BVI News

Unconstitutional, unconscionable for gov’t to refuse entry to citizens for this long

Senior Opposition legislator Julian Fraser has made strong suggestions that government neglecting to allow citizens back into the territory is unconstitutional.

Fraser gave that indication at an Opposition media briefing on Tuesday, following months of government denying citizens access into the BVI.

“You can’t tell a citizen he can’t come home, so we need to be responsible. The government is responsible for this, and the government needs to act, the government needs to make sure that this is corrected,” Fraser said.

According to Section 18(1) of the Virgin Islands Constitution, a person who belongs to the Virgin Islands — or on whom residence status has been legally conferred — shall not be deprived of his or her freedom of movement, including the right to enter and leave the Virgin Islands.

Section 18(1) of the Virgin Islands Constitution

On the other hand, its also states in subsection 3(a) that: “The imposition of restrictions on the movement or residence within the Virgin Islands or on the right to leave the Virgin Islands of persons generally or any class of persons that are reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health”.

Fraser, however, argued that government ought not “indefinitely impose these restrictions on individuals who have constitutional rights”.

Gov’t has had months to plan

He said a meeting to discuss coronavirus-related plans was had between members of the Opposition and government as far back as January 30.

And from that meeting, he said discussions were had about entry into the BVI, which included quarantining and heightened measures at ports of entry.

Fraser, therefore, argued that it is inexcusable to prevent the entry of citizens as government has had ample time to put measures in place to accommodate residents stranded in other countries.

“Here I am on May 19, telling you that our citizens who live here should be allowed to come home, and don’t tell me that it is irresponsible because we should have the quarantine facilities for these people … Leaving them out there hanging is not conscionable. It’s wrong, they should be back home.” Fraser argued.

Persons locked out days after leaving for medical treatment

The Opposition legislator who represents the Third Electoral District said there are citizens in neighbouring countries that had left the BVI to seek medical treatment days before the borders closed.

He said he believes these persons should have been allowed back into the territory long ago.

“This is something that you can endure for two days, three days, four days, but two or three months? It is unbelievable … A citizen of a country has nowhere else to go but home, and it is high time that they come home,” Fraser argued.

“Can you imagine leaving home and going overseas and can’t come back home, not to mention the many things that you left here that require your attention. No government should be allowed to get away with this, definitely not for this long,” he further said.

Repatriation flights should have been in play

The senior legislator pointed to a number of countries who have been sending repatriation flights for its citizens stranded in other parts of the world.

He said he believes this also should have been the case for the BVI.

“They talk about borders being closed, the borders are not closed. Airbus a380s are flying from China to the United States daily and what are they doing, repatriating their citizens,” Fraser argued.

He continued: “The Germans are sending Lufthansa (largest German airline) to Africa regularly to bring back its citizens. The UK is sending aircraft all around the world to bring back its citizens and we got our citizens right there in the United States Virgin Islands and they can’t come home.”

The government’s position

Premier and Minister responsible for ports, Andrew Fahie has said his government has not yet decided on whether repatriation flights will be provided for British Virgin Islanders stranded abroad.

He said the projected date for the partial reopening of the BVI’s borders is June 2.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

38 Comments

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  1. Concern says:

    Damn if they do, damn if they don’t. But I will praise the government for trying to keep the people safe. You want to compare BVI to America – America now has nearly 100K deaths from this virus.

    Like 41
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    • Langon says:

      “You can’t tell a citizen he can’t come home”.
      Really? If that’s the case, there is no problem.
      The truth is you can tell them they can’t come home if you are the government. Which they are.
      Simple really. A 5 year old could work that out.
      Unless their name was Fraser.

      Like 5
      Dislike 3
    • American Tourist says:

      America is estimating 24,000 to 62,000 deaths from Covid thus far. For comparison purposes, in 2017, we had 61,000 deaths form the flu. Just a normal flu season that the government blew out of proportion.

      https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

      • @American Tourist says:

        Comparisons to the flu are misapprehended, this is not the flu, just like chicken pox or zika is not the flu. The true death toll from Covid-19 is likely already over 100,000. The US government at State and Federal level have been cooking the books. The uncontrolled spread of this virus doesnt just risk the death of the 3-5% of people who immediately die from it, but people who suffer serious symptoms suffer longterm damage to their organs and a lifetime of ill health and likely premature death. The uncontrolled spread overwhelms healthcare provisions: you better hope you dont have any accident or get cancer when this happens, now you are in a high-risk group too. The uncontrolled spread provides the virus a better chance to mutate, it may become even more deadly.

        I dont know why people would assume that the world’s global governments are part of some sort of conspiracy to not just kill millions of people but to trigger the World’s largest recession and to send billions into poverty. Maybe you can say why? FYI: the World doesnt revolve around Donald’s re-election hopes or the US in general.

  2. 007 says:

    While we can feel empathy for those that are affected by the lockdown. These were dire circumstances. Almost everywhere closed their borders to protect their citizens and residents. We have seen what could happen locally when we leave the borders opened. All of our cases were from people that were outside the territory that came “home” and infected others. They imported the virus to the BVI and it didn’t just infected them alone, it affected the entire BVI. We have to weigh our decisions based on the greater good. If a handful of people have to be uncomfortable so that 30,000 can be safe then the decision is simple.

    Like 46
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  3. Yuh Salty says:

    Tell Fraser to shut he mouth and stop looking for stupid reasons to bash Fahie. Tell Fraser it got something name Dulcolax to help him with his problem, because he full of it.

    Like 32
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  4. Tongue Fu says:

    “(a) for the imposition of restrictions on the movement or residence within the Virgin Islands
    or on the right to leave the Virgin Islands of persons generally or any class of persons that
    are reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interests of defence, public safety,
    public order, public morality or public health;”

    BVINEWS please do not paraphrase the constitution. You have to be more responsible as a reputable news source.

    Above is the complete version of Section 3 a. The Government in the interests of public health/safety restrict the movement or residence WITHIN the Virgin Islands or the RIGHT TO LEAVE the Virgin Islands. No where does that subsection speak to Government being able to restrict or prevent Virgin Islanders from ENTERING their own country.

    In regards to repatriation flights, logistics and cost will be an issue so possibly letting persons meet in San Juan or Miami and the BVI
    Government bring them in from there is the better option. This is for American based BVI Nationals but for the UK that would be more challenging as BA/Virgin have no flights to Antigua until July. If persons can get to Antigua perhaps the Government can assist with their flights to EIS. If cost is an issue for the Government put in place the requirements so they can come back home. Why the delay? You had several months to plan.

    Don’t normally agree with Fraser but he is correct.

    Like 20
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  5. @Concern says:

    Stop talking nonsense. At some point we have to come to the realization that COVID is not going anywhere and locking down everything without a plan for re-opening spells DISASTER! Nobody is saying that the Government did anything wrong by locking down and implementing safeguards against spread. What people are upset about is that we are going on 3 months of this and you are telling me there’s no plan to re-open and no plan to financially boost the economy? Do you understand what this means? Planning is everything and the fear mongering needs to stop.

    Like 25
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  6. About time says:

    FINALLY! somebody is talking about the constitution.

    Like 14
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  7. Air Fraser says:

    Maybe they can fly in aboard Air Fraser.

    Like 16
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  8. Stainlessbloke says:

    Again. Why have we not got a goverment representative that can be contacted so that they know who and where we are and what our situation is? Only then can the situation be assessed. How about cleaning out my fridge! ?

    • Noooooooooo says:

      DON’T DO IT. I RATHER DAMN IF YOU DON’T. THAN DIE IF YOU DO. Do not open our borders. The person’s who were supposed to self quarantine didn’t these will

      Like 14
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      • Prophe---see says:

        Opening by 2 June 2020 to whom. NO way. DO NOT OPEN HERE til July, the citizen abroad will just have to WAIT .

        DONt compromise the great work that you al have done so far.

        2 June is a BAD IDEA!!! Again I say DO NOT open here before July,

        Like 14
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        • asking says:

          why july?

        • Stuups says:

          Lemme get this straight, if you were stuck in another man’s country in a hotel for over 2 months, you’d be ok with that indefinitely? I agree with Fraser on this. Every other country has allowed their nationals to come back. Even New Zealand that is getting all the praise right now. Some of you can’t think past your own self. Such a shame.

          What is the plan????? Govt members, if you don’t know what to do, just copy and paste the New Zealand / Bahamas plans. There’s a plethora of options available to you. Just get the nationals to their rightful homeland.

          Like 7
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  9. be fair says:

    when lawsuit start to pass you all will know who should be in or who should be out.i agree with fraser for once.

    Like 20
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  10. Ausar says:

    Fraser is right!

    We should have repatriated all who needed to come home, a long time ago!

    And the seaports are still closed!
    When will that reopen?

    We understand that it’s a “new” normal,but we should still retain a sense of normalcy, for our own!

    Like 13
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    • Anonymous says:

      What difference does it make if they are our own? Do you think BVIslanders are immune to disease? I’ve found us to be rather prone to it. As are all people.

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  11. wellness says:

    Mr Frazer, now that I can truly say am happy that you are not in this current administration.The Andrew Fahie administration did and continue to do everything possible to keep us safe and healthy thus minimize death within the bvi.Am so happy with all the decision taken thus far –it saves lives ,money and economics will come after. We have a choice – life or death , this admin chooses life.

    Like 12
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  12. vip heckler says:

    Rich outsiders coming in on helicopters and going to the private outer islands all the time but our locals are denied entry. If it was election time they would’ve been allowed by the plane and boat loads

    Like 24
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    • Lol says:

      You basically killed your own argument :
      Rich – paying for it themselves
      Private – not mingling with the locals
      Outer- isolated from the general population

      Like 13
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  13. oh boy says:

    Every country in the world allowing their citizens to come home on specially arranged flights except the BVI

    Like 14
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    • BVI says:

      Both Honorable Fraser and the Fahie Administration have good points to argue. However I must agree with Fraser when it comes to the poor planning by Government regarding its citizens abroad and the idea that arrangements could have been made to coordinate with the US and British Governments to help BVI citizens make their way back to the BVI.

      For example, the UK Government sent at least 2 flights to the Caribbean within the past week to repatriate its citizens who were stuck in the region after the Caribbean countries including Barbados, Saint Lucia and Antigua closed their borders. If the BVI Government cared about its citizens who are stuck overseas it could have made arrangements with the U.K. and Antigua Governments to have its citizens stuck in the U.K. for them to come to Antigua on those same flights and arrange a charter flight to pick them up in Antigua to transport them to the BVIs. This would have been at no cost to either government since these people would have paid their own way home.

      People are grown people and are fully aware they would been required to self quarantine upon arrival in the BVI. Don’t get me wrong, Government did what was necessary to protect the wider population. That said, however, many of those stuck in the US and U.K. are young people who are on their own who just want to be close to their families and would feel safer at home in their own countries. The bottom line is they feel their government has neglected them and could have acted to get them home. All it took was minor planning. It wasn’t that difficult. Where there is a will there is a way.

      The longer this goes on, the more likely the family of those stuck overseas would challenge the Government decision to lock its citizens out. Like I said, Government did what it felt was necessary to keep the wider population safe but it must think carefully before imposing any further restrictions on its citizens abroad after 2nd June which is the date It indicated it would be opening its borders to allow its citizens to return home. Remember there are limits to government’s power and any decisions made by government that Impose undue restrictions on the constitutional rights of its citizens could be subject to Judicial Review by the Court especially where such action are considered to be unreasonable and disproportionate in the circumstances.

      Like 15
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  14. What you saying says:

    I didn’t realise Julian Fraser had a law degree. He would know that for every rule there is an exception. Imposing measures that are proportionate to risks on the grounds of public policy is an exception. I am sure the government is doing all it can to ensure proper measures are in place to start welcoming people back home but yet ensuring any risks of spread of the virus are properly mitigated and contained.

    Like 8
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  15. hmm says:

    Some of those people locked out might be parents to young children. Is someone in authority checking up on that to make sure those kids left without a parent(s) are doing well especially during these online school system.

    Like 9
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  16. VISITOR says:

    OPEN UP THE BORDERS FOR ATLEAST REGIONAL TRAVEL.ITS BEEN TOO LONG!! YALL STIFFLING THE ECONOMY..HE HAS TOO MANY EXCUSES AND YALL HAD 3MONTHS..PEOPLE NEED TO GO BACK TO WORK THEY BEEN SUFFERING.OPEN UP THE BORDERS JUST PUT PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES IN PLACE TO FACILITATE

    Like 12
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  17. Stranded says:

    There are young BVI Belongers who are studying abroad who are stranded away from home. They do not work. School is closed. Their accommodation contracts are expired. They are not with any family. Please Honorable Fahie, let them come home and quarantine. They are literally alone and stranded in these scary times. Please don’t delay any longer. They were born here and this is their home.

    Like 13
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  18. Goldfingerer says:

    Mr Frasier is finally making sense. I have found myself in wholehearted agreement with him on his last two interventions.

    Like 12
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  19. I say so says:

    Most of you all here on this blog are ignorant. Mr.Fraizer is right and those person who were left abroad should sue the bvi government.

    Like 12
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  20. Yikes says:

    Well if would have been nice if we had a BVI Airways to bring our people home or even $7.2 million dollars to spare to pay for charter flights for all.

    Like 11
  21. Yoyo says:

    Honorable Mr Premier is best I have seen, he is doing his best to keep country safe, god give him strength, Mr Frazer bring them and keep em in u house

    Like 8
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  22. Diaspora says:

    May 20, 2020 at 3:38 PM
    The Hon J. “Liberator” Fraser (R1), Leader of PU, Opposition member, former MCW, and former chairperson of VIP, has a point. Yes, citizens of the VI (not too sure about citizens of BVI) has a right to come home; I’m sure that it is tough on citizens that are Covid-19- trapped and-stranded overseas.

    Nevertheless, does the right of an individual trumps the health and safety of the majority? As the saying, an old saying, goes, it is sometimes necessary in order to save the village to torch it. Back from my digression, the greatest responsibility of governing is to protect the health and safety of the citizenry. The draconian measures imposed by government was to protect the health and safety of VI residents; it was for the public good. The draconian measures can, should and will be actively debated.

    Moreover, the VI close and friendly westerly neighbor the USVI so far has had approx 69 confirmed cases and 6 deaths. Conversely, the VI has had 8 confirmed cases and 1 death. Borders quick shuttering, can be attributed to the relatively low numbers. A major outbreak could have overwhelmed the health system, exceeding its capacity and capability to meet a large surge demand. This would have been an untenable situation for VI residents/territory. And the best management practice(BMP) was to prevent residents contracting the deadly Covid-19 disease.

    Thus, having yapped about the need to protect public health and safety, I’m not averse to the opinion that government should have moved with much more fervor to bring VI citizens/residents home. Returning residents needed to go into a strict quarantine setting for at least 14 days. The honor system of self quarantining at home???

    Like 3
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  23. Please research says:

    Please do your own research! What you saw on television is only a distraction or an illusion from the truth. Are you really sheep that needs protecting from who? A weak virus that can only affect weak immune systems. We are talking about 1% or less of the population. Is this a real reason to shutdown the economy or is there a hidden agenda?

    The mask is design to help weaken your immune and social distancing is to divide us. Always remember, government are public servants. In other words, we are their bosses. So, please wake up! Corona virus was first detect in a human since 1965. COVID-19 is another corona virus. The test only looks for corona virus. That might be a common cold or flu to us.

    Please wake up and work together!

    Like 2
    Dislike 4
  24. Are We Being Punked? says:

    My bigger question is why are these local talk show hosts and guest doctors sitting face to face on FB Live not wearing masks.

    Are we being punked?

  25. school chirren says:

    We heard that there is a weekly flight coming in from SKB on a private plane for a certain multi board member to keep meetings…………NO QUARANTINE but meanwhile some of our citizens are stuck abroad and cant come home…I AGREE WITH FRASER

  26. Really says:

    Some of you sound so ignorant. Yes persons of the territory as stated in the constitution should have been able to come home a long time ago. All the Government had to do, as many other countries did, was to take those persons coming in straight to a quarantine facility. I saw in I think Guyana or Trinidad they told their family member don’t even come to the airport. The persons were taken off the plane to an bus and straight to quarantine. If the shoe was on the other foot you would have been singing a different song.

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