Archive for May 31st, 2010

Cayman faces busy season

| 31/05/2010 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Forecasters are agreed on one thing this hurricane season: this could be one of the most turbulent seasons ever. From the famous duo at Colorado State University to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts, forecasters warn there could be up to 23 named storms in the Atlantic in the 2010 season. Cayman marks the start of hurricane season tomorrow, 1 June with a special event on the lawn of the Glass House. Everyone is invited to the National Weather Service Day with the official launch of the National Weather Service taking place at 12:00 noon.

With experts predicting anything from eight to 14 hurricanes, Cayman is very likely to be on alert a number of times this season. Hazard management has now installed directional signs for local hurricane shelters, making it easier for residents and visitors to find them. A total of 40 of the emergency shelter signs have been erected around the island with the help of the National Roads Authority.
Statistically, September is the peak month of the hurricane season but early and late season storms sometimes form in the western Caribbean, and Hazard Management is warning all residents to make sure they are prepared for a storm at any time.
“When late or early season storms form the lead time for preparation can be short. Services such as supermarkets, gasoline, banks, running water, electricity and many of the other items that we have grown accustomed to in our daily routines may not be available after a hurricane,” warns the agency. “It could be a week or more before the flow of normal goods and services are restored. Don’t get caught out, set aside food and water for 5 to 7 days.”
Residents by now should have already serviced their generators, checked shutters, removed debris from yards and trimmed trees. The public is also being reminded to ensure that travel documents are up to date as well as insurance policies.
This hurricane seasonal will bring an added worry for environmentalists as oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico. If a hurricane rolled over the spill, the winds and storm surges could disperse the oil over a wider area. “It would very definitely turn an environmental disaster into an unprecedented environmental catastrophe,” said Brian D. McNoldy, a tropical storms researcher at Colorado State University has said.
The pacific has already produce first storm of the season this weekend. Tropical Storm Agatha dumped rain on Central America, triggering flash floods and landslides killing close to 100 people.

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High time

| 31/05/2010 | 11 Comments

This is an open letter to the government, the Human Rights Commission, the legal fraternity and the general public, written in the interest of promoting better governance, greater transparency and justice. A former Member of Parliament called the local radio talk show recently and recounted a situation they considered to have been unfair and declared that true justice would only come on Judgment Day.

I was struck by the obvious concern in his voice and it reminded me again that we all have a duty to do what we can to improve our systems.

We need look no further than the Levers tribunal transcripts to see that even our judges are subject to the same frailties of the human condition that we all are. Everyone at times is subject to emotion, bias and subjectivity, but there can be no doubt the judiciary should expect to be held to higher standards.

Important words were stated by Justice Henderson after his wrongful arrest when he suggested that it should be a requirement for all judges. This statement no doubt sought to emphasize the importance of a key foundation principle of justice, that being the “presumption of innocence”.

A recent court ruling has led to a historic prosecutory appeal which will deal with the other fundamental principle of justice, the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” to determine someone’s guilt.

One thing is for sure, neither of these judges or their defense teams would have tolerated a situation where their tribunal or case did not have trusted official verbatim transcripts of the proceedings. Ironically, a key issue in the tribunal was the dispute of what had actually transpired in the courtroom which would not have arisen in the first place had there been proper records. Public announcements were also recently made of the move to have more judge only trials as opposed to the more expensive and time consuming jury trials.

As pressure mounts on our justice system to put criminals away, it also becomes correspondingly important to improve the systems that ensure a fair trial for all. One way to help is by implementing an audio-visual record of the proceedings and the production of professionally produced transcripts in a timely manner. This standard should be for both the Summary Court as well as the Grand Court. Cases where the galleries are not filled with members of the public as witnesses should also have the same expectation of fairness.

When the lights of transparency are burning brightly, we can expect improved governance and justice and it’s high time we turned up the dimmer switch.



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