31 December, 2006

Crime Rate

Crime Has Been Reduced this Year”. I may have misheard the Chief Minister’s Christmas message on the radio the other day. I thought I heard him congratulating us on a reducing crime rate. Crime rate down? I wondered which crime rate he was thinking of. When we compare murders in 2006 with the previous year 2005, we are looking at an increase from zero to ten. The facts are:

2005: January-December

Zero, zilch, no murders.

2006: January-December

Ten murders. They have all been widely reported in both the local and regional press. So, he has no excuse for not knowing about them. It is painful to recap these stories, particularly for the distressed families. But, my principal concern is for those young men whose deaths in 2007 we might be able to prevent if we take the firm and dramatic action that is necessary. It is my thesis that papering over the fissures in our social fabric for the sake of feel-good tourism promotion will in the long run do more harm than good. Those murdered in Anguilla, or in relation to their activities in Anguilla, in this year 2006 were:

1. Dwayne Connor (23) shot to death in North Valley. Suspected cocaine deal gone wrong. See story in “The Anguillian Newspaper” here. The story was also reported in “The Anguilla Guide” here.

2. Kwahmi Brooks stabbed to death allegedly as a “loyalty” test by St Kitts-based cocaine suppliers to a young recruit in Anguilla. See the story from “The Anguilla Guide” here. It was also in “The Anguillian Newspaper” here. No 8 below, Jeffrey Herbert, is alleged to have been executed on his return to St Kitts for wasting his time on the recruit and on putting him to this test.

3. Shane Fraites (22) allegedly clubbed to death at West end. Three juveniles charged with his murder. The story was carried in “The Anguilla Guide” here. It was also in “The Anguillian Newspaper” here.

4. Louvan Webster Jr (22) missing on a trip from Anguilla to St Maarten, allegedly murdered in a cocaine deal gone wrong. The story was carried by “The Anguillian Newspaper” here.

5. Michael Gumbs allegedly a marijuana-induced-schizophrenic, shot to death by a police officer in self-defence at The Quarter.

6. James Wilkinson shot to death in St Kitts after being deported from Anguilla where he had allegedly been dealing cocaine. The story was partially carried in “The Democrat Newspaper” here.

7. Deon Warner (25) of Anguilla shot in his face and killed in Nevis allegedly in a drug deal gone bad. The story was carried in various issues of the “St Kitts Nevis Observer” here, and here and here.

8. Jeffrey Herbert (33) allegedly executed by his gang boss in St Kitts after being deported from Anguilla. Information is that he was punished for having failed to carry out his assigned “hit” on an Anguillian cocaine dealer who had not been paying for his supplies. See a short mention of the killing on the Royal St Kitts & Nevis Police Force website here, and in the St Kitts Nevis Observer here.

9. Steven Bryan killed in prison where he was on remand awaiting trial for the 2003 murder of schoolgirl Jamida Webster, whose brutally butchered body had been left draped in a tree in what looks suspiciously like a typical Columbian-style punishment killing. See the story in the Anguillian Newspaper here

10. Clifford Christie (19) stabbed to death in a senseless incident at a cricket match at the Webster Park in November. The story was carried by The Anguillian Newspaper here.

And these are just the murders! They do not include the innumerable burglaries, robberies, shootings, knifings, and rapes, not to mention the related child abuse and spousal abuse cases flowing in an ever-widening stream from Anguilla’s rising addiction to cocaine and guns. How could these incidents be described as “crime has been reduced this year”? God alone knows what 2007 holds in store for us!

28 December, 2006


Transparency Interna
tional has argued for years that acts of corruption involve a giver (the supply side) and a taker (the demand side). TI advocates strong measures to curb bribery’s supply side, including the criminalisation of overseas bribery under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Steps to curb the demand side include disclosure of assets for public officials and adoption of codes of conduct. It is up to foreign legislatures to criminialise overseas bribery. Only we here in Anguilla can insist that our public officials disclose their assets and adopt codes of conduct. What are we doing about it? By comparison with our lackadaisical approach, the new administration in Nevis shows us how it can be done here.

As a minimum we in Anguilla also need an Integrity Act to govern the conduct of Ministers and senior public servants. The present system where the Anguilla Public Service Integrity Board must wait until the governor decides to pass a matter to the Board for advice is not satisfactory. We need a permanent Commission to hear complaints from the public. It must have the power to investigate ministers and public servants. It should have the power to summon witnesses and to prosecute those who obstruct its activities. We need better Finance Regulations to clearly outline the procedures for the management and accounting of government finances. We need a Procurement Act to establish a central Tenders Board to award all public contracts and to lay out the procedures for competitive bidding. We need an Ombudsman to assist ordinary members of the public who are oppressed by administrative inaction and unfairness.

26 December, 2006

Conflicts of Interest

Ministerial Conflicts of Interest”.

Our Chief Minister, the Hon Osbourne Fleming, is simultaneously the Chairman of the Board of Directors of a major local bank, the Caribbean Commercial Bank. Many persons have questioned the propriety of a Chief Minister or other head of government continuing to function as the chairman of a board of directors of a commercial business after he has been appointed to such high public office.

Questions about this conflict of interest have been raised in the House of Assembly by opposition member, Edison Baird. Governor Johnson wrote a now famous misleading and misguided letter excusing our Chief Minister from continuing in this obvious and objectionable conflict of interest. Read the Governor’s letter in the Anguillian Newspaper here. Since then, Edison has fallen silent and not brought the matter up again. The other opposition member, Hubert Hughes, has not troubled himself to question the ethics of the situation at all.

The Chief Minister/Chairman of the Board has recently made some pertinent remarks at a ceremony celebrating the 30th anniversary of the bank. He continues to defend the indefensible. See a newspaper article taken from The Anguillian dealing with this here.

It would be useful for us to learn from an expert in UK public law what the consequences in England would be if the British were to discover that, while Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the UK, he was simultaneously Chairman of the Board of Barclays Bank. What do you think?

24 December, 2006

Fair Labour Standards

Fair Labour Standards”. The Fair Labour Standards Act places a burden on our Labour Commissioner to enforce the minimum standards of industrial relations in Anguilla. This presumes two things. One, that our Labour Commissioner will be independent and objective. Second, that he will be competent and professional.

Russel Reid is our Labour Commissioner. I know him to be a fine young man. He has, when he was first appointed, told me that he will not stand idly by while any government permits the import of cheap labour from Asia. Government is, we hear, presently permitting the importation of just such cheap Asian labour to construct the two West End projects. We understand that both Flag and Viceroy have applied for and received the appropriate Work Permits to allow them to do so. Several hundred Asian workers will be brought to the island to build the Golf Course Hotel at Cove Bay and the Viceroy project at Barnes Bay at excessively low rates of pay.

I have just been told that Russel expects to be the United Front (ruling political party in Anguilla) candidate in the next general elections. My correspondent is fearful that, if this is true, Russel may have to do as he is told and not what is right. If the Ministers have decided to permit the importation of what in the opinion of some is “slave labour”, and the Labour Commissioner does not take steps to prevent this from happening, then he risks people concluding that he exists only to serve.

My correspondent asks me to tell Russel to remember what happened to Roy Rogers. Roy Rogers was a politician who, while serving as Speaker of the House of Assembly, made some questionable decisions. He hoped to be the then ruling party’s candidate in the next elections. They did not select him, but chose another to run. Mr Rogers ended up being neither a candidate nor the Speaker. Doing your master’s bidding, even when you know it is wrong, is not a guarantee promotion. Now we hear that the Labour Commissioner may be up against greater forces than even the most honest man can face down. More than a million dollars has passed. Is this to ensure that there are no waves?

22 December, 2006

Public Accounts Committee

Public Accounts Committee”. The Constitution of Anguilla provides for the Leader of the Opposition to chair a parliamentary committee of this name. The principal function of the PAC, under the Westminster style system, is to oversee the expenditure of public funds. It functions like one of those famous “Senate oversight” committees we see so much of on US television.

Our problem is that in Anguilla, as in so many of our Caribbean islands, the PAC has not functioned for many years. The fact that we presently do not have a ‘Leader of the Opposition” is not a good excuse. For those who are unaware, we have two opposition representatives in the Assembly. They are the Hon Hubert Hughes and the Hon Edison Baird. They have not agreed on who is to act as the official Leader of the Opposition. The Governor has been unable to appoint anyone to this important constitutional position. That situation has only existed for one year. For decades we have not had a functioning PAC.

A correspondent points out to me that there is one in the West Indies that is functional. It is the PAC in Bermuda. There was an interesting article in last week’s paper. It would be interesting to learn how well it works. And, what they are doing that Anguilla is not doing. See as examples the Royal Gazette. And, also. And, yet another.

21 December, 2006

Good Governance

Good Governance”. As reported in The Anguillian Newspaper, Commissioner of Police in Anguilla, Keithley Benjamin, wept as he read the formal remembrance of ‘Constable Gerald Bardouille’s journey with the Royal Anguilla Police Force’ at the Thanksgiving Service on Saturday, April 29, at St. Mary’s Anglican Church . . . The 35-year-old Constable Gerald Bardouille, originally from the Commonwealth of Dominica, died tragically on April 8, when the police jeep he was driving collided with a section of the Magistrate’s Court, while on his way to Police Headquarters. Ironically, he was reportedly retuning from an accident scene at Island Harbour, his last duty for the day. His colleague in the passenger seat, Constable Rayfield Roberts, a St. Vincent national, suffered serious injury and is receiving treatment in Trinidad.” A correspondent has allowed me to publish the following contribution on the matter:

Some months ago a police officer returning to headquarters with another officer drove his patrol car into the court house, killing himself, seriously injuring the other officer and destroying the vehicle. Unsupported allegations were made on the internet suggesting the officer might have been drinking on duty, that the vehicle's brakes were faulty, that this was the fault of improper maintenance by either Public Works or a private contractor, and that the officer had been the cause of other, previous road accidents.

It was then suggested that we should stop speculating and allow the police to do their job (investigating themselves) and await their report. Of course, no report has ever been made public.

It has been suggested that the report has been withheld because it contains evidence of liability that might be used by the injured officer or the surviving relatives of the deceased in pursuing a claim for civil damages. If, indeed, such a civil matter were filed, it would be a simple thing for the claimant's lawyer to obtain a copy of the secret report. Accordingly, this is not a valid reason to withhold the findings from the public. How does it serve the people to withhold this information from us?

There is a serious lack of transparency, accountability and openness pervading Anguilla. Those in London and those they send here cannot conspire with our own corrupt leaders to cause us to feel excluded from our own instruments of government, deny us the right to see public documents, make all important decisions behind closed doors where everyone is sworn to secrecy and deny us an ombudsman, or any recourse to the courts without paying an overpriced lawyer to do the most trivial foolishness, without making us feel like a flea trying to change the direction his dog is going.

I'd like to know what caused this tragic accident. But of far greater importance, I'd like to know why the people of Anguilla are treated in an arrogant and condescending manner by both those who we elect to represent us and those sent here by Her Majesty.

Governor George, what is your position on this specific matter and what are you doing to implement the requirements of the recent FCO White Paper on Good Governance?

I think he makes a valid point, don’t you? The public is entitled by law to know what the cause of PC Gerald Bardouille’s death was. That is what inquests are for.

19 December, 2006

Recent Interesting Issues

Recent Interesting Issues on Which Correspondence Has Been Received:

(a) Moratorium on Foreign Tourism Projects”. We all read with interest the newspaper article in “The Anguillian Newspaper” concerning the moratorium announced in November 2005. As we understood it, no major foreign-owned tourism-related project was to be considered for licensing until a period of 30 months had passed. Around the same time we were assured that no more projects were going to be approved for West End until East End had a shot. This week, in the House of Assembly, the Chief Minister told us he was thinking of extending the halt on new foreign owned construction. However, a correspondent assures us that Altamar has been approved for buying the land and ponds in the West End they had their eyes on. Is this true? If it is, whatever happened to the moratorium? Does anyone know?

(b) Youth Violence”. Gangs in the ghettos of the US are known to us only from television. They are said to provide deprived young men living in depressed inner cities with a facsimile of love and family and a measure of security, until the inevitable jail time or even death cuts them down early. There is no such justification for the increasing levels of violence and crime among the young men, school children many of them, among us. They have in the main grown up with every material need and want provided for by hard working parents. All young men dream of joining a gang. In my day, gangs were groups of boys that stoned the neighbour’s mango trees and ran for cover when he appeared. I was a gang member in this sense. Today, gang members in Anguilla are school boys armed with guns and working for adults who have major crime on their mind: drugs, prostitution, and gambling. Let us hear your horror stories about this rising phenomenon. Only by bringing it out into the open can we hope to confront this demon among us.

(c) Ease”. This I am told is the local name for the practice of solicitation and payment of paybacks to managers or supervisors for granting the favour of working at their establishment. I suppose that with the economy in Anguilla growing so rapidly, we should have expected that the criminal activity of Chicago or Manchester would spring up here. But, to think that there is such an evil flourishing right under our noses? I would particularly like to know what is the typical amount of “ease” that supervisors demand in Anguilla? Which are the businesses involved? I do not know about you, but if I had to pay my supervisor 10% of my weekly paycheck, I might well be pushed to rob a gas station on the weekend to make ends meet. Post your favourite examples here. Or, you may email them to me with such conditions as you wish.

(d) Victimisation”. One correspondent reminds us that not many Anguillians will contribute to this discussion so long as there is the slightest chance that they will be identified. She claims that “all Anguillians live in a state of fear”. I gather that it is not so much that there are stark instances of victimization on the island. It is more that Anguillians go about their business with their heads firmly stuck to an angle that does not permit them to hear, see or speak any “evil”. I agree. No one should contribute to this conversation unless they are independently positioned. Preferably, retired and nearing the departure lounge. Of course, you can make an anonymous contribution to any of the points under discussion by simply clicking on the links to Articles 1-4 provided above in the section dealing with previous issues, and typing in your comment.

(e) Loyal Opposition”. In the Anguilla House of Assembly there are seven elected members. Five of them form the present government. Two of them are the opposition. They are Hubert Hughes and Eddison Baird. They have not been doing any opposing in recent years. They have been silent on every issue raised on this Blog. Is it a form of corruption for members of the opposition to be silent, to fail to oppose? Or, does it go further? Is it, as one correspondent claims, that, if you are going to buy the government, it does not cost much more to buy the opposition as well? Your views please. How much does the opposition in Anguilla cost? Bids welcome.

Ø Next week, photos. Most will come from Nat Hodge’s The Anguillian. Some that you have sent me cannot be published. Some will be my own.

17 December, 2006

Recent Interesting Issues

Previous Issues on Which Correspondence Has Been Received:

The following issues have arisen in earlier posts. Material is being collected on each of them. We want to hear from you on each issue.

(a) Airport Project” – See post No 3, published on 11 December 2006.

(b) Altamar” – See post No 3.

(c) Callaloo Resort” – See post No 3.

(d) Cocaine Imports” – See post No 4 , published on 12 December 2006; and post No 5, published on 13 December 2006.

(e) Cocaine Distribution” – See post No 4.

(f) Corruption” – See post No 5.

(g) Dog-fighting” – See post No 4.

(h) Human Trafficking” – See post No 4.

(i) International Anti-corruption Day 2006” – See post No 1 , published on 10 December 2006.

(j) Ministerial Conflicts of Interest” – See post No 5.

(k) Postage Paid stamps” – See post No 3.

(l) Prostitution” – See post No 4.

(m) Public Involvement” – See post No 5.

(n) Road-paving Contracts” – See post No 3.

(o) Security Issues” – See post No 5.

(p) Trans-shipment Project” – See post No 3.

(q) Whistle-blowing” – See post No 2, published on 10 December 2006.

Each discussion issue is in alphabetical order. The purpose of this is threefold:

First, to remind you of them.

Second, to invite you to access them and add your anonymous comment.

Third, to encourage you to email me with comments or material on other “good governance” issues in Anguilla that we have not yet mentioned.

Recent Interesting Issues on Which Correspondence Has Been Received:

1. Drag Car Racing”. Racing cars on the public roads of Anguilla is of course illegal. The activity is apparently carried out late at night on the George Hill and Jeremiah Gumbs roads. Young men block off the side roads with their vehicles. Trucks stand by to sweep up any wreckage before the tardy police can arrive. Large sums pass hands. We are not interested in the young men. Young men’s hormones drive them to do crazy things. We know. We were there. The real interest is in the answer to the question, how have they been able to carry on this activity uninterrupted for so long? My correspondent tells me that the only official reaction to date has been a promise by the Chief Minister during the last general election campaign to build them a racetrack. Do we have to wait until someone dies? Our special interest is who gets paid off to allow this illegal activity to continue? How much money passes hands?

2. Abuse of Immigrants”. We often hear of the fear that increased numbers of immigrants will damage our society. They will be a burden on our education and health system. Less openly discussed is the extensive network of mechanisms being put in place by Anguillians to exploit the immigrants among us. This includes giving work for sexual favours, renting out unhygienic accommodation to desparate people, and paying slave wages. Feel free to send me your horror stories, either for publication or not, as you choose. You may name names without any fear that I will publish your identity unless you authorize it.

3. Smugglers’ Cove”. Like most other Anguillians, I had believed the wharf at the Cove was for use by fishermen. I was interested to hear Alan Gumbs’ description of its principal use on a recent edition of “To the Point”. For the benefit of those who do not listen to Anguilla radio, this is a call-in programme. It is conducted by Elkin Richardson, who is to be commended for his energy and vision. He interviews persons on topical issues and encourages members of the public to call in with hard-hitting comments and questions. It is what my old friend John Benjamin used to do with his radio call-in programme “Talk your Mind” before he became one of the establishment. I am reminded of the old Anguillian explanation why the island is shaped like a slice of cake lying on its side. To the north there are cliffs, to the south the island sinks below the surface of the sea that stretches to St Martin just 10 miles away. It is said that the south coast has been pounded below the sea by the weight of the cargo landing on its beaches late at night. I have seen a truck being landed by boat in this manner. Heaven knows what else is landed.

4. Sandy Hill Bay”. One correspondent has reminded me about this Bay, also on our south coast. It is an enclosed harbour, with no wharf or jetty of any kind. Every month, for the past many years, on a moonless night, a fast speedboat approaches two or three cars, parked on the beach and on the road leading down to it, and with their headlights flashing on and off. After a swift exchange of packages, off goes the boat back to St Martin or wherever. I am assured that on no occasion has any police officer responded to a telephone call alerting them of this activity.

5. Solicitation of Minors in School”. Another correspondent reminds me that problems of corruption in Anguilla are not limited to those on high. It is not just those in public office that fail us. Pockets of corruption fester in our society. He urges that we air the ills of corruption as it affects society as a whole, and our social and economic development in particular. It is axiomatic that corruption robs us all, and more and more over time. One area that I had not considered, until it was brought to my attention, is the failure of the authorities to confront sexual solicitation of minors in school, particularly by teachers. Does this really go on uncorrected in such a public forum as a school filled with alert students and experienced staff as I am being told? Please let me have your thoughts and suggestions.

6. Corruption”. For a change of pace, you might like to read this comment from the Guardian Newspaper about the state of corruption in Britain.

13 December, 2006

Recent Issues

Recent Interesting Issues on Which Correspondence Has Been Received:

(a) Cocaine Distribution”. Correspondents are invited to send photos of the crack houses operating in each village. Photographs of the dealers outside our night spots equally welcome. Subject to confirmation, I shall consider posting them here. I have no obligation to inform the police. They already know who and where they are. They simply do nothing about them. Only the small boys are picked up.

(b) Ministerial Conflicts of Interest”. One correspondent writes: “My first issue would be conflicts of interest. Step number 1 in this connection, in my view, would be to get recognition from Government that the appearance of corruption cannot begin to be eradicated so long as government ministers and officials hold controlling positions in the banks and utilities. How to deal with that problem - e.g. whether the British system of blind trusts provides anything approaching a satisfactory solution - would be the next and very difficult step. But it seems to me that some recognition that the apparent absence of any concern whatever over conflicts of interest should at least be reflected upon would be a move in the right direction.

(c) Corruption”. Transparency International is an organization devoted to promoting good governance world wide. Their website is a mine of useful information. Their Americas page indicates that, as regards the Commonwealth Caribbean Countries, they deal only with the independent ones. The only CCC with a national chapter of TI is Trinidad and Tobago. I subscribe to their newsletter, and am often amazed at the ground covered by their intrepid secretary, Boyd Reid. They don’t appear to have a website. Several other Caribbean States were analysed in the latest Global Corruption Report for the year 2006. You can download it here. One correspondent [see the comment at article No 1] asked where we would rank Anguilla in terms of the Transparency International standard. I am not sure of the answer. We British Overseas Territories deserve to be studied as well as the independent ones. Perhaps you would like to respond to the question anyway.

(d) Public Involvement”. One correspondent quite correctly writes, Did you ever consider the thought: "Maybe I REALLY don't want to know"???? Another good friend writes thoughtfully but accurately, It has become painfully obvious that your Garden is not providing enough stimulation; may I suggest sport drinking. Any continuation of this project will certainly guarantee that you never be elected for public office.

(e) Security Issues”. My security guru instructs me to remind you: When you post documents that you are leaking, do not use your work computer. Delete the email, and empty your delete box.” Exercise all caution. Do not get caught.

12 December, 2006

Recent Issues

Recent Interesting Issues on Which Correspondence Has Been Received:

  1. Cocaine Imports”. Which Anguillian businessmen are the principal financiers? Photographs welcome, particularly if receiving or delivering a package.

  1. Cocaine Distribution”. Where are the major outlets? If they are so well known, why have they not been closed down? Photographs welcome.

  1. Dog Fighting”. Where are the most popular pits where dogs fight to the death? How is protection provided for the participants? Who arranges training? Is the ante still US$5,000.00 to put your dog in? Photographs would be appreciated. They will add a little colour.

  1. Prostitution”. Which are the houses that permit school girls to bring businessmen for paid sex? Which ones import girls from overseas? What keeps them from being closed down? Who controls immigration of the girls? There is only rumour, no evidence.

  1. Human Trafficking”. Is Anguilla Involved in Human Trafficking at this time, as one correspondent suggests? One way to get at an answer is to study an official definition of the term. We can start by looking at the following page taken from the website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

“From Himalayan villages to Eastern European cities, people - especially women and girls - are attracted by the prospect of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker. Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, mail-order bride catalogues and casual acquaintances.

Upon arrival at their destination, victims are placed in conditions controlled by traffickers while they are exploited to earn illicit revenues. Many are physically confined, their travel or identity documents are taken away and they or their families are threatened if they do not cooperate. Women and girls forced to work as prostitutes are blackmailed by the threat that traffickers will tell their families. Trafficked children are dependent on their traffickers for food, shelter and other basic necessities. Traffickers also play on victims' fears that authorities in a strange country will prosecute or deport them if they ask for help.

Trafficking in human beings is a global issue, but a lack of systematic research means that reliable data on the trafficking of human beings that would allow comparative analyses and the design of countermeasures is scarce. There is a need to strengthen the criminal justice response to trafficking through legislative reform, awareness-raising and training, as well as through national and international cooperation. The support and protection of victims who give evidence is key to prosecuting the ringleaders behind the phenomenon.”

Another useful site is the web page taken from the website of the Administration for Children and Families

Trafficking in persons is to be distinguished from alien smuggling. See the very instructive web page on the website of the US Department of State.

From such study, we can conclude that if any Anguillian official received a financial reward to permit the Far East labour that has recently come to soujourn with us in the West End of the island, a high crime may well have been committed.

  1. How to Cover Your Tracks”. Two different correspondents point out that there are some additional precautions you should consider. They include:

(a) When retiring or resigning from a corrupt employer, photograph all the relevant documents relating to questionable transactions before you leave. It costs nothing, and you never know when you will need them! Make sure you do not get caught. Transfer any tape recordings to digital format, they are easier to store and last longer. Keep a back-up on a thumb drive in a secure location, like a safety deposit at your bank.

(b) “Recent File Lists” tell an employer what documents you have been recently working on.

(c) An employer can often tell when a “USB device” was connected to a computer by looking into the registry using forensic tools.

(d) Windows creates files called “prefetch” which can tell an employer when a programme was launched. This can include disk wiping tools. Tools like this are generally not installed as a matter of course. So, while he cannot ascertain what was deleted, he can know that someone was trying to hide something on the computer.