UK agrees on Constitution

| 06/02/2009

(CNS): Updated  Friday 1:55pm. The UK government has agreed to most of constitutional proposals presented by the Cayman delegation. Gillian Merron said today that she welcomes the draft constitution for the Cayman Islands. The UK Foreign Office Minister for Overseas Territories said she was delighted over what she described as the successful conclusion of the Cayman Islands Constitutional Talks. The third and final round of negotiations with the UK and the Cayman delegation took place in London this week chaired and hosted by Merron.

 “I am delighted that we have been able to work together to produce a draft new constitution for the people of the Cayman Islands, for whom this will be an important step forward,” Merron added. Despite the controversy and concerns of the Human Rights Committee on the limitations to the Bill of Rights Merron said she welcomed  its inclusion as a first step in raising awareness of and strengthening respect for and the protection of human rights.  “I congratulate the Cayman Islands delegation on their determination to secure the best deal for the people of the Cayman Islands, whilst retaining their links to theUK,” she said.

Minister Alden McLaughlin told CNS yesterday that the conclusion was an historic moment for the Cayman Islands. He explaind that all the outstanding issues had all been resolved largely in line with what was presented in the last constitutional draft.

Finally, after what has been a tortuous eight year struggle, we have a draft constitution which has been approved by the UK and, except for the HRC, by all stakeholders at the table. It will provide a modern constitutional framework which will serve Cayman well for many years to come,” he said.

He added that the late and controversial proposal by the opposition to constitutionalise a hiatus for senior civil servants leaving their post to run for elected office had been removed, not least because of the strong written representation by the Civil Service Association and the opposition’s agreement to withdraw the provision.

“We pretty much got what we asked for in the end,” McLaughlin said. “And more importantly, this is not a government document, this is as a joint effort. The opposition has contributed widely to the provisions in the document as have the other stakeholders.” He explained that they had succeeded in ensuring that an opposition member will also form part of the National Security Council (NSC), among other concessions.

He explained that yesterday’s talks began with just three outstanding issues — the bill of rights, the power of the NSC and the issue of consulting the CI government over the governor’s appointment. McLaughlin said that while the UK would not agree to consultation over the governor it was not something that the negotiations would have hung on.

“We got agreement that the Security Council would have decision making powers unless it would prejudice the UK,” he said, explaining that the council would be concerned with policy and governance of the police, not day to day operational issues or personnel.

He reported that Gillian Merron, the Overseas Territories Minister who chaired the talks, said it was quite clear that Cayman had worked very hard to create a unique bill of rights that met with the UK’s expectations and obligations but was a reflection of Caymanian concerns. Merron said it met the UK’s minimum expectations and in some cases exceeded them.

However, McLaughlin did acknowledge that the HRC still had very deep concerns about the non-discrimination clause in the bill, which was the only right which would not stand alone but apply only to the constitution. He said they also disagreed with the decision that the bill of rights is to be adopted with a preamble and with language that is to guarantee a wide range of citizen rights without specifying rights based on sexual orientation.

“Sarah Collins made a passionate and powerful submission,” McLaughlin said, adding that Merron noted the HRC’s valid concerns but pointed out that it was a first step and it opened the possibility for advancement in the future once a human rights culture had developed in the Cayman Islands.

According to reports in other media, Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush, although agreeing to the document, has said he did not think that it was the best deal for Cayman.

The final agreed document is expected to arrive on island sometime next week and will go before the people of the Cayman Islands at a referendum in May

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  1. Anonymous says:

    what a crock.

    if UDP still do not think we got what is best for Cayman: why are they agreeing to the document?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who invited two different church parties and not the NDC and Alcoholics Anonymous? I’m just guessing but I imagine we have have at least an equal amount of drunks and drug abusers as we have church goers these days so one would hope for equal representation…

  3. Dennie Warren Jr says:

    To: Anonymous on Fri, 02/06/2009 – 11:56,
     
    Why, in relation to Royal Instructions, should the actions of the Governor not be subject to judicial review?  Who is HE, a God?

    • Anonymous says:

      Dennie,

      We see eye to eye on the need for judicial review. I wasn’t really taking a position on Royal Instructions, but instead basing my comment on the content of the previous discussion draft and recognising that, particularly since there had apparently been no challenge to this by our negotiating team, it was unlikely to change. Personally, I believe Royal Instructions, Orders in Council etc. are rather anachronistic. I think though that they would distinguish Royal Instructions since they are not merely an act of the Governor but a decision of H.M. as a matter of prerogative. Unfortunately we will have to live with this sort of thing unless and until we change our colonial status.   

  4. Tim says:

    I think we are seeing some power plays that have all to do with the electoral role and who controls the biggest voting blocks in it. Consider the size of the civil service and the size of the churches, and you can get to the answer.

  5. Anonymous says:

    "If the view of the HRC had simply been adopted then, using your argument, you could say that wider Caymanian concerns were "ignored".  This is a balancing exercise."

    what is the basis for this statement?

    whose interests do these groups represent exactly? there were many other Caymanian groups that were not allowed to participate in the talks and the talks were kept secret. that means we are left to assume that these groups represented theirown interests. But who’s to say that they were not ALSO commenting on things which affected other groups – that were not there to speak for themselves. How is that balanced?? if somebody said something about me, and I am not allowed to defend myself, you will only take their side and end up with a document that affects EVERYBODY else.

    I do NOT trust PPM! or policitians! don’t know anything about the SDA or what they went there to discuss either.  We should just have blind faith in the Ministers? ha ha ha – have you heard some of the tripe that comes out of Rev. Sykes that I dont agree with: but I don’t know if he was talking supposedly on Caymanians behalf – and NEITHER DO YOU.

    No one does because the talks were secret!

    you said you were anxious to know a couple things – you are just as much in the dark as everybody else. but you sound so confidently to reply to me telling me "it was a balancing exercise" rubbish – but how are you supposed to know that when you wasnt there yourself.

    I just don’t trust ANY of them. the whole way it was kept secret tells me there was not above board.

    May 20 soon come!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Distrustful of Everybody,

      The answers to some of your questions seemed to be contained in the article itself and I was merely attempting to point them out to you. I regret that you found that so offensive and in turn thought it appropriate to be rude.

      You are of course right that not every group in Cayman was represented at the talks. On reflection I hope you will agree that that is not remotely possible or desirable.  However, what you cannot ignore is that the CMA and the SDA represent the views of a very substantial voting block of the population and they have been outspoken on these issues. They have not kept their views and positions a secret. Neither has the PPM, the UDP or the HRC, so in fact we should have a very clear picture of the representations that were made to the UK delegation. The balancing act I am referring to is therefore one between the views of the various groups represented.  Have everyone else been left unrepresented? No. You were represented by those in the PPM and UDP teams (with the exception of Mr. Solomon) whom you elected to represent you. That is the nature of representative government.  If you disapprove of their representation then (assuming you are registered voter) you have every right to vote them out of office and against the proposed constitution on May 20.     

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a political bargain

  7. Anonymous says:

    "Since the HRC’s concerns were accepted by the CIG and the FCO as valid, why were those matters ignored? Clearly there is something else going on between the churches and the Government, because this just does not make any sense".

    I think you missed the rest of the sentence:  "…but pointed out that it was a first step and it opened the possibility for advancement in the future once a human rights culture had developed in the Cayman Islands".  In other words they were not ignored but the door was left open for the issue to be revisited in the future. Note also that the Bill met with the UK’s expectations and obligations while meeting Cayman’s concerns.  If the view of the HRC had simply been adopted then, using your argument, you could say that wider Caymanian concerns were "ignored".  This is a balancing exercise.

    I am anxious to know (a) whether the governor will be obliged to act inthe interests of Cayman (consistent with H.M.’s interests) and (b) whether the governor’s actions will be subject to judicial review (with the exception of Royal Instructions).

     

  8. Anonymous says:

    Since the HRC’s concerns were accepted by the CIG and the FCO as valid, why were those matters ignored? Clearly there is something else going on between the churches and the Government, because this just does not make any sense.

    It is also interesting Civil Servants Association wrote one letter and got more results than all the reports written by the HRC and attorney Sara Collins made "a powerful submission". 

    having heard Sara speaking, it is very suspicious that the FCO would ignore her anyway and turn around and say that she had a point!  If she is right, she should be listened to!  We know we cannot trust these politicians to tell the whole story.

    personally I believe there was much more said and done tht we will never know, that’s why it was behind closed doors, to keep the public in the dark. if they werent giong to have it open to the public, that is why other groups should have been there to represent Caymanians human rights!