UK clamps down on talk-radio hosts in TCI

| 31/03/2011

(CNS): According to reports from the Turks and Caicos Islands, Huw Shepheard, the islands’ attorney general, has banned two talk-radio hosts from the government press conferences and has warned other journalists who “behave unprofessionally or associate themselves too closely with illegal activity” that they will also be banned from the official briefings. Robert Halll, who hosts the “Expressions” talk show on the government-run Radio Turks and Caicos (RTC), and Devon Williams, CEO of privately owned Blaze 97.5 FM, were both banned because of their participation in a protest that included a blockade of Airport Road on Providenciales.

Williams, who is also spokesman for Turks and Caicos Islanders United for Justice and Equality (TCIUJE) which planned the blockade, was one of the leaders of the protest and was arrested with several others for obstruction.

Hall covered the event as an RTC journalist, but he also took the microphone during the protest and spoke in support of protesters’ demand for the interim government to set a date for elections. However, he allegedly urged them not to block the main road to the airport but to conduct peaceful demonstrations, according to a blog posted on the Overseas Territories Review.

At a press conference last week the governor, Gordon Wetherell, supported the attorney general’s actions, saying that an ordinance in the case of public broadcasting had been infringed in this case.

Hall hosted a special edition of his show with protest leaders and the program caught the attention of the attorney general, who wrote to the station manager expressing “concern that Mr. Hall had departed from the requirements in the broadcasting ordinance that impartiality is preserved as respects issues of political controversy or current public policy.” He wrote, “I have heard further that the overall coverage of the protest may also have fallen short of the statutory requirement of impartiality.”

The AG said government recognized that TCI’s media have a key role to play in reporting and critically assessing government policies on behalf of the TCI public, and “the government welcomes the full engagement of TCI’s many journalists and their robust questions,” but added that journalists who behave unprofessionally or associate themselves too closely with illegal activity will not be invited to government press conferences.

Hall, whose programme is still on air, said he thought the interim government “would have at least said or wrote to me citing what infractions I may have committed, if indeed I did commit any infraction, and give me an opportunity to respond to them. I’m still waiting. But nevertheless, they have made their decisions. I’m not angry about it.”

The talk show host denied associating with those who illegally blocked the road, pointing out that he encouraged protesters to remove the blockade because of the inconvenience to tourists and the chance of slowing medical emergency responses.

Williams reportedly received a letter directly from Shepheard telling him he was also banned from government press conferences. “The government has decided that, while it is perfectly content to receive other journalists at its press briefings, you will no longer be permitted to attend,” Shepheard told Williams.

Williams said in the wake of the ban that he was profoundly offended by the tone and content of the AG’s letter but his real concern was the danger it signifies and the “rather serious implications which it has for the wider Turks and Caicos Islands in general and this country’s media in particular."

A Commission of Inquiry in early 2009 revealed allegations of corruption in the Turks and Caicos among the then Progressive National Party’s (PNP) government, which plunged the country deep into debt. The elected government and parts of the constitution were suspended, and the governor took over for what was expected to be a short period of direct rule to right the country’s finances and weed out corruption.

But when the government’s financial troubles were found to be worse than expected and criminal and civil investigations into corruption were not complete, the UK cancelled the elections, which would have been held this year, and extended its control indefinitely.

The governor has said the UK hopes to restore local government with elections sometime in 2012. But the Foreign and Commonwealth Office insists that elections won’t happen until the TCI revises and strengthens its constitution, addresses past government mismanagement and gets its finances in order.

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Comments (32)

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  1. tim says:

    They every right to protest. Since the take-over, the uk has been confiscating lands from both developers and regular citizens – that is a known fact. It has accused businesses and resorts of corruption and as such has driven out these foreign investors. The economic situation in TCI has grown worse with increased taxes and the people working in such establishments and resorts losing their jobs. I can’t see how anyone can say that this is not a dictatorship! The country is run by a special prosecutor and there are no separation of government powers! Here is just one video clip of what is going on in TCI in terms of confiscation of lands and property. Try to put yourself in these people’s shoes. They have no true legal representation there – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N9_sWRoJ88&feature=player_embedded

    • Anonymous45 says:

      Huh confiscation of land for a national park! Cayman watch out! I am the second to mention the Chagos Islands, because I can recall (wasn’t too long ago) they turn their beautiful island into a national reserve – no fishing, etc… After 40 years, the Chagos islanders (british citizens) have not been compensated for their eviction from their own home. But not too long ago, Faulkland Islands which is predominantly white (called a white colony) has received over a billion dollars for the suffering they endured under colonialism. I can’t understand how the UK look so white and righteous on one side, but on the other side, so cruel and indifferent to the United Nations’ plea.

      • Goose Green says:

        Nice try at division making and knavish politics for sure.

        This is what happens when you show someone how to get on to google and wikipedia without them understanding it, yet having a pre conceived notion on anything historical.

        CNS … Is it possible that there could be an adittional ‘bxxxxcks’ button added?

      • Pit Bull says:

        They sued.  They were compensated.  They sued again.  They lost.

        Then, quite rightly, the British Government did what was necessary in the best interests of the nation by avoiding having to spend hundreds of millions on infrastructure if these trouble makers had forced their way back to the islands on some pretense or another.

        I am glad our government had the backbone not to back down to the liberal moaning agenda.

        • Anonymous says:

          Clearly, you have no regard for the “Man Fridays” either. The paltry sums offered the Chagossians did not compensate them for the hell they have been put through by the British Govt. The fact that you are trying to dismiss them and their rights as “trouble makers” pursuing a “liberal moaning agenda” speaks volumes about you.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you’ll find the actions of the new govt are not as unreasonable as you say. The people affected only recently bought these plots of land, under dubious circumstances, as the then leader of T&C sold off Crown lands previously protected – at ” a discount”. The recipients include many who are “close” to him politically and as family. The UK is only trying to sort out the situation and not let the plotters get away with it, whilst trying to compensate at least in part the less gulity.

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Must see: Stealing a Nation, a Special Report by John Pilger http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3667764379758632511#

       

    • Sunneversets says:

      There is nothing wrong with the property protection steps taken by the UK.  The properties in Chalk Sound were built on protected national park land in anticipation of that protection being revoked.  It was not revoked.  I am glad that the right thing was down.

      It is just disappointing that replacement land is being offered.

  2. Whodatis says:

    1. The only greater and more insensitive a$$h*le than the individual that elected to make jest towards the reprehensible plight of a fellow island nation is the individual that decided to support such sentiments with the "funny button".

    2. Such individuals would serve a much better purpose in life by working towards recognizing and salvaging the plight of their own, albeit faded, national pride and glory and resist the forces of their political class (a.k.a. your MASTERS) as they lead them dead smack into a ‘sovereign-less’ position via even further integration into the "union".

    Instead of wasting time trying to ridicule Caymanians you really ought to be paying attention to what is taking place in your own country folks. That is what a truly wise individual would be focused on today.

    Clicking smiley faces on CNS today will do NOTHING to secure the future and livelihood of your children tomorrow … idiots.

    *Then again – perhaps most of you have no desire or intention for your kids to grow up in your own country … now that is sad.

    • slowpoke says:

      Personally, the way western countries
      are going, I like to ridicule all of them (unfortunately, including Cayman).

       

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nah! Let’s just sit here and let the cookie crumble

    Nice diabolical plan

  4. Sunneversets says:

    Or the TCI could have lovely sovereignity and still be run by criminals, crooks and hangers on.  The Brits stepped in because they needed to.  I hope they don’t wait so long on the next appropriate occasion.

    • kate says:

      according to them, everybody is corrupt. so let’s just prolong the rule for her majesty’s interest and see how much we can fool these natives

  5. Winning says:

    Chagos. I said it first, I win. Where do I collect my prize?

  6. JE says:

    There is a lesson for our local media to learn from the actions of the AG in Turks, as it pertains to their continuos biased daily reporting and no providing impartaility in the dialogue on the early morning show.

    This island needs to implement laws that do not muzzle but certainly govern the press who at times, seems that they have been annoimted with power to loosely and vehemently proffer castigation of public officials, and by their style of writing denigrate and castigate all in the name of freedom of speech. As many talk about CAyman and it present meanderings leading to British Rule like Tiuks and Caicos, the lesson offered by the UK and the action taken whe nthe press is not impartial is one which should be examined by our local media and take steps to ensure that indeed freedom of speech is not utilized to destroy but to inform

    • Libertarian says:

      ***** I believe in freedom of speech to INFORM, but freedom of speech to DESTROY is necessary when you have to deal with a DICTATOR that ignores the basic rights of the people! ***** Libertarian

    • Soon Come says:

      Hahaha So the press should be quiet about the things that they bring to our attention that we would have no other way of knowing about. Nice idea XXXX. No one wants the UK to take over for us, but I’ll bet my last dollar that if they did, they would find the same corruption found in T&C. Something needs to happen before our island is beyond repair and our coffers are dead dry, unless they are already

      • Caymanians against Errant Parents says:

        They will find enough corruption in the UK…no need to make headlines in the tropics while enjoying the sunshine..

        See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jun/07/bae1

        Quote from article “The arms company BAE secretly paid Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia more than £1bn in connection with Britain’s biggest ever weapons contract, it is alleged today.
        A series of payments from the British firm was allegedly channelled through a US bank in Washington to an account controlled by one of the most colourful members of the Saudi ruling clan, who spent 20 years as their ambassador in the US. It is claimed that payments of £30m were paid to Prince Bandar every quarter for at least 10 years.”

        US$50M per quarter for 10 years!! NOW THAT IS SOME POTENTIAL MOTHER COUNTRY CORRUPTION!!!

        Investigation halted by Prime Minister Blair “in national interest”. Still think TC or Cayman is bad? Stay tuned to this one…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    You guys should stop identifying with T&C. Cayman isn’t like it at all and shouldn’t feel solidarity. T&C is a disaster caused by its own people.

    • Anonymous says:

      A disaster caused by its own people. And you say there are no similarities? We tell the world we are a financial centre, yet our very own people can’t produce a set of accounts. We claim we are a low crime jurisdiction. Perhaps we are, because based on actual convictions, we have little to no crime at all. Given the deadly silence after our repeated robberies, I’m beginning to wonder how many get a cut. Are they Robbin Hoods? We brag about our Christianity, but we ignore one of the most basic and important lessons in the Bible "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Just think about what we say about and do to expats behind their backs knowing our personal agenda’s are protected behind the hallowed walls of the Immigration building.

      Perhaps we shouldn’t think we are better than the Turks, or anyone else for that matter. Or do I ask too much?

      • chris says:

        “A disaster caused by its own people”? So the thousands of inhabitants are responsible for Michael Misick’s corruption which could have been lawfully prosecuted to the full extent of the law??? What ever happened to corrupt politicians from the uk? Or I guess the people are responsible for them too.

  8. Libertarian says:

    ***** AG: “The government has decided that, while it is perfectly content to receive other journalists at its press briefings, you will no longer be permitted to attend.”

    Well that explains it loud and clear. When you have many people crying out at the same time that they are under a dictatorship that infringes upon their democratic rights, they can’t all be lying! When you dissolve a people’s constitution, grab hold of their financial records, and cause their central bank to fail, people can never be so ignorant to not want to speak out against these things! The proof is in the pudding! Here you have it loud and clear:

    A UK DICTATORSHIP! *****

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Public Notice: FCO, don’t even think about doing it here.

      • Don Pacifico says:

        Dear FCO,

        Do it whenever you feel appropriate.  It is British territory after all, and the TCI debacle has shown what happens when you give sub-national local government the benefit of the doubt in times of misgovernance. So when it is needed next time, don’t wait so long.

        Civis Britannicus Sum . . .

         

        • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

          Suspending the TCI constitution because the UK Governors failed in their good governance responsibilities is the failure.  A DICTATORSHIP is not a substitute for good governance, again it is simply another UK failure.

          • Dick says:

            CAPITALISATION is not a rhetorical device.

          • Judean People's front says:

            Right on Brother!

            Brittanus eus domus!

            • Hassan Turion says:

              What’s this thing?  "Brittanus eus domus"? A man called Brittan he goes the house?

              "Britannice i domi".  Domus takes the locative!

              Now write in down a hundred times.

  9. catcho111711 says:

    hellll yeah…we need the uk to take us over – direct rule man!!! yeah… repress freedom of speech, stop foolish braodcastings, and yeah put a final stop to elections man! spot on man! that is how it was in bible dayz. You had kings, puppets, and dictators and the bible is the highest of england! king james and crew… they all come from uk that means its all good! the bloody governor is not really a bad dictator after all youll see. people will soon mess him – you watch how tci love him soo much man! And god save the queen victoria! amen

  10. Anonymous says:

    and you all want UK to step in???.really??…..the grass is always greener on the other side!

    • Anonymous says:

      It may not be greener but at least the playing field is level with the same rights and statutes equal to everyone who plays on it.