Archive for September 30th, 2008

Talks to remain closed

| 30/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Leader of the British Foreign & Commonwealth delegation, Ian Hendry (left), said that the constitutional talks between the UK-FCO Team and the Cayman Islands delegation would remain behind closed doors, as he did not wish to see grandstanding getting in the way of possible agreement. The public talks request was made by McKeeva Bush during his opening statement, when he said keeping the talks private defeated the purpose of having them in the Cayman Islands.

 “We are grateful that these meetings are being held in the Cayman Islands in accordance with the recommendations of Foreign Affairs Committee July 2008 report on Overseas Territories, but are disappointed that the full benefits of having these meeting here are not being realised by having them closed to the public,” said Bush. “The desire of this recommendation was to ensure that the local population did not feel distant from the process. Failing to allow the people an opportunity to listenin has negated the benefit of these talks being in Cayman. They might as well have been in the UK.”

In response, Hendry said that not only did he not have the authority to say the talks could be open but he had no desire to see them take place in the public spotlight, as he felt it could be detrimental. “It is not a sensible way to conduct negotiations and there is no precedent for constitutional negotiations being held in public and there are good reasons,” he said. “If the discussions are held in public, we will not reach a conclusion. This is a negotiation not an academic debate. We need compromise and persuasion and I know from bitter experience if negotiations are held in private we are more likely to see concessions and forbearance. In public we would get grandstanding.”

Hendry did say, however, that he was happy to meet the press at the end of the four days on Thursday. At the close of the first day CNS learned that while the delegates had all agreed not to talk publicly about the discussions until the end of this first round, the first day did not see anything of any importance concluded.

The first two hours of the session, when each party laid out its position, were open to the press. All eyes were on the opposition delegation, which was the last to arrive and made a damning presentation with regard to their treatment during the constitutional review process and its legitimacy. “We are of the firm view that the process has not done full justice in bringing about constitutional consensus.  Our concerns are centred on the lack of objectivity and balance in the process,” said Bush.

He also made it clear that his party did not believe there was local support for some of the fundamental changes the government was proposing. “We maintain that the PPM administration has failed in bringing about national consensus on some of the more salient aspects of their proposals, Bush said. “The UDP is cognisant more than most that our political system is not as mature as other territories and considers the timely and systematic approach of devolving power to elected representatives as opposed to the sweeping approach embedded in the government proposals.

However, in his opener, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts had made it very clear that the Cayman Islands was seeking greater decision-making powers for the elected government.  “Our growing maturity as a nation underscores the need for a Constitution which gives Caymanians, through their elected Government, a greater say in crucial decisions affecting our country,” said the LoGB. “The people of the Cayman Islands, through their government, need to play a greater role in key decision making which affects local matters and local interests. This is particularly true in relation to key aspects of governance like national security and the conclusion of international agreements. In essence, what we are seeking is a sharing of decision-making responsibility with the United Kingdom.”

He said there was no desire for independence, but the country has reached a stage in its development where the legislature and Cabinet should fully reflect the democratic will of the people. He added that as the UK had actively supported the worldwide trend of democratisation, it should appreciate that the presence of non-elected members with casting votes in both the legislature and Cabinet goes against the trend.

Laying out the UK position, Hendry gave very little away except to say that it wanted to see a bill of rights chapter in any new constitution. “The United Kingdom negotiating team approach constitutional review with no preconceived agenda,” he said. “We are ready to explore and discuss any proposals the Cayman Islands delegation might advance.”

He added that the United Kingdom team will be striving for the best possible outcome for the Cayman Islands that is consistent with the United Kingdom’s continuing responsibilities for the territory.

“These responsibilities include ensuring good governance, a non-political civil service and police force, the independence of the judiciary, the maintenance of law and order, the fulfilment of international obligations, and the minimisation of contingent liabilities,” he said.

He explained that in the absence of agreement, the current Constitution of the Cayman Islands would continue, but if there was agreement the UK would want to see evidence that it had the support of the people of the Cayman Islands.  He also said nothing is agreed in the process of negotiation until everything is agreed.

The Chamber of Commerce, the Cayman Ministers’ Association, the Mission of Seventh-Day Adventists and the Human Rights Committee also laid out the details of their positions and raised a number of issues that they were very keen top see addressed during the process, including the desire by the Human Rights Committee to see the application of human rights horizontally as well as vertically, and the churches’ desire for the opposite. The Chamber made some emphatic points about curbing potential abuse of power. “Extraordinary events involving inappropriate behaviour and actions by the United Kingdom through a former attorney general and serious allegations against senior officials in our courts and police systems have alarmed our membership,” said Wil Pineau CEO of Chamber.

(See CNS tomorrow for details of NGO positions)


Continue Reading

Montessori del sol Dress Red for Haiti Relief

| 30/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The teachers and students at Montessori del sol recently participated in a “Dress Red” day to raise money and awareness for the Red Cross, specifically to aid with hurricane relief in Haiti. The Montessori students, ranging in ages two to six were educated by their teachers on the importance of recognizing charitable needs in the local community and internationally. (Left: River Wolfe)

According to a release, the Dress Red day demonstrated to the students how to get involved toward positive change and bring much-needed awareness to specific needs.

“Children are never too young to understand the value of helping others”, comments Montessori del sol owner, Amy Tipton. “The students enjoyed dressing in red and learning about the ways that the donation will help those in Haiti”.

Money raised will go to the Cayman Islands Red Cross Haiti relief fund. For more information on the CI Red Cross, please visit

Donations for the Haiti relief fund can be made directly to the Butterfield Bank Account # 02-201-035054-01 Haiti Relief or by calling: 345-925-0681


Continue Reading

Too much money is beyond legal reach

| 30/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(Wall Street Journal): A major factor in the current financial crisis is the lack of transparency in the activities of the principal players in the financial markets. This opaqueness is compounded by vast sums of money that lie outside the jurisdiction of U.S. regulators and other supervisory authorities. There is $1.9 trillion, almost all of it run out of the New York metropolitan area, that sits in the Cayman Islands, a secrecy jurisdiction. Go to article

Continue Reading

Greenlight for ocean lesson

| 30/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Aimed at increasing the awareness of the human connection to the ocean the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s (CCMI) Ocean Literacy initiative received a welcome financial boost recently. Locally based Greenlight Reinsurance, Ltd. (Greenlight Re) confirmed its continued partnership supporting the education programmes.

These various programmes at the CCMI teach fundamental scientific principles through field-based activities and build critical thinking and problem solving skills.  CCMI’s Caribbean Sea Camp recently finished the ninth season and the Eco-Weekends will have a full programme launch for 2008/09, thanks to the help of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman. The Greenlight Re commitment is allocated primarily towards “Ocean Literacy”, which carries the pledge to make every child in the Cayman Islands ocean literate by the time they are 12 years old.  

CCMI CEO Jim O’Neill explained that Greenlight Re was CCMI’s first corporate sponsor for education programmes and the firm’s contribution has allowed the institute to pilot programmes such as Eco Weekend and develop the Ocean Literacy concept. “Because of Greenlight Re, CCMI has been able to have a wide-ranging impact locally with youth and their literacy about the marine environment,” he added.

The ocean covers over 70 percent of the earth’s surface, moderates climate, and gives life to the earth and is critically threatened.  The Ocean Literacy programme has a detailed and ambitious three-year plan, which will impact all residents in the Cayman Islands. Its aim is to provide literature, training and support to teachers in both the public and private schools in the Cayman Islands and to implement a public awareness campaign for Ocean Literacy designed to make all members of the community more aware of the impact that they have on the ocean and the impact that the ocean has on them.

“We are proud to extend our partnership with CCMI to educate the youth of our community”, said Greenlight Re CFO Tim Courtis.  “The Ocean Literacy programme targets youth, as well as the entire public on the importance of the marine environment.  We believe this will have a great impact on Cayman’s community for years and even decades to come.”

The CCMI Education committee has developed and published an Ocean Literacy teacher’s guide, entitled Our Ocean Planet, which has been endorsed by the Education Ministry and has been incorporated into the science curriculum.  CCMI will be providing extensive teacher training and support to communicate the new information.  Step two will roll out in 2009 and will include local media and wide distribution of the essential principles.

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute was incorporated in 1998 as a non-profit 501c3 organization.  CCMI was established as an international charitable organization after becoming incorporated in the Cayman Islands (2002) and in the UK in 2004. Since its first years, CCMI has proven a valuable asset to the effort to understanding changing coral reef and tropical marine environments, and its research and education programs have established a solid foundation for future reef education and awareness in the Caribbean and for students and researchers from around the world. To participate in CCMI’s education programmes, please email


Continue Reading

Police net drug boat

| 30/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service intercepted a drug canoe yesterday morning and have arrested a man on suspicion of importation of drugs and illegal entry into the Cayman Islands. Following a joint operation the 42-year-old man was taken into custody and a canoe and approximately 200 pounds of ganja were seized off the coast of South Sound.

At around 6.30 am on Monday morning 29 September, officers on patrol stopped a man who was acting suspiciously in the South Sound area. Shortly afterwards, police were alerted to a boat seen drifting out at sea. Officers from the joint Customs and Police Marine Unit, Drugs Task Force, Criminal Investigation Department, Air Support Unit and a Port Authority vessel were deployed and the 30-foot canoe, with two engines, was located and seized. A number of packages of ganja were found in the vessel, weighing approximately 200 pounds.

The man was arrested and remains in custody at this time. Investigations by the Drugs Task Force are ongoing and DC Rodrick Evans asks that anyone with information about the boat or the arrest contact him on 526-0776. 

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

Minister questions enquiry

| 30/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As Justice Alex Henderson was making public the real reasons for his arrest by officers from the UK independent police investigation, the Minster for Education, Alden McLaughlin voiced his concerns on Friday that the entire operation was a gross over reaction and was damaging to the Cayman Islands. He said that based on the information that the elected cabinet members were receiving, something just wasn’t right.

 “I haveexpressed grave doubts and concerns,” said McLaughlin. “This just doesn’t feel right to me.”

He said that it could be because the government hasn’t been given all the information needed to make an assessment but he was doubtful of the validity of what was going on.

“Drawing on my experience as a lawyer, I am sceptical of coincidences and the arrest of Henderson just before constitutional talks begin rings alarm bells in my head,” he added. “There is just something wrong with this arrangement that essentially allows a British invasion of our system and foreign cops investigating, well……I don’t know what?”

McLaughlin said it all seemed to be a gross over reaction to the issues at hand, and even assuming that the information the government had was correct and the Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan was involved in approving an unlawful entry to an office, the response was not necessarily proportionate.

“What’s at stake here is the international credibility of the Cayman Islands,” added the Minister. “If we have a corrupt system we need to fix it but nothing I have seen or heard so far leads me to believe that the response of the Governor to these matters is proportionate.”

Since all of this started, he said, he was hearing concerns coming from the business community at what was really going on and he indicated the government’s exclusion from the details meant they could not be sure what was happening was genuine and it illustrated the need for change.

“If we had a national security council from which the Governor had to take advice, while decisions might not be different we wouldn’t be in this realm of speculation. The elected government would know what was going on and we would support the Governor. We would have confidence that these were genuine decisions as opposed to being taking in isolation by the UK government with an unknown agenda,” McLaughlin noted. “This is a huge frustration for us as the elected government and this is why I am passionate about the reform of the constitution.”

He also lamented the cost of the investigation coupled with estimates of the tribunal to hear complaints against Justice Priya Levers, which together were now mounting to millions of dollars. He explained that the electorate take the elected government to task over the spending of government funds but that they have no control on this. Even if Finance Committee refused to appropriate the funds, the Governor would simply use his reserve powers to take the money.

The Minister said the situation was entirely inappropriate and that the constitutional arrangement needed to be changed. “This is not a little colonial outpost any more we have some of the biggest banks and business operating here. It’s a sophisticated jurisdiction nd we simply can’t have an invasion of another government.”

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts confirmed that the elected members of government were informed only the morning before of Henderson’s pending arrest.  “We were briefed at Cabinet just before the start of the meeting by the Governor in general terms on Tuesday,” he said “As is usually the case, there was scant information regarding the end result.” He explained that the elected members of government have only been told in the broadest terms what Bridger and his officers are investigating and have not been given any specific details.


Continue Reading