Final effort to query Constitution

| 15/05/2009

(CNS): Following the rejection of the Equality Cayman’s petition asking the government for a choice in the referendum, the group has now shifted gears and in the final run-up to Election Day on 20 May, it is now focusing on the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ choice on the Referendum on the Draft Constitution. The grassroots organization opposes the proposed Constitution because it says the Bill of Rights included does not protect the people from discrimination. Members of the group will be at various locations around the island over the next few days and will take part in a special edition of “Talk Today” on Radio Cayman the day before elections.

Equality Cayman (EQCI) volunteers will be at Hurley’s Supermarket on Saturday, 16 May, from 8am to 1pm, where they will be encouraging the public to submit questions for the talk show next Tuesday, 19 May. The group will also be on hand at Kirk’s supermarket on Tuesday, from 5pm until 8pm, to encourage voters to voice their views by voting on the referendum when casting their votes for the general election.

In a release, the group says that while its initialobjective was to draw attention to the lack of human rights protections included in the new constitution’s Bill of Rights and to ask the government to include the choice for more widespread protection against discrimination in the current draft, it has now taken on the primary focus of helping voters understand the pros and cons of voting yes or no on the referendum ballot on 20 May.

Equality Cayman collected approximately 700 signatures over the course of the three and a half weeks, which it presented to the leader of government business prior to the closing of the Legislative Assembly on 24 March. As they gathered signatures, the group says their volunteers were overwhelmed by the number of petitioners who also voiced concern over their lack of understanding of the document and apprehension over other sections beyond section 16 on non-discrimination.

“The outpouring of support and requests for assistance and information received by the group made it clear that it was necessary to define long term goals to ensure that we could achieve the desire on the part of many Caymanians and residents of our country to ensure that we have a society built on the ideals of fairness and equality,” explains EQCI spokesperson Katrina Jurn.
Those goals will be announced following the referendum given that the outcome of the votes cast is necessary to determine that the organization’s goals resonate with the people’s needs.

Until then, Equality Cayman urges the people of the Cayman Islands to visit their table at Hurley’s Supermarket on Saturday, 16 May, between 8am and 1pm, send their questions to, log on to, and tune into Radio Cayman on Tuesday, 19 May, starting at noon to listen to the “Talk Today” discussion on the new draft constitution.

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Category: Election 2009

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  1. Sick and Tired of Party Politics says:

    Vote NO!

    I am listening to Radio Cayman and my mind is now made up. NO NO NO

    It is quite unfortunate that this process was included during an election period because there is too much misinformation being thrown about to suit special interests groups instead of the what’s in the best interest of the people of these islands. My understanding of the discussion today:


    1) England will NOT be forcing a constituition down our throats if we vote no tomorrow.

    2) It will not be so easy to change this half a**ed document as previously mentioned. Currently a simple majority is required ie majority of the participating electors however under the new constitution a majority(51%) of the registered(~15k) electors will be required.

    3) This is NOT a PPM document so voting yes on the draft constitution is not a yes to PPM nor does it mean a no to UDP either; this is not a political document this is the people’s document.

    4) We need to ensure that we get the BEST document as possible and not just settle for what is being crammed during our throats.

    5) Contrary to Mr. Mcfield’s opinion the CMA,Opposition, Government and Chamber of Commerce DOES NOT reflect MY view and cannot speak on MY behalf!!!!!! I have MY say and how dare he try to take it away by saying we have already agreed because the above mentioned special interest groups have spoken on our behalf.


    MY vote is NO!!!




    • Olivaire Watler says:

      As one of the panelists on the Talk Today Radio Show yesterday I have to say that although I did not get the opportunity to express this, I certainly disagree with the views expressed by Mr. Mitchell (?) of Anguilla that there is no risk of a Bill of Rights being imposed by the UK should Cayman ultimately (not necessarily today) fail to decide upon adopting a modernized Constitution. Note that I make an important distinction between the Bill of Rights and the rest of the draft Constitution which relates to the exercise of power by the various organs of government (The Governor, Cabinet, etc) and determines the status of our relationship with the UK.

      Again, the basis for my views is that the Bill of Rights is intended to fulfil the UK’s international human rights obligations in respect of the territory and the UK has previously demonstrated its readiness to unilaterally implement changes to our laws which impact upon those obligations e.g. the Orders in Council in relation to abolition of capital punishment and laws criminalising homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. Mr. Mitchell based his view on the alleged fact that in the 1999 White Paper the UK had pledged never to make any changes to the constitutions of its Overseas Territories without the consent of the respective people of those territories.

      I have now re-visited the White Paper and I am afraid I have searched in vain for evidence of such general pledge being made. However, I was able to find a pledge that Britain will not force independence (or any other change in constitutional status) upon any territory. This is of course entirely consistent with the distinction that I made above.

      The White Paper was introduced in the House of Commons with the following statement:

      The United Kingdom accepts its responsibility for the defence of the Overseas Territories and for their international representation. In return, we have to insist on the governments of the Overseas Territories fulfilling their obligations to meet the standards of international organisations in which the United Kingdom represents them. There are two issues which are of priority in meeting those obligations.

      The first is to match the best international standards in financial regulation….

      The second area of priority is in human rights. Those Overseas Territories that choose to remain British must abide by the same standards of human rights and good governance that we demand of ourselves. We require our Overseas Territories to maintain legislation that fully complies with the European Convention on Human Rights, and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United Kingdom is a party.

      The areas specifically identified at that time as "priority" were judicial corporal punishment, capital punishment and laws criminalising homosexual acts between adults in private. These were subsequently effected in the Territories by means of Orders in Council. There is nothing in Britain’s statement or the White Paper to suggest that its international human rights concerns are confined to these areas. Like in the arena of financial regulation we may well find that new goals are set as soon as the previous goals are accomplished. 

      I am afraid that I must therefore respectfully disagree with Mr. Mitchell’s assessment as I do not find it to be founded upon the White Paper as he suggested, and confirm my position (which is founded on the White Paper) that  sooner or later we do run the risk of a Bill of Rights being imposed by Order in Council if we cannot agree upon one. 

      Olivaire Watler, attorney-at-law