Archive for July 25th, 2013

Charity centre calls on lawyers to help with caseload

| 25/07/2013 | 64 Comments

(CNS): The Legal Befriender Service is in dire need of lawyers to help the centre provide critical legal assistance to those in need. In recent weeks it has seen a decline in the lawyers available to provide the service but its clients are consistently require assistance. There are some 500 registered lawyers in the Cayman Islands and while they are expected to do some form of pro bono work they are under no obligation to do so. The service provides information and guidance to individuals facing difficult situations, free of charge. It has strong support from the judicial administration and with the Chief Justice actively promoting the involvement of attorneys in pro bono work the charity is hopeful that it can attract at least a few pairs of legal hands from those on island.

The charity support group was established by the Business & Professional Women’s Club but it is now coordinated by the Family Resource Centre

“In the last few months, there has been a decline in lawyers available to provide the service, but clients steadily require assistance,” spokesperson said as she asked for the help of the legal community.

This service provides information and guidance to individuals facing difficult situations, free of charge. It has strong support from Judicial Administration and the Chief Justice wishes to actively promote the involvement of attorneys in pro bono work.

Contact the Family Resource Centre to learn how you can help via email: frc@gov.ky, phone: 949-0006 or visit www.facebook.com/familyresourcecentre
 

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Third local primary school achieves IB status

| 25/07/2013 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Prospect Primary School has become the latest Cayman Islands government school to achieve International Baccalaureate (IB) Authorization in the Primary Years Programme (PYP). Joining Sir John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay and Savannah Primary School, Prospect is now the third school to achieve what was described by officials as a prestigious accomplishment. These three schools are the only government schools in the Caribbean Region that are IB authorised.  “The fact that we have not one but three schools that have earned this distinction is really worth celebrating,” Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler said.

Following the designation last month, Wahler said it was the outcome of efforts to encourage excellence and to give all students access to high-quality education.

Principal Gloria Bell explained what it meant to the school to achieve the IB approval.

“Using the IB framework to deliver the National Curriculum has certainly contributed to the success of Prospect Primary producing well rounded, globally minded students. The programme allowed us to focus on developing the whole child, touching hearts as well as minds and encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development,” she said. “During the 5 year journey we have seen parents, staff and students work collaboratively to develop attitudes and values that will enhance and enrich life in the Cayman Islands.”

Despite some drawbacks, Bell said the school never lost focus, and under the direction of Charmaine Bravo, the PYP Coordinator, the school rigorously implemented the programme. The Primary Years Framework is the tool whereby students are able to effectively access learning and make meaningful contributions to their society, she said.

“We are all ecstatic about this achievement but we know that this is just the beginning.  We look forward to the continued delivery of the national curriculum through this framework as we work towards verification in the next four years,” Bell said.

Each IB World school has a PYP Coordinator who ensures that the school achieves the necessary goals and requirements to be authorised and that after authorisation the school continues to meet the standards of the IB programme. 

Bravo, who has directed Prospect Primary’s programme, said the dedication and enthusiasm of students, principal and staff, the parent body and the wider community were all contributing factors in the achievement.

“The International Baccalaureate framework embodies the facets of what it means to be Global Citizens. This initiative will not only propel our students but will enhance the social and intellectual fabric of the Cayman society,” Bravo added.

Education minister, Tara Rivers offered her support and congratulations.

“Many congratulations to Prospect Primary on being authorised as an IB World School.  I am an advocate for and I believe in the International Baccalaureate programme and philosophy,” she said. “I am delighted to see that a growing number of our government schools are recognised on an international level and meet international standards. This is just another step in improving our education system and I look forward to our other primary schools reaching IB authorisation in the PYP.”

The IB website states that the PYP addresses students’ academic, social and emotional well-being, it encourages students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning, supports students’ efforts to gain understanding of the world and to function within it, and helps students establish personal values as a foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish. The age range for the PYP is 3-12 years.

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Cop accused of buying numbers in GT store

| 25/07/2013 | 43 Comments

(CNS): The RCIPS has confirmed that the Professional Standards Unit is investigating an allegation of a police officer purchasing illegal numbers at a store in George Town. Sources tell CNS that a witness reportedly observed a white male officer from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service in a shop buying illegal numbers on Thursday afternoon. The witness reportedly took note of the incident and copied down the officer’s license plate at the location, which is believed to be in the Smith Road area.  Although all forms of gambling are illegal in the Cayman Islands, the so-called numbers game, which is based on regional lotteries and sold ‘under the counter’ in many local shops acrossthe islands, is believed to be worth millions of dollars annually.

The police have refused to comment on the accusations which were reported to the RCIPS yesterday. "We can confirm that we have been made aware of the allegation and it has been passed to our Professional Standards Unit. It would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this stage," a police spokesperson said.
 

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Burglar hit with machete

| 25/07/2013 | 134 Comments

(CNS) Updated: Some 24 hours after the police revealed that burglaries were their main priority, it appears that a homeowner has turned on a group of burglars that tried to steal from his home today and injured at least one of them. At about 11:30 this morning, a car with three men inside approached a home in Sandy Ground Road, Savannah. One of the men left the car, broke a window of the house and then entered the building. However, the householder was home and he confronted the suspect and struck him with a machete, police have said the would-be burglar who sustained head injuries ran off but it is not known if he left on foot or re-entered the car, which is believed to be a green Honda Integra.

All three men are said to have dark skin and were wearing ‘construction attire’. It is not clear at this stage just how seriously the suspect was injured, but it is suspected  that he will require medical attention for his wounds. Police also said that the man's clothing would also be heavily blood-stained.

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time and saw the green Honda or the suspect approaching or leaving the house is asked to contact Bodden Town CID.

The public are also asked to contact the police if they are aware of a colleague, friend or family member who has sustained injuries consistent with being hit by a machete.

Information can be passed to Bodden Town police station 947-2220, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777, or Crime Stoppers on  800-8477 (TIPS).

Releasing the crime statistics for the first six months of 2013 yesterday, the RCIPS had pointed to the worrying increase in day time burglaries and break-ins plaguing the island and stated that they were increasing patrols and proactive policing.

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Bosses encouraged to support breast-feeding at work

| 25/07/2013 | 42 Comments

(CNS): As part of this year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Week, health officials are encouraging local employers to help support the feeding mums on their staff by providing appropriate environments in which women can feed their babies in the workplace. Experts say the road to successful breast feeding for mothers comes with support from those around them, including their employers. With the many benefits and importance of breast feeding recognized the world over, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action will be marking the 21st anniversary of the annual campaign to focus global action on protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding on peer support and peer counselling.

Support, experts say, comes from many people and places, but particularly important for mothers today is support from their bosses and colleagues. Peer support was first introduced at the WABA Global Breastfeeding Partners Meeting in 2010 but the concept has been around for much longer.

“Fifty-six years ago, seven breastfeeding mothers realised that their abilities to breastfeed their own infants, came from being provided with information, education and emotional support from each other,” WBW Global Coordinator Anne Batterjee said. “They believed that so many other mothers who longed to breastfeed could be enabled to do so, if only those around them, their peers, had the knowledge and skills to be supportive.”

The week begins on 1 August and in the Cayman Islands the focus will be on encouraging employers to create breastfeeding friendly environments for mothers in the workplace.

The Health Services Authority’s (HSA’s) Nutritionist Simone Sheehan notes that staff at the Cayman Islands Hospital supports the message of early and exclusive breastfeeding with the introduction of appropriate complimentary feeding at around six months of age.

“We are consistently stepping up our efforts in relaying this message to mothers of new born infants,” she said, adding that while breastfeeding is a learned behaviour, the journey to practising it successfully begins with the support of families, healthcare providers, employers, and, by and large, the community.

This year’s theme is based on what is known as the five Circles of Support for Mothers and Children. These “circles” reflect potential factors that influence whether breastfeeding mothers have a positive breastfeeding experience. They are formally categorised as: Family and Social Network, Healthcare, Workplace and Employment, Government/ Legislation and Response to Crisis or Emergency.

Officials said that the Cayman Islands has many resources to support breastfeeding families. Each new mother is given an information packet which includes helpful tips and resources. They also receive a contact list of group members whom they are encouraged to call with questions or concerns. These volunteers are experienced mothers or health care professionals. Anyone needing support can contact 244-2648. 

Expectant mothers are also sensitized about breast feeding and its importance to both mother and baby, as well as other issues relating to pregnancy and lactation, through Parent craft classes held at the Cayman Islands Hospital, every Monday at 5:30 pm.

During WBW celebrations, a breast feeding cafe is being organised for mothers and their babies to facilitate mutual support and peer counselling. This will be held at the Women’s Health Courtyard, Cayman Island Hospital on 2 August from 10am-11am. The Cayman Islands breast feeding support group and the Women’s Health Centre invite pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to join in the celebration of this event.

For more information on Breastfeeding Week, Parent Craft classes and other activities planned for new mothers during the month of August, call Simone Sheehan on 244-2655. 

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West Bay ladies win round 1

| 25/07/2013 | 110 Comments

(CNS): The attorney general’s office aborted its motion to strike out a law suit filed against government by four West Bay women in connection with the closure of the West Bay Road, when the parties appeared before Justice Alex Henderson on Thursday. The decision by the AG's office not to try and fight the validity of the case has brought a welcome boost for the ladies, who were expecting to fight to keep their case alive this morning. Instead, a trial date has now been set in December, when a judge will consider the women’s claims and decide if the so-called NRA agreement between government and local developer, Dart Realty, is unlawful on a number of grounds. 

The case will now be heard in the Grand Court for at least three days, beginning on 11 December, the first available date in the court’s packed schedule.

With the AG’s office changing its mind about arguing that the case had no merit and should be struck out, the judge moved on to the management of the case and pointed to the public interest in the case as he directed the lawyers to find an early trial date. 

“This should have some priority given to it,” Justice Henderson stated.

Directing when the parties needed to complete pleadings, submissions, affidavits, evidence and witness summons, he also set a case management conference for the first week in October to ensure that all parties would be on track for the December file.

Following the withdrawal of the AG’s motion to strike out the case, Henderson also awarded costs to the West Bay women for their preparation to fight the AG’s motion. The attorney representing the AG’s office said that, given the circumstances, he could not 'resist the application for costs with any vigour". As a result, the public purse will be footing the bill for the AG’s threat to strike out the case, followed by a U-turn and decision instead to go to trial.

Alice Mae Coe, Annie Multon, Ezmie Smith and Betty Ebanks were delighted that that AG had thought better of his attempts to have their case thrown out. The women all stated that they felt this demonstrated that their case had merit and they were looking forward to pressing their case at trial.

According to the writ filed by the woman in February last year, the woman say that the governor, who is the first defendant, the attorney general, the minister of finance and the National Roads Authority acted unlawfully, as the deal they are all party to is unconstitutional .

Since the women filed their legal claim, a number of changes have occurred, not least a change in the administration, and the minister of finance, in particular, made it clear before the election that he did not support the deal.

In addition, since the claim was filed a part of the stretch of road in question has now been closed and Dart has started talks with the new administration over the deal which was stalled following disagreements between the developer and the former minority government when it attempted to re-balance the deal as recommended by local consultants to try and gain value for money for the public.

Related article on CNS with the original writ filed in February:

Road activists turn to courts

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The Splits now all in National Trust hands

| 25/07/2013 | 5 Comments

(CNS): One of the most pristine areas of Cayman Brac, a unique inland freshwater ecosystem known as The Splits, is now protected in all its natural beauty thanks to a second donation to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands by its former owners. The family of the late Dr Roy Herrman and Estelle Herrman has given 8.6 acres to the Trust to add to the adjoining 17.5 acres they gifted in 2004. Both donations, totalling 26.1 acres, were facilitated by the International Reptile Conservation Fund. The limestone Bluff, which runs along the length of the island, has a “split” down its centre, in some places so narrow it can be stepped across. However, at The Splits, in the West End of the island, it is at its widest and the deep natural fissure provides one of the few year-round sources of water to the birds and animals of the Brac.

The Splits is an area of ecological significance as it is a nesting site for two species of heron, home to two endemic species of freshwater fish and a popular watering hole for local and migratory birds.

“In fond memory of our parents, Dr Roy and Estelle Herrman, we gift our Cayman Brac land to the Trust to help maintain a pristine home for rare birds and animals,” the Herrman sisters, Shirley, Barbara, Louise, and Carol, said in a written statement to the Trust. “We have very fond memories of time spent on Cayman Brac and the white sandy beach overlooking sparkling blue water, and this is our way of giving back to such a beautiful island.”

"Conserving this land is critical for preserving the beauty and biodiversity of our islands and the Splits is one of Cayman Brac’s true ecological gems being one of the very few inland sites with freshwater year round. With the exception of a rough footpath from the north, the site is undisturbed and contains many endemic and native plants,” Christina McTaggart, executive director for the Trust, said. “We thank the landowners for their generosity and vision in permanently protecting this natural treasure.”

For more information on the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, log on to www.nationaltrust.org.ky or call 749-1121.

For free nature tourism guides on Cayman Brac visit www.naturecayman.com or call (345) 948-2222 ext. 4420 (w) or (345) 916-8457(c), or email Chevala.Burke@gov.ky or naturecayman@gov.ky.

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Arctic methane ‘time bomb’ could have huge costs

| 25/07/2013 | 8 Comments

(BBC): Scientists say that the release of large amounts of methane from thawing permafrost in the Arctic could have huge economic impacts for the world. The researchers estimate that the climate effects of the release of this gas could cost $60 trillion (£39 trillion), roughly the size of the global economy in 2012. The impacts are most likely to be felt in developing countries they say. Scientists have had concerns about the impact of rising temperatures on permafrost for many years. Large amounts of methaneare concentrated in the frozen Arctic tundra but are also found as semi-solid gas hydrates under the sea.

Previous work has shown that the diminishing ice cover in the East Siberian sea is allowing the waters to warm and the methane to leach out. Scientists have found plumes of the gas up to a kilometre in diameter rising from these waters.

In this study, the researchers have attempted to put an economic price on the climate damage that these emissions of methane could cause. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, even though it lasts less than a decade in the atmosphere.

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Royal couple settle on George for future king

| 25/07/2013 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced that they will be naming their son George Alexander Louis and the third in line to the throne will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. The royal couple announced the baby’s names on Wednesday evening in London and have as predicted by the pundits chosen to stick with very traditional royal names. There have already been six British monarchs called George – the last being the Queen's father, George VI. Louis is also a favourite and was the name of Lord Mountbatten, the uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh.

George was the most popular name with betting firms William Hill, Coral and Paddy Power.

The announcement came just one day after the duchess left hospital and two days after she gave birth, and hours after the Queen met her great-grandson for the first time. This was the first time in more than a century a reigning monarch met a great-grandchild born in direct succession to the crown when Elizabeth II was introduced to Prince George.

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Catron to fight DPP over harassment case

| 25/07/2013 | 2 Comments

(CNS): A local activist has pleaded not guilty to using an ICT network to harass or annoy, in a controversial case in which she will be defending herself before a jury. Sandra Catron recently won a major victory in an ongoing battle to have the charges dropped when Justice Alex Henderson threw the warrant out used to search Catron’s home and office at the time of her arrest. The JP who signed the warrant admitted to not having a clue what he was signing or why, which has led to a change in RCIPS policy regarding warrants. However, although the arrest was declared unlawful and the fact that Catron is now pursuing a damages claim in connection with it, the crown is still pursuing criminal charges against her.

Catron has denied the allegations, in which she is accused of sending harassing texts, and has indicated that she intends to fight on. So far, despite not being a fully qualified lawyer, she has been able to hold her own against the public prosecutors in several cases in the courts, from a fight over a lost dog to allegations regarding damage to property in connection with a dispute between her and a former landlord. On each occasion Catron has won the legal battles and she is hoping to do so again with the latest charges.

The crown served Catron, who is from Newlands, in Bodden Town, with her legal documents Friday, which included a list of 21 names to be called as witnesses. Crown counsel Elizabeth Lees suggested that it would take approximately two weeks to complete the trial, should all of these witnesses need to be called. However, the judge has ordered the crown to reconsider the time period and the number of people to be called and adjourned the case to give the parties time to reconsider.

In a further twist, Catron recently established a Facebook page to name and shame local sex offenders following her ongoing campaign to try and get the authorities to create a formal register. As a result, she has found herself the subject of yet another police investigation as they say that the page oversteps the boundary of the law, which prohibits the publication of any details regarding sex offender cases that may identify the victim.

This element of the law has caused significant controversy because of the size of the jurisdiction. In many cases of sexual abuse, especially with young children, the perpetrator is often a relative or in a relationship with a relative, which means naming the offender can easily lead to the identification of the victim.

As a result of efforts to protect vulnerable victims, many people who have committed sexual offences against children have remained protected from the normal naming and shaming that other convicted criminals in the islands have endured. Catron has fought in vain for years to address the issue as she believes many young victims are vulnerable to sexual predators because their identity is inadvertently protected.

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