Archive for March 2nd, 2009

Crash closes West Bay Road

| 02/03/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): UPDATED 11: 45 am – Police have now confirmed the details of the car crash that closed the West Bay Road to traffic in both directions on Monday afternoon, 2 March, and resulted in the arrest of one driver and hospitalisation of another. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at approximately 4:20 pm from a member of the public reporting that a vehicle had flipped onto its roof in the vicinity of the old Courtyard Marriott Hotel.

Police and medics responded to the scene and found that a White Honda CRV and a Blue Jeep Wrangler had collided, causing the Honda to spin and overturn onto its roof. It appears that the Jeep had been exiting from Raleigh Quay and the Honda had been travelling south on West Bay Road when the collision occurred. The 58-year-old female driver of the Honda was taken to hospital for assessment and the 38-year-old male driver of the jeep was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving. Police said that he has since been released on bail.

The incident caused extensive delays during the evening rush hour with both lanes on the busy West Bay Road closed. Anyone who witnessed the incident who has notyet spoken to a police officer is asked to contact PC Stacy-Ann Stewart at the Traffic Management Department on 946- 6254.

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.

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Teen remanded in custody for suspected burglary

| 02/03/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A 16-year-old boy who appeared before Youth Court on Friday, 27 February, charged with one count of burglary has been remanded in custody by the court. The charge relates to a break-in that occurred at a house in Boggy Sands Road, West Bay, on 17 February, which involved the theft of a lap-top, digital camera and cell phone. Detectives arrested the boy and recovered the stolen items.

“Thankfully, burglary is quite rare in West Bay,” said Area Commander Chief Inspector Angelique Howell. “But that does not mean we can be complacent. We often see homes left unattended with windows and doors open – this is an open invitation to opportunist criminals. We need to make sure our property is secure at all times.”

The RCIPS is offering the following tips and advice to residents and visitors to the
Cayman Islands:

General Security:
• Ensure doors and windows are kept locked and secure – even if you are just popping out for a few minutes.
• Sliding doors are often a popular method of entry – inserting a piece of wood or something similar into the gap to prevent the door from sliding back should the lock be broken can help discourage potential burglars from targeting your home.
• Do not leave a spare key hidden under a mat or plant pot.
• Make sure keys are kept out of reach of windows and doors.
• Look out for your neighbours – if you notice something suspicious call the police.

Don’t tempt burglars:
• Keep valuable items out of view.
• Make sure gardening equipment is secure and not left lying around.
• Let them know you have taken precautions – if you have an alarm put the box or sticker on show and if you have a dog display a warning sign.

Holiday security:
• If you are going away ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property and ask them to open and close curtains or put lights on to make your house look lived in.
• If you are leaving your car at the airport – ask a neighbour to park in your space occasionally.

Security Equipment:
• Take a look around your home and imagine you are a burglar. Look for security weak points.
• Fit locks to windows and doors – if they are easily visible they may deter some thieves.
• Consider fitting an alarm.
• Mark your goods with your PO Box so that if they are stolen and recovered they can be easily identified as belonging to you.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in West Bay should contact the police station on 949-3999 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.

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Snorkelling accident victim named

| 02/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 75-year-old visitor who passed away following a snorkelling trip off Seven Mile Beach on Monday, 23 February has now been named as Robert Stueben from Pennsylvania, United States. Police say they were alerted to the incident at around 1:10 pm by a staff member of London House. It was reported that two guests were in the sea and appeared in be in difficulty. Police and medics responded to the scene and found that the victim had been brought to shore unconscious. Mr Stueben, who had been visiting Grand Cayman with relatives, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The RCIPS sends its condolences to the family and friends of Mr Stueben.

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Planning imposes lift codes

| 02/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Installations of elevators and other conveyance equipment on or after 1 May 2009 must meet the 2007 Safety Codes for Elevators and Escalators, published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). These codes cover matters such as operation, inspection and repair. The adopted ASME codes will apply to conveyance equipment including elevators, escalators, moving walks, dumbwaiters, and material lifts. In addition, the department’s Building Control Unit is working with property owners and contractors to establish a date for implementing ASME’s safety code for existing elevators.

In a release from the Planning Department, Chief Building Control Officer Emerson Piercy reminds people in the elevator industry that all conveyance equipment installed or altered prior to 1 May 2009 is expected, at the time of any inspection, to be in compliance with the code published by ASME at the time of original installation or alteration. This includes any special variance allowances or conditions required for the installation.

“In instances where compliance with these requirements is not feasible, the department will evaluate the situation on a case-by-case basis, and apply the code that is best suited to the circumstances,” Piercy said. The new stipulations were reviewed during an 11 February Planning Department meeting with representatives from the Cayman Islands elevator industry. At that meeting the adoption of modern elevator codes; certificates of operation; and the permitting and inspection process were discussed.

Industry representatives and building owners who have questions may call Elevator Inspector Gerald Mazur on 769-1571 or 526-1571.


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Legislators tackle prison overcrowding

| 02/03/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Acting Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks told the Legislative Assembly on Friday that the early release of prisoners on license was an important interim measure for addressing the severe over crowding currently experienced in both of Cayman’s prisons. While the construction of a new prison at Northward was already underway Ebanks said that there was still a need to formalise and alter theexisting law to release low risk prisoners on license in order to tackle the problem of too many inmates in too little space.


Seeking support to amend the existing Prison Bill, Ebanks in his role as acting chief secretary explained that the early release programme had been utilised for some time but the process needed to be formalized in law and extended to those serving less than three years to help meet the immediate need of reducing the prison population.

According to government statistics both prisons are currently overcrowded with Northward more than 40 percent over capacity. The situation is so severe at the men’s prison that adult male prisoners are currently being accommodated in the young offenders centre -Eagle House a situation that has raised considerable concern in the community and been condemned by the Human Rights Committee.

While the entire prison law is being re-drafted, alternative sentencing planned to be introduced and a new prison being constructed at the Northward site, all measures that will address the overcrowding issue the long term in the meantime prisoners at Northward are being house not only in an institution that is over capacity but in buildings that are increasingly dilapidated and in a severe state of disrepair.

Aware of the problems that can be caused by overcrowding and the pressures it put not just on prisoners but on prison management and maintaining security the need to reduce prison numbers Ebanks said was urgent.

He said there was a need to formalise the early release programme in law as quickly as possible so that more low risk prisoners could be released into the community.  Ebanks told the house how the system would work with the amendment explaining that most prisoners are entitled to be released after serving two thirds of their sentence provided they comply with the good behaviour regulations.

The early release programme would come into effect before the usual parole date and would allow prisoners who have behaved well and not considered a major risk to be released after serving just over one third of their sentences. He said at present the law allowed for this to happen with prisoners who had been sentenced to three years or more but not those with shorter sentences  and hence the need to amend the bill.

He said that under this amendment a prisoner sentenced to two years who would normally be allowed under the parole rules to leave prison after serving 16 months would under the early release programme be allowed to leave after thirteen months provided he met the good behaviour criteria. Ebanks reassured members of the Legislative Assembly that this would only apply to prisoners that were not considered at risk and who had demonstrated that they had learned their lesson. He noted too that as they would be released on license any slip would see them returned to Northward to serve out their full sentence.

“Having practiced this arrangement anyway, we are confident that people applying for the early release are prisoners who have learned a lesson,” he said. “Not everyone who goes there becomes an habitual offender and some people who may have made a mistake in their life learn from the experience and become committed to the right course.”

The amendment was supported by Osbourne Bodden who said that it was incumbent on legislators to do all they could to reduce the number of people inside prisons. “We should not be increasing prisoners. We need to put money into social programmes and education to reduce the amount of people serving time,” he said. “I have long been in favour of alternative sentencing which I know is being looked at. An electronic tagging system will be another way of reducing prison numbers and allow people to serve their sentences in the community.”

The amendment to the bill was passed without opposition.   



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Rights needed in absence of laws

| 02/03/2009 | 26 Comments

One of the arguments raised by the government and others who have supported the limitation of the non-discrimination Section 16 in the proposed Bill of Rights is that other countries have the same limitation and that it is based on the European Convention on Human Rights – but this position is flawed.

The private members motion brought by Rolston Anglin last week, which was thankfully passed, serves to illustrate one of the problems Cayman faces with a limitation clause in its Bill of Rights that other western democracies do not. In most other modern jurisdictions there are literally swathes of legislation on their respective statute books that prevent discrimination and provide the people with a course of redress when they face discrimination from government and even other sectors of the community.

Cayman not only has an as yet unresearched collection of archaic and discriminatory legislation on its books, it has failed to pass laws that protect vulnerable members of the community from discrimination in numerous potential situations.

In his explanation to the Legislative Assembly for bringing his private members bill to the House, Anglin said it came about because of a constituent coming to him and relating the story of how she had tried to cite an absent father who had returned to the island years after fathering her child. The woman was horrified when she went to court and had her request refused by the judge and was convinced the judge must have made a mistake. Anglin then discovered the 12 month limitation in the law imposed on mothers and, realising the potential ramifications of such a rule, was spurred on to present his motion.

During the debate, Lucille Seymour said she believed there were probably many other laws that were discriminatory and asked the attorney general to start looking. Coupled with the number of archaic laws we could have which allow for discrimination against vulnerable groups, Cayman has passed little or no legislation to prevent discrimination from occurring againstnumerous groups in the community.

 The most obvious group is the disabled. Highlighted recently at the Family Life Centre meeting, as well as in recent stories and comments on CNS, there is no legislation that exists on our statute books that prevent discrimination against the likes of Keisha Martin and her seeing eye dog, to give just one example.

While the collective community may or may not buy the churches’ anti-gay stance as justification against a stand alone right, the people must understand that, in the absence of constitutional protection and the absence of legislative protection, women, the disabled, children, the elderly, the poor, the mentally ill and even the uneducated will continue to have to fight against discrimination in incremental steps.

They can hope that legislators will in each case turn to their conscience when, as was the case this week, laws are revealed to be discriminatory, but that is all they have – just hope. Without constitutional rights the vulnerable groups in our community will not be able to force changes in legislation; they will have to campaign and fight each battle as it arises and, as has been revealed by Keisha’s situation, the battle is not always won.

As the election campaign begins in earnest over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see what legislation is promised by those seeking to gain office. As voters listen to the would-be politicians, it is worth considering how much legislation was promised by those who were elected the last time around and exactly how much has been passed. (Consider for example the minimum wage or the National Conservation bill.)

Those lucky enough to have a vote need to think not only about the motivations politicians have for passing laws but also the timetables and the need for majority support. Although it may seem easy enough to push legislation through the House, it is not always the case as there needs to be a collective will and wide support for every law that makes it to the table.

While this time,in the case of the Affiliation Law amendment, the ayes had it in favour of children, no one can be sure where the ayes will be on pushing through the considerable amount of legislation that Cayman now needs without constitutional protection for its most vulnerable citizens.

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MLA fights for child rights

| 02/03/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): A private members motion brought by opposition member Rolston Anglin seeking to amend the Affiliation Law should address a long standing injustice against many Caymanian children born to parents that were not married. Anglin’s motion put before the House on Thursday and passed on Friday proposes to remove the 12 month limitation that currently exists in the law for naming a child’s father, something that has proven to be discriminatory for many children and prevented many fathers taking responsibility for their biological children.

Gaining support from both sides of the House, Anglin noted how the law was originally composed through the eyes of men and how it had served to treat many children unfairly by firstly labelling them illegitimate and secondly denying them their right to a parent.

“There should not be a time limit on a mother to prove the father of her child,” he said, noting that most western democracies had addressed this issue and both the Council of Europe and the United Nations had declared that children born out of wedlock should not be discriminated against. “Children are deemed to be born equal in or out of marriage,” he added. “When a man fathers a child it is his biggest responsibility and no child asks to be conceived.”

Anglin said changing the law would ensure that fathers — as this law applies in most cases to issues of paternity — would ensure that men knew they were always responsible for their biological children as the law currently allowed men to simply walk away.“I do not believe if any of us searched our conscience that we would believe such discrimination should be allowed,” he said.

The bill was supported by Alfonso Wright, who added that DNA testing should be considered as a mandatory form for ensuring the right fathers were cited, as well as Osbourne Bodden, who said by naming fathers on birth certificates it was at least one step towards addressing the problem of what he descried as  “deadbeat dads".

 Lucille Seymour, the third elected member for George Town, also stood to support the bill as she said there were very many children affected by this law. She said children born outside of wedlock were not uncommon in Cayman. She also pointed out that if Cayman had adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) they might have spotted the problem with this law sooner, and she said the convention needed to be adopted as soon as possible. She said all of the country’s laws would need to be examined to ensure they were not discriminating against women and she asked the attorney general to begin the undertaking now.

“We need have a complete review of the laws and to go through our legislation with a fine tooth comb and make sure we are not discriminating against women in any other areas,” Seymour added. She thanked the second elected member for West Bay for bringing the motion and noted that it was possible for the members to be bi-partisan when it came to equality.

All of Anglin’s UDP colleagues supported the motion including Leader of the Opposition and United Democratic Party leader Mckeeva Bush. The third elected member for West Bay,  Cline Glidden, noted that the amendment would have to be carefully crafted to ensure that the wording did not give custodial rights to a father who turned up years after the fact to claim parentage when a mother had dedicated years to bringing up a child alone. In such circumstances her custodial rights needed to be protected, but he supported removing the twelve month limitation.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts offered his official support from government and agreed with the need to have mechanisms in the amendment that would prove paternity. He said assumptions and trust were all well and good but it was better to have scientific proof. “The government is willing to accept this motion and will begin working on the amendments,” Tibbetts said.

On the passage of the motion, Anglin said it was a good day for women and children in Cayman.

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Butterfly book out now

| 02/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A new book features some of Cayman’s most delicate and beautiful creatures: Butterflies of the Cayman Islands, by RichardAskew and Ann Stafford, is available for sale at the National Trust and other local outlets for CI $24. The next book-signing event will be at Books and Books on Monday, 2 March at 7:00 pm. The book includes detailed information and beautiful colour photographs, and is an invaluable resource for gardeners, students and nature lovers. It is also available on-line internationally from Apollo Books

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Tax havens face sanctions

| 02/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Offshore havens that refuse to hand over information on tax dodgers face an unprecedented campaign of economic sanctions by the world’s most powerful countries, which may be agreed at the G20 summit in London next month. The campaign could see Britain targeting some of its own overseas territories including the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, where British banks and corporations use scores of subsidiaries to avoid tax. The blacklisting threat comes as opposition politicians in Britain call for a review of the tax haven dealings by banks being bailed out by the British taxpayer.

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