Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Government is doing itself no favour!

Equality Rights Group GGR has today questioned Government handling of the various procedural issues related to the employment and immigration status of the President of the Moroccan Community Association.

“As a human rights organisation, we will not pre-judge the balance of issues that could be at play in this particular situation. Judgements must be made based on objective facts. Yet it is more than clear that Government is doing itself no favour by taking the inordinate time it is in processing the re-employment paperwork in this case, given that it would appear the gentleman concerned is already in possession of an offer of employment and his prospective employer is reportedly eager to proceed. The many months delay in this case is, to say the very least, unusual and Government’s statement that standard considerations are being applied runs counter to common-sense since a person of long-standing employment on the Rock and with a firm employment offer has a legitimate expectation that the handling of his case will proceed as smoothly as on other occasions unless specific reasons are given to the contrary. The wholly questionable tardiness in the administrative handling of this affair may therefore only lead to a perception that our public authorities, entrusted with discretionary powers to act justly and in the public interest, are failing so to do and, instead, fuelling doubt about any possible underlying motivations for acting in this manner.”

Felix Alvarez, Chairman, stated that “In a situation where Government plans to increase its executive powers through the adoption of a new Constitution which does precisely that, and the text of which, if left uncorrected, could undermine the independent role of the Judiciary, then now more than ever Government is under an increased responsibility to act more openly, more democratically, and more in keeping with the principle of the rule of law by informing the public precisely what reasons it may have for acting in this manner in this particular case. If there are indeed public interest issues involved, the public needs to know if not the detail, then certainly sufficiently so as to put its doubts to rest. What we definitely do not need is the undermining of democratic principles in any guise or form nor Executive behaviour which leads the public at large to suspect procedural foul play and thus question the legitimacy of Government actions. That is not good for Gibraltar. And the last thing we want is a situation where citizens begin to ask themselves: if it’s him today, will it be me tomorrow?”

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Constitution is a bad move for Gibraltar!

Equality Rights Group GGR has today commented on recent remarks by Chief Justice Derek Schofield in which he expressed the Judiciary’s disappointment that the proposed new Constitution should not have fully incorporated the European Convention of Human Rights. GGR believes the new Constitution is a “bad move for Gibraltar.”

“GGR has been saying the same thing all along, and we welcome the Chief Justice’s clear public view on this. We have always said the new Constitution is gravely deficient from day one and we have maintained our view even when we stood alone. From the first announcement of an agreed text for the Constitution, we have clearly stated that this exercise is a missed opportunity to bring real progress for Gibraltar, providing only benefits to the political apparatus while conferring practically none to the ordinary citizen. We maintain that view. We are pleased, therefore, to see that both the SDGG and the Veterans group have subsequently come to the same conclusions, though perhaps from different perspectives, whilst noting that the VOGG may be less uniformly decided in their conclusions. It is noteworthy that citizens at grass roots level should have this view while the politicians – now in unison – have adopted an opposite approach.”

“Acceptance at referendum of the new Constitution is acceptance of a missed opportunity to really bring Gibraltar up to standard with modern democratic values and self-determination for citizens at all levels. It is a partial text with only a partial solution and, whilst the “yes” argument is that something is better than nothing we cannot agree: accepting the new text is to paralyse any possibility of really introducing the kind of changes Gibraltar needs for a very, very long time indeed. A “no” vote will have the exactly opposite effect.”

“Given the resources and financial support the “yes” vote will have in blasting their message across the population, we are not hopeful that the new Constitution will be rejected. It is therefore all the more important that the GSLP/Liberals re-think their position by supporting the possibility of building real and lasting self-determination for Gibraltarians at all democratic levels and not settle for less.”