Civil liberties under attack

| 15/09/2010

(CNS): The combination of the forthcoming enactment of the police bill, further changes to the Court of Appeal bill and other recent legislative changes have been criticised in the wider community as undermining civil liberties. George Town MLA MLA Alden McLaughlin told the Legislative Assembly that there was an “emerging trend” in changes to legislation that appeared to be designed to strengthen the hand of the prosecution and give the crown a better chance at conviction. McLaughlin pointed out that this ran counter to the principle that the state is already more powerful than the accused, and was now making it even more difficult for people to defend themselves.

The opposition MLA and lawyer pointed out that, given the attitude of the current administration towards legal aid, the continued tweaking of legislation in favour of the crown was very worrying.
 
“There has been a trend by the attorney general over the course of the past few years to continuously and consistently adjust and amend the various pieces of legislation or to create new provisions to constantly strengthen the hand of the prosecution in relation to its conduct,” McLaughlin said following the presentation of the Court of Appeal Amendment 2010.
 
This particular change will allow the state to appeal cases withdrawn or closed by a judge on wider issues than just on a point of law. Attorney General Sam Bulgin said when presenting the bill that there had already been cases where the Court of Appeal had indicated it would have overturned a judge’s decision to throw out a case if the law had provided for it but the language had prevented them from doing so. Consequently, the AG said the wording needed to be changed.
 
However, concerns about this bill have already been aired in the wider legal community as at least one man is facing a second trial for the same crime after a judge had already acquitted him of murder. The fear is that by giving the Court of Appeal even wider powers to overturn a trial judge’s decision, there will be more defendants facing double jeopardy – having to face trial more than once for the same crime with no new evidence in the case of judge alone trials or where proceedings have been halted by a judge part way through.
 
McLaughlin noted that, while the AG might claim this latest change is merely a tidying up exercise, it did in fact go much further. He said the trend to keep amending legislation to make it easier for the state to get a conviction was very worrying to all lawyers and those who cared about civil liberties.
 
He pointed out that the state already had all the resources and the majority of people that come before the courts accused of serious crimes have very little and that was being constantly eroded, resulting in an inequality of arms in the court room.
 
Implying that he was well aware that as an opposition member he could do little to prevent the passage of the bill and the forthcoming police bill among others, he said he wanted his concerns to be recorded as this trend of loading the legal system in favour of the state could undermine the country’s system of justice and democracy.
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  1. I miss Marius says:

    The AG needs to "stack the deck" against the public to compensate for their own incompetence. 

  2. Florence Goring-Nozza says:

     

    Mr. Alden McLaughlin is talking like a coward that he is!

    There is no such thing as "I Can’t"  its a lazy word.

    If Mr. McLaughlin is as convinced as I am that this is harmful act against the people by the AG then why is he afraid to act?

    I take it that Mr. Alden is all mouth and no action. He’s a scary cat!  Our opposition is weak therefore our government can not perform! the government is only as good as its opposition, always remember that!

    Mr. Alden I want you to take out your history books and look into the hansers of the L.A. if you will.  You will find that we have had back benchers elected to the L.A. that were just as or more powerful than the elected government of the day and they got things done.Whatever  Big Mac may be, he was the most powerful back bencher ever elected to the Cayman Islands Legislature,  and he got things done, He was not afraid of anyone and now I challenge you  as a joint leader of the oppositon:

    MR. MCLAUGHLIN WHAT WILL YOU BE SIR?

    This is what I mean, we just don’t have the men elected to office that have 2 B**s to stand up when we need them to. They are like the insurance companies, just when  you need them most they 

    DROP YOU!

    Thanks Alden, for sitting down or hiding under the table while we get ransacked! I would also remind you that the late Honorable M.L.A. Lady Ana Hulda Bodden would not have taken this laying down either she would have gotten up on her two feet as a woman of substance and fought for the people.

    I do not buy your cop out story Mr. McLaughlin, tell me you’re too lazy  or too scared  to lead the people to victory, but don’t tell me it can’t be done. I know better.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Alden, we expect you and the opposition to vote against these bills – including the Police Bill- have the balls for once to do the right thing!

  4. Slowpoke says:

    The reason all these bills (Police, Caymanians Only,…) are being rushed through the LA, is to get them passed before the Human Rights sections of the new Constitution come into effect.

    Another reason to justify my "No" vote.

  5. nauticalone says:

    Thanks Alden, but…i have heard you qoute before "Politics is the art of the possible". May i humbly suggest that sometimes "the possible" may appear impossible!

    Civil unrest seems to be the boogy man in the LA…..remember Macs retreat at the recent proposal of a march around the sale of Govt. Admin Bldg?…..Make a legal injunction eh!

  6. I listen to Mr. Bush says:

    Do you not have respect for our Premier?  As he said, if you don’t want to have problems with civil rights then don’t go around shooting places up.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The ramifications of these changes can have far reaching effects I truly hope that careful thought have been given by all concerned. These laws will have affect on all who enter our jurisdiction vacationers[ touristts ]and residents alike. This is not a quick fix for a poorly educated,  trained  and led police service .

  8. Beachboi says:

    Just another piece of the puzzle that will reveal the demise of democracy and the rise of a dictatorial police state here in Cayman.   We cant wait  3 years.  I fear that the damage is irreversible!

  9. anonymous says:

    I think what Mr. Alden needs to do to begin with is file an injunction against this recent bill.

    For those of you who think that we can’t file an injunction against the Ag’s bill you are mistaken. Read your books.

    Alden,

    FILE THE INJUNCTION !   and get the necessary signatures to back you up this will help you get reelected in 2013 remember the PPM is now like the GOP the Tea Party or independents are closing in on you so DO YOUR THING ALDEN!

    Get ‘er done!

  10. Concerned says:

    I must make a seriously strong point here. If this statement… "state is already more powerful than the accused, and was now making it even more difficult for people to defend themselves…" is really true..then how is it that a known murderer in Cayman can escape a crime he commited in front of 200 people!! Also the murder/conviction rate in Cayman is absolutely ridiculous! We should ask ourselves how many families have been left without parents/sons due to vicious and malicious criminals before we think about making it even easier for them to escape prosecution!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Shouldn’t the headline read "Thugs and their fancy lawyers under attack"?

    The right to remain silent remains. The change is that the Jury would now be able to consider that silence as a factor in their deliberations

  12. Anonymous says:

    A typical example of covering up ineptitude. The fault is not with the existing legislation it is with the AG whose tenure must surely be coming to an end.

     

    Why do the member s of the LA pass these amendments, do they not understand what they are doing or are they being mislead?

    • Nelson Murgatroyd says:

      They are being misled. Bulgin knows what he is doing, so does Smellie and so do Baines and the new governor. Step back a few feet and look at the picture again.

      They know precisely what is going on and until someone squeals, it is all going according to plan.

      What do you suggest we do about it?

  13. anonymous says:

    Alden we know that what you are saying is true. But don’t just give us a report, just because you’re the opposition does not mean that you have to roll over and play dead. You and the opposition should have some plan in place to stand up against this so don’t hand me that sorry story that you can’t do anything that’s just not true.

    Have you ever fought for anything in your life that was worthwhile.  or is this just a recitation to let us believe that you are working.   God help us

    • Ray says:

      What do you suggest an opposition (5 votes) does in the L.A. against a proposal from the Government (9 votes)? They are making the public & the Govt. aware of the issues with a bill. Do you wish them to call for civil unrest on each occasion? How does that help our country?

      We need to ask ourselves what are we going to do now that these issues have been pointed out to us? Are we prepared to approach our other representatives on the Govt. side and say to them that they should not support a bill until such issues are clarified or rectified. It is us that have the numbers to make any Government do what we feel that they should.

      • Florence Goring-Nozza says:

        I suggest you do as Sampson did the Philistines, his enemies .

        ‘FIND A JAWBONE AND USE IT!’

  14. whistling duck says:

    I think it is very worrying how the government or state is trying to empower itself over the people of the Cayman Islands. Here are the trends I am seeing –

    1. Premier’s open attack on Freedom of the Press, CNS and Cayman Net News, and their bloggers

    2. After the attacks, our Beloved Desmond Seales pass away

    3. FOI is criticized for allowing Mickey Mouse to make too much inquiries

    4. CCTV’s – enough to watch your every move are installed everywhere

    5. Commissioner Baines openly attacks the personal right to bear arms and self-defense in the Cayman Islands

    6. Commissioner allows a Corruption team from the UK to Poligraph his own officers for lying – an equipment that is not scientifically sound

    7. Michael Ryan, owner of Ritz Carlton gets aways owing government millions on duty whilst wrongly criticizing the CNS media

    8. Legislators attempt to eliminate the Jury-system!

    9. Now a Police Bill making it legal to fingerprint everyone who is on the crime scene whether they are witness or not

    The list goes on… a trend that is indeed worrisome!

    There is one thing I value more than gold – 

    AND THAT IS MY FREEDOM!!! 

     

    • anonymous says:

      33 good article.

      But No. 2 should also read" And the Owner Chief Editor of the Cayman Compass also had a heart problem following Mr. Desmond Seales!

      Have these editors been threatened? or is someone getting too close to them for comfort? You know what I mean. I wish the medeia would stop trying to cover up people’s wicked sins and expose them.

  15. Florence Goring-Nozza says:

     

    Mr. Alden McLaughlin You are absolutely correct. Unfortunately there is a cross section of individuals that do not realize or deliberately do not want to face the facts of the ghastly affect this will have on our young people and families in our communities across the nation. They are about to suffer untold misery if they do not speak up, speak out and  act. Voters must contest this recent decision to remove the Right to Remain Silent from the Cayman Islands constitution.

    Mr. McLaughlin as a joint Leader of the opposition and an Attorney duly qualified to weigh in on this serious issue. Would you prove to us that you are truly a Leader and LEAD THE WAY IN  PURSUING THE "REPEAL" OF THIS LAW. Would you on behalf of your people care to draft the motion that will strike down this recent decision. Would you take this fight to the streets and get the necessary signatures to present to the Governors office on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands.  Would you let the Party TALK YOU OUT OF IT  or will you STAND FIRM ?

    If you are unsuccessful in that effort, would you be a strong enough leader to take this fight all the way to the Privy Council if necessary. We want a leader to pursue this that is in it for the long haul, not for a political stunt or grandstanding. 

    We will stand behind you if you do.  Afterall this is not a political issue this is the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the people that is standing in the balances of a system that is bent on destroyng the peoples Civil Liberties indeed, are you ready to fight?

    The people of the Cayman Islands need an opposition leadership that is willing to put on their boxing gloves and go to bat for them. Are you ready?

    If you are we’re with you.

    Ezzard, Alden, Kurt, Eden, all independents  UDP and PPM I expect you to follow suit and get rid of this law. All of you have been blessed with precious family members and relatives, and I am sure that you would like to see them get a fair trial in the courts of the land, and  as an accused afforded  the privilege of   legal representation .No one needs to be ‘FRAMED" Every elected member all l5 of you should stand up against this bill. This Bill will come back to haunt you, you’re not in that seat forever. It will soon come to an end. You’re going to be one of us soon!    You’re all going to need your ‘RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT" and a right to an Attorney.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Mclaughlin basically made the point on the open floor of the LA that he had seen a concerted effort over the past 4 to 5 years by the Attorney General to stack the deck in favour of the State (which is already considerable) in such a way that he felt weakened certain principles of justice for the individual and he had made his concerns known (he would have been a minister at the time). 

      This suggests to me that these provisions are being pushed by law enforcement (any or all of the following agencies police, legal department and judiciary) and not the lelected executive.  The UDP have no legal minds in Cabinet so i guess anything can get through them. 

      Are we fast becoming a banana republic? Tell me it isn’t so.

       

      • anonymous says:

         

        To whom did Mr. Alden McLaughlin make known his concerns?

        There is strength in numbers, when is he going to get that through his thick skull?

        Chuckie gets it. that’s why he proposed a March and it worked despite their crab efforts to stop him. It had its affect in the premier’s decision making. Stopped him from selling the Govt. Admin Bldg! Here we have a remaining PPM leader that is backing down from the most important piece of legislation ever passed that will hurt Caymanian and his own clients as an attorney, also X-pats tourists, investors alike. And all Alden has under his belt for us is

        "I can’t do anything?"  that’s thesorriest excuse of a loser if I ever heard one. Alden obviously was elected because somebody liked him or Kurt brought him in on his coat tail. You can’t convince me this man can perform, he is useless.

        The PPM leadership envied Chuckie because they realizded Chuckie had guts and balls they themselves as leaders of the PPM did not have!

        He made the right move by removing himself from membership of the PPM it is now he has support from both sides.

        Guys lets focus on getting Chuckie, Ezzard, and all other Independents elected.  ENOUGH OF THIS LOYAL TO THE PARTY MORE THAN LOYAL TO THE PEOPLE SYSTEM,

        IT HAS TO GO!

        We need strong teams.