Archive for August 1st, 2011

Immigration nabs almost 200 offenders in one year

| 01/08/2011 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Officials from the immigration department have revealed that over the last twelve months the enforcement arm has made close to 200 arrests for a variety of immigration offences. Both employers and employees have been charged in a year which saw ninety more arrests than the previous twelve months. Law breakers were in some cases faced with fines and others were taken through the courts. Officers dealt with more than 14 different types of immigration offences including illegal landing and overstaying. Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, Enforcement, Gary Wong, said 198 arrests were made between July 10 and July 11 compared to 108 between July 09 and July 10.

The twelve month period began with an amnesty that saw 67 men and 20 women voluntarily depart from Cayman with no questions asked including one person who had overstayed by more than 12 years.

Wong said that although employees made up the greater number of offenders some 50 employers were also charged with offences while several others were warned in relation to immigration breaches. He said fifteen people were charged with employing foreign nationals without permits, while four were arrested for causing an individual to overstay. 

Some of those arrestedfaced multiple charges, and the most common offences were working without a permit or outside the terms of a permit, making false representations and obstruction.

The department revealed that not surprisingly as the nationality with the largest number of permits more than half of the offenders 107were Jamaican, while permit holders from Honduras and Canada also committed numerous offences. Caymanians were the next highest group breaking immigration laws followed by people from the Philippines, Cuba and the United States.

The option of administering direct fines resulted in the majority choosing to pay penalties rather than go to court. As a result the Enforcement Unit collected more than $175,000, a little below the $182,000 during the previous year. All those charged with illegal landing were prosecuted in court where boats and other items used for committing the immigration offences were forfeited to the crown.

“We are continuously working with other agencies to control the criminal element by targeting and prosecuting those who land illegally, or attempt to do so”, said Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans.

She pointed to the case of four Jamaican nationals who were intercepted off North Side in mid-May, during a joint special operation including contingents from the Royal Cayman Islands Police, HM Customs and Immigration Enforcement Section.

The four people were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment terms of between six and fifteen months for illegal landing and attempted human smuggling. A 32-foot canoe was seized and forfeited to the crown as a result of the operation.

“These officers work under difficult circumstances, and are dedicated and committed to ensuring that breaches of our immigration laws are detected and prosecuted,” Evans said.

Officials also said that 40 Cuban migrants had been intercepted between July 2010 and June 2011 – the largest the largest number since 2008, when 207 persons were recorded.

For more information, applicants and businesses may seek legal counsel, or contact the Enforcement Unit at legalim@gov.ky or call 534 2546. Or, contact the Department of Immigration on 949-8344, or online at www.immigration@gov.ky

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Cash not jail offered for guns

| 01/08/2011 | 31 Comments

(CNS): The RCIPS is extending this year's no questions asked gun amnesty for one more month and this time they will be handing out cash to people who bring in the weapons. Disappointed that only two guns and 144 bullets were handed in during July Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden announced on Monday that police have partnered with a local business to extend the amnesty and reward anyone who brings in a working gun to a police station with $200. Under the same conditions as July's amnesty DS Bodden said the August cash gun amnesty would also be an anonymous and once a gun was cleared by aspecialist officer the person handing it in could walk away with the cash.

Having joined forces with Robert Baraud and his team at the mobile digital billboard company High Impact Media, money is already available Bodden said to exchange for the first gun that comes through a participating police station's door from Monday 1 August. He also said that $25 would be given to individuals for each batch of ten rounds of live ammunition handed in at George Town, Bodden Town, West Bay or Cayman Brac police stations, throughout the month.

Baraud said his firm had put up the first $2000 to make funds available to the RCIPS immediately but he would be raising more money in the wider community in the hope that the extended amnesty with a cash reward could attract a higher weapons count than last year when 26 guns and several hundred bullets were handed over to the cops.

DS Bodden pointed out that given the levels of serious gun crime, before and during what the police are now considering the first phase of this year's amnesty, he RCIPS were willing to try anything to get guns off the streets and save lives.

“We are extremely disappointed that so few people have taken advantage of the chance to hand in guns and ammunition anonymously,” said Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden regarding the first month. “We have said before that we will do whatever we can to persuade people to hand in their guns. If a few hundred dollars is the price we have to pay to encourage people to do the right thing, we’re happy to do that knowing that, as a result, lives will be saved.”

He explained that “Operation Cash ‘n’ Guns” was an extra incentive which he and Baraud hoped would encourage people to turn in their operable unregistered weapons instead of allowing them to fall into the wrong hands or be used in a future crime.

“With the rise in armed robberies this year, we are urging the citizens and companies to take part in this programme. We ask the public to encourage those you know to turn in their guns. Receiving money for your illegal weapons is a much better solution than committing a crime and spending the next ten years of your life in Northward.” Baraud, owner of High Impact Media said as he pointing out it could be anyone us that was the next victim of crime.
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Baraud said that the details of the amnesty would be on his digital boards today and any businesses or individuals wanting to contribute to the funds could make contact with his office. He said the process would be open and transparent and was being managed by a chartered accountant who would be ensuring all the money raised would be used to reward people bringing in working guns and ammunition that hadbeen approved by the RCIPS' specialist officers.

Bodden said these officers would be on stand-by at each of the relevant stations ready to inspect weapons and clear desk officers to hand over the cash to the people bringing in the weapons who he emphasized would still remain anonymous. He warned however, that the cash would only be given for working guns and that this was not a free ride for people handing in dilapidated weapons as they would all be checked by experts.

He added that as the amnesty continued the police would still be carrying out operations looking for firearms in order to address the increase use of guns in local crime. Disappointed with the first month's haul he said it included only a shot gun and a rifle both handed in at Bodden Town police station and 144 bullets which were given to various stations. He said that while every gun removed from the street is a success given how much gun crime there is at present the police were hoping to at least match or surpass last year's more significant result.

Despite the growing pile of rewards for information regarding crime not making much difference to current enquiries and outstanding crimes, Bodden said he was notdeterred from trying a cash incentive in the hope that it might help. He said that circumstances change and different incentives at different times may impact people in different ways and if there was a chance that a few hundred dollars would encourage someone to bring in another illegal, unwanted or unlicensed firearm then the police would welcome that.

He explained the amnesty was also only part of a wider strategy to deal with gun crime.

Bodden also stated that enquiries regarding the two most recent robberies in which the victims were shot were still ongoing and at this stage police had no evidence to suggest that the incidents — one in Red Bay when a man was shot in the senior officer confirmed that the RCIPS were still investigating the ballistic leads they had gained at a number of crime scenes recently where weapons had been fired. DS Bodden urged the public once again to help the police all they could to bring the people perpetrating these robberies to justice.

Anyone who would like to donate funds for this programme is asked to contact High Impact Media at 938-9191 as soon as possible for more information on how you can take part. Anyone with information about gun crime in the Cayman Islands should contact the RCIPS confidential tip line at 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS)

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Search on for missing woman

| 01/08/2011 | 62 Comments

CNS):  Updated 1:30pm Police have now confirmed that a search is on for a missing woman who has not been seen since Saturday evening. Officers from the RCIPS said they are concerned for the safety and well-being of Kerran Natalee Baker, known to friends as Kerry-Berry. She is 25-years-old and lives alone in Arrow Drive, Bodden Town. The last confirmed sighting of her was around 5:00pm on Saturday evening, when she was seen driving her white Honda Civic in the Red Bay area. One of Kerry's friends tried to call her on Saturday evening and on Sunday but received no response. As a result she went to Kerry's home and, with the assistance of the landlord, entered the house. Having found Kerry's bag and groceries she had bought on Saturday on the kitchen counter the friend contacted the police.

“The fact that Kerran left the house without her handbag is very unusual,” said Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden. "She also uses her phone a lot – but none of her friends or family have received any calls or messages from her since Saturday evening.”

The senior officers said that door to door enquiries have been conducted in the area of Arrow Drive and contact is currently being made with Kerry's family and friends in an attempt to trace her.

“Road patrol officers and the RCIPS Air Operations Unit have been searching for her car which was found a short time ago parked in the Pedro Castle area. A search in that area is currently ongoing. The search teams include the RCIPS K-9 and Air Operations Units. As yet, no trace of Kerran has been found. I would ask anyone who saw Kerran after 5pm on Saturday evening to contact us immediately. We need to make sure that she is alive and well,” Bodden added.

She is described as being around 5’5” in height and approximately 135 lbs. She has brown eyes and dark shoulder length hair. At this stage there is no description available of the clothes she was last seen wearing.

Anyone with any information about Kerran should contact George Town police station on 949-4222.

Check back to CNS later for more on this story

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Judge delays decision on teen

| 01/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A teenager who was tried for the attempted murder of a police officer and robbery last month will have to wait until September for verdict on his guilt or innocence as a judge said Friday as he was unable to complete the written judgement as a result of workload. Seventeen year old Elmer Wright is accused of an armed robbery at Mostyns Esso gas station in June last year and attempting to kill a police officer when he fired a shot gun directly at a patrol car as he tried to make his escape. The trial of the teen began in December last year but was halted as a result of a need to address forensic evidence and did not recommence until July.

Justice Smith who was the trial judge sitting alone in the case told the court Friday that he had gone through both the evidence and the submissions and had come to his decision but had not completed putting the reasons down on paper so could not read the verdict. Asking for a social enquiry report however, the judge told the defendant, "Mr Wright, unfortunately, I won't be able to announce your judgement today," as he remanded the teen in custody and revealed he intended to deliver the verdict in September.

Wright was arrested on the night of the robbery at the Bodden Town gas station a short time after the incident and a police chase. The prosecution states that Wright was one of four robbers but he was the one that had attempted to kill a police officer when the high speed chase came to an end in a cul-de-sac. The crown said that the chase ended in the Northward area and Wright along with his three accomplices exited their getaway car. During the trial the court heard a police give evidence that Wright had come out of the getaway vehicle carrying a shotgun which he fired directly at the patrol car as he ran off on foot.

A short time later, he was arrested a few streets away with money from the gas station in his possession and the weapon was found close by. The crown said that Wright’s dna was on the gun and he had tested positive for gunshot residue. It was also revealed that the shot gun recovered by police that the crown says was used in the robbery and later fired at police was stolen from a licensed firearm’s holder.

 

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Poor countries fight for global tax reform

| 01/08/2011 | 1 Comment

(The Guardian): The OECD club of rich countries is battling poorer states over a controversial global tax deal that could affect multinational tax schemes. Visiting South Africa and Nigeria last week, David Cameron wrote in a South African newspaper about the benefits of "effective tax systems" – but failed to mention tax avoidance by multinational corporations, something that South Africa's finance minister has called "a serious cancer eating into the fiscal base of many countries". Meanwhile, the British government is locked in battle with South Africa and other developing countries over a controversial global tax deal, which is due to be finalised in Geneva on Wednesday; a deal that could potentially have a large impact on multinational tax schemes.

It has become a rather hot potato.

On one side of this fight sit Britain, the US, the EU and other rich countries, which want to maintain the pre-eminence of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), a club of rich countries, as the body that dominates the setting of global tax rules. On the other side, along with South Africa, sit Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and other developing countries, which want developing countries to have a bigger voice.

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UK cops give up on solving crime

| 01/08/2011 | 1 Comment

(Daily Mail): One in three crimes reported to police are not investigated as detectives write them off as unsolvable, an investigation has revealed. Burglaries, theft and criminal damage are cases most likely to be dropped before they are even looked at. Other more serious offences, such as sexual assaults, drug trafficking and violent attacks, are also 'screened out' by officers in some forces. Police have blamed funding cuts and limited resources for abandoning cases where they think there is little or no chance of catching those responsible. Police failed to investigate almost 650,000 of just over 2 million crimes reported in England and Wales over the last three years, following an initial screening process.

Out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales, 21 of them were found to have dropped cases before they had even been investigated.According to the figures, obtained by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act, the trend is constant nationally and runs at about 32 per cent. However, the figures are even more stark in London, with almost half of allegations being dropped after an initial screening process because officers in the capital think they cannot be solved.

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CITN to launch weather channel and introduce HDTV

| 01/08/2011 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Before the end of this year’s hurricane season the local television company CITN says it will be introducing a 24/7 local weather cable channel which will be broadcast on channel 24. The station said the channel will be automatically updated with the latest local, regional, and international weather news including hourly local forecasts, and storm alerts. CITN has also announced plans to broadcast Cayman 27 in high definition which will include programmes from Island 24 which is now going off air, officials said.

In a release the television company stated that the equipment has been ordered and plans are underway for the major upgrade. WestStar customers will be able to watch the local channel in standard definition on channel 27, and subscribers to WestStar’s HD service can watch in high definition on channel 327. Viewers that receive the signal free over-the-air may need a converter box if their TV cannot receive digital signal.

General Manager and Director of WestStar, Mike Martin said it was an exciting time for the station. “Last year we launched new local programming and now that we are upgrading to HD everyone will be able to experience better picture quality.”

Officials said the upgrade to HD will be a major investment for CITN, so executives have decided to focus all resources on making Cayman 27 the best local channel possible.   As CITN focuses all efforts on Cayman 27, Island 24 will be taken off the air, and many of the most popular programmes from Island 24 will be merged onto Cayman 27.

“In the next few weeks, we will have a better idea of what the new line-up will look like and we will make sure that the public are aware of changes well in advance,” said  Programming Director, Anita Smith.

An exact date for the changes to programming and the launch of HD and the local weather cable channel has not been set yet, but officials said they are looking toward 1 October and updates will be posted on www.cayman27.com.ky

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Local author introduces new cartoon book

| 01/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Children’s author and illustrator Lady Rabia launched Cayman’s first cartoon series, Kaa Kaa & Tokyo, and its debut book, Kaa Kaa & Tokyo in Babysittin’ ‘Lil Kelly, on Saturday. A Cayman Bracker, Rabia has already published forty-eight short children’s stories and articles for Qkids Comics in Saudi Arabia. Based in the1930’s, this debut series captures the essence of “the good ole days”, when the Cayman Islands were merely a tiny, isolated fishing community, according to a release about the new books.

The series features the characters Kaa Kaa, and Tokyo, her clumsy 57-year-old nephew, who constantly experiences one mishap after another. “Although Kaa Kaa is always on-hand to provide her maternal protection, it is always accompanied by her witty sarcasm and the funny duo is always surrounded by an array of equally amusing neighbours,” the release stated.

The tales use humour, rhymes and authentic illustrations to enchant readers, young and old, back to a time of simple island life, while educating readers about “the isles that time forgot.”

Billed as a comical piece of work, in this first story Kaa Kaa ignores Tokyo's warnings and agrees to babysit cute 'lil Kelly. She never imagined the trouble in store. Set in the Cayman Islands in the "good, old days", the slapstick tale of rocks, pans, "pillows", dead birds and belts proves babysitting can be a hazardous job.

Lady Rabia is also the author of Rising: Powerful Poetry. Her poetry and photography were featured in a solo exhibit which toured the Cayman Islands for in 2004. She has several other books due to be published including Growing Up Carib,  Diary of a Sister Mommy and her own dramatic true story: A Mother’s Promise: The Lady Rabia Story, which is due next spring.

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ICO slams Mac’s ministry

| 01/08/2011 | 64 Comments

(CNS): In her thirteenth decision, Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert has raised serious questions about the commitment of the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development to the FOI law. Following the procedural failures by the ministry regarding a request made by Cayman News Service last year for a copy of a report about legal aid, Dilbert said thepremier’s ministry was negligent when it came to the law as she ordered a redacted release of the report. Dilbert made a number of observations in a comprehensive decision and condemned the behaviour of government, pointing out what she said was the “unwillingness” by the ministry to obey the law.

“The severity of the procedural failures in this case lead me to question, as on a number of previous occasions, the seriousness with which the Ministry executes its duties and obligations under the FOI Law,” Dilbert noted early in her report.

“While understandable delays will sometimes occur, the extreme length of the delays in this case, and the apparent unwillingness of the Ministry to act in a responsible way under the Law, testify to an unacceptably negligent attitude towards legal compliance with the FOI Law that can only be condemned in the gravest terms,” she added.

In this decision the information commissioner covered a number of issues because of the way the request was handled, the length of time it took, the basis for the original refusal and the ministry’s failure to apply the law correctly.

“Access delayed is essentially access denied," Dilberts said about the report in a release on Monday.  "The FOI Law sets out strict deadlines for responding to requests to ensure that applicants receive a timely response.  It is simply not acceptable that an applicant should need to chase down a response from government.”

She pointed out that more than two and a half years have passed since the FOI was enforced and authorities are well aware of their responsibilities under the Law.  "I accept that processing FOI requests does take time and resources, an open, transparent and accountable government in the long term will result in better management and cost savings.” 

In this case, CNS first made the open record request to the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development for the Legal Aid Review Committee’s report in March 2010, when the document was first published, as at the time it was understood the contents would be informing government’s future policy on legal aid – a subject that had raised considerable controversy.

However, the ministry denied access to the report stating that it was yet to go before Cabinet for consideration and therefore had not yet gone to the Legislative Assembly and once considered by the country’s parliament it would be released. In May, when there was still no sign of the report, CNS made a second request but asked, if it was going to be refused again on the same grounds, that the information manager proceed directly to an internal review.

From that point on, however, despite reassurances that the report would be made public shortly the request seemed to get lost in the system ,and although CNS contacted the ministry several times to find out what was happening, the report remained under wraps and the ministry uncommunicative about its release.

In August, CNS also contacted the information commissioner’s office (ICO) to ask for its assistance but by January of this year there was still no response to the internal review request from the ministry, despite the ICO’s intervention. Eventually, at the end of January this year, after a further intervention by the ICO, the internal review was concluded and the ministry refused the document again on the same basis.

As the report was withheld because it had not yet been considered by Cabinet and therefore the LA, and CNS had been told on a number of occasions that Cabinet would be considering it “very soon”, we asked the commissioner to consider if the refusal to release the record was still lawful. It seemed to CNS that this element of the law had to have a reasonable time frame, otherwise a public authority could withhold important public information for endless periods by stating that it had not yet been officially considered.

In her deliberations Dilbert found that, according to the ministry submission, the members of the review team were appointed by the premier as the minister for finance and the report was submitted to him to inform Cabinet discussions and not for the Legislative Assembly.

“No evidence has been provided in the Ministry’s submission to support the claim that the report was created for presentation to the Legislative Assembly, or indeed to Cabinet,” she said.

Dilbert also revealed that the ministry had claimed that “a reasonable period” had not expired but noted that there was no explanation for what it considered a reasonable time and by then well over a year had elapsed.

“Given that it is now almost a year and a half since the date of the report, I consider that a reasonable period of time has long since passed for the report to be reviewed and considered by whatever body it was intended for. As a result, I am not satisfied that the ministry has provided sufficient evidence that the exception in section 11(2)(b) should apply…” she added.

Among the many issues raised and criticisms made of the premier’s ministry in this decision Dilbert also noted that public authorities have a legal duty to consider all exceptions or exemptions during the process of an FOI request and she noted that on this occasion the ministry ignored the fact that there was sensitive personal information in the document.

She stated that public authorities should avoid a carte blanche approach to exemptions without proper consideration of the entire record and all the possible reasons why all or part of a record should be refused or released. “I am particularly disturbed by the fact that the report contains quite sensitive personal information, yet the Ministry did not comment on this fact,” she wrote.

As a result she ordered the ministry to release the main report with names of individuals in two paragraphs removed and all of paragraph 94 redacted. She also ordered that certain appendixes could not be released because some contained sensitive information and others minutes on discussions made with an expectation of confidentially or as part of free and frank discussions.

Dilbert released her decision on Friday and gave the ministry 45 days to hand over the report or apply for a judicial review.

See the Information commissioner’s full report below.

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Economy on the up, says ESO

| 01/08/2011 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Although many local business owners report still feeling the economic pinch, according to the latest statistics from the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO), the Cayman Islands’ economy recorded real growth in the first quarter of the 2011 calendar year. The growth achieved in the January to March quarter of 2011 on an annualized basis was 1.2% when compared to the same quarter in 2010. The 2011 first quarter growth of 1.2% also exceeds the 0.9% growth estimated for the entire 2011 calendar year. According to government officials, there were several positive results that contributed to the growth in the economy, such as company registrations and the increase in air arrivals.

The premier, who is also minister for finance, said he was “upbeat about the results”, which were published Friday, and was positive about the country’s economic future.

“I, along with the Government, am very upbeat with respect to the future performance of the economy – which is based not only on positive results achieved in the first quarter of 2011 but also on the partnerships and initiatives that the Government has forged with the private sector,” Bush stated, but did not detail the partnerships and initiatives he referred to.  “We are encouraged by the 2011 first quarter results and by the islands’ bright future prospects,” he added.

The report by the ESO states that new company registrations increased in the first quarter by 11.9%, air arrivals grew by 6.8%, cruise ship passengers increased by 8.2%, and the number of property transfers increased by 20.3% – which complemented a 271.2% increase in the value of properties transferred in the quarter that amounted to $253.9 million.

However, there were still several areas of the economy in decline. Building permits fell by 19.4% to settle at 179, valued at $61.1 million, the lowest level in five years. This is also the second straight year of decline. Merchandise imports fell by 1.6% to register at $169.2 million, but this was a lower decline than the 5.7% fall in the same quarter last year. Work permits also continued the decline. Following the drop of 13.6% last year, permits fell by a further 10.6% and there are now around 19,877 people on work permits.

Broad liquidity or money supply contracted by 7.6% due to reductions in both foreign currency deposits held by residents and CI dollar-denominated money.  The weighted average lending rate rose to 7.4% from 6.4%, although the prime lending rate remained stable at 3.25%. Domestic credit expanded by 2% as credit to the public sector increased by 32.4% while credit to the private sector fell marginally

While new company registrations were on the increase, the ESO revealed that mutual funds registration fell compared to the previous year by 117 or 1.2%. Bank and trust company registrations fell 8.6% and insurance licenses decreased by 5.4%.  The stock exchange listings also contracted by 10.6% to settle at 1,136, while stock market capitalization for mutual funds declined. 

Although, electricity consumption rose by 1.5% on account of increased commercial consumption, the ESO said that by contrast water consumption fell by 3.7%.

According to the ESO figures, the central government’s overall fiscal deficit narrowed to $9.9 million from $17.3 million a year ago, but the total outstanding debt increased to $561.0 million from $508.7 million a year ago.

For more information on the Cayman Islands’ First Quarter Economic Report 2011 visit   www.eso.ky or see the report below.

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