Archive for November 26th, 2009

Cops investigating their own

| 26/11/2009 | 24 Comments

(CNS): The police commissioner has said that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) is establishing its own anti-corruption satellite unit, which will look into the allegations made against police offices during the Operation Cealt investigation. Using that information as a spring board, he said, within six months action could be taken to exonerate or charge officers in the service if enquiries prove that any of the allegations are true. David Baines (left) said that some of the allegations are of a very serious and criminal nature, but he also noted that the accusations were easy to make but difficult to prove.

Giving evidence on what he knew about the Special Police Investigation’s Operations Tempura and Cealt and the spending on those enquiries, he told the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday that he would no longer require extraordinary payments for this area of police work. He said that once the subsequent disciplinary hearings and legal cases associated with the UK team were settled, the spin-off investigations would be brought in house to the RICPS and would be paid for from the 2009/10 normal police budget appropriation.

Baines admitted that Operations Tempura and Cealt were tainted as a result of what had happened, but he emphasised several times to the committee that serious allegations had still been made against a number of police officers which had to be investigated and put to rest so that the RCIPS could begin to build trust again with the community.

He said the goal now was to look at which of the allegations were corroborated by more than one witness and where there was evidence to support the accusations to bring charges. He said, however, some were dated and unsubstantiated and they would be seeking to clear officers where the allegations were unfounded.

Baines said that some of the allegations were not only very serious but they seemed to be widely known to a lot of people in the community and therefore if there was any truth to them they had to be addressed.

Given the problems with the special police investigation, however, Baines said he had discussed the allegations widely with the remaining members of the special investigation team who are still in the Cayman Islands working with the RCIPS. He said he did not believe that the officers who were here from the UK were merely on a fishing expedition but that they were operating under the law. Despite what people might think, the accusations that were made to the UK officers could not be ignored, he said.

“What we have seen is some serious allegations made that if true would undermine the credibility of the RCIPS,” Baines told the committee, adding that if he has 20 or 30 accusations against his officers, the only way to rebuild trust would be to investigate as they could not just be left hanging.

Asked how much longer this would go on for by the committee members, Baines said he could not say with certainty as it depended on the investigations regarding each accusation, but he believed they would be in a position to see some results in the next 4 to 6 months.

In the end, he said the service had to deal with perceptions of leaks and corruption, and while they would use Operation Cealt as a springboard, it would be an entirely new team that would conclude the investigations that would not be tarnished by what had gone before.

He said building a new internal satellite unit would also meet the requirement of the RCIPS leadership to create its own internal anti-corruption unit that would deal with internal police investigations in the future.

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Followers or leaders

| 26/11/2009 | 28 Comments

Today is Thanksgiving Day (a time to give thanks for the harvest and to show gratitude in general – started by the Pilgrims) in the US and one of the biggest holiday weekends in that country. Ihave noticed over the past ten years or so the increasing adoption of this day into our local culture and the ensuing celebrations by many.

I have no major issue with this, as it is indeed good to set aside at least one day of the year for giving “Thanks” as a nation. The Americans (and those closely aligned with them, such as ex-service men or past residents and their families) in these islands are entitled to celebrate their day. My question is simply this: why can’t we have OUR own Thanksgiving Day, where the date is indeed significant to us rather than a mere adoption?

I tried to make this happen while I was an MLA with little success, so the chance of my achieving this now is probably even slimmer, but I believe with all my heart that September 11th /12th each year should be a time that these islands pause and reflect and give thanks to God for all his mercies, after our experience with Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This monster of a storm changed our landscape, our people (and hopefully their outlook on materialism) forever and all this with very minimal loss of life. For this we should be eternally grateful to God! We survived and re-built, while the world watched and thought we were gone forever and could not.

Things Caymanian are important to me and many others and I believe that too often we adopt culture, mannerisms and habits in this country without taking time to reflect and adapt them to our own style and needs.

I use this medium therefore now to stimulate public discussion on this matter and at the end of the day the majority, as usual, should dictate what happens in this regard. I trust there is some public support for this idea and I understand also that another holiday on the calendar could pose problems for the decision makers, but maybe it could be achieved by some change to the existing holidays, for instance combining with National Heroes Day or some other.

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New fee paying procedure for US visa applications

| 26/11/2009 | 21 Comments

(CNS): Starting next month, Cayman Islands residents applying for non-immigrant visas from the US Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, must present ‘fee paid’ receipts from National Commercial Bank (NCB) for application fees, as the Embassy will no longer accept payment for application fees in the Consular Section on the day of visa interviews. Without ‘fee paid’ receipts, applicants will not be permitted entry to the embassy and will need to reschedule their interview appointments.

According to information on the Embassy website, with the conclusion last week of its contract with Paymaster, the Consular Section of the US Embassy is now accepting receipts for visa application fees paid only at NCB. This change applies to all non-immigrant visa applicants, including fiancé (e) visas and visas for Cayman Island residents.

The Embassy granted a two-week grace period, ending 30 November 2009, for Cayman Island residents who may have already made other arrangements for paying their application fee or who plan on paying their application fee in the Consular Section of the US Embassy. Starting 1 December, Cayman Island residents applying for a non-immigrant visa must present a ‘fee paid’ NCB receipt for non-immigrant visa application fees.

Applicants must present “fee paid” receipts in their own name since non-immigrant visa application fees are not transferrable to another applicant.

The Embassy says this change allows it to increase security for applicants and ensure that only NCB, the approved payment location, is collecting fees.

Visa applicants can make an appointment for their visa interview through the Embassy call centre and self service website.


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Local celebs are all the jazz

| 26/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two of Cayman’s home grown celebrities  “KK Alese” Edie and Brian Braggs have been selected to entertain the crowds at the sixth annual Cayman jazz fest as emcees for this years glittering event. Edie, who performs and records under the artist name “KK Alese”, is one of the most celebrated singers in the Cayman Islands and Braggs has been very active in the Cayman Islands performing arts and emerging film industry sector for the past few years.

The Department of Tourism’s show case event takes place next weekend  3-5 December.

Alese made her mark on the Caribbean music scene in 2008 when her first widely released single Move enjoyed success throughout the region and made it to the top 5 of the Jamaican music charts. The song’s accompanying video also reached number 1 on major Caribbean video channels and, as a result, Alese was nominated for an Excellence in Music and Entertainment (EME) award and won an RETV award for Best Caribbean Video. In addition, Alese was honoured by the Cayman Islands Music and Entertainment Association for wider promotion of the Cayman Islands through her music.

Along with a Los Angeles-based film and television company, Brian was most recently instrumental in the formation of the Cayman Islands Film Commission. His passion for acting happened at a very young age, with his aspiration of becoming a performer of martial arts in feature films. Encouraged to audition for the Cayman Islands Cultural Foundation’s annual show Rundown, Braggs prides himself as being an integral part of the local show since 2007 portraying six different diverse and distinct characters. His first real foray into feature films came when he appeared as attorney "Winston Bramble" in the film Cayman Went staring Jeffrey DeMunn, Michael Lombardi and Susan Misner. Currently, Braggs is slated for two upcoming feature films.

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Meeting of Parents by Parents

| 26/11/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Parental responsibility and involvement, behaviour of students and parents, conflict resolution, after school programs and literacy programs are just some of the issues to be addressed at a meeting this weekend to promote parenting in education. No officials or Education Ministry representatives will be present, which, the organisers hope will encourage open dialogue among the parents and guardians present. Spearheaded by Deirdre Seymour along with other parents, a ‘Meeting of Parents by Parents’ is an effort to bring public school parents (elementary, middle and high school) together to discuss some of the issues being experienced within the schools as well as coming up with suggested solutions.

The meeting will also highlight success stories at the various schools that are happening through good support systems or after school programs that are positively affecting parents and/or students.

This initiative has received full support from Education Minister Rolston Anglin. Feedback from the meeting will be provided by Seymour to the Ministry.

The meeting will take place on Saturday 28 November at 5:00 to 7:30pm at the Mary Miller Hall. Refreshments will also be provided.

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Cayman top of the shots

| 26/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Efforts by local health officials to tackle vaccine-preventable diseases have been recognised by the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) with one of it highest accolades. The Public Health Department has received the 2009 Award for Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) in the Caribbean. The Islands’ immunisation programme is ranked as one of the most successful in the Caribbean. On average, more than 90% of the population is immunised annually. This is the second time that Cayman has received the award. The department was also honoured in 1999.

It was presented to Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar at the 26th Annual Caribbean EPI Managers Meeting held in St. Kitts earlier this month (9-13 November). Congratulating the public health team, Minister of Health Mark Scotland said, “It once again acknowledges our public health officials’ rigorous efforts to protect the health of the population. They continue to work towards immunising every child.”

He specifically commended the efforts of Public Health Surveillance Officer Timothy McLaughlin and EPI Manager Alice Jane Ebanks who spearhead Cayman’s surveillance programmes for vaccine preventable diseases such as polio, measles and rubella.

These figures have allowed public health officials to make significant strides in eradicating certain communicable diseases. “However, our goal is to achieve the target of 95% immunisation.” Dr. Kumar adding urging all parents to check their children’s immunisation records. “Parents must ensure that children are fully immunised. It will greatly support our efforts if they keep track of the schedule (as printed in each child’s record) and make the necessary appointments through the Public Health Department or any of the district health centres.”

As a result of the immunization programme the Cayman Islands rarely encounters cases of major infectious diseases: According to the public health department the last case of Poliomyelitis (Polio) occurred in 1957.

One imported case of rubella was reported in 2000 and the spread from this was limited to nine people, who were mainly older adults as children and young adults were immunized. No Congenital Rubella Syndrome (birth defects from rubella infection) was reported following these cases.  The last Congenital Rubella Syndrome case occurred in 1996 in a child born locally to an expatriate. The last incidence of measles occurred in 1990 when 27 cases were reported. Diphtheria has now been absent from Cayman for decades and the last case of Haemophilus influenzae type b or Hib was over a decade ago, when two serious cases were reported. Pertussis or Whooping cough was last  seen when a local outbreak occurred in 1999 with a total of nine cases reported. 

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Cayman suffers double the doses of flu

| 26/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With no signof any swine flu vaccine coming to the Cayman Islands until the New Year, public health officials have confirmed that this year’s flu numbers are double those of the same time last year. There has been an average of 120 cases weekly, but an increase this past week saw the stats rise to 176. Flu has been increasing since the schools opened in September but government officials said there would be no school closures and healthy children should be attending. Officials also said that it is very likely H1N1 which is causing the massive increase.

“There has been a notable increase in flu activity this past week with 176 cases reported,” Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said.  “On a weekly average there have been about 45-50 children and 5-9 staff in schools and pre-schools that have reported flu-like symptoms, with a slight increase in the last week.

The data compiled by school health nurses showed that the flu case began rising after the September school opening, peaking in the third and forth weeks of that month.  “We ask teachers and students to be diligent with hand washing and cover their coughs and sneezes. Most importantly, parents must keep sick children at home,” Dr Kumar urged, adding that there is no need for healthy children to stay away from school.

Common symptoms to look for include fever, sore throat, coughing and a runny nose. Dr Kumar noted that if children experience mild illness, then parents can treat them with over-the-counter fever medication. “You only have to seek medical attention when needed. We know that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and as such we can assume that most flu cases are from the H1N1 virus. And so, there is no longer any need to test every case,” he explained.

Education Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said that schools continue to monitor the situation closely, and she also asked parents pay attention to public health advice: “We are in the beginning of flu season, and we should all play our part in minimizing the spread of the virus.”

For more information on H1N1 visit or The Health Services Authority has established a Flu Clinic and has a flu email and message system – – where residents can get more information. 

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Solicitor General appointed as Queen’s Counsel.

| 26/11/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Cheryll Richards and four other members of the Cayman Islands legal community have been appointed as Queen’s Counsel. Along with the solicitor general, Langston Sibblies, General Counsel to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority; Justice Angus Foster, former Partner of Walkers and Acting Grand Court Judge; Kenneth Farrow, formerly Partner at Quin & Hampson and now Counsel at Mourant du Feu & Jeune; and Neil Timms, former partner of Maples and Calder, and now from his own Chambers in George Town have also been awarded their ‘silks.’

The appointments were made after consultation with the UK secretary of state and the governor, Stuart Jack, who effected the appointments by signing the Warrants of Appointment this week.  The recommendations for these new admissions to the Inner Bar of the Cayman Islands were made by Chief Justice AnthonySmellie following consultation with the other members of the Judiciary.  Smellie said these appointments were made “with regard to the needs of the jurisdiction for QCs,” noting that there are only two other Silks in active practice in the Cayman Islands.  Other holders have either moved out of the jurisdiction, retired, or channelled their service into the local judiciary. It will be the chief justice who will conduct a formal ceremony of admission of the five new Silks to the Inner Bar of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.

QCs are recognised as the most eminent members of the Bar and bestowed in line with a 400-year-old tradition originating in the UK but now observed in Commonwealth countries. Queen’s Counsel, or King’s Counsel (KC) during the reign of a male sovereign, are lawyers appointed by letters patent  to be one of "Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law".

“The recognition of Queen’s Counsel comes with an understanding that appointees will do a fair amount of public interest or pro bono work,” said the CJ.

Historically, as well as giving counsel to the monarch, it was envisaged that Queen’s Counsels’ roles would extend to cases involving claims by ordinary people against even the King or Queen of the day, the Chief Justice said, alluding to the public-spirited nature of service expected of QCs.

According to the criteria in the UK, the award of Queen’s Counsel is for excellence in advocacy in the higher courts. It is made to experienced lawyers, both barristers and solicitors, who have a right of audience in the higher courts and who have demonstrated the competencies to a standard of excellence.

The Queen’s Counsel tradition began, the chief justice noted, on the public side of the administration of justice, and in the UK, where it had its genesis, attorneys general and solicitors general of England and Wales are automatically made QCs.  This, he said, is by virtue of the fact that the achievement of such status obviously implies eminencein the law.

Solicitor General Richards, who has been practising law since 1986, joined the Chambers of the Attorney General of the Cayman Islands in 1996, serving as Crown Counsel Criminal and later as Senior Crown Counsel International before her appointment as Solicitor General in 2005. As Solicitor General she acts for the Attorney General in his absence and appears in the Grand Court and the Court of Appeal in matters of importance.

Sibblies who has over 34 years experience at the Bar came to the Monetary Authority in September 2000 and was appointed Chairman of the Cayman Islands Law Reform Commission in July 2006.  He was appointed the first Executive Director of the Secretariat in the Portfolio of Finance in 1999 and has represented the Cayman Islands over the years at such forum as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), and the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD), among others.

Justice Foster has had a long-standing record of service as a lawyer and has been admitted to the Bar in the Cayman Islands for over 28 years and has appeared in many of the most significant cases before the Courts, not only in the Grand Court but also the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council. He has been acting as a judge in the Grand Court for just over two years.

Kenneth Farrow, who was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn, London, in 1966, was admitted as an attorney-at-law in the Cayman Islands with Quin & Hampson, dealing with corporate, commercial and trust litigation and corporate (including Cross-Border) insolvency, trusts and probate.  He became a Partner at Quin and Hampson in 2004 and Counsel at Mourant du Feu & Jeune in 2007. Neil Timms, who was called to the Bar in England and Wales in 1974 was first admitted as a Cayman Islands attorney in 1989, when he was engaged by Maples and Calder. For the past three years he has been in sole practice as an attorney, largely in the areas of commercial, trust and insolvency referrals.  He has also acted as an arbitrator.

Jack thanked the new Silks for their commitment to the public and noble service that he said this new honour denotes, and wished them continued success.

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Governor is no show at PAC

| 26/11/2009 | 25 Comments

(CNS): The chair of the Public Accounts Committee said he was very disappointed that the governor, Stuart Jack, had chosen not to attend Wednesday’s PAC meeting to respond to questions raised by the auditor general’s report on the expenditures for Operations Tempura and Cealt.  Ezzard Miller noted that the presence of the governor would not only have given the committee an opportunity to ask what had happened with the spending on the investigations but his presence would have demonstrated the importance of the PAC to issues of good governance.

Despite the fact that the governor chose not to appear, RCIPS Commissioner David Baines and Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks both turned up  to answer questions and did their best to shed light on the spending associated with the discredited investigations.

Baines said that he felt like he had arrived when the party was over with regard to the issue of Operation Tempura and Cealt, but his goal now was to use the findings of Cealt to bring the internal investigation into police corruption in house.

He explained that there would be a new RCIPS investigation team formed to pursue the allegations, which coincided with the need to establish an anti-corruption unit under the new Cayman Islands Constitution. Above all, he said, once the legal and disciplinary matters left over from Tempura were finalized, the spin off from Operation Cealt would be financed out of the existing police budget and the treasury would not be required to cough up any more cash in relation to the tainted investigations.

He admitted he was not familiar with the consulting firm, BGP, as used by Operation Tempura, which, according to the auditor general’s report, cost close to $600,000 to gather information from people making accusations against serving police officers, but he said the Metropolitan Police tended to use who they knew. As a result, he concluded that it could look like the ‘old boy network’ had been in play when the firm was engaged.

Following the commissioner, Donnie Ebanks spoke at some length about how, from the very beginning, by using the Metropolitan Police the CIG was setting itself up for an expensive project. Admitting that he was involved in the negotiations of senior investigating officer Martin Bridger’s contract, he said the SIO did not come cheap and, given the circumstances he was faced with, he had little choice but to re-engage him. He explained that Scotland Yard had told Cayman that the officers who were engaged as consultants by the Met should really be employed directly by the CIG .

The deputy governor spoke about the criticisms that had been made about the SIO’s salary, but he said the problem was not whether he was paid $100,000 or $120,000 but that he may have been too expensive in the first place. “Without getting into the details of ’going rates’, he was not substantially over compensated for his service,” Ebanks observed. Making analogies to being in a luxury car showroom and choosing between the cost of a Daimler or a Rolls Royce, Ebanks said the question was whether we should have been in the luxury car showroom shopping for a Rolls Royce at all.

Although Ebanks did not condemn the investigation outright, he made it clear that the moment Cayman chose to engage the Met, the country was set to pay top dollar. Moses Kirkconnell, the MLA for the Sister Islands, summed up the situation when he said it seemed that the CIG "for a Rolls Royce but ended up with a clunker.”  

Ebanks made no comments on the outcomes of the investigations but indicated that the operation was entirely the responsibility of the governor and not the strategic oversight committee. He said that committee was there merely to facilitate local issues for the investigators and to monitor the impact on the local community, not to supervise the investigation or interfere with operations.

Ebanks also observed that the experience had served as a lesson and perhaps there needed to be changes in the way government does business. He said that the idea that anyone who the Foreign and Commonwealth Office picks is fully equipped to dischargetheir duties, and as a result local representatives must leave all their trust in them, is not one he subscribed to.

The PAC chair echoed the deputy governor’s sentiment and observed that it was essential that going forward there would be more local input and control in such things.

During the questioning of witnesses, the committee also asked the AG Dan Duguay if he could say whether the investigations had represented value for money given all that had transpired. Duguay explained that, as he had stayed well away from looking at operational issues and looked solely at expenditure, he could not offer a real opinion because of the unique nature of the investigation.

He made observations in his report, however, about how the financial expenditure had not been managed during the investigations and that there was a lack of appropriate project management when it came to supervising how money was spent.

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Spirit Airlines makes emergency landing

| 26/11/2009 | 10 Comments

(CNS): UPDATE – Owen Roberts Airport was placed on full emergency standby Wednesday evening as a Spirit Airlines Airbus carrying approximately 140 passengers made an unscheduled landing. CNS understands that the pilots made the emergency landing on Grand Cayman after smoke was seen in the cockpit. The Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) confirms that at 6:18 pm on 25 November a commercial airline with approximately 133 passengers onboard made an emergency landing at Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) on Grand Cayman. (Photo courtesy News27)

All airport emergency services were put on standby and the aircraft landed without incident. The aircraft, operated by Spirit Airlines, was en route to Ft. Lauderdale from Managua, Nicaragua, when permission to land in Grand Cayman was requested. The aircraft departed Grand Cayman at 10:34 pm.

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