Rights commission raises concerns on laws

| 04/02/2011

(CNS): The local Human Rights Commission (HRC) has raised questions in its first annual report about a number of laws, in particular the police bill, which it says confers additional powers on officers without fundamental safeguards. As the country makes preparations for the implementation of a bill of rights in 2012, the HRC has been examining existing and proposed legislation to ensure that the laws of the land will be compliant with the bill. Although the commission said that the law, which is based on the UK’s Criminal Evidence Act, has the potential to restore public confidence in the police, the lack of a detailed code of practice for the RCIPS to support the additional powers provided to law enforcement “causes great concern”.

The commission noted that the necessary and fundamental safeguards are absent from the Cayman Islands legislation. Although the bill has now been passed in the Legislative Assembly, as yet there are no guidelines in place akin to those in the UK that highlight the responsibilities of officers in light of their new powers.

During its examination of the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill 2010, which has now been passed, the HRC also pointed out problems that government may encounter with that bill when it comes to a defendant’s right to a fair trial and conflict with human rights.

The law now allows for certain witnesses to give evidence in a court anonymously. However, so far attempts by the crown to use the law have been overturned by the courts. The HRC has warned that the bill raises constitutional, legislative and human rights issues. “The HRC asserts that the right of those being prosecuted to know who is making the accusation against them is a fundamental one,” the commission stated in its report.

One law for which some of the HRC’s advice to the Attorney General’s Chambers was directly heeded was the Criminal Procedure Code; the proposal that defendants would lose the right to elect trial by jury in any case involving firearms was rejected. Although the law was passed last month abolishing the right of defendants to a preliminary enquiry in category A offences, the right to trial by jury has been maintained.

Aside from reviewing around nine pieces of legislation, the commission has also offered its thoughts to government on the regulations and code of practice which will guide the procedures surrounding the imminent introduction of CCTV to Cayman’s streets. The commission has stated that the implementation of the system should reflect the fundamental right to privacy and that the system will be subject to a statutory regulation and licensing system.

The commission has pointed out that the country needs a data protection law to balance the right to privacy against the operation of the CCTV system.

The country’s preparation for the bill of rights is going beyond the need to review laws and into the workings of the civil service. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly during the last meeting, the deputy governor said the public sector had already begun human right training of staff throughout the service.

“We have 24 months to prepare the public service and I have established a group to develop an implementation strategy plan,” Donovan Ebanks told legislators, adding that the impact of section 19, which covers the way government carries on its business, is significant for all public employees.

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  1. Shepherd says:

    Human rights are for humans.  Now what about those who don’t act human?  Why should those who choose to behave like violent savages benefit from human rights.

    HR is BS.

  2. A Torney says:

    The HRC is a toothless tiger picked by the Government to not challenge the government (Sykes!) which simply rubber stamps most of the legislation without looking at the tricky issues of rights abuse in Cayman.  We have no proper system of review for rights protections in Cayman.

    To be fair, the HRC are only testing the legislation compared to the Bill of Rights, which itself is not rights compliant as it only protects certain rights to a lesser extent that our existing and continuing olbigations under the ECHR.

  3. anonymous says:

    if you think crime is bad now wait til this bill of rights comes into play.  

    • My back Is Killing me From Standing all Day says:

      Wish the Human Rights Committee would look at some of the major supermarkets who have their cashiers standing for the entire 8 hour shift. If that is not inhumane, then I don’t know what is. These cashiers should not have to stand on their feet seven and a half hours a day punching a cash register. It’s bad for their legs (varicose veins) and back. Doubt that sitting comfortably would cause them to do a poor job. In fact, they don’t even have to sit all day, but need to have the use of a chair in case they are feeling tired from standing. Even the banks have adopted the practice of providing high chairs for their tellers. Please, someone help the supermarket cashiers!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    One more new and expensive Commission trying to prove they have done something….the UK has now found that their HRC and supporters have it now completely backward..”the terrorist have more rights than their victims”!!

    It is this *B*S* that has ruined the UK /EU and now it has been brought here in our “constitutional contract” with them. We soon will not be able to put these criminals away.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I fully support the actions of the HRC for I believe it is better that 100 persons be set free than for 1 innocent person to be imprisoned.

    However, after a fair trial is guaranteed, we need to look at the penalties so that the punishment fits the crime, and also that it acts as a real deterrent.

    Instead of our MLAs wasting time discussing press reporters they should pass the following legislation:

    Minimum of 30 years for armed robbery with a gun, either real or immitation as they both have the same impact on the person being robbed.

    Minimum of 25 years for armed robbery with a machete, knife, or similar weapon.

    Minimum of 20 years for armed robbery with baseball bat, wooden club, or similar device.

    I really don’t care whose child it is. If you don’t know where they are when the robbery is being committed, you will know where they are once they are placed in Northward.

  6. Richard Wadd says:

     VICTIMS have Rights too. 

     VICTIMS have the ‘Right to JUSTICE’. 

     The ‘Rights of the Victim’, should trump the ‘Rights of the Criminal’, ALWAYS.

     Those who Prey upon and Violate the rights of Law Abiding, Innocent, Hard-working Citizens have no Respect or regard for the ‘Rights" of their Victims, and as such, should by default lose the Protection offered by the very ‘Rights’ that they have chosen to infringe upon.

     Convict them, and Strip them of these Rights, and they won’t be so quick to repeat offences.

     Case in point, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Read what his Prison System reform has done to the Crime Statistics in of Maricopa County, Arizona, USA.

     We need to take notes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do some research on Sheriff Joe Arpaio and you will see he is not the savior you claim him to be.

      “Arpaio is currently the subject of FBI, United States Department of Justice,[and Federal Grand Jury investigations for civil rights violations and abuse of power, and is the defendant in a federal class-action suit for racial profiling.
      Arpaio has become controversial for aggressive publicity-seeking, retaliation against political enemies, abuse of power, civil rights violations, and financial mismanagement.”

      Some of those Law Abiding, Innocent, Hard-working Citizens you talk about end up falsely imprisoned because of a rush to judgement and are set up by police and DA’s to get a conviction. Personally if I am ever a victim I want the GUILTY person punished for a crime against me.

      “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”, by jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s.

      Then there is the Bible – Genesis 18:23-32:

      “ And Abraham drew near and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?… That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes…

      And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.”

      I don’t disagree with you that the truly guilty must be punished for their crimes, but let’s not take away anyones rights to defend themselves. That should be a basic human right.

  7. Tired of the crime says:

    The problem with our laws is: the penalty does not suit the crime – our laws are to lenient!! We need laws that will deter persons from committing crime or at the very least, trigger their minds to think that if they are caught, the consequences would be serious.
    We already have a prison system that’s fit for anyone who wishes to retire, need not to worry about their freedoms of life or the cost of living because our prison does this for them.
    At the moment, for those persons who have no or little desire to lead a positive and fulfulling lifestyle would highly possibly perfer to be in prison than wanting, working or worrying about where there next meal will come from or where they will find employment or who in society will look down on them, etc.
    Prison is acommunity of criminals – they all love each other – everything is free – no more worry, work and want.!!
    In my opionion, they presently have too many rights as is!!!

  8. Seriously says:

    Seriously, Human Rights Groups need to stop and consider the impact crime is having on this community. Criminals do have rights, but in all honesty, they kill, rob etc and do not deserve rights. I understand that innocent people do get caught up in investigations etc and it may be inconvenient to have the Police trawling through your personal affairs and private information, but at the end of the day, if you live right, dont break the law, they Police will be reasonable with you and try to respect your rights and privacy. If you put up a front however and try to assist criminals etc then you deserve to be treated as such. In my humble opinion the HRC should back off this issue until we get this place cleaned up. A little inconvenience to get rid of criminals is ok by me.