory as a tourism destination and to Premier Fahie who is also Minister of Tourism.
“As you are aware, the BVITB and the Film Commission is tasked with, among other things, the favourable promotion of the BVI. We are aware that you recently posted via a social media platform, comments relating to the Premier and the government including the Tourism portfolio, and also persons responsible for and operating within that portfolio,” the two-page letter addressed to Rosan-Jones read.
The letter indicated that while it was her constitutional right to make public posts and comments, she also has a responsibility to the BVITB to promote the BVI positively.
You are embarrassing us
The letter also indicated that Rosan-Jones’ posts were an embarrassment to the key players of that sector.
“From where we sit, the BVITB has determined that your posts as an employee of the board has embarrassed the Board and are not in line with the Board’s aim to favourably promote the BVI,” the letter said.
“You would appreciate that an employee of the Board publicly posting comments questioning the validity, competence and credibility of the organisation’s leadership including the Premier, the Junior Minister of Tourism, the Deputy Chairman could affect the favourable promotion of the BVI and cause embarrassment to the board.”
Furthermore, the document pointed out that the BVITB has been receiving numerous unfavourable complaints and comments in respect to several of her social media posts.
The authors of the letter then cautioned Rosan Jones that she ‘may’ be penalised if she does not desist from making the BVI and the Premier look bad.
It said: “As you are no doubt aware, this organization is built on, among other things, good and proper public relations and appearance. We are asking that in future you consider this to assist in helping the board protect its brand. We hereby warn you to cease any and all activities which could amount to embarrassment, unfavourable and negative promotion of the BVI and the board. Failure to adhere to this warning may lead to further disciplinary action against you.”
The letter was signed by the Director of Tourism Sharon Flax-Brutus and newly installed chairman of the Board of Directors, Kenisha Sprauve.
In a response letter addressed to Flax-Brutus and the Sprauve and dated Friday, October 11, Rosan-Jones asked for the proof of the posts where she embarrassed and spoke negatively of the BVITB and the government.
She also requested proof of all social media posts that affected the positive promotion of the BVI tourism product.
I’m being silenced
“I suspect this letter [of warning] is coming as a directive of the newly elected VIP administration in their effort to silence me,” Rosan-Jones said.
“If this is not the case, then I expect the Director of the BVITB will receive the same letter for her outspokenness as it relates to the Government of the Virgin Islands leading up to the 2019 elections and posts that she in herself has written that could have a negative impact on the BVI Tourism product,” she further argued.
The outspoken resident said it was her right to question the elected officials in her capacity as a voting citizen.
“I consider this letter a breach of my constitutional rights and will, therefore, be seeking legal counsel as it relates to the following entities: The BVITB, the Board of the BVITB, the BVITB’s Human Resources Department, the Director of the BVITB, and the Chairman of the BVITB,” she wrote.
More are suffering
In the meantime, in one of her more recent posts on Facebook, Rosan-Jones said, more persons like her are suffering.
She referred to it as a “journey of victimization, bullying and scaremongering”, that she has been on since the 2019 general elections held in February this year.
“Why do I want to make this journey public you may ask? Most important, it would be disingenuous of me, given my platform that I keep this all to myself. Secondly, there is a long line of others suffering the same fate, and I stand in solidarity with them. Not only that, it is time that this behaviour, dished out at the highest levels of our governance be brought to its knees. It’s time to embarrass it, stifle it and stomp it out of our society. There is no place for it here,” she surmised.
Among her posts on social media, Rosan-Jones has publicly questioned why the ministries of Trade, Tourism, Finance and statutory bodies such as the BVI Electricity Corporation, the port and airport authorities were all under the Premier’s portfolio.
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