Archive for June 14th, 2012

Mac breaks more LA rules

| 14/06/2012 | 67 Comments

_DSC7922-web_0.jpg(CNS): According to the constitution, the Legislative Assembly should be prorogued by the governor at least once every twelve months but that deadline has now passed for this year. The sitting that has been called by the premier for Friday will be the last in this parliamentary year but it is already in breach of the constitutional requirement that the House is closed annually, Ezzard Miller told CNS this week. The brief meeting on Friday is to allow government to vote on carrying over legislative business not completed in this political year to the next, which, the independent member pointed out, was also incorrect. These breaches were just two more in a long line of rules governing the Legislative Assembly that the premier has ignored during his time in office, he said.

The independent member explained that the House began this current parliamentary year with the governor’s Throne Speech on 23 May 2011 and therefore the Legislative Assembly should have been prorogued before the 23rd of last month. However, it will not be closed until after the brief session on Friday 15 June, some three weeks past the deadline.

“We have received no notice of when the budget meeting will commence but we understand that the House is being called on Friday in order to allow government to vote to transfer unfinished business from the last meeting,” Miller said. “This is not usual practice. When business is not completed in a parliamentary year it usuallyfalls away and government starts over. Also, as parliament should have already been prorogued it is difficult to fathom how a meeting can be scheduled beyond what should have been the termination of the session.”

Miller added that throughout this administration the premier has broken dozens of rules and regulations relating to the Legislative Assembly, from ignoring the 21 day public consultation requirement on laws to stretching meetings out to prevent motions being filed and ignoring parliamentary questions.

After Friday’s meeting of parliament the next meeting will be the budget session, which will open with the government’s Throne Speech to be presented by the governor.

The date remains a mystery as a result of the government’s mounting difficulties in arriving at a balanced budget. Bush has said he aims to bring the budget next week, but other sources tell CNS this will be impossible. 

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AG points to forensics in face of witness intimidation

| 14/06/2012 | 3 Comments

_DEW2970-2.jpg(CNS): In the face of growing witness intimidation the Cayman Islands’ attorney general has pointed to the need for prosecutors to place a greater emphasis on forensic evidence in the justice system. Samuel Bulgin told a gathering of public prosecutors from around the region that there is a direct correlation between witness protection and the need for jurisdictions to enhance their forensic evidence gathering and analytical capabilities in order to address the challenges presented to law enforcement by the ever more brazen attitudes of criminals. He also warned the legal representatives of the people to guard their independence from political interference.

Speaking at the opening of the first ever Caribbean prosecutors workshop regional DPPs Workshop on Thursday morning which is being hosted by Cayman, Bulgin pointed to the direct threat to justice across the region posed by the flagrant attitudes of criminals for the process.

“Witnesses are being shot, threatened or otherwise intimidated by accused persons and those connected to them,” he said. “This is a growing problem in many of our Caribbean Islands. It follows that more and more persons are becoming reluctant to provide statements and testimony in criminal trials. The net result is that persons charged for violent crimes are often acquitted because of the reluctance of witnesses to testify against them, and the absence of forensic evidence to serve as corroboration.”

He added that the surest way of arresting the worrying trend was for criminal justice system to place less reliance on “eye witnesses” and depend more on forensic evidence.

Speaking about the mounting and diverse challenges faced by prosecutors he pointed not just to the reluctance of witnesses but even victims of crime to come forward and the greater “sophistication, transnational depth and the more brazen attitudes adopted by perpetrators of crimes, based on the ease with which they can arm themselves and equip their nefarious enterprises.”

Bulgin pointed out that prosecutors around the region were also dealing with the challenges with inadequate resources. “…Which, but for your continuing creative ways, could result in a dysfunctional criminal justice system,” the AG added.

He added that the workshop would help prosecutor find common cause in repelling those forcesthat, if left unchecked, would compromise regional justice systems as he pointed to the challenges coming from within the jurisdictions.

“For a democracy to thrive to its full potential, governments have to recognise that you need to maintain your full independence,” he said. “The concept of judicial independence can only be preserved if governments demonstrate deference to judicial offices such as the Office of the DPP. Quoting Sir Shridath he said Caribbean courts “at every level, must be manifestly free from political influence and be seen to be sturdy custodians of that freedom.”

Bulgin warned the public layers that they must remain independent in their decision making. “You should make all prosecution decisions in the interests of justice and should be free from all improper influence,” he said. “In doing so, you must strive at all times to be fair, transparent and accountable. That is: where desirable, you should explain your decisions and be prepared to account for the service which you deliver.”

He called on the prosecutors to weather the storm of public criticism with calm, dignity and self-assurance as the role of a prosecutor was indispensable.

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Red Stripe Stormchaser lives up to its name

| 14/06/2012 | 0 Comments

Stormchaser1 (207x300).jpg(CISA): The Cayman Islands Sailing Club hosted the 4th annual Stormchaser dinghy regatta on the weekend of June 9th and 10th. The Stormchaser regatta was introduced to mark the arrival of the Hurricane season and takes place in June every year. It is one of only two regattas held during the year where different classes of sailing boat sail together. Once again the weather didn’t disappoint for this year’s Dinghy and Cat Boat regatta. Strong winds and choppy seas tested both the resilience and the skills of the sailors. Saturday saw four races run and there was plenty of capsizing and equipment failure as the racers pushed themselves and their boats to the limits.

In the Laser fleet Raph Harvey showed why he is very much the man in form winning three out of four whilst Chris Delaney dominated the Laser Radial fleet as did Pablo Bertran in the Optimist fleet.

“The conditions were not easy and it was good to see the youth sailors coping with the extra wind and wave action” said Harvey. “A lot of people find their fitness levels challenged in stronger wind but they had the skills to adjust and preserve energy.”

On the Sunday the Cat Boats joined in the action. They too found the conditions challenging but Jerris Miller in Whittaker Cat showed how to handle them by sailing a fast but cautious race. The scratch team of Kelvin Browne, Andrew Moon and Mark Macfee, sailing Chisolm Cat seemed to be giving Miller a run for his money until disaster struck on the downwind leg. Helm Browne couldn’t deal with a “Death Roll” and the boat capsized and sunk leaving the club coach, commodore and ace sailor floating amidst the pieces of their boat. Fortunately the boat which had been loaned by the Catboat club was soon back in good shape and the sailors just a little wet.

“It was definitely a learning experience” said Coach Browne. “Everyone was ready for a Red Stripe after that.”

In the Lasers Harvey went on to win all three races taking the Championship with ease. Chris Delaney took second place overall with Charlie Grover sailing a steady regatta to take third. In the Optimists, Allena Rankine had been on Pablo’s tail in every race and she took two of the three races on day 2 but it wasn’t enough and Pablo took the championship by 3 points.

“I was exhausted by the end but it was a great sailing experience” said Bertran.
Dave Stephenson, the fleet rep for dinghies was quick to thank all those who made it such a successful event. “Race Committee once again ran the racing with true professionalism and our generous sponsors at Red Stripe gave the event a true regatta feeling once again.”

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Inmate escapee meets woman

| 14/06/2012 | 43 Comments

Prison gate (232x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Officials from HMP Northward have reported that a Category D prisoner who was working on outside detail close to the prison absconded for around one hour on Thursday morning at around 10am. The 28-year-old prisoner, who has been on the outside working team for several years, escaped from the area where he was working on the perimeter, close to the prison. He was intercepted by prison officers as he was returning to Northward by car with a woman. The prison director said that the “young lady who was in his company, driving the vehicle” was handed over to officers from the RCIPS.

The police confirmed that a female was arrested in the Northward area this morning in connection with the incident but have not stated on suspicion of which charges the woman has been detained. The prison has said that an enquiry into the temporary absconding by the low risk prisoner is now underway.

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Researcher to assist in development of gender policy

| 14/06/2012 | 0 Comments

Aubrey (1) (206x300).jpg(CNS): Following the passage of the legislation and the creation of Cayman’s first Gender Equality Tribunal (GET) that will hear and determine discrimination complaints under the Gender Equality Law (2011), the Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing has Aubrey Bodden in the dual role of Policy Officer and Tribunal Secretary. Working with the senior policy advisor, Tammy Ebanks the two officers will be working together on research and analysis, develop policy and offer advice to the community affairs ministry and wider government on gender issues.

The Minister responsible for gender affairs, Mike Adam, pointed to the on-going work of this policy area and in particular the goal to have international gender policy apply to Cayman.

“Government is still working towards having the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination extended to the Cayman Islands. The additional human resources dedicated to this area will assist the Ministry in improving our monitoring and evaluating practices, as well as in developing a more formal entity such as an Office of Gender Affairs.”  

Bodden worked in the Cabinet Office for almost four years, first as a Research Officer and then as Freedom of Information Policy Analyst, and started in her new gender affairs job last month.
Among Bodden’s duties will be the public educating campaign on the Gender Equality Law as well as providing administrative support to the GET.

A Cornell University graduate of government and history she is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management at the University of London. “I am very excited to contribute to the work of the Ministry and the Tribunal,” Bodden said. “My first weeks have already provided valuable insight into one of the social development issues our country faces.”

Chief Officer Dorine Whittaker said she was confident that Bodden’s experience in research and policy analysis would be an asset. “Aubrey’s past experience in providing administrative support will also assist the Gender Equality Tribunal function efficiently in its role to help ensure the enjoyment of equal treatment and opportunities for men and women in our society.”

If you (or someone you know) have reasonable grounds to show that you have been discriminated against on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy or gender in relation to employment matters, sexual harassment in the workplace, or in the provision of goods, services and facilities, a complaint can be made to the tribunal within six months from the date of the incident. To download a complaint form and to learn more about the Gender Equality Law, please visit

If there are any questions about filing a complaint with the Tribunal or requests for presentations on the Gender Equality Law, the public is encouraged to contact Bodden at 244-3226 or by e-mail at

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Local students join in worlds largest assembly

| 14/06/2012 | 0 Comments

_59391129_assembly-globe-sml (300x254).jpg(CNS): Kids from Clifton Hunter high school were part of a unique BBC event last month when they joined in the World's Biggest School Assembly. There are more than one billion children in school around the world and the goal was to give them all a chance to hear, as part of the BBC World Service conversation programme World Have Your Say. Over a 24 hour period, a platform was provided for schools across the globe to have their students’ debate and discuss what really matters to them. In Grand Cayman students from Clifton Hunter cited God, family, education and crime as their key concerns.

Each tutor group then voted to discover its major concern. The concerns went to a forum established to find a universal concern for the school that was shared during the assembly.   The year groups found different concerns to address with those in year 7 were concerned about family, friends and people in their lives as well as violence, crime and terrorism, while Year 8 students stressed the importance of family members and their relationship withGod.  For Year 9 students crime the changing society and a good education was at the forefront of their minds while year 10 students were concerned about the importance of having family to support them, and the need for racial and gender equality.

Paula Wythe, the ambassador behind the project, was very proud of her school’s participation in this event. “This was a fabulous opportunity for our students to get involved in a form of global citizenship and to make them more aware of issues in society locally and internationally.”

Education minister Rolston Anglin expressed his pride in the school’s participation in the global event. “This was a great opportunity for the Clifton Hunter students and one that allows them to feel empowered! I am pleased that the school was able to participate in this Assembly,” he said.

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CIMA regulatory system worked, says IMAC

| 14/06/2012 | 0 Comments

10165959 (235x300).jpg(CNS Business): In the wake of news that a former manager at a Cayman registered insurance firm is facing some 18 charges in connection with fraud, theft and deception the local Insurance Managers Association has claimed the crime was exposed because of the local regulatory system. David Self is accused of stealing more than US $1million and has been charged with a variety of financial crimes which allegedly led to the collapse of Monkton Insurance. The IMAC said Wednesday that news of the crime was not welcome it illustrated that the regulatory environment had performed in exactly the way it should in bringing the alleged fraud to the attention of the authorities. (Read more on CNS Business)

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Sir Thomas Turtleton becomes global celebrity

| 14/06/2012 | 11 Comments

Sir Thomas - Helping hands (237x300).jpg(CNS): The 600lb adult turtle that was released after more than 30 years in captivity at the Cayman Turtle Farm has become an international celebrity. Sir Thomas Turtleton, who was satellite-tagged and released to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, was featured in news stories all over the world in the days following his release. The world is now watching as Sir Tom continues on an incredible migration. Once in the ocean, the turtle, which is estimated to be around sixty years old, headed south and is currently close to the border of Nicaragua. Despite being confined to the farm for three decades, Sir Thomas has travelled over 500kms since his release.

"Sir Thomas spent several decades in the wild honing his survival and foraging skills before becoming a breeder at the Cayman Turtle Farm,” Cayman Turtle Farm Chief Research Officer, Dr Walter Mustin said, adding that he expected those skills had remained intact.  “Two decades of CTF tagging studies have demonstrated that even farm raised yearlings, raised on artificial feed and then released to the wild, successfully transition to wild diets, grow, migrate, mature, return to Cayman to mate and nest, and survive.  Sir Thomas’ present track suggests that his migratory and survival skills are fully functional.”

Cayman Turtle Farm Managing Director Tim Adam explained that turtles spend a lot of time in either their feeding range sometimes called their foraging range or their breeding range where females lay their eggs. 

“Those two areas may be spread many hundreds of miles apart,” Adam said.  “As we are now in the midst of breeding season for Green Sea turtles, it is possible that Sir Thomas Turtleton has chosen this area of the Caribbean around Central America as his breeding range.  Another interesting observation on his track is that for just about all of his migration path he was swimming perpendicular to the main sea currents, so that may have been a factor in his choice of initial destination.”

As of Wednesday morning the 600-plus pound male Green Sea Turtle was just off the coast of Honduras above the Nicaraguan border. Sir Thomas Turtleton began his southbound migration from Grand Cayman at around 11:00am EST on 3rd June.

His movements are being monitored as part of the Cayman Turtle Farm’s “Tag and Track” release programme, which was inaugurated earlier this year with the release of “Jerry” – the Cayman Turtle Farm’s first satellite-tracked turtle.

Sir Thomas Turtleton was originally caught near Suriname, South America, in the 1970s which may be where he is heading. The team at the Cayman Turtle Farm will use the data sent by the turtle tracker as signs that he has successfully survived the re-introduction to the wild, and scientists, both at the Farm and in other research organisations around the world, can view and assess the turtle's migration path.

Updates on Sir Thomas Turtleton’s progress will also be regularly posted on the Cayman Turtle Farm Facebook page, at or his migration or can be followed on the Sea Turtle website

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Scott finally gets top tourism job

| 14/06/2012 | 0 Comments

Shomari Scott, Director of Tourism, DOT (220x300).jpg(CNS Business): After acting in the post form more than four years Shomari Scott has finally been appointed as the Director of Tourism. Officials said he was appointed to the post after succeeding in the interview process at the end of May and started officially on 1 June. As a marketing expert, Scott has been credited with improving the stay-over tourism figures with innovative promotions of the Cayman Islands overseas. Scott has been working in the tourism sector since he was a teenager when he began working in his college holidays in the sector and realized he wanted to put his marketing skills to use in the industry. Read more on CNS business

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Budget not balanced

| 14/06/2012 | 68 Comments

2+25 (265x300).jpg(CNS): Despite being only two weeks away from the end of the financial year, the government is struggling to balance the budget and may face a shut-down from midnight on 30 June unless it enacts some form of emergency legislation to enable it to pay bills. Government’s earning and spending plans should go to the UK three weeks before they are presented to the public and the Legislative Assembly. However, the 2012/13 budget has not yet gone to FCO officials, and despite claims by the premier that he will deliver the budget next week, sources tell CNS this will not be possible as the UK is unlikely to approve the current financial projections.

According to the three year plan, which McKeeva Bush signed with the UK in 2010 in order to gain approval for borrowing after the government fell afoul of the public finance law, it was forecast to have reached a surplus this year of $60 million. Instead, the Cayman government is facing yet another deficit of significant proportions. Bush, in his capacity as finance minister, has spoken about the need to cut $130 million from the first budget requests submitted by government departments.

As this financial year ends it is estimated that government is facing a deficit of over $40 million, despite having predicted a surplus when the budget was presented in June last year. Now the UDP administration is facing the prospect of significant cuts to public spending as it moves into its last fiscal year before a general election.

It is not year clear how large a deficit Bush intends to put to the UK but sources have confirmed that the budget does not balance.

With the year-end deadline just two weeks away, there is not enough time for government to gain approval from the UK and pass the appropriations law. According to the Financial Framework Agreement signed by Bush and the OT minister last year, the FCO must see the Cayman government’s budget at least three weeks before the minister of finance is due to present it to the country. With the UK minister, Henry Bellingham, now travelling overseas and the likelihood of the budget being rejected by the FCO technocrats, Bush could be facing a serious fiscal crisis.

Even when London is finally satisfied, government still needs time to present the approved budget documents for debate in the Legislative Assembly and the public arena, allow Finance Committee to examine the proposed spending plans, make necessary amendments to the bill and then pass the appropriations law — all before midnight on 30 June. If that does not happen, government will have no legal authority to spend any money, pay salaries or meet any financial obligations. As a result, it will need to pass new or change existing laws relating to financial management to enable government to appropriate funds to keep the public sector going.

The member for North Side told CNS that this was an appalling state of affairs for the country and was down to the incompetence of the government, as he made the point that the most important thing the elected government must do every year, if it does nothing else at all, is put together the budget.

“This is an unbelievable way to run a country that claims to be the fifth largest financial services centre in the world,” Ezzard Miller said. “A little less travelling and a little more at home time for the finance minister may have helped. After all, he is the one who must present the budget to the public and the LA but that is hard to do from Honduras, Panama or London,” the independent member said as he pointed to the extensive travelling the premier has undertaken over the last few weeks when the budget should have been his priority.

Miller said he believed that because of theway Bush runs the government nothing gets done without his OK, so the civil servants who have been trying to pull government’s spending plans together have been stalled in his absence.

“As minister of finance he should realise the budget requires a lot more from him than a couple of days to just sign off,” Miller told CNS. He said he expected civil servants would be blamed for the difficulties ahead when it should be squarely placed at the feet of the premier.

Miller explained that there is no legislation at present that can allow government to spend money if it does not pass the appropriations law before the year end during an existing term of office. He said that while provision exists for a new government to appropriate a three month spending plan in the wake of an election based solely on the previous year, this does not extend to an existing administration.

“Government will need to pass a law or amend the PMFL. We know this administration has had no problem amending laws to suit it but it will still need some legislation otherwise it will not have the legal authority to spend a signal dime come midnight June 30th,” the independent member warned.

Miller said he understood that the budget was still, at the eleventh hour, a complete disaster, having gone before Cabinet on Tuesday, but government had little chance of gaining approval from the FCO. This, he said, meant that there was probably still weeks of work to do to try and balance the books, placing government in an untenable position and making a mockery of claims by the UDP administration of success with the management of public finances.

See original three year plan proposed by the UDP in 2010 and agreed with the FCO as a way forward to address public finances here.

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