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Turks And Caicos Islands

Volume 75: debated on Tuesday 12 March 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking following the arrest of the Prime Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands and other members of the Administration in Miami on drugs charges; whether the Government had any warning that this was to happen; and if he will make a statement on the implications of this incident for the protection of British citizens of a British colony provided by Her Majesty's Government.

We have been in close touch with the Governor about the arrest of Mr. Saunders, the Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Mr. Missick, one of his Ministers, and Mr. Smith, an elected member of the islands' Legislative Council. Court proceedings could take some time and no doubt Mr. Saunders will be reconsidering his position as Chief Minister in view of the need for good government of the territory. The Governor is in close touch with other leading politicians in the territory about this.The United States Drug Enforcement Administration authorities have been working in close co-operation with the Turks and Caicos Islands police force, which is responsible directly to the Governor, on the prevention of the illegal importation of narcotics into the United States mainland through the islands from South America. The decision to make the arrests was taken by the United States authorities and we were kept informed throughout.Narcotics are a recognised area for international co-operation. This exists between officials responsible for policy on drug matters both in the context of the United Nations (United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse and Control), the multilateral Single Narcotics Convention (Cmnd. 7466) and generally. Also there is close co-operation on operational matters between law enforcement officers on a day-to-day basis; this is not confined to the United States.Mr. Saunders and his colleagues are British Dependent Territories citizens and therefore are entitled to United Kingdom consular protection. A consular official attended the initial court hearings and has visited the detainees.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the implications for the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands on the arrest of the Prime Minister and other members of the Administration in Miami on drugs charges.

The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands are continuing under the Governor and the acting Chief Minister, Mr. Francis. There is no reason why this unfortunate episode should have any lasting effect on the good government of the islands.