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Commentary: Human rights
Published on January 11, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By David Tapfer

The subject of the fate of former Premier Michael Misick and the possibility of his human rights being violated is not a subject I had intended to comment on publicly. However since my own family members, a former leader and the human rights leader have chosen to weigh in, I assume it is my turn.

David Tapfer is a retired, US-born engineer and management executive. He is the former chairman of the Middle Caicos Branch of the Peoples Democratic Movement
The fate of Mr Misick, both currently and in the future, rests on his own shoulders. One cannot put one’s hand in the gator’s mouth and be angry when it is bitten off. It was Misick’s choice to hide in Brazil.

The laws there appear to have given him a one-year window. He was trying to extend that window when he was arrested. He was refused political asylum by the Brazilian authorities, who decided on their own that Mr Mike was not a political refugee.

They were not influenced by anyone or anything. They are a country of 220 million people and operate according to laws. They have decided to make prisons an unpleasant experience. That was their choice, as it was Misick’s choice to stay there.

Only after the arrest did Misick decide he would prefer to be back home. In fact, when the arrest occurred, his plans were to attempt to extend his stay in Brazil for some indeterminate period. Had the Brazilian authorities chosen to give Misick asylum the entire issue would be at rest.

Mike has been at large for about two years and has had every opportunity to return home. It appears some folks were sending him funds and he was obviously enjoying his stay.

Now that he has been arrested, the attorney general says that the laws are being followed and the treaties that have been in place will be followed in accordance with the law. My brother in law was on television saying that because of Misick’s status as head of state he is somehow entitled to special privilege. It was Misick’s choice to resign and to run and he alone chose Brazil. Only after the arrest did the population learn that Misick was in Brazil. He was not on a diplomatic mission; he was on the lam.

What are human rights and what is the value of a human life? According to the elected minister of immigration if you are Haitian, Dominican, Jamaican or any other nationality and you do not have documents, you have forfeited your rights and your life must be made “unbearable.”

I suggest this is a dual standard. The illegals arriving at our shore are attempting escape from the aftermath of an earthquake, several hurricanes and many years of messy independent governments.

In many cases they are genuine political refugees. Their lives in their native countries are “unbearable” and therefore they risked the trip to the TCI. Many have lost their lives but still they come. I suggest that a proper immigration policy, which has quotas for legal entry that are based on needs, is what this minister ought to be talking about and creating. Our needs and the needs of the potential immigrants must be embedded in a good policy.

My experience in the USA and the TCI includes relationships with our Haitian neighbours and friends. We found them to be God fearing and God loving. They are a humble folk with the strong desire to work hard and prove themselves. They do not deserve the shameful comments of this minister. He says we are too accommodating. During his first term of government, Haitians were detained in a hot box without water and food. Some died. Where then was the human rights commissioner and where was this minister?
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