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COI displaying a double standard, Premier suggests

COI displaying a double standard, Premier suggests

Premier Andrew Fahie has suggested that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) is displaying double standards regarding the submission of government documents to assist with proceedings.

He made that suggestion against the backdrop of some additional documents his administration recently discovered and provided to the COI last Friday. The documents amounted to approximately a thousand pages.

Nonetheless, Fahie said his government anticipated criticism for the provision of the documents from the COI.

“It was puzzling that on Friday the Commission was heavily critical of the government for missing a deadline for the provision of other information, due by 4 pm and provided at 10 am the following day and stated that this delay required the Commission to postpone part of its hearing by two weeks,” Fahie said.

The Premier said it seems “extraordinary” that the COI requires two weeks to assess thirty pages of documents while his ministers and public servants are given a week or less to provide hundreds of pages of documents.

He added that his ministers are expected to enter the witness box and comment on documents for which they have not seen or given notice.

Gov’t wishes to give COI all the facts

Fahie said the elected government wishes to provide the commission with all the facts and relevant documents to assist with the proceeding.

However, he said, the commission has sometimes given the impression that it does not welcome the provision of the additional evidence.

The government said that the additional documents provided were the result of intensive efforts by the public servants of the Virgin Islands to find evidence that might be helpful to the COI.

It added that these documents are in addition to the 9,000 documents totalling 130,000 pages, and dozens of affidavits provided to the COI via requests made already.

According to the government, the process is time-consuming and takes up a majority of its public service administrative capacity during an ongoing pandemic.

Since the commencement of the Inquiry, the Commission has spoken about the protracted delays in submission of documents by the government which has hampered the progress of proceedings.

COI attorney Bilal Rawat had earlier voiced his concerns about the government failures to meet deadlines and the subsequent extensions to those deadlines in submitting requested affidavits.


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