Several leaders from British Overseas Territories, BOT, including Falkland Islands, are meeting in Cayman Islands to discuss the agenda of the Joint Ministerial Council to be held in December in London.
The meetings are chaired by the Premier of the Cayman Islands.
According to reports in the Caribbean media the annual pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting in Cayman has attendees from Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and Montserrat.
The Falkland Islands Government, Roger Edwards MLA and FIGO representative Sukey Cameron MBE are attending in representation of the Islands.
Apparently the issuance of U.K. biometric passports to the British Overseas Territories, has taken centre stage at meeting in Cayman this week. Gibraltar CM Picardo says the UK’s decision to have all overseas territories passports printed in the mother country was a unilateral one by Britain.
“Not in consultation with any of the territories or indeed any of the embassies who might have been providing a sterling service. And all of that seems to have resulted from failures from the UK itself to be able to secure the stock of passports it held, which given that the Home Office at present is running a system for the granting of passports in the UK which doesn’t appear fit for purpose – given that it cannot fulfill the requirements of those of its citizens that require passports from the UK itself or beyond has caused us huge common concern,” said CM Picardo.
The UK is suffering with its own backlog, tens of thousands of applications are waiting to be processed after a push for all British passports to be printed there.
Several Caribbean territories have expressed concern about the issuance of emergency passports once the overseas territories’ travel documents go biometric. That means locally held passport stocks in the territories, which are non-biometric, will be made useless.
“Overseas territories members are concerned about the impact on their residents who seek emergency medical travel, putting at risk in particular the very young, elderly and those who may not have valid travel documents,” a statement from Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin’s office read.
The Cayman Islands has about two years’ worth of emergency passport stock.
Mr. McLaughlin said earlier this year that Cayman Islands passports issued by the U.K. would continue to bear the territory’s name following the repatriation of passport printing back to Britain.
The premier said it was also agreed that the Cayman Islands will retain control of sending passport applications to the U.K. and then distributing them to residents once the travel documents are returned.
Statement on pre-JMC meeting
We, the elected Leaders of the Overseas Territories, met in the Cayman Islands on 15-17 July, 2014, to discuss the forthcoming Joint Ministerial Council Meeting (JMC), which will be held in December 2014 in London.
The purpose of the Joint Ministerial Council is to implement the principles espoused in the 2012 White Paper on Security, Success and Sustainability and to agree at the ministerial level on collective issues between OT Governments and the UK Government.
At the pre-JMC meeting held this week in the Cayman Islands, we discussed measures to secure our long-term economic futures:
1. Economic diversification - To build sustainable economies that are more resilient and capitalize on changing global trends.
2. Good Governance – To continue to uphold the principles of Good Governance in the administration of our respective territories and recognize the right of all people of the Overseas Territories to self-determination.
3. Global Standards of Financial Regulation Accountability and Transparency – Continue to lead in the fight against financial crime and continue to be responsible international financial centres that facilitate global trade and investment in line with the emerging global consensus.
4. Environmental Sustainability – As vulnerable small territories whose economies are dependent on environmental sustainability, we will continue our long history of caring for and nurturing our environments.
5. Security and Immigration – Ensuring the security and protection of our borders and the safety and welfare of our people, including access to all passports, specifically emergency travel, despite the UK’s new policy to repatriate the printing of all passports to the United Kingdom by the end of this year.
We reaffirmed our commitment and respect for the principles outlined in our Constitutions and will uphold our obligations to our electorate and the people we serve.