Archive for November 2nd, 2011

Sunrise celebrates silver anniversary

| 02/11/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Everyone at Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SRC) is inviting the community to join them in celebrating their 25 anniversary at an open day next Tuesday morning at the centre in West Bay. The newly appointed SRC Director Shari Smith encouraged the community to join in the silver anniversary celebrations at the centre that helps adults with special needs. Established in 1986, it provides opportunities for adults with disabilities (AWDs) to become responsible and productive residents.

Though several of the Centre’s 57 clients are in full or part-time employment, SRC staffers continue to seek similar opportunities for other clients.

“We welcome everyone to see just how SRC has positively affected the lives of special-needs individuals within our community,” she said. “There will be food, as well as talent and artwork on display, so come expecting to be entertained.”

The open house will be held at the Centre, located at 181 Powery Road in West Bay, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 8 November. A thanksgiving service follows at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, 13 November, at the Savannah United Church (on Astrial Way).

This month also marks an end of an era for the centre with the retirement after 21 years of the former director Roberta Gordon who has handed over to Shari Smith. Having been at the centre for a large part of its 25 years she said that she had witnessed it evolve from a small programme with a few local special needs clients to a comprehensive programme for clients residing throughout the Cayman Islands.

“When I joined the Centre there was 14 clients and five staff members. Today, 17 staffers assist 57 clients and that number is still growing.”

She has also seen the Centre move from a small location in the teacher’s cottage on the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School campus, to its current location. Since then the centre was enhanced with programmes including life skills training, music and art, vocational training and placement, and occupational therapy services.

At a policy level, Gordon sat on steering committees and planning teams in an effort to further the rights of persons living with disabilities. Her most recent involvement was with the Steering Committee for Planning the Future of Persons with Disabilities. Their mandate included proposing recommendations for a law which protects the rights of special-needs individuals.

The new director is no stranger to working with people with special needs individuals as she served as deputy principal and principal for the Lighthouse School. Having recently completed her third master’s degree – this one a clinical psychology qualification from Argosy University in Tampa, Florida – she is enthusiastic about her appointment, and committed to taking the Sunrise Adult Training Centre to new levels of service.

“I’ve always had a passion for working with persons with disabilities,” Mrs Smith noted, “I’m looking forward to working along with clients and their families, as well as staff and the Centre’s many stakeholders.”
Adding that there are still several individuals who are unable to benefit from the SRC’s programme because of space and location challenges she said, “The numbers have increased immensely, literally outgrowing the space we have available.”

As such, her priorities include revising programming and implementing relevant policies and procedures — and future development of a purpose-built facility.

“We have an awesome opportunity to be a shining model of quality services for the disabled,” she said. “As our clients transition from the Lighthouse School into our Centre, or into the world of work, we want to ensure that we are equipping them for the daily challenges they will face as adults within their communities.”


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Parole board admits mistake over release notice

| 02/11/2011 | 11 Comments

(CNS): A prisoner who should not be considered for release before 12 December next year was mistakenly informed  last month that he was about to be released after serving less than 6 years of his ten year sentence for rape of an underage girl and an assault on another woman. The inmate received a letter from the parole board on 19 October saying the remainder of his sentence was being remitted and steps were being taken to deport him back to his home country of Jamaica. The mistake was picked up the next day, officials said, and a new letter was dispatched to the Northward inmate telling him of the error and that he would be remaining in jail.

Officials explained that it was an administrative error and that Northward inmate Rono Orlando Henry was mistakenly informed that he had been granted parole. “Immediate action was taken the following day to rectify the mistake, and Mr Henry was then given the correct outcome,” government officials stated.

Henry was sentenced in the Cayman Islands Grand Court in December 2005 to a consecutive sentence of ten years for the rape of an underage girl and a separate charge of assaulting another female.

After serving five-ninths of his sentence, which is the official ratio that relates to serious offences, Henry became eligible for parole in October and his case was heard at the quarterly parole meeting in September. Given the circumstances of his case, however, officials noted that his earliest possible date of release would be December next year.

The review of his case included consideration of the sentencing recommendations, the Victim Impact Statement and related issues, and the board’s decision was to reschedule his case for review in June 2012.

On 19 October, Henry was inadvertently presented with an incorrect form-letter advising him that he’d been granted parole and that his sentence was being remitted with deportation.

“That administrative mistake was detected on the morning of the next day, 20 October by the other safeguards inherent to the parole process. Immediate action was then taken to correctly inform the inmate and to rescind the earlier letter. The prisoner was personally informed, and the correct decision letter given to him on morning of 21 October,” government stated.

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Protesters lack answers says former UK PM

| 02/11/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said those protesting against the financial industry may not have the answers to economic improvement. “I’ll tell you my problem with the Occupy Wall Street thing,” Blair said today in San Francisco at a conference for investment advisers held by Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) “A protest is not the same as a policy. Someone who’s demonstrating will often make demands, but they don’t necessarily have answers.” Demonstrators have camped out for about six weeks in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

They’ve inspired thousands to take to the streets from London to Tokyo to protest economic inequality and what they call corporate greed. Protesters say they represent “the 99 percent,” a nod to data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing the top 1 percent of earners saw inflation-adjusted, after-tax earnings increase by 275 percent from 1979 to 2007. Those with incomes in the bottom fifth saw an 18 percent jump.

Blair said he worries that if government tries to reform executive compensation, it may make the problem worse. Companies may be better able to align pay with achievement themselves, while government should be focused on creating jobs, he said. “What I learned in my time as prime minister is that those that shout loudest, don’t necessarily need to be heard the most,” Blair said.

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Hundreds of pounds of ganja recovered at sea

| 02/11/2011 | 34 Comments

(CNS): Police say that five men are in police custody and hundreds of pounds of ganja have been recovered following a pursuit at sea yesterday. Shortly after 2am on Tuesday, 1 November, officers aboard Marine Vessels Niven D and Tornado were conducting maritime border patrols along the south coast of the island. As they were checking the coastlines near the Pedro bluff area, officers observed suspicious activities at sea.   When they investigated what they initially thought might have been a transfer of contraband at sea, they saw a vessel speeding away.

The marine vessels contacted the helicopter for support and all three assets pursued the vessel as it headed out to sea. Parcels could be seen being thrown from the speeding vessel, which was subsequently interdicted after a short pursuit. This suspect vessel was then confirmed to be a Jamaican canoe. The five packages thrown overboard were all recovered from the water as well as some 45 that were still on board the vessel, police said.

Five males (all Jamaican nationals) are currently in custody along with the seizure of 785 pounds of ganja.

Officers from the Drugs & Serious Crimes Task Force are now actively conducting post investigations into the recovery and arrest of the five men as well as the involvement of other people.

The RCIPS is appealing to any persons who might have been fishing on land or out to sea near the area of this interdiction who may have seen other suspicious vessels or people leaving the area.     

Anyone with information should call 949-7710, the RCIPS confidential hotline 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Cops appeal to rape victims

| 02/11/2011 | 19 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of the arrest of suspected serial rapist Jeffrey Barnes on Tuesday police are appealing to anyone who may have been assaulted or approached by the 32-year-old George Town man who has not yet reported the incident to come forward. Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden said the police had every reason to believe that the four reports that have been made to them may not be the only incidents relating to Barnes, who is currently in police custody. Bodden explained that following the reports at the weekend from two rape victims and one 11-year-old girl who was approached by Barnes, police received a fourth report on Monday night from another possible victim. (Photo by Jasmine Jackson)

Bodden said the victim was a woman who was no longer in the Cayman Islands but who came forward and told police that she too had been raped by Barnes several days ago before she left the island.

The senior officer said that police were now following up the various reports and allegations made against the suspected rapist, who has not yet been charged, but Bodden said he was confident he was the “right guy” in connection with the incidents reported at the weekend.

He appealed to anyone else who may have been approached or even assaulted by Barnes or someone they think may be him to come forward as soon as possible.
In most cases of sexual assault in the Cayman Islands the victims are known to their attackers, the senior officer explained, adding that there are currently no locally reported but unsolved cases of stranger rape. DS Bodden said that did not mean, however, that there had not been more potential victims who, for whatever reason, have not come forward.

The officer also confirmed that on Saturday morning the report of Barnes approaching an 11-year-old girl came to the police at the same time as the report from a 49-year-old woman who said she had been raped in Admiral’s Landing. Bodden refuted accusations that the police handled the report of the approach to the young girl indelicately or were negligent, as the reports literally overlapped.

“We treat all victims with care and respect,” he said.

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Cayman banned for Filipino workers

| 02/11/2011 | 187 Comments

(CNS): Workers from the Philippines have been banned from coming to work in the Cayman Islands by that country’s government because it says the rights of its people are not protected. The Filipino government’s employment administration has issued an order, which was published on Wednesday, listing more than forty countries where its workers would no longer be deployed. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Filipino nationals are banned from working in the listed destinations until those countries improve the working conditions for its migrant workers to protect them from abuse.

The order says that "the State shall allow the deployment of overseas Filipino Workers only in countries where the rights of Filipino migrant workers are protected" and where there are existing labor laws and social laws protecting the rights of workers, including migrant workers or, among other conditions, the country has signed a bilateral agreementto protect it nationals with the government of the Philippines.

According to the new legislation, which was signed by Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, the Secretary of Labor and Employment, the country’s department of foreign affairs will now issue, through its foreign posts, certification to countries where Filipinos will beallowed to work, that specify the provisions of the receiving country's labour or social laws and policies.

The government has stated that Filipinos currently in banned countries will be allowed to remain until the end of their contracts but until the countries on the list enter into some form of agreement with the Philippines’ government or their protections are deemed to improve, no more workers will be deployed to the countries legally.

The government stated that at present 41 countries are not compliant, which includes several other overseas territories as well as the Cayman Islands. Although many of the countries listed do not employ large numbers of Filipinos, here in Cayman they make up the third largest group of imported workers and the ruling could have a significant impact.

At the end of 2010 there were 2,547 work permit holders from the Philippines in Cayman, according to the immigration website.

The country is one of the world’s major exporters of labour, with almost ten percent of its workforce going overseas and sending back remittances. But the government has been under mounting pressure to do more to protect Filipinos who work abroad. Now some critics say the new proposals could actually have the opposite effect by driving Filipinos to work illegally, with even fewer safeguards than they had before.

See order below and full list of banned countries.

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Suspect shooters arrested

| 02/11/2011 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Two men have now been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Andrew Baptist, police have confirmed. The suspected gunmen were taken into custody by officers during two early morning operations in West Bay and Newlands on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the RCIPS said that the men have both been arrested on suspicion of murder and enquiries into the gang related shooting continue. Baptist was the second victim to be gunned down in a spate of gang related killings in September when this year’s local murder toll leapt from zero to five in a space of eight days.

The West Bay man was shot multiple times by two masked men while sitting outside a property in Sand Hole Road on Thursday 15 September in what police believed was a resurgence of local gang feuds. Baptist was shot in the wake of the killing of 28-year-old Robert Bush, who was murdered on Tuesday 13 September while sitting in a car at the junction of Capts Joe and Osbert Road and Birch Tree Hill.

Baptist’s murder was followed by the fatal shooting of West Bay teenager Preston Rivers (18), who was also killed in the district on Saturday 17 September on Anderson Road.

The gang related shooting then moved to George Town, where 19-year-old Jason Christian was shot dead and Keith Montague was severely injured after both of them were targeted by masked gunmen while sitting in a van in Crewe Road on 20 September. Then, in the early morning hours of Thursday 22 September, police on patrol in East End found the gunned down body of Asher McGaw on John McLean Drive.

Faced with five murder enquiries in just over one week, the RCIPS called in support from the UK to assist with the investigation. Around twenty officers from forces across the northwest of England flew to Cayman last month to partner will local detectives with the aim of tracking down the shooters and securing enough evidence for convicitons. 

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UK football club signs Cayman teen

| 02/11/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): According to reports in the British press, Swindon Town, a football club in the west of England, has snapped up young Cayman soccer player Sebastian Martinez. The League Two club recruited Martinez, who is only 13, on an 18-month contract after a successful six-week summer trial. The attacking midfielder secured his move with the help of Cayman FA president Jeff Webb and the minister for sports, Mark Scotland, according to the UK tabloid The Mirror’s on-line football news magazine.

The whizkid's dad, Barry Martinez, told Mirrorsport, "It's a tremendous opportunity for him to advance his football abilities."

Martinez went over to the UK this summer, where he spent time with Fitzroy Simpson, the former Jamaican international footballer who now runs a coaching programme for promising youngsters.

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Drunks to face year in jail

| 02/11/2011 | 39 Comments

(CNS): A number of proposed changes to the criminal procedure and penal codes aimed at giving the police more powers to deal with gangs could also see ordinary members of the public who have had ‘one too many’ spending a year in jail or paying a hefty fine. The proposed legal changes, which were published this week, address both gang and public disorder issues but they also include tramps and drunks and give the police more powers and reasons to remove more people from the streets, especially at night. Government will be bringing the proposed laws to the country’s parliament in this month’s sitting, which also restrict public assembly. Although targeted at gangs, the amendments could encroach on regular public freedoms.

Tramps and drunks could face fines of $1000, up from $30, and instead of 30 days in jail, up to 12 months in prison.

The new laws propose increasing the custodial sentence for unlawful assembly from one year to three years and the custodial sentence for rioting from two years to four years. Clause 4 also increases the fine for refusing to accompany a constable exercising the power of search, from one hundred dollars to $2,000.

The bill is targeted at dealing mostly with gang problems and is an effort to make existing gang legislation more effective. While the changes define gang membership, increase penalties for it and the participation in gang related crimes, there are concerns that the new powers will not really address the problems of gang related violent gun crime, which they are aimed at, but could undermine broader public freedoms.

The amendments, if passed, would give the police the right to disperse public gatherings of any kind if a senior officer suspects anyone in the group to have harassed someone else. The changes are walking a fine line, some legal experts have stated, querying how effective they will be in addressing the real problem.

“These proposed amendments, like the proposed reversal of the onus of proof, will not assist in securing a better conviction rate,” said Peter Polack, one of the few local attorney’s willing to speak publicly about the issues that are causing widespread concern in the profession.

He added that improving police efficiency, the prevention of disappearance of crucial evidence like CCTV footage and promoting transparency and accountability in the RCIPS would go a lot further than these legislative amendments and increases in sentences.

“There is no empirical data in the Cayman Islands that shows an increase in sentences or the number of offences reduces crime,” the lawyer noted. “Knee jerk legislation cannot assist us at this time. We desperately need leadership, not more bureaucracy. These are amendments to complete the transformation of theCayman Islands to a police state and empower the RCIPS to utilise reasonable force, meaning violence, in trifling circumstances that will inescapably lead to more violence in the streets.”

Polack pointed to the estrangement of our youth from society, which now takes on a more sinister political character. He challenged the authorities to make policing more transparent  as he accused the governor of  retreating from “earlier promises of transparency and accountability,” and described recent police changes “as expensive high tech law enforcement window dressing” that was not producing results.

See new bills below.

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UK Tory MP backs tax havens

| 02/11/2011 | 0 Comments

(Daily Telegraph): A conservative MP has spoken out in defence of tax havens and against what he called "a one-sided debate that demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of their role in the global financial market". Mark Field sought to dismantle the arguments put forward by the likes of Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands, an exposé of the secret world of offshore tax havens, and NGOs such as Action Aid, who often present the world's problems as solvable through the retrieval of money supposedly siphoned offshore.  Field argued that UK corporate tax avoidance via international finance centres was lower than the £25 billion claimed and advised the UK government to think twice before imposing more regulation on these jurisdictions.

The UK, in fact, had much to thank offshore finance jurisdictions for, particularly those with which it has a constitutional relation through its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, said Field at the Sovereign Group seminar at the Caledonian Club last week.  In a reference to the UK's participation in the current G20 summit, Mr Field said: "The UK has a constitutional relationship with half ofthe top 30 offshore finance centres.

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