03 September, 2007

Identity Cards

Constitutional Discussions 24: Identity Cards. It is presently a matter of uncertainty who of all the residents of Anguilla are entitled to Anguillian status. This status determines who can vote and who can purchase land freely and without any restriction. You cannot be deported or declared a prohibited immigrant if you are an Anguillian. At present, one has to produce a Belonger certificate issued by the Belonger Commission. Or, you may have a passport showing your Belonger stamp in it. Or, you might have with you your a birth certificate showing your birth in Anguilla to apparently Anguillian parents. Better still, you may have gone to school with the young Immigration Officer who is checking you in at the Arrivals at the airport. It helps if she knew your parents. The result is that you can prove you are an Anguillian in a variety of ways. All of this was entirely unsatisfactory to a majority of those persons who made representations on the subject to the members of the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission during the 2006 public discussions.

One representation that found favour was the requirement that all Anguillians carry an identity card. This would provide one standard mechanism for all of us to prove our Anguillian status when lawfully required to do so. Several concerned citizens pointed out that, with the recommendations for widening the definition of who is to be considered an Anguillian, there will in the future be many qualified persons who are not known in the community. At present, with its small village-like community structure, Anguillians generally all know who is who. In the coming years, the island’s population is expected to grow dramatically. It will become increasingly a matter of concern for the authorities to know immediately who is and who is not an Anguillian. Such a provision will go a long way to avoiding doubts. This was the recommendation of the Commission at paragraph 178 of its August 2008 Report.

It is a matter for regret that members of the House of Assembly meeting in caucus at the Limestone Bay Café in March did not agree with this recommendation. They were persuaded that it would be an excessive invasion of privacy. It was precisely because the members of the Commission recognised the intrusion into privacy that such a recommendation entailed that they thought it necessary to include the measure as a Constitutional provision. It is a matter for the law which will have to be enacted by the Assembly to give effect to the bare bones of the Constitutional provision to flesh out the protections for the public. It is difficult to see what the members of the Assembly want to put in place of an identity card. Or, do they not realise what a problem of identification the authorities are going to have in Anguilla in just a few years time?

This post brings to an end the list of disagreements that the members of the House of Assembly had with the recommendations of the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission. Subsequently, in July, the Chief Minister’s negotiating team met at Paradise Cove. They came up with some new ideas for discussion with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office team. Those discussions have now been indefinitely postponed. They will occur sometime in the next year or two. It does not look as if anyone in Government is going to tell the public what these ideas were. It will fall to me to do so, if I can find my notes.

As I write this, I am buried in the Public Records Office at Kew in London. I am researching Anguilla’s old colonial documents. I shall depend on you to let me have ideas for blogging for the next few weeks. As soon as I am back home, I shall look for my notes and let you know what I think.


  1. Comment published anonymously on AnguillaTalk:

    Re: Don Mitchell does not want a referendum


    Now Don Mitchell wants all Anguillians to be forced to carry indentity cards. What next? Townships and reservations for the natives?

    Fed up with his crap!

  2. It is rather simpleminded propaganda to extract sound bites out of Don's statements to make him look like an evil dictator.

    If he's against referendums because they have proven to be a political "beauty queen show," his reasons are ignored and he is accused of denying us our rights.

    If he advocates the issuing of ID cards as the lesser evil of tattooing numbers on everyone's arm or not allowing anyone into Anguilla unless accompanied by their mother and grandmother, he is accused of advocating aparteid.

    Such tactics are malicious and childish.

  3. "The country had changed, bringing a new political reality into existence: the strange new figure at the center of events was the product of this new reality, not its creator. Great leaders are seldom anticipated or understood by the conventional wisdom of their own time."
    --Donald T. Regan


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