Archive for December 18th, 2009

Civvies appointed to new government boards

| 18/12/2009 | 4 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Islands local news(CNS): Nine members of the public have been appointed to sit as the civil representatives on three of the new boards created under the new constitution. Dan Scott and Brigitte Kirkconnell-Shaughness will serve on the National Security Council, and Carl Dundas, Norman Bodden, and Adriannie Webb will serve on the electoral boundary commission. Four appointments have also been made to the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative ofMercy: Beulah McField, Pastor Stanwyk Myles, Pastor Davelee Tibbetts, and Arek Joseph.

Acting Governor Donovan Ebanks made the announcements publicly on Friday, 18 December, of the people who would serve on the various bodies which were provided for in the 2009 Cayman Islands Constitution. The National Security Council (NSC) is a completely new body established under Section 58 and the civilian appointees will join the permanent members of the NSC, who are the governor (chairman), the premier, two other ministers appointed in accordance with the advice of the premier, the leader of the dpposition or his designate, and three ex-officio members: the deputy governor, the attorney general, and the commissioner of police, who will provide regular briefings to the NSC.            

In a statement from the governor’s office it was said that the purpose of the National Security Council is to advise the governor on all issues concerning internal security. These issues may include matters relating to the police force but will exclude operational or staffing issues or matters that would prejudice current police operations. “The two representatives of civil society will enable the National Security Council to tap directly into the public’s views. The appointments of Scott and Kirkconnell-Shaughness are for two years and are renewable,” officials said.

The three-person Electoral Boundary Commission is established under Section 88 of the Constitution and requires that the governor appoint the Chairman of the EBC in his own discretion. The other two commissioners are appointed separately: one on the advice of the Premier, and one the advice leader of the opposition. Dundas is a distinguished expert in the field of elections and was the first director of elections in Jamaica in 1979-80. Since then has worked in more than 30 countries in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Pacific on election management, electoral reform, and on numerous ways to strengthen the vital links between democracy and free and fair elections. Dundas is no stranger to the Cayman Islands having chaired the 2003 Electoral Boundary Commission, during which Webb served with him as an electoral boundary commissioner.

The governor’s office statement said the EBC will review the boundaries of the existing electoral districts and to make recommendations to the governor and the Legislative Assembly regarding any changes to the number of electoral districts in the Cayman Islands and the boundaries of such districts. Since the 2003 EBC report, the number of registered voters in the Cayman Islands has increased by some 33%, from 11, 483 to 15,330.

Dundas is currently completing an assignment with the International Foundation for Election Systems in Ethiopia. He is looking forward to working with Bodden and Webb in the near future. Appointments to the EBC are for the duration of the commission until it submits its report to the governor and the Legislative Assembly. It is anticipated that the commission’s work may take from 3 to 6 months, subject to public consultations required by the Constitution, deliberations on advice it may obtain, and the collation of all relevant data.

The Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy is a new body established by sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution. Its function is to advise the governor on extraordinary decisions he may make in Her Majesty’s name with regards to the pardon or remission of prisoners. There are three other ex-officio members of the committee: the governor (chairman), the attorney general, and the chief medical officer. A “governor’s power of pardon” did exist under the previous constitution but it did not involve any input by the public. The four appointed members under the new Constitution ensure that the public’s views are taken into account when special decisions of this nature are being contemplated. 

Appointments to this body will be for renewable terms of between two to four years, with members serving for different periods, so that new appointments or re-appointments can take place in a staggered fashion.

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Armed robber hits gas station

| 18/12/2009 | 29 Comments

(CNS): Yet another Grand Cayman gas station has been hit by an armed robber. At about noon today (Friday 18 December) a female cashier was working within the Jack’s Esso gas station in Frank Sound Road, North Side, when a man entered the station shop armed with what appeared to be a handgun. The suspect approached the cashier, presented the firearm and demanded cash. He was last seen running towards the rear of the premises with a small amount of money. Police said that no shots were fired and no-one was injured as a result of the incident.

Bodden Town detectives are now investigating the armed robbery and say the man believed to be responsible is around 5’7” in height with a brown complexion. He was wearing long blue jean pants, a long sleeved blue shirt and had a t-shirt over his face. DC Edwards is appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the robbery or the man fleeing the scene to contact Bodden Town CID on 947-2220.

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Ministry keeping mum on school violence

| 18/12/2009 | 11 Comments

Cayman Islands news, Grand Cayman local news(CNS): The Education Ministry is so far being tight lipped about the violent incident at a government school in November that led to a 13-year-old student being flown to Jamaica with head injuries, reportedly after rocks were thrown at him. Despite assurances to CNS that an explanation of the event would be forthcoming early this week, there is still no word almost one month after the boy was injured at the George Hicks High School. According to police, two boys, aged 13 and 14, have been charged with actual bodily harm in connection with the incident. Police say that the alleged assault took place at 10:20am on Monday, 23 November, at the school campus. (Picture courtesy News 27)

CNS has repeatedly asked the ministry for more information since we were informed of the incident on 3 December by a member of the public. Last week, Deputy Chief Officer Christen Suckoo said, “We have been in discussions with stakeholders regarding this topic specifically and violence in schools generally. Therefore we have decided to hold off until early next week so that we can include more relevant information for the public.”

However, as government schools break for the Christmas holidays today (Friday), there has still been no word on how exactly violence in schools is being addressed.

In early December Education Minister Rolston Anglin told News 27, “Every time something serious happens it will cause people to question and it will cause parents to worry … What I can assure them is that we are doing everything we can in terms of putting in resources and working with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to provide the schools with the type of support that it needs to keep the school environment safe.” No details of what actions have been taken or resources deployed have emerged since the minister gave these vague assurances.

Following a stabbing incident at the John Gray High School on Wednesday, 25 November, in which a girl received two non-life threatening lacerations to her chest, apparently with a pocketknife, the ministry issued a detailed explanation of the incident. It is not clear why, in the George Hicks incident, the ministry has so far been silent.

With the schools constructions projects in limbo, overcrowding at the high school campuses is set to worsen, which will do nothing to ease the tension at the two campuses. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly in early December, Anglin said that it was government’s position that that plans would be announced shortly on the way forward on the schools projects. (See School projects in limbo)

An outline of the plans has not yet been forthcoming. 

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Academic courses to be offered to police

| 18/12/2009 | 11 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Islands police news(CNS): Future recruits to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will be awarded a foundation Certificate in Policing Studies that could lead police officers to a degree or masters qualification, a release from the RCIPS announced today, describing this development as a ground-breaking partnership between police and the University College of the Cayman Islands. Later today, Friday 18 December, details of the new collaboration to introduce new policing qualifications for the force will be unveiled by Police Commissioner David Baines, when he attends a police recruit graduation ceremony in George Town.

Police say this brand new approach to training will mean that when police recruits have successfully completed their two year initial training they will be awarded a foundation Certificate in Policing Studies. The partnership approach signals a change in the way that training is undertaken by the police and demonstrates the ongoing commitment of RCIPS towards the personal and professional development of its staff.

The new qualification would ensure a firm foundation for future studies, leading to a degree or masters qualification. It is anticipated that this initiative will be introduced by the middle of 2010 and that all recruits to the RCIPS from that date will be enrolled as students of UCCI whilst in their probationary period.

“I am delighted and wholeheartedly endorse this move to further professionalize policing in the Cayman Islands,” Baines said. The skills required of officers are increasingly complex and this initiative will ensure their training and skills are recognized not just in policing, but as a transportable qualification and evidence of personal ability.”

UCCI President Roy Bodden said, “The collaboration between the University College of the Cayman Islands, and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service sets the template for future relations between UCCI and the community organizations. We at UCCI welcome this opportunity and look forward to a fruitful and productive association with the RCIPS.

“This collaboration comes at an opportune time, UCCI having just recently launched its Bachelor of Science degree (BSc) in the social sciences. With minor modifications, this programme can be modified to cater to the special needs of the RCIPS. UCCI looks forward with eager anticipation to servicing the educational needs of the Caymanian community. As President, I commend the RCIPS for their visionary and modern approach to policing in a changing Caymanian society.”
 

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Senior cop says legislation needed to protect witnesses

| 18/12/2009 | 18 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Islands police news(CNS): The issue of reluctant witnesses continues to be a major stumbling block in the fight against crime in the Cayman Islands. Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett from the RCIPS says no witnesses are coming forward in the murder of Carlo Webster, who was shot in the head in a crowded night club. News 27 reports that Kennett says the country needs legislation to protect witnesses who are afraid of coming forward to give evidence but could help solve crime and put perpetrators behind bars. Webster was shot to death in the Next Level night club in front of a reported 150 people.

It’s been 3-months since the shooting and three people were arrested, but no charges were laid. In a statement to News 27, Kennett said witnesses are just not coming forward.  He thinks the situation would be different if there was legislation guaranteeing the protection of witnesses.

Kennett also says the Cayman Islands are facing an increase in the reluctance of people who are not prepared to give evidence and support justice. Without the help of the public, it is very difficult to solve crime.

 There have already been a number of reports of witness intimidation in the case against the three men charged with killing Omar Samuels in George Town in July, the murder that triggered the gangland style tit-for-tat  killings of Webster, Marcus Ebanks in West Bay and Fabian Ried in Newlands .

 Police say they are still investigating the murder of Webster and the other victims and are asking anyone who can give information to come forward.

Go to news 27 video

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Trial takes unexpected twist

| 18/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following legal submissions from both crown and defence counsel in the trial of Randy Martin for the murder of Sabrina Schirn, the judge ruled that evidence from a reluctant witness, which the crown believes offered a possible motive for the killing, could be read to the court on Thursday. Even though the defence could not cross examine the witness on the statement, the judge said the statement was significant enough to be admitted in the interest of justice. The testimony revealed that the defendant believed that Schirn was somehow involved in the attempted murder of his brother, Fernando Martin, by Sheldon Brown.

The witness, who had told the court on Wednesday that she was too afraid for her life to give evidence, was excused by Justice Charles Quin on Thursday morning following his ruling that she had sufficient grounds to be afraid. However, in the interests of justice and because of what he said was the significance of her statement, he also ruled that he would allow the crown to read the witness statement to the court, even though it would mean the defence team could not question the truth of the testimony. The judge said that, as a result of that, he would be required to balance the evidence knowing that it was not subject to cross examination.

Following the judge’s ruling, Cheryll Richards, the solicitor general who is prosecuting the case on behalf of the crown, read the short but nevertheless surprising statement, which for the first time in four weeks of crown witnesses offered a possible motive for Martin to have killed Schirn on 11 March 2009.

The statement came from a former girlfriend of Martin’s, who spoke with the police in April of this year during the investigation. The woman had related an isolated incident that she had witnessed to the officers, which probably took place in 2007. She said that when she and Martin were together one evening they had visited a George Town bar, where they encountered Schirn. The witness said she knew Schirn as they had attended the same school and had been friends but had not spoken for quite some time. However, on this occasion, Martin told the witness that he knew Schirn as well and said that that she had something to do with the shooting up of his brother, Fernando, by Sheldon Brown.

No details were given in the statement about what Martin had implied but the witness went on to reveal that she left the bar for a short period. When she came back she saw Martin arguing with Schirn before he pushed her head into the food she was eating.

Following the reading of the statement, Richards asked the judge to also look at a news clippings that had been admitted in evidence earlier in the trial, which were taken from Martin’s cell, that referred to the appeal of Sheldon Brown over the his attempted murder conviction for the defendant’s brother, James Fernado Martin.

Brown received a 22 year sentence for the offence, which took place in August 2004 at the Cayman Islander Hotel. His appeal for the conviction was rejected in November 2008. During the trial Fernando Martin claimed Brown had shot him because he had been a witness in a previous case against Brown for which he was acquitted.

The trial resumes on Friday morning with the return of crown witness, RCIPS officer Lauriston Burton, who was second in command of the investigation under SIO Kim Evans and has been asked by the defence to demonstrate what actions were taken regarding the conflicting testimony given by previous witnesses, in particular Lance Myles, who the defence claims had both the motive and opportunity to murder Schirn.

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Cyclist in bus hit & run

| 18/12/2009 | 23 Comments

(CNS): A 17-year-old man was knocked off his bicycle this week by a West Bay (WB1) public mini-bus driver who failed to stop. The cyclist received injuries to his arm during the incident and was treated at the George Town Hospital. Traffic officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) are now appealing for witnesses to the hit and run, which occurred in George Town at around 1.40pm on Tuesday, 15 December, close to the AALL building in North Church Street. 

Police said the teenager was riding his bicycle northwards towards the West Bay Road, and as he approached the roadway close to the AALL building he was struck by the white Toyota minibus, which was also travelling north and which failed to stop.

PC Watts from the RCIPS Traffic Department is appealing for anyone who may have been in the area at the time, or who knows anything about the incident, to contact him.

 “The minibus was white in colour and has the marking WB1 on the front and rear,” he said. “If you can provide any information which could help us identify the driver of the vehicle please call the traffic department on 956-6254.”

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Bank backs Rotary reading

| 18/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The need to ensure kids and adults alike can learn to read was given a boostrecently with the support of Deutsche Bank (Cayman) Ltd, who have agreed to back Rotary Central’s big push this year to improve the standard of literacy across the Cayman Islands. Named ‘Literacy for Success’, the programme extends a broad reach to children, adults and those in prison who need assistance with their reading and writing skills. Rotary Central President Paul Byles said that literacy was part of the basic building blocks of success.

 “Literacy is important for individuals to grow and prosper, not just in their careers but in their day-to-day lives as well,” Byles said. “Rotary Central members are involved in reading activities within schools as well as supporting the literacy programme run by the Cayman Islands Reading Aides for the adult and prison population. Deutsche Bank (Cayman) Ltd’s commitment to the programme gives it a much needed boost and for that we are extremely grateful.”

David Dyer, Head of Corporate Services at Deutsche Bank (Cayman) Ltd, said the firm was happy to continue its support. “Last year we were primarily involved in reading activities within schools and colleagues have again participated this year. In addition, we have also elected to provide funding for the student and tutor materials for the literacy programme run by the Cayman Islands Reading Aides for the adult and prison population in the hope that this will help to increase their opportunities for gainful employment in the future,” he added.

President of the Cayman Islands Reading Aides, Sandy McFarlane, welcomed the support of Deutsche Bank and Rotary Central in the literacy outreach, which will assist in bringing more individuals into the programme.

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Women crawl towards equality legislation

| 18/12/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The development of legislation to prevent gender discrimination in the Cayman Islands may be moving painfully slowly, but it does appear to be moving. Officials from the Cayman Islands Government have said that it will release the draft Prevention of Gender Discrimination Bill (2010) for public consultation on Friday 18 December. The release will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the adoption by the UN of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the international human rights treaty which is exclusively devoted to gender equality and which has still not been extended to Cayman.

Often described as an international bill of rights for women, it defines discrimination against them and establishes an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. Deputy Premier and Gender Affairs Minister, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, stated that the passage of local legislation would allow the extension of CEDAW to the Cayman Islands through the United Kingdom.  

“Women’s rights have progressed considerably during the past three decades, but there are still major obstacles that prevent gender equality from being achieved,” O’Connor- Connolly said. “Given the far-reaching effects that this important piece of legislation will have on employees, employers and other bodies, I encourage the public to review the draft bill and provide their comments to the ministry.”

Senior Policy Advisor for Gender Affairs Tammy Ebanks-Bishop said the acceptance of the bill would ensure the extension of CEDAW locally and be a gain for women’s and girls’ rights on a practical, everyday level. She noted that, despite recent local advances, much remains to be done before reaching the point where principles of gender equality become national standards.

“Positive steps to date are the new Constitution Order with its Bill of Rights and the use of gender-inclusive language; the creation of the draft Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill (2009) and the Prevention of Gender Discrimination Bill (2010),” said Ebanks Bishop. “However, serious human rights violations against women still occur daily, such as domestic violence, sexual harassment and workplace discrimination due to maternity status or unequal pay for the same work as males.”

She further pointed out that social progress in gender equality is not automatic. “It requires considerable work, awareness and commitment in order to make the necessary societal changes that lead to increased gender equity. This CEDAW anniversary provides an international platform for increasing awareness,” she added.

Explaining that since 186 countries have ratified CEDAW, Ebanks Bishop said the anniversary presents an opportunity for the global community to celebrate its near-universal ratification and that many countries have scheduled a variety of events to acknowledge this essential tool for achieving women’s human rights.  “In Argentina, a workshop is being held on CEDAW’s application to the Latin America and Caribbean region. Cameroon is organizing a vast media campaign to sensitize and inform the public on CEDAW. In Japan, the Minister for Gender Equality will host a gathering of female governors and mayors in order to publicize the importance of female participation in national decision-making,” the Senior Policy Advisor said.

For more information or to provide feedback on the draft Prevention of Gender Discrimination Bill, please visit www.gov.ky. The public has until 31 January 2010 to submit their comments.

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