Archive for June 5th, 2009

A shocking & unnecessary constitutional mess

A shocking & unnecessary constitutional mess

| 05/06/2009 | 52 Comments

Now that the Attorney General has excused himself from upholding the Constitution, some questions demand answers:

1. Are Messrs. Scotland and Seymour now MLAs?

No. If they failed to comply with section 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, which they have publicly acknowledged, section 19(1) states in the clearest terms that they were not "qualified to be elected as a member of the Assembly".

If anyone wonders whether section 19(1) means what it says, take a look at section 17 of the Constitution which establishes the Legislative Assembly and states that it is to include 15 elected members "who shall be persons qualified for election in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and elected in the manner provided by [the Elections Law]" (my underlining).

2. But is this not something that the Court must decide?

No. Not unless Mr Scotland or Mr Seymour now claims that he did comply with section 19(1)(g). Then there would be a question for the Court to decide. But, if they acknowledge that they did not comply with section 19(1)(g), there is no question to be put to the Court.

I have heard some incorrect explanations of these Constitutional provisions, suggesting that they operate by giving the Attorney General and certain others a right of challenge, i.e. a right to ask the Court to disqualify the non-compliant person. On this view, a non-compliant person can become an MLA and take his seat in the LA – unless and until a challenge is made and the Court disqualifies him. That is incorrect. Judging by his recent statement saying why he intends to take no action, the Attorney General may also be making this mistake.

The Constitution gives voters the right to elect MLAs, but it limits the right by saying that voters can only elect a person who is qualified. In order to qualify, the person must comply with sections 18 and 19. If a candidate does comply, he can be elected by the voters. If he does not comply, he cannot be elected by the voters. The Court’s function is to resolve any question or dispute about whether the person does comply.

3. Does the Governor, the Attorney General, or any public officer, or the Court, have power to say that the failure of Messrs. Scotland and Seymour to comply with section 19(1)(g) is not sufficiently serious to warrant disqualification?

No. The Constitution gives no such authority. And it is clear that the framers of our Constitution did regard the existence of interests in government contracts as a serious matter – and rightly so, as they create conflicting interests. The Constitution is equally concerned about duly elected MLAs who subsequently acquire interests in government contracts. Section 20(3) provides that "the seat of an elected member of the Assembly shall become vacant” if he acquires an interest in a contract with the Government. Under that section (unlike section 19(1)) the seat of the MLA can be saved but only if (a) the member has brought the circumstances to the Governor’s attention prior to or as soon as practicable after he acquires the interest and (b) the Governor thinks it just in the circumstances to save his seat.

4. Did the swearing-in of Messrs. Scotland and Seymour by the Governor make them MLAs?

No. The Governor has no authority to override the Constitutional rules, and he did not pretend to do so. Of course he should not have sworn them, knowing that they had publicly admitted to being disqualified. Apart from the general consideration that the Governor should in everything he does uphold the Constitution, he was condoning an offence (see below).

5. Are Messrs. Scotland and Seymour committing an offence by pretending to be MLAs?

Yes. They are committing an offence under section 24 of the Constitution which provides: "Any person who sits or votes in the Assembly knowing or having reasonable grounds for knowing that he is not entitledto do so, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding [$40] for each day upon which he so sits or votes”.

This is the offence to which I referred above. The swearing-in ceremony took place in a session of the Legislative Assembly, so Messrs. Scotland and Seymour were at that very moment committing the offence, and the Governor was condoning it. The Constitution makes the Attorney General responsible for collecting the penalty under section 24.

6. Is Mr. Scotland validly appointed as a Minister?

No. A person who is not an MLA cannot be appointed as a Minister. Under section 5 of the Constitution, only "elected members of the Assembly" are eligible to be Ministers.

7. Did the Governor validly assign to Mr. Scotland responsibility for the Ministry of Health, Environment, and Youth, Sports and Culture?

No. Section 9 of the Constitution only permits the Governor to assign responsibility to people who are members of Cabinet. Failing a valid assignment of responsibility, the Governor himself has the responsibility. Any purported act by Mr. Scotland as a minister has no Constitutional authority.

8. Does the presence of Mr. Scotland invalidate proceedings of Cabinet?

This is not clear. Section 13(3) provides that: "… The validity of the transaction of business in the Cabinet will not be affected by reason only of the fact that some person who was not entitled to do so took part therein." This clearly validates business done in good faith, without knowledge of the fact that one or more of those who took part were not entitled to do so. It is not clear that it applies in a case where everyone present, including the Governor, is aware that one of the members is not entitled, and that the Cabinet has not been constituted as required by section 5 of the Constitution.

As noted under the next question, there are also doubts about whether any of the ministers have been validly appointed.

9. Is there a similar uncertainty about the validity of proceedings in the Legislative Assembly?

Yes. Again, there is a validating provision (section 33(3)), but again it is not clear that it applies in a case where the Assembly is aware that persons taking part as MLAs are not entitled to do so. It would certainly be strange if this section means that a gathering of acknowledged pretenders, all committing the offence under section 24, could validly exercise all the powers of the Assembly.

It follows that there is doubt about the election of all the ministers purportedly elected to Cabinet by the MLAs. In other words we may not have a validly elected Cabinet. And that casts doubt on the actions and decisions of the Governor on which he is required by the Constitution to consult Cabinet.

10. Given that Messrs. Scotland and Seymour are not MLAs, what does the Constitution say about the representation of the Bodden Town district?

The question is whether:
(a) the three qualified candidates who received most votes in the recent election are the MLAs; or

(b) a by-election must be held.

The Constitution and the Elections Law do not say which applies in these circumstances. If this question went to the Court, it would need to weigh up not only the language of the Constitution and the Law but also the underlying principles of democracy and fairness. One would expect a court to order a by-election in a case in which the disqualification was not public knowledge before the election, and I understand that there was a case of that sort here some years ago – in which, incidentally, I gather that the Governor did uphold the Constitution by refusing to swear in the candidate concerned, and calling on the Attorney General to make an application to the court.

But the present case is different because the failure of Messrs. Scotland and Seymour to disclose their government contracts as required by the Constitution was well known to the public before the election. This brings in a doctrine, well established in courts of England and Commonwealth countries, which would certainly be followed by our Court, known as "votes thrown away". In a recent case decided by the Supreme Court of Jamaica the doctrine was described by the Court in these words: "If the electors have due notice that a candidate is disqualified to be elected and with that knowledge they vote for the disqualified candidate then that would be tantamount to throwing away their votes . . . . . .. . . . ." So the outcome would depend on the evidence of what the public knew.

11. What should have been done by the Attorney General before the General Election?

The idea that the Attorney General and the Supervisor of Elections may properly allow an election to go forward with Constitutionally disqualified names on the ballot papers is astonishing, and it makes no sense. Messrs. Scotland and Seymour were acknowledging that they had not complied with section 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, so the Attorney General should have advised them and the Supervisor of Elections that their names must be removed from the ballot papers.

If Messrs. Scotland and Seymour had then changed their tune and claimed that they had complied, the Attorney General should have referred that question to the Grand Court for a decision. If the Court found that they had been disqualified, the Attorney General should then have advised the Supervisor of Elections to remove their names from the ballot papers. In my opinion it was the Attorney General’s duty to act in this way. If he had done so, the present mess would have been avoided.

12. Why did the Attorney General not do so?

The Attorney General’s recent statement indicates several reasons. If I have understood them correctly, each is bad. His reasons appear to be (a) others could take the necessary action, (b) lack of responsibility on his own part, (c) public interest, (d) political neutrality.

His comment that others can apply to the Court, so there was no need for him to do it, misses the point in several ways. First, there was no issue for the Court; these candidates were acknowledging that they had not complied with the Constitution. It was a matter of advising the Supervisor of Elections to remove their names from the ballot papers. No one other the Attorney General was in a position to do that.

Second, to claim that there was no greater "onus" on him than anyone else to use his access to the Court to enforce the Constitution (if the candidates turned round and disputed their disqualification) is to deny that when the Constitution gives the Attorney General powers, it is also giving him duties. Could he possibly think that his various Constitutional powers are given to him to use or ignore as he pleases, free of any responsibility? Does he really deny that it is his responsibility to enforce the Constitutional rules? Then he gives "public interest" and political neutrality as reasons for his decision – which seems to acknowledge that he does have responsibility of some sort.

The idea that his inactivity was justified by public interest raises several questions. When he decided to do nothing before the election, was that because he thought it was in the public interest that voters cast their votes for disqualified candidates? Was it because he thought it would be in the public interest to put the country into the present Constitutional mess? in what way could he possibly have thought that giving effect to the Constitutional disqualification of candidates would harm the public interest? And what made him think that the unequivocal Constitutional rules are subject to his own notions of what would best serve the public interest?

As for his statement that he has a duty to "maintain absolute neutrality in political matters" and that this was another reason for him to do nothing, it would be funny if it were not so serious. That is like the referee of a football match saying that he must be neutral, so he is not going to blow the whistle when a player commits a foul. Neutral – yes! Failing to enforce the rules (the Constitution) – absolutely no!

On his strange theory of neutrality, the Attorney General would have to refuse to prosecute the election offences allegedly committed by or for the benefit of the UDP, even if the police investigation finds that there is ample evidence. We need to have the Attorney General’s assurance that in all these matters he will be neutral in the true sense, i.e. that he will do his duty under the Constitution unswayed by what politicians may think or how they may be affected.

13. How has the public interest been affected thus far?

Messrs. Scotland and Seymour, and those who encouraged them to keep running in the election, and the Attorney General and the Governor, have damaged the public interest by putting the rule of law in this country into question. Perhaps they do not understand the importance of the rule of law. But it is the line betweenorder and chaos. Nothing could be more damaging to public order and confidence than a highly publicised demonstration that our most fundamental law may be disregarded by the highest in the land, even by the public servant whose primary responsibility it is to ensure the rule of law.

The demonstration is doubly damaging to the public interest because it relates to the election of MLAs. That is the heart of the democratic process. The whole idea of Constitutional democracy is undermined. As is the idea that Constitutional democracy is guaranteed in this country by the United Kingdom and its representatives.
Certainly there is no point in our bleating about lawlessness and criminality in our community, or about the need for more good people to get involved in politics, when this sort of thing is going on.

The public interest is also damaged when the Constitutionality of our Government is in question, when there are serious questions about the validity of Government acts. The public interest is also damaged because these extraordinary events have already caused outrage in our community and aggravated divisions and animosity on all sides. Looking forward, I see no reason to think that will improve any time soon – unless the rule of law can be restored in a way that the country can see is fair and honourable. The public interest is also damaged because the rule of law is an important element in attracting business to this country. Coming on top of all the things that have been happening to our police and judiciary in recent times, this Constitutional mess, if not fixed soon, must make observers wonder what on earth goes on here.

14. How can the rule of law be restored in a way that the country will see is fair and honourable?

I suggest: The Attorney General should issue a new public statement clarifying his recent statement, and acknowledging that he should not have allowed the names of disqualified persons to go forward in the election. To reassure the public he should make clear that he will deal properly and promptly with the allegations of election offences against the UDP.

If Messrs. Scotland and Seymour accept that they were disqualified, they should announce that and acknowledge that they are not MLAs. If they no longer accept that they were disqualified, they should explain why. The Attorney General should then consider whether to make an application to the Court.

If Messrs. Scotland and Seymour are disqualified, and if the two PPM candidates who came second and third among the qualified candidates for Bodden Town are willing to notify the Governor that they will not claim that they were elected, that would clear the way for a by-election. I am not suggesting that they have any legal duty to do so, but I am sure they would weigh up the pros and cons for the country. The Governor could then call the by-election, and should do so as soon as possible. The country needs to draw a line under this dismal story and move on.

On the upside this should go a long way towards repairing the damage to the public interest. If the candidates involved take these steps voluntarily, without putting the country through litigation and all the expense, publicity and aggravation that would cause, they should be given credit for putting the country’s needs ahead of their own ambition, and I hope that this will alleviate some of the inter-party rancour that is already evident and growing.

On the downside, the country (and the candidates and their supporters) will be put to the expense and aggravation of a by-election, but I suggest that this price is worth paying. This mess could have been avoided with little or no cost to the country if Messrs. Scotland and Seymour, or the Attorney General, had honoured the Constitution in the first place. But now there is no cheap way out of it.

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Lawyers say legal aid murder case refusal is unprecedented

Lawyers say legal aid murder case refusal is unprecedented

| 05/06/2009 | 14 Comments

(CNS): UPDATED FRIDAY 5:00PM —The two men facing charges for the murder of Estella Scott-Roberts appeared in court on Friday to hear what was happening regarding their legal representation troubles. Larry Prinston Ricketts, who faces murder and kidnapping charges, is currently without any representation at all, and defendant Kirkland Henry (left), who faces murder, kidnapping and rape charges, has been refused his legal aid request to cover the cost of Queen’s Counsel, which the Cayman Islands Criminal Defence Bar Association has stated is unprecedented.

Justice Leighton Pusey told the court this morning that he had been a little optimistic in hoping the situation would have been resolved today and the case could be moved forward, but he noted that more time would be required to explore the refusal of legal aid for Henry and the lack of any representation for Ricketts and adjourned the case for a further seven days. Currently, Ricketts and Henry have a trial date for 3 August, and the judge noted he did not want the state of uncertainty to continue for much longer.

Ben Tonner, Henry’s current junior counsel, agreed to appear again for Henry on that occasion but the Criminal Defence Bar Association has said that given the circumstances Tonner cannot represent the accused man. Despite the gravity of the charges, and the fact that Henry is being prosecuted by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, herself, he is being denied legal aid for a QC, though he has been awarded funds for junior counsel.  

“Kirkland Henry is charged with murder. His case is being prosecuted by the Solicitor General and he faces life imprisonment if convicted. Despite the fact that persons charged with murder are routinely awarded legal aid to cover the costs of Queen’s Counsel, Mr. Henry’s application for a Q.C. has been refused. This refusal is unprecedented,” the Association stated.

“Whilst Mr Henry’s attorney, Ben Tonner, is willing and able to represent Mr. Henry, he has quite properly refused to do so in the absence of senior counsel for the defence. For Mr Tonner to continue to act would not only legitimise the refusal of legal aid and give the illusion of equality of arms between the Crown and the defence, it would be a direct breach of Mr Tonner’s professional code of conduct,” the association added.

Larry Prinston Ricketts was represented by John Furniss. However, the court heard this morning that Furniss has been removed from the case, and although Ricketts has also made a legal aid application for a QC, he has not yet had a response and is currently withouteither junior or lead counsel. As Justice Pusey adjourned the case, Ricketts asked if he could have Clyde Allen (a defence attorney who was present in court for another matter) represent him.

Justice Pusey asked Allen if there had been any discussion with him about that, and Allen indicated that there had not and he was not in a position to assist. The judge then explained to Ricketts that it was not possible to just select a lawyer from the court as attorneys were involved in other cases and it was important to select a lawyer that was available and able to represent him. The judge explained that he was not in a position to force an attorney to represent him and it was better for legal aid to take care of the matter, but he would try to see efforts were made for representation by next week.

A local legal expert told CNS that every defendant facing murder charges and often attempted murder charges would be allocated QCs as without one there is real risk that justice will not be done. The QCs always come from outside the jurisdiction either Jamaica or the UK because there are no local QCs willing to work at the low levels of pay, the lawyer said.

Other concerns that have been raised from sources close to the investigation are that if a conviction is obtained in this case without a QC defending the men, the conviction may not hold. “The fact remains that, without the equality of legal defence, any conviction would be vulnerable on appeal,” they stated.

Decisions regarding legal aid rest with Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who has been absent from the courts for several weeks for medical reasons but is expected to return on Monday. However, it has been widely reported that there are issues regarding the legal aid budget, issues the chief justice raised himself at the opening of the latest sitting of the Grand Court.

The problems surrounding the lack of funding for legal aid arose during a number of the mentions throughout Friday morning’s Grand Court sitting. In one case regarding firearms charges defence counsel had been unable to make contact with the legal aid department over the need to confirm payment to an expert witness who was seeking reassurance that she would receive remuneration before she completed a much needed report.

 Another defendant who appeared unrepresented regarding an appeal for a summary court conviction said he had been informed by legal aid that he would be appointed a lawyer in time for his appearance today (Friday 5 June) but did not see anyone for him on his arrival at court.

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Enduring Nature Exhibition travels to the Brac

Enduring Nature Exhibition travels to the Brac

| 05/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A photo exhibition of the natural beauty of Cayman Brac is traveling to the Sister Islands and opens tonight, 5 June, at the Heritage House in North East Bay, starting at 7:00pm, where the public is invited to view the works and meet with the artist. The photographs will be on display until Friday 12 June. The Enduring Nature Brac Exhibit  will then move to Little Cayman’s Trust House with the opening event scheduled 18th June at 6:00pm. Residents and visitors of Little Cayman can enjoy the display until Wednesday 1st July. Refreshments will be served at both events.

Canadian photographer, Robert Scott Michiel worked on Cayman Brac for 18 months prior to Hurricane Paloma. During this time he photographed the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, focusing on roots and stone structures and the Brac’s majestic backdrop.

Michiel’s work on the tiny island resulted in the production of 35 dramatic black and white images that capture the uniqueness of the Brac in a way that few have seen before.

The National Gallery hosted Michiel’s work for the Enduring Nature exhibition held in Grand Cayman throughout the months of March, April and May; and now a selection of those works will be shown on both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman for the first time since leaving the dark room.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to travel this exhibition to the Sister Islands and by doing so ‘bring them home’ as it were,” says National Gallery director Natalie Coleman. “Mr Michiel’s work offers a unique view of the Brac environment, one that will surprise, and inspire its residents.”

This travelling segment of the exhibition has been sponsored by Cayman Brac Power and Light Company Ltd. and Adco Power Ltd. with special thanks to Cayman Airways for the transport of the necessary materials to put the events together successfully. Thanks also go to the Heritage House and staff, Cayman Brac, and the Trust House and staff, in Little Cayman, for kindly hosting the event. All of the exhibited images will be for sale with part proceeds going to the Cayman Brac recovery fund.

For more information on these two exhibitions, contact National Gallery Sister Islands Officer, Simone Scott on 939-5306 or e-mail

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Pictures from the Chelsea Flower show

Pictures from the Chelsea Flower show

| 05/06/2009 | 5 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands’ Undersea Reef Garden was awarded two medals at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in London in May. The design by Andrew Guthrie of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and Stephen Hendry from Newington Nurseries in Oxfordshire (the same partnership that last year produced a silver medal award winning exhibition for the Cayman Islands’s first ever appearance at famous annual show) won gold in the floral category and was awarded the “President’s Most Creative Award”. The Cayman Islands display and some by other Caribbean islands were captured by Anna Lisa Gill.


All photos are taken by Anna Lisa Gill













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 Below: Barbados













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Below: Jamaica













Below: Trinidad and Tobago













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What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

| 05/06/2009 | 30 Comments

The question of what is in a name goes back to Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. In fact, the significance of names goes way back to before biblical times. The first thing you learn about a person is their name.

In fact, many of us may have been born with names that we do not particularly care for and as a result have taken on nicknames. Irrespective, some people spend a great deal of time contemplating what to name their children, pets, businesses and even non-animate objects like homes, boats and cars.

Celebrities and politicians alike have the curse and equal good fortune of having such famous names that they cannot escape them. Event names are equally important.

In light of all of this, the recent indication by the current government to change the name of the Pirates Week Festival has brought about a great deal of discussion and debate. Many people over the years have discussed the idea of changing this several decades old celebration into something that is more politically correct and whose name reflects more of our positive cultural identity, rather than a part of history we would rather all forget and recent activity such as that which occurs off the coast of Somalia.

Piracy has a long and fascinating history that captivates many from the very young to the oldest of history buffs. It is fascinating to think of adventure and mayhem on the open seas. Blockbuster movies like Pirates of the Caribbean glorify the lives of pirates and make them seem almost iconic and heroic to us. The reality of piracy is very different however. They are well known for pillaging and raping and stealing from everyone and leaving destruction in their path. Modern day pirates carry heavy machinery and hold innocent workers captive in fear of their lives – all for the name of the almighty dollar.

The change of name of an annual event is one thing but many of us wonder what real change will come about for the festivities. The manner in which the initial announcement was done (at a church ceremony) has left many unanswered questions. We are all curious to see the new business model for this event.

Will we see the pirate landing done away with? Will children no longer parade around and emulate pirates? Have the current corporate sponsors for this event been included in this decision and will they be given the opportunity to participate in the unfolding of the event? What will replace the launch? How will the rebranding and marketing of this event occur? Is this an immediate change and will stakeholders have sufficient time for the planning of this year’s events?

Many people will agree that there was a need to evaluate this annual event. It has never been a personal favorite of mine. Most of you will not know that a Pirate’s Week celebration almost caused me my life as a child when a drunk driver from that event hit me and several other children who were walking on the road. So, there will be no love lost for me on a personal level. However, I am hopeful that sufficient consideration has been given to all of the elements of re-branding this event and all stakeholders – including the Caymanian people will be given ample opportunity to give some input into the reshaping of this annual event.

Will a Pirate’s Week event by any other name still be pirate’s week?


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Shorty wins Rotary award

Shorty wins Rotary award

| 05/06/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The 2008-2009 recipient of the Rotary Central Vocational Service Award is Elmer “Shorty” Ebanks, the operator of the Rainbow Inn at Gerrard Smith International Airport, Cayman Brac. Ebanks was recognised for his exemplification of the ideals of Rotary in his day-to-day running of the snack bar in the departure lounge at the airport. “Shorty”, as he is affectionately known, took over the running of the original Rainbow Inn, a wooden building adjacent to the old airport terminal some 34 years ago.

When the new terminal was constructed in 1990, he moved to the new location.
Ebanks informed Rotary Central Past-President Fred Speirs, who nominated him for the award, that he had served 18 years in the Merchant Marine before returning to his native Cayman Brac and buying original the Rainbow Inn. In all his years of operating the Inn, he has had about a week off work for a vacation and then a few days here and there. He is always there to provide last-minute drinks and snacks for travellers at all hours of the day, seven days a week.

Speirs remarked that, as a regular traveller to and from Cayman Brac, he had noticed this commitment and dedication, leading him to nominate Ebanks for the award. On receiving a plaque recognising his efforts, he thanked Rotary Central and said that he would treasure it. Within minutes of receiving it, he was already proudly displaying it to departing passengers.


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Budding journalist off to Singapore

Budding journalist off to Singapore

| 05/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A student from St Ignatious Catholic School has been awarded a place at the Young Reporters Training Camp organized by the Singapore Ministry of Information, Communications and Arts, and is off to Singapore for 10 days from 3 to 12 July. Cynthia Gonzalez-Espinos will be given professional training in areas such as broadcast and print journalism, photojournalism, as well as motion graphics and broadcast design. Along with the other participants, she will also acquire important skills in news reporting and usage of multimedia tools.

Training workshops will be conducted by leading academic institutions and media organizations in Singapore. The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee explained in a release that through its organisation, St. Ignatius was paired with an assigned school in Singapore for the Friends @ Youth Olympic Games 2010 School twinning programme. Subsequently they were contacted to participate in the camp. The school put forward three students for consideration, and one was selected for participation.

Applicants had to be between 14 and 20 years old, have outstanding academic achievements, strong language and writing skills, and good conduct. They should also be able to demonstrate strong leadership qualities and have a keen interest in journalism and / or the media.

Cynthia’s main interest is in photojournalism and it is this she takes with her to Singapore to develop. In the course of her IGCSE and A level Art & Design studies, Cynthia has developed a personal love of photography. She has a natural eye for beauty which can be found in the most unusual places. Her photography received acclaim in a recent competition run by the Bank of Butterfield in which students were asked to use any art medium to capture the essence of the beauty of Cayman. Her eye for detail in her art work is definitely something which transfers to and contributes to her success in the field of photography, the CIOC said. (Photo above: CIOC President Donald McLean, Cynthia, teachers Gareth Thacker and Karen Whyte)

The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee congratulates both Cynthia and St. Ignatius Catholic School on their selection to participate in such a unique programme.

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Minister: “No need to panic”

Minister: “No need to panic”

| 05/06/2009 | 41 Comments

(CNS): Updated noon Friday The new Minister for Health stressed at a press briefing today that the one confirmed case of  H1N1 flu (formerly known as swine flu) was an imported case and there had been no evidence of local human-to-human transmission of the virus, which, he said, was good news. "There is no need for panic, but we need to take this seriously," Minister Mark Scotland told members of the media. Announcing Cayman’s first identified case of swine flu Thursday evening, Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said the patient was a student at First Baptist School but is recovering well in home isolation and did not suffer severe illness.

The patient reportedly came to Health Services Authority’s Accident and Emergency for testing on 29 May after falling sick upon returning from a trip to New York, and had reportedly attended school for a few hours before going home ill.

Scotland said that parents of stuents at the school were notified of the closing last night, and a clinic was held at the school from 9 – 11 am today to allow any of the students or staff who may have been sick over the past week to attend to be screened for the H1N1 flu.

the minister said he supported the chosen strategy of early identification and containment, and commend the fast response of public health officials – both in getting the message out and meeting with the school representatives. "I am confident that the health officials are dealing with the situation in the best manner possible, and I commend them for the swift and organised manner in which they responded. It is comforting to know that there is a plan in place, and that the parties involved are prepared to implement it as soon as action is required."

Emphasising that people should not panic, he said, "This is a national health issue, and while government will do all it can, I want residents to also take responsibility – arm yourselves with facts and learn as much as possible about H1N1. Follow the advice of public health officials: Stay at home if you are sick and follow the rules of good personal hygiene."

Yesterday Dr Kumar explained that local testing was positive for Influenza A and subsequent CAREC results, which returned today, tested positive for H1N1. "Our strategy is to identify and contain the H1N1 virus in the Cayman Islands. This case is an imported case.”


Health Services Authority Medical Director Dr Greg Hoeksema said that, although people need to take every precaution, they should not panic: "This case has proved that our local surveillance is working and we are in full response mode. Our main aim now is to contain this flu as much as possible.” He added that US data that showed that the H1N1 flu virus has an attack rate of 10% in public and 20% at home. "This means that for every ten people a sick person comes into contact with, one might get sick," Dr Hoeksema explained.

Health officials said they would continue to keep the public informed of any developments but asked people to observe good hygiene

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. If you are sick, stay home from work or school and protect others by avoiding close contact with them. Good health is also important — eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising.

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Tourist dies while swimming off 7MB

Tourist dies while swimming off 7MB

| 05/06/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): A woman who was visiting the Cayman Islands on a cruise ship died on Wednesday 3 June while swimming off the Seven Mile Beach. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said this evening that it has launched an investigation into the death of the visitor. The 62-year-old woman had been brought to shore unconscious and was pronounced dead at the Cayman Islands Hospital.


Police said that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call from a member of the public at around 11:45am on Wednesday reporting that a swimmer had been brought to shore unconscious in the vicinity of Royal Palms. Police and medics responded to the scene and the  woman was taken to hospital where she was unfortunately pronounced dead.

Detectives have been told that the woman, who was a passenger aboard Liberty of the Seas, had been swimming with her husband when she got into difficulty. Her husband sought assistance from another cruise ship passenger who was in the area on a jet-ski and she was brought to shore.

Detectives from George Town CID are currently investigating the death and a post mortem will be carried out. A Family Liaison Officer has been appointed to the relatives and the RCIPS sends its condolences to the family and friends of the victim.

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Baines vows to re-anchor cops

Baines vows to re-anchor cops

| 05/06/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS):  Rebuilding the community’s confidence and rebuilding the confidence inside the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are top priorities for the new Police Commissioner, David Baines. He said that policing is all about service to the community and looking outward at how to make people feel safe, but with the recent events surrounding the service the RCIPS had been distracted and started looking inward away from the community. Baines, who is on a four-year contract, said he wanted to re-anchor the service and remind people what the police are really there for.

Speaking at his first media briefing, the new RCIPS top cop was introduced by Governor Stuart Jack, who said that the service had been through challenging times and it needed solid permanent leadership to steer the RCIPS forward.  “I am very confident that we have chosen the right person and he will doexactly what we want him to do,” said Jack.

Baines said he was not here for an extended diving holiday but to work, and had already engaged in meetings where he had been briefed on the various concerns of police and public. “I am under no illusion as to the scale of the job that faces me to rebuild public confidence,” he said, adding that he would focus on community policing and was already identifying officers with potential that could be quickly placed in to position and help build bridges. Baines said he believed the quality of service was essential and he would be putting the community first. He said violent crimes, drugs, firearms and burglaries were the crime issues that affect quality of life and perceptions of safety.

He added that he also wanted to identify local police officers with the potential to move into the skills gaps that exist in the service and he was doing career reviews with all senior officers. He added that where he could not find the necessary skills internally he wanted to recruit new officers. He also spoke about reviewing the induction course for officers from other jurisdictions to create a common standard.

Baines also noted that there were infrastructure issues that had to be addressed as some of the police stations which were not fit for purpose, and in particular their lock up facilities would not meet the human rights standards required by the new constitution.

He said he was aware of the circumstances surrounding Operation Tempura and Operation Cealt and his responsibilities for the special police investigation team that were still here in Cayman. He also said he was confident that he was adequately supported with regard to him arriving and facing a writ against his post from former police commissioner Stuart Kernohan and former inspector Burmon Scott as a result of the Operation Tempura investigations.

He said that phase two of the special investigation, Operation Cealt, would run parallel with his desire to re-anchor the RCIPS and he was well aware that it would continue to be an issue for 6 to 12 months. “These things are going to run. They are already in train so we must deal with the corruption if it is there or clear up the perception of it,” Baines added. He said that there obviously had been concerns about the RCIPS and stones had to be turned over to look underneath and see what police were doing to keep the community safe.

Chief Secretary Designated Donovan Ebanks, PIE strategic advisor Peter Gough, and lawyer and partner with the Maitland Group Sara Collins, who had all been on the panel which selected the commissioner, offered their thoughts about why Baines had been selected. Ebanks stated that he felt Baines brought the right mix of experience and sensitivity to his community and was impressed with his track record. Gough said the panel had engaged in a number of focus groups before the interviews and Baines fitted the bill of what the community wanted, he said, adding that the panel was unanimous in their choice. “He was the best candidate for the job now he has to prove it,” Gough said.

Collins also talked about how much the focus and advisory groups had influenced the panel and had revealed how people wanted to feel safe again. “It was that intangible quality of someone who is passionate about making a difference and not just applying for a job, and Mr Baines gave that sense of making a difference, and I hope he lives up to it,” she added.

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