The UK Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, and the Attorneys General of ten of the UK’s Overseas Territories (Bermuda; the British Antarctic Territory; the British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Montserrat; Pitcairn; the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia; and the Turks & Caicos Islands), the Crown Counsel of St Helena and General Counsel of the British Indian Ocean Territory along with their counterparts from the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey and Jersey and representatives from the US and Canadian Departments of Justice met in the Turks and Caicos Islands from 20 – 22 September to discuss a range of topics relating to the rule of law and administration of justice in the Territories and to enhance our mutual cooperation.
UK Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, said:
During the conference we have celebrated progress made this year, including the extension to Anguilla and the Cayman Islands of the UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) demonstrating our shared commitment to raising human rights standards across the Territories. We also welcomed developments this year in legislation for same sex marriage in St. Helena, the British Antarctic Territory, Jersey and Guernsey.
We welcomed important developments to support criminal justice reform and cooperation in the Territories, including the appointment of a new Criminal Justice Advisor for the Territories, based in Miami, and arrangements that will come into force later this year to improve extradition arrangements between the Territories and third countries.
We have discussed cooperation on a number of important topics, including anti-corruption, transparency in the financial services industries in the Territories, criminal and civil justice reform, human rights, child safeguarding and support for the Territories’ good governance.
We also had the opportunity to discuss the Territories’ interests in the UK referendum on the EU. The UK is committed to fully involving the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies as we prepare for negotiations to leave the EU to ensure their interests are taken into account.
We have committed to:
Work with Territory governments to take forward the legislative changes necessary to deliver the political agreements reached ahead of this year’s UK Anti-Corruption Summit to enable automatic and timely UK law enforcement access to Beneficial Ownership data by June 2017, supporting international efforts to tackle criminal financing.
Encourage the prioritisation of collaborative work to enable extension to the Territories of international conventions for tackling bribery and corruption, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), where they have not already been extended, including the adoption of Codes of Conduct for Ministers where these do not exist.
Support the work of the Overseas Territories Criminal Justice Advisor to build capacity for reform of the criminal justice system and improve efficiency in the investigation and prosecution of crime, supported by UK programme funds where necessary.
Promote reform of outdated mental health legislation in the Territories, recognising where efforts are already ongoing, and to seek an end to the use of prisons as a place of safety for those with mental health conditions.
Further enhance cooperation on child safeguarding through continued collaboration and plans for signature of the Overseas Territories Memorandum of Understanding.
Support the Territories to achieve extension of core Human Rights conventions where these have not been extended and to conduct a review of outstanding reservations against core UN human rights treaties ahead of the UN Periodic Review of the UK in Geneva in 2017.
In the first visit UK Ministerial to the islands in four years, the Solicitor General also had the opportunity for bilateral meetings with the Premier of TCI, the Hon. Dr Rufus Ewing; the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson; the Chief Justice, Margaret Ramsay-Hale and the local Bar Council to discuss priorities for the UK-TCI bilateral relationship.
The Solicitor General congratulated the government on TCI’s strong economic performance and progress made in good governance. He raised issues including beneficial ownership, prison conditions and the continued importance of strong public financial management.