These mistakes do not have to reoccur if we learn our lessons
Everybody makes mistakes but mistakes can be costly especially if the issues become legal matters. Some mistakes can be avoided though if there is an effective communication and proper understanding of the processes. Another thing that can cost you is the mistreatment of individuals be it physical or medical.
The Turks and Caicos Islands Government will be paying out thousands of dollars to individuals due to misunderstanding, mistreatment, and miscommunication. Hopefully though we will learn our lessons and mistakes like these will not be repeated.
Mistreatment cost us $45,000
During a police and immigration round up, a couple was stopped, and it was alleged that the couple did not have proof of status on them. I noticed in the ruling, the judge said that the police officer should have allowed one of them to go home to collect their documents. The truth is everybody is required to have in their possession proof of their status. However, my understanding is that the issue is not these individuals were detained but rather the treatment they received after being at the detention center. It is alleged that these individuals were the detention center for several hours without being fed and even though someone brought proof to show that these individuals have valid status in the country, they were still detained. Because of this, it cost us almost $50,000. Shouldn’t someone or somebodies be held accountable? I understand that some of the officers were humiliated because of the name calling and insults, however, one wrong does not make another wrong right. If someone insulted you and mistreated you, I am quite sure you can also find ways to take them to court and sue them, the same way the other parties sued the Government. However, do not let what people say to you interfere in doing your jobs. Be always professional and do not misuse your power, otherwise it will cost us thousands of dollars.
Misunderstanding and Miscommunication cost us $532,500
Several Sri Lankans came to the Turks and Caicos illegally on a sloop from Haiti. Some left the country but seven remained in the country and were held at the detention center for a very lengthy period. Normally we do not keep people in the detention center for long, they are normally processed within a couple of days of arrival and then repatriated to their country
The Sri Lankans could have been transported home too within a couple of days on a private charter but that was not done and then they ended up being stuck in the country due to travel restrictions because of COVID. Why did we not repatriate the Sri Lankans earlier? Why did the relevant individuals not use their power to approve the charter? Why did they remain in the detention center so long if we knew it was a violation? Why did no one advise the relevant departments? Why did we have to wait until the Sri Lankans sue us to discover we should have not retained them for too long in the detention center? Who was advising these Sri Lankans? How did they arrive at $350 a day? These individuals were treated well and given what they wanted while in the detention center and yet we settled for $200 a day?
I understand that two of the reasons why we did not send them back earlier is due to the high cost of the charter and they were needed as witnesses for a court hearing. It is also alleged that there was a breakdown in communication between the Police Department and the Immigration Department. One department said they will take care of this issue and the other department thinking it was being taken care of when it was not.
As a result of misunderstanding, miscommunication, it has the cost the country $532,500. Honestly, it has cost us more than this as we were paying $59,000 a month for accommodation and meals after they were removed from the Detention Center. I understand we will still have to pay this while they seek asylum. Shouldn’t we have sent these individuals home a long time ago but because of hardheadedness and miscommunication, they remained in the country.
All the above matters need further investigation as this is unacceptable to be paying out large sum of moneys like this. The Government should not have to be doing this and individuals need to be held accountable for their actions no matter who they are.
I doubt there will be any further investigation, but I do hope that we have learn from this. These are hard lessons to learn, and I do know hope that there were sessions with the entire Police Department and the Immigration Department to review what went wrong with these cases so that these mistakes are not repeated.