Archive for September 21st, 2008

Constitutional unity elusive

Constitutional unity elusive

| 21/09/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): With only a week to go before the Foreign Commonwealth Office negotiating team arrives from London to begin talks with the Cayman Islands regarding the revision of its constitution, the government and opposition are still at odds. While McKeeva Bush has proposed a public debate between the UDP, the government and the invited NGOs before the London talks start, Kurt Tibbetts has said there can be no debate until the country knows what the opposition proposes.

Speaking at the media briefing on 18 September, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the country still found itself without the benefit of knowing what the opposition proposed, only a few days before talks with the UK, which are due to start on Monday, 29 September, and no closer to the united front he has said he wants to present.

“The Leader of the Opposition has found every excuse possible, and in so doing continually plays the blame game in his obvious attempt to delay the process,” said Tibbetts. “He has now proposed a three-day debate in the Legislative Assembly, as a public hearing, beginning on Monday.”

Tibbetts said that while the government agreed that this may be necessary to resolve important differences between the government’s revised proposals and the opposition’s proposals, he said the opposition had failed to tell the country what they were actually proposing.

“When we were engaged in the process in 2002, before the 2003 draft constitution was completed by London after our negotiations, the PPM, as the opposition, prepared and produced our position paper for all to see, and we readily agreed to a summit with the UDP government in order to close the gaps before the negotiations started.  Both the government and the opposition at the time had the benefit before the summit of comparing each other’s proposals before sensible dialogue ensued,” added Tibbetts.

“Before any sensible meeting can be held with the opposition, they need to tell the country what they are proposing. When the opposition has done that, the government can study their proposals, take advice, and consider making adjustments to our published revised proposals. Also, the public can then at least give serious thought to the opposition’s proposals, and compare them with ours.”

The LoGB said the clock continues to tick, and it would be unfortunate if all the members of the Cayman negotiating team had not met to see if they could agree on a common approach before the London delegation arrived.

“We have thus farmet with three of the four NGO’s who will be participating in the talks.  These discussions have all been constructive, and each instance has been based on prepared comments and proposals.  But we are all hampered by not knowing what the opposition proposes – or what are their reasons for objecting to the Revised Proposals published by the government.”

Tibbetts said the country had been very patient with the opposition, but now, as the talks date is imminent, it is essential for it to say what it proposes.

“If the opposition does not do so, even its strongest supporters will have to acknowledge that the opposition is playing political games, which are seriously detrimental to the country’s interests. It is absolutely imperative that the Cayman team — government, opposition and NGOs — present as unified a position as possible to the UK at these important talks.  To do otherwise is to do a disservice to the people of these islands,” he added.

Minister Alden McLaughlin said that Bush’s idea of a public debate was simply so he could grandstand, and that the opposition leader was misleading the public by not defining clearly his position on the constitution and spelling out exactly what he genuinely disagreed with on the government’s proposals.

Bush has persistently said he believes it is what the people want that counts and not the politicians, and although the UDP has created a discussion paper, they were not given the necessary financing to establish the true feeling of the people of Cayman. Although the government believes from the previous attempts at constitutional modernisation that the government and the opposition are not so far apart in their opinion, Bush has in recent months said he disagrees with a number of the PPM’s constitutional proposals, including the changes in the balance of power between the elected members of government and the Governor, as well as the idea of having a Bill of Rights enshrined in the constitution rather than as separate legislation.

In recent public meetings Bush has accused the government of forcing its constitutional proposals on the people of Cayman before they are ready and of seeking to power-grab. In response, the government has accused Bush of playing games and derailing the process.



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People’s comment sought on new police bill

People’s comment sought on new police bill

| 21/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The public is still being asked for input on the draft police bill, which proposes a number of changes to the Police Law. As well as establishing in law a defendant’s right to legal counsel on arrest, it paves the way for an independent Police Public Complaints Authority. Revising and updating the current Police Law, it deals with operational duties, the management of police officers and terms of service.

The bill aims to consolidate all matters of appointment, discipline and promotion of police officers of all ranks, matters which are currently split between the Police Law and the Public Service Management Law. It  also deals with how police officers carry out their duties and their commitment to the public. While reaffirming issues such as the fact that RCIPS officers will remain unarmed, it updates procedures surrounding evidence and how samples such as DNA can be taken from the public.

Outlining the general powers of police officers, the bill states that “police officers are deemed to be on duty at all times and that they must collect and communicate intelligence affecting the public peace; prevent the commission of offences and public nuisances; detect and bring offenders to justice; and apprehend all persons whom they are legally authorised to apprehend.”

The bill also governs the power of the police to stop and search suspects and impose emergency curfews, roadblocks and checks, as well as general powers of seizure of property, including computers and computerised information. It also defines when an officer can make an arrest, and the new bill clearly states that a police officer can make an arrest in order to protect a child or other vulnerable person from suspected harm.

The law states too that anyone who is arrested and being held in custody in a police station or other premises is entitled to have a friend, relative or other person who is likely to take an interest in his welfare be informed as soon as possible that he has been arrested and is being detained.

The bill confirms the right to an attorney. “A person arrested and held in custody in a police station or other premises shall be entitled, if he so requests, to consult an attorney-at-law privately at any time,” the new bill states. For the first time, the bill also makes provision for police interviews of suspects to be taped and video-recorded.

The bill sets out a maximum of 48 hours’ detention in the first instance for serious offences such as rape and murder, allowing police time for obtaining or preserving evidence, including questioning of the accused. Under the new proposals, this could be followed by an additional detention period of 24 hours, after which the person has to be produced before a magistrate.

It also sets out details of the new independent Police Public Complaints Authority, which it states shall consist of three persons appointed by the Governor, who will also appoint one of the members of the authority to be the chairman. Neither present or former police, politicians nor those convicted of a crime will be allowed to serve on the authority.

Speaking about the revisions recently, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin said the authority would engender greater public confidence in the investigation of allegations against police officers as well as enhancing openness, transparency and accountability.

“This is consistent with the contemporary approach in dealing with complaints against police officers,” he added. He asked that members of the public, including non-governmental organisations such as the Human Rights Committee, provide their input on all aspects of the draft bill.

Members of the public have until 5:00 pm Tuesday, 30 September, to make their comments heard. Copies of the bill can be picked up from the Legislative Assembly office, or viewed electronically on can be sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers, Fourth Floor, Government Administration Building or e-mailed to


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Chamber seeks members’ views for constitutional talks

Chamber seeks members’ views for constitutional talks

| 21/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With the countdown on to the imminent arrival of the Foreign and Commonwealth team in the Cayman Islands to discuss the country’s future constitutional arrangement with the UK, the Chamber of Commerce, one of the NGOs selected to join the Cayman negotiating team, is urging all its members to offer their opinions by answering specific questions on the proposed changes in an online survey.

The Chamber said the response of the members will go towards forming the position that the Chamber will bring to the talks and will highlight the specific interests and concerns of the membership.

“It is of the utmost importance to the Chamber of Commerce Council that we communicate the positions of the 740 members, and the 18,500 employees that they employ, accurately,” said Chamber President James Tibbetts. “The Constitution is the single most important document for the Cayman Islands, and the Chamber of Commerce welcomes this opportunity to provide feedback from its members to the Constitutional talks which take place at the end of this month."

He encouraged all members and their employees to complete the survey so that the members’ views on this important national issue, which, the president said, would impact both our social and economic future for many years to come, could be put forward. The survey consists of more than fifty questions concerning everything from whether we need a new constitution at all to the number of elected officials. Members are asked to select one of five answers ranging from "strongly agree" through to "neutral" to "strongly disagree".

The Chamber said the questions had been carefully crafted based on the government’s Constitutional Proposals and the opposition’s Discussion Draft. Members will be e-mailed a link to the online survey or will be able to access the survey through the Chamber’s website All responses will be kept confidential.

It also advised members to reread articles released in the April issue of THE CHAMBER Quarterly Review, which clarify some of the different positions raised in the course of the constitutional discussion, to make fully informed decisions.  The deadline for completing the survey is Wednesday, 24 September.

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