Complaints and Investigations
One of the most important functions of the Human Rights Commission is the investigation of alleged human rights violations. The very existence of the commission with constitutional power to investigate abuses and provide relief to victims can act as a powerful disincentive to violation behaviours and is also a clear indication of government's commitment to human rights and its genuine willingness to take its international and domestic obligations seriously. Therefore the structure and functioning of the complaints mechanism must be such that allows the commission to guarantee accessible, rapid and inexpensive resolution of a matter. The HRC categorizes any form of right- based contact (i.e. in person, via telephone, via email or written correspondence) with its offices as 'intakes'. The substance of an intake may prove to be one that requires formal handling by the commission, via conciliation and investigatory process, and becomes referred to as a 'formal' investigation. A human rights investigation is instigated when a person files a formal complaint alleging infringement of their human rights as set out in the constitution order 2011 and the various International Conventions to which the Turks and Caicos Islands are signatory to.
One of the most important functions of the Commission is the investigation of alleged human rights violations. The very existence of the Commission with the power to investigate abuses and provide relief to victims can act as a powerful disincentive to violent behaviours and is also a clear indication of a government’s commitment to human rights and its genuine willingness to take its international and domestic obligations seriously. Therefore the structure and functioning accessible, rapid and inexpensive resolution of a matter.
Who can make a complaint?
Any person can and all persons within the Turks and Caicos Islands and in other situations such as: the victims of a human rights violation who may have disappeared, be held in custody, or be dead. Complaints may be lodged by a relative, friend, a legal representative or concerned non-governmental organization on behalf of an alleged victim.
How can a Petition be filed with the Human Rights Commission?
The Turks and Caicos Human Rights Commission can be accessed in four ways –
- The First Pathway - An individual or group of individuals can directly petition the Commission by writing to:
The Office of the Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 249
Cabot House, Suite C-104
- The Second Pathway – An individual or group of individuals can address a petition in writing or verbally to a Member of the Commission, who may than formally lodge the petition with the Commission; or
- The Third Pathway – A Member of the Commission can petition the Commission of his or her own volition, by bringing an individual issue or a matter of general concern, in writing or verbally, to the attention of the Commission.
- The Fourth Pathway – Direct visits to the Office of the Commission.
What information should be included in a Petition to the Commission?
In order to access the TCI Human Rights Commission, the individual or group of individuals (if access is being sought through the first or second pathways), or the Member of the Commission (if access is being sought through the first or second pathways), should attempt to include all of the following information in all petitions:
An account of the situation or circumstance, including dates where relevant, that has given rise to the petition;
Any supporting documentation; and
An indication of which human rights are thought be at issue.
The Final Report from the Chairman will include the following:
- A summary of the complaint
- A record of any investigation and/or mediation undertaken
- The findings of the Convention
- Recommendations on the case at hands
- Broader general recommendations, if the Chairman believes that these are appropriate.
Although not legally binding, the Final Report from the Commission can influence policy makers.
Selected copies of the Final Reports will be published and identified in the annual report by its case number to ensure utmost confidentiality. However, depending on the nature of the complaint, the names of the parties involved will not remain confidential and will be shared with key personnel in an effort to ensure that any valid concerns receive the maximum possible exposure.
The Commission views its Final Report as extremely persuasive documents. The fact that they are formal responses to real complaints means that there is an additional pressure placed on the authorities to respond positively to the recommendation.
All Complainants, if not satisfied with the outcome of the Commission’s handling of their case can seek redress in the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands have the power to make such orders, issues such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement for the protection to which the persons concerned is entitled; however, the Supreme Court shall not exercise its powers if it is satisfied that adequate means of redress are or have been available to the person concerned under any other law.