Security Council members sworn to secrecy

| 04/03/2010

(CNS): Having now sworn oaths of non-disclosure, those sitting on the country’s new National Security Council (NSC) will not be allowed to reveal anything about their discussions. Created under the Cayman Islands Constitution 2009, the body is meant to be a forum where crime and security matters can be discussed with input from civil society. However, while the public is invited to make suggestions to the members, there will be no details revealed of what is discussed and FOI requests about its work will be exempted.

At the inaugural meeting on Wednesday, 3 March, Governor Duncan Taylor, who is the chairman, said the council discussed a range of issues but focused on the “priority concern”, the current high rate of crime and what can be done to combat it. Members also took formal declarations of non-disclosure or oaths of secrecy.

“This is not a decision-making body; it is a discussion group which will provide advice, which will in turn be considered by policy-makers,” Duncan Taylor said. “The NSC has a very key role to play and it is an important institution,” he continued. “I am conscious that we meet at a time of heightened concern about security matters.”

He said the spirit of inclusion is a great constitutional innovation and is one of the distinctive features of this new council. However, although the public can offer ideas for discussion to the representatives, they will not necessarily get to hear any information about what the council is doing or discussing.

According to officials, the NSC will examine issues at a strategic level and make recommendations to the governor, which will be submitted to Cabinet and RCIPS for consideration and implementation.

Council members will consider possible external and internal threats over the medium and long term, including natural disasters. Several agencies will be involved in security considerations, especially the uniformed services.

 “There is urgency to move forward, and [I] hope to soon work on the national security strategy and on a national crime prevention strategy,” the governor said, adding that community participation is essential to the group’s success.

“There’s a role for everybody … We want people to feel they can come to any of us [to] give us ideas, thoughts and information which we can use. National security is not simply a matter for the RCIPS; everyone in society has to contribute in some way, such as providing suggestions or policy ideas,” Taylor stated.

Council members are Premier McKeeva Bush, Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks, Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts, Attorney General Sam Bulgin, Police Commissioner David Baines, cabinet ministers Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Mark Scotland. Representing civil society are businesspersons Brigitte Kirkconnell-Shaughness and Dan Scott, while Orrett Connor will serve as the NSC Secretary.

He said confidentiality would be ensured by the members’ oaths of non-disclosure.  “Further, under FOI laws, NSC considerations and proceedings are exempted from access,” the governor confirmed.

The NSC was mandated in the 2009 Constitution to provide advice to the governor on internal security matters. It will not focus on operational or staffing aspects of national security services. These remain the remit of the governor.

The NSC allows elected representatives and lay persons to contribute to policy issues concerning national security.  This was previously the governor’s exclusive function,, and although the police commissioner will continue to report to the governor, he will also periodically update the NSC and the premier on matters relating to internal security and criminal activity.

The governor must act according to the advice he receives from the NSC unless he believes it would adversely affect Her Majesty’s interests.  In such cases, he will also report this reaction to the NSC. However, there will be no sure way for the public to know if the governor has or has not taken the members’ advice.

Category: Local News

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

     

     

    ‘He said confidentiality would be ensured by the members’ oaths of non-disclosure.  “Further, under FOI laws, NSC considerations and proceedings are exempted from access,” the governor confirmed.’

    Under the provisions of Cayman’s FOI Law 2007:

    "15. Records are exempt from disclosure if-

    (a) the disclosure thereof would prejudice the security, defence or international relations of the Islands;"

    As well:

    "12. (1) Where an application is made to a public authority for access to a record which contains exempt matter, the authority shall grant access to a copy of the record with the exempt matter deleted therefrom."

    Therefore, there is no general exemption for all records and information relating to the NSC, including "considerations and proceedings". For information to be exempt the NSC has to demonstrate that its release would damage security or defence, and any information that does not meet this mark would have the be (potentially partially) released.

    In addition, the Law does not apply to:

    3 (5) (b) "the security or intelligence services (as definedin subsection (8)) in relation to their strategic or operational intelligence-gathering activities;"

    However, the subsection in question does not list the NSC, and as far as I know the Governor in Cabinet has not (yet) formally extended by Order the non-applicability of the Law to theNSC, as allowed under s.3(1)(c).

    Therefore, at the moment there is no general exemption for NSC records and information from disclosure under FOI in the Cayman Islands, as the Governor (no doubt with the best intentions, but nonetheless erroneously) stated. Indeed, there are many examples from around the world where reasons of security and defence were quoted in order to hide shady activities from public scrutiny, which is precisely why the FOI Law does not give a blanket exemption, while all the while legitimately exempting from public scrutiny any information which would genuinely prejudice security and defence.

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    They should start by demanding the immediate arrest of all police related gas theives. Until they are arrested I will know there is corruption in the police, that Government does not really care, that justice is a little too selective, and the security council can kiss my ample posterior. 

  3. Raffaele says:

    I must concur with you anon 20:29 and to answer your exclamation 16:01 Just how many chances are we going to give these same individuals who were already running the country insecret from their functioning positions in the private or government or political sectors of our society.The only thing that has "changed"they have now reassemble themselves into a named "secret group" NSC  and if it sounds familiar the word MAFIA comes to mind. What is lacking is credible and capable persons who have some experience or local knowledge of the very things pointed out by anon 2029.

    That is the hypocrisy of this little society in Cayman who same to think that because your wealthy or some political party crony or loyal UK stooge it qualifies you to be a grand wizard of advice and that you posses a vast amount of wisdom which the country is in dire need to solve its problems. As we look around at recent appointments to various commissions and committees/boards of certain persons with no morals or scruples whatsoever and the ferocious attacks on others credibility by certain persons for example the current Auditor General Mr.Dugay’s situation.

    It makes you have to really wonder if some people have had a lobotomy and forgotten their very troubling past and the unlawful acts and evil deeds that they have committed and for whatever reason or circumstances have gone unpunished. These same self righteous hypocrites who have been elevated or have self appointed themselves to the High Priest of our society want to now cast doubt give advice or past judgment on others. This is one of the fundamental problems that is effecting our Cayman society today a serious lack of good role models. In the quest for power the Stooges same to be head 1601 some light banter for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Governor Read the Constitution! Dear Duncan, the NSC is the policy making body on materrs of national secuirty, not you and not the Cabinet. You as Governor must accept the NSC’s advice except where it adveresly affects the interests of Her Majesty’s Governement.  The NSC is quite a powerful body. Let’s hope Duncan is not permitted to reduce it to a mere talk shop and arrogate to himself the sole decision making responsiblity in the way that his predecessor Stuart did when there was no NSC.

      • Nonnie Mouse says:

        It is up to the Governor to decided what is in the interests of the UK and that trumps any local view to the contrary at the sub-national level.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is obvious that your readers already fail to give the NSC any credit.  It has been a year since the Constitution allowed for a NSC to sort all of our problems out and to save the Nation, but only 2 people have posted comment since your article hit the waves.   We are obviously more worried about clampers and Hazard Miller?!?!

    The NSC would and can only work with effective input from people who know the industry and the issues affecting the country, region and global drug trade.  Can you imagine the CIMA Board of Directors being made up of Contractors and Hairdressers?  Oh my!!!  The NSC has no teeth, experience or understanding of what needs to be done.  It is just a couple of Gov. Ministers and political appointees who will hear the Commissioner tell them how well he is doing.  

    Another great idea turned sour…..what a mess!!!! 

     

     

       

  5. Wake me when it's over says:

    I feel secure already knowing the National Security Council won’t tell us what they’re doing, when they’re doing it, or why they’re doing it.  It works in the States.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In the interest of National Security, and given that Cuba appears to already have people on the Board, I strongly suggest that they enact legislation making it punishable by a mandatory 10 years if a Member of the National Security Council intentionally discloses information.

  7. Da Game says:

     What a joke i agree we should keep it secret until someone business interest is challenged or it conflicts with christian values. It is said that precious truth should always be surrounded by a bunch of lies.In this cases its a bunch of Liars Yeah please keep it secret so we don’t have to have a translucent government. Cayman constitution is obviously subject to change at some peoples whim Colonialism has transformed itself into imperialism.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Duncan Taylor: “This is not a decision-making body; it is a discussion group which will provide advice, which will in turn be CONSIDERED by policy-makers,” Duncan Taylor said"

    CNS: "The governor MUST act according to the advice he receives from the NSC unless he believes it would adversely affect Her Majesty’s interests. In such cases, he will also report this reaction to the NSC. However, there will be no sure way for the public to know if the governor has or has not taken the members’ advice".

     

    Did anyone else notice the disconnect between these two passages? CNS is correct according to the literal meaning of the Constitution. The new Governor seems to have adopted a liberal interpretation of the Constitution under which his role is not at all diminished. Does this reflect his instructions from Whitehall? 

  9. Anonymous says:

    Without getting into the specifics and calling names, the Security Council is already off on a bad foot. With XXXX on the board secrecy is going to be a blunder. I wish them luck but I won’t be divulging any secrets any time soon.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful – a National Security Council which may or may not ever meet other than for a bit of turtle stew and swanky, (how would we ever know), and which in any event won’t tell anybody about anything that may or may not have ever been considered. What a marvellous cover for ineptitude and excuse for inaction.

    Seems like it is business as usual. No one needs a crystal ball to know that next in the line of excuses for why the politicians are doing next to nothing about violent crime is "they are sworn to secrecy".

    • Anonymous says:

      My God! Give the NSC a chance to do something before you bludgeon it.! Some of us search for the negative in everything. Must make for a very miserable life.