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VI needs constitutional advancement not independence - Gerard St. C. Farara QC

- said territory has to carve out a 21st century system of governance & not be slaves to Westminster system
Member of the Inner Bar Mr Gerard St. C. Farara QC is advocating for constitutional advancement rather than independence. Photo: VINO
Some of the attorneys following the Special Sitting for the Opening of the 2016/17 Law Year yesterday, September 20, 2016. Photo: VINO
Some of the attorneys following the Special Sitting for the Opening of the 2016/17 Law Year yesterday, September 20, 2016. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – The talk of the territory of the Virgin Islands taking on the status of independence has been the hallmark of discussion in many sections of society; however, member of the Inner Bar Mr Gerard St. C. Farara QC suggests constitutional advancement not independence.

Mr Farara, during his address to the judicial arm of the territory, yesterday September 20, 2016 at the High Court of the Virgin Islands, said, “I have recently spoken in another forum about constitutional advancement short of independence. In my considered view, we here in the BVI ought to take the lead in carving out a new model constitution for the Overseas Territories, a new constitutional construct; one that is better suited to governance of a small territory, with a small population, and scarce human and natural resources. One that seeks to better engage and utilise our human capital, be it in the public or private sector. One where greater participation and representation at all levels of governance can be fostered, enhanced and made more meaningful and effective.”

Transparency & accountability must not be 'buzz words'

He further added that in order to make such an achievement there must be a strengthening of democracy, noting that the oversight functions and the checks and balances must be first and foremost and that greater transparency and accountability must not just be buzz words spewed when it suits our purpose but must become the new reality, the new norm.

Mr Farara noted that in recent times there has been a drumbeat of constitutional review by politicians on both sides of the aisle and some social commentators. “It is not a steady drum beat by no means. I guess the end of the 10 year period, the normal rule of thumb, is approaching, since the existing Constitution was brought into force by Order in Council of Her Majesty the Queen on 13th June 2007. There is even talk, in some quarters, about independence or preparing for the inevitable, for becoming an independent country. I suspect that in the coming months, some will continue to beat that drum.”

“Certainly, at this stage of our development, it is accurate to say that there is no discernible ground swell for taking this Territory to independence, whatever that expression means in the context and realities of a modern world fueled by globalisation and with it the surrender of some elements of real sovereignty. This prevailing world order is accepted as beneficial, and to be embraced except, perhaps, for those who are BREXIT supporters, or dare I say, ardent supporters or members of the TRUMP brigade in the USA,” he said.

21st century system of governance

Mr Farara added that the territory must no longer be slaves to the Westminster Model of a constitution. “We need to carve out a 21st century system of governance, one which not only allows for greater participation and decision making by our elected representatives in all matters and at all levels, but which further empowers and protects those who are being governed. It must provide for far greater access to information and documents, in a timely manner, relative to the functioning and decision-making of Government, at both the legislative and executive branches,” said Mr Farara.

15 Responses to “VI needs constitutional advancement not independence - Gerard St. C. Farara QC”

  • just asking.... (21/09/2016, 11:15) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
    after all that talk why he do not run for office?
    • SMH (21/09/2016, 13:51) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      @just asking.... I was about to say the same thing. Mr. Farara needs to run for office.
      • WHOHE? (23/09/2016, 09:22) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
        Who wants to give up making $10 million a year to go make $110. Some do not have that love of country, my dear. Plain and simple.
  • @just asking (21/09/2016, 12:04) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    I was about to say the same thing. Many know of the ups and downs of the constitution and can give a hand to remedy the problems one can or may face but stay in the background and blah blah blah. some rather choose a political side scam money out of them perhaps give wrong advise so that they can become their legal advisors and their again the country/taxpayers suffer at the deadly or evil hands of these so call legal/political advisors most of whom are lawyers,etc. when will we ever help or learn? May God help us all.
    • Outlaw (21/09/2016, 13:39) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
      Well Gerry is so right and I also was about to say the time is ripe for him to pull some reputable men and women together and come with a new political party, that's what we need here in this territory
  • voter (21/09/2016, 12:24) Like (15) Dislike (1) Reply
    No to independence umder NDP
  • farmer brown (21/09/2016, 16:44) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Good points mr farara
  • Scary Mary (21/09/2016, 19:48) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    “We need to carve out a 21st century system of governance, one which not only allows for greater participation and decision making by our elected representatives in all matters and at all levels, but which further empowers and protects those who are being governed.

    I would normally agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Farara, but under our current government, the thought of giving them even greater power scares the he** out of me.

    I would never support ANY constitutional reform UNTIL our government provides a proper and inviolate:

    - whistle blower law

    - An airtight law requiring all political candidates to disclose their personal holdings, both local and offshore, at least 4 weeks prior to a general election. Once elected, this record MUST be updated within 30 days of any and all changes to their holdings.

    - The establishment of a publicly elected watchdog committee (with judicial powers) that will serve to protect the electorate against inefficiency, incompetence and illegal practices of elected officials and to ensure accountability for all financial transactions within 3 months of said transactions. The members will be permitted to sit for a maximum period of 5 years and will not be eligible to serve a second term.

    - An airtight law requiring government to provide a detailed year end fiscal report (for public consumption) within 4 months of the previous year end. If declared in default by the watchdog committee, a referendum to remove or keep government will be held within 3 months. If the referendum results in a "remove" vote, the committee will announce an election date that will not exceed 4 months from the date of the referendum.

    - An airtight law protecting all government employees from political victimization.
  • Claxton (21/09/2016, 19:50) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    Don't forget put back the referendum in we constitution. Limit the power of the Governor. More voting by citizens and Voter ID Cards. Help stop corruption.
  • zoe (21/09/2016, 23:00) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    I msintain ndp must go
  • Damon (22/09/2016, 06:01) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    @Scary Mary. Why you think they are uncomfortable with guy hill in immigration? I rather ask no more. Shame on these people how they threating that man.
  • For Advancement (22/09/2016, 19:13) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Finally! Thanks Gerry, for your words of wisdom. BVI is not ready for Independence and I hope that the UK pays attention to advice like yours in this regard. The UK got into the Brexit turmoil and seemingly can't find their way out, so I hope that they learn from that experience. Their former PM promised that referendum, and the country was not prepared to deal with the resulting consequences.

    BVI needs to be under competent leadership that is elected by informed constituents, not running away over hype and falsehoods, like in the last General Election.

    It is time for BVI voters to awaken; put aside petty differences and look at the bigger picture. Let us not be caught like the Brexiteers, who later petitioned to remain because they were not informed when they voted to Leave; or the Trump camp, who can unknowingly cast the world into chaos. Awake BVI brothers and sisters.
  • when? (23/09/2016, 09:25) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    When are we going to stop being young things who cannot leave her mother. Yes, greater constitutional reforms, but our aim should be to aim for independence. One does not stay under the hands of the slave master forever; one day they will enslave you again. Plan to find your own home, Virgin Islands.
    • soo (23/09/2016, 12:08) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      When, do you know the full meaning of Independence? For a country to go independent they must have an Army, their own spending Currency, Products to be exported because right know all we are exporting is the US dollar to every countries in the world to build their economy. (These are just a few). Do you think that if we go independent with no protection that all who are trading with us to help build the economy will remain? No! Only the strong will survive and for how long!
      Maybe you have some place to run but we who belong will have to stay and stick closer to God for our help because those who will be in charge will trample on us. You will be saying my, my I knew when the Virgin Islands (BVI) was my home and the people lived well with the help of God but know Greed has taken over.
    • John (26/09/2016, 14:27) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      When? You parrot! Do you have to repeat the comment of others? Make your own case for independence.
      Rational people know that we are not at a point for independence. They are not against because they want to be controlled by UK, but they know we are not there yet and won't be there for quite some time.

      Although some may try to fool you and make you think we do, the truth is, we have no money to do all the things required for independence. We are getting futher and futher into debt with all these unfinished projects and more on the way.
      Our current government is not transparent or accountable, they have demonstrated that time and times again. If they are broke there won't be any brown envelopes for you and everyone will suffer.

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