The current urgency of border protection following reports of people smuggling and border breaches has caused rumors that the authorities quickly rushed to deny, and a disclosure that resulted in Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie criticizing His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert’s decision to make certain things public.
The criticism the Premier heaped on the Governor came following a public announcement the Her Majesty’s Representative made on 25 August. During his announcement, His Excellency alluded to the breaching situation. He stated, “people have rightly expressed concern about the small number of individuals who are not following the rules and concerns about our border security. As we impose restrictions internally and have strict measures in place for people travelling through the legitimate routes into the Territory, we must ensure that our borders are secure and that people comply with the required measures.”
The comment that later caused the Premier to retort sternly was the Governor’s mention of discussions that were held by The National Security Council. The Governor during his speech said, “The National Security Council is meeting later today; there was a previous offer from the UK to help to bolster the Territory’s border security in the early days of Covid-19. That offer was not supported at the time. I will be discussing with the National Security Council what support might now be needed and will update in due course.”
Hours later during a press conference Hon. Andrew Fahie rebuked the decision to make such a revelation. The BVI Leader said, “First of all I am disappointed to know that it reached the public domain in the manner that it reached because this is not a time for persons to be pulling aside, it is a time for unity.”
“It is a breach of confidence to say who said what and who disagreed with what…Because of the implications of what has been put in the public’s domain, I am now forced to voice the deliberations of the NSC, but I will do my best not to compound the damage that has already been done by the statements that were made.”
Further, the Premier complained that there seemed to be an agenda to inject UK military personnel into the Territory, “There was some discussion about military support, and I must say here that the UK and its agencies seem to be itching to put military personnel in the jurisdiction whether on the sea or on the land. That was the one offer on the table.”
Additionally Hon. Fahie said that it was felt that this was an opportunity for the Territory’s security personnel to get a valuable experience: “It is on this basis and the confidence in our personnel here in the VI it was felt that military was not the way to go and we decided on many measures that we would exercise first, and we have exercised our options, and we have done pretty well,” Hon. Fahie added.
Border Breach Conspiracy
In recent days there were rumors that border security officers allegedly participated in the reported smuggling. However, the government responded and this announcement was labelled as ‘fake news’. Moreover, during his press conference on 25 August, Premier Fahie sternly refuted the rumor and stated, “We have to run the country on facts! What I can tell persons is that there is a new protocol in place to make sure that officers are not comfortable in one environment for too long.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Customs Wade Smith during the same press conference said, “the matter is under investigation.”
On another note, the Premier announced that the 24-hour border security that is being carried out by Her Majesty’s Customs and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force successfully foiled an attempt to breach the Territory’s borders.
Further, the BVI Leader said that there is an arrangement with the US Virgin Islands for border patrol on both sides.