Archive for January 4th, 2010

Sandbar demo wins support

Sandbar demo wins support

| 04/01/2010 | 129 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, environment(CNS): Organisers said they were very pleased with the level of support for their demonstration on Monday, when around 400 people signed a petition against the application of a liquor license for a boat bar to sell booze at Stingray City. The idea of a ‘bar at the Sandbar’ has caused considerable disquiet in the community as many people say that the sale of alcohol in the wildlife interaction zone is inappropriate. Natasha Kozaily organised the protest in Heroes Square because she said she felt very strongly about the issue and wanted to make sure the authorities knew that people were opposed to the bar.

Hundreds of people passed through during the two hour demonstration at lunchtime on Monday, 4 December, in front of the Legislative Assembly, and many others drove by honking their support and stopped to sign the petition against the bar.

Bernie Bush had applied for a liquor license at the most recent hearing of the licensing board on 10 December in order to operate a boat that would go out to Stingray City in the North Sound to serve customers with a swim up bar, while they visit one of the Cayman Islands’ most popular and famous attractions. The application was granted.

However, since then there has been considerable mounting opposition to the idea, culminating in Monday’s public demonstration.  Kozaily told CNS that she hoped that government would either step in to stop the proposed bar or that the Liquor Licensing Board would reconsider.

“We are hoping that the authorities will see that the people do not support this initiative,” Kozaily said. “We have had a lot of tourists sign the petition today so we are not convinced by the claim that visitors want this facility. We should be protecting our water resources and encouraging eco-tourism, not doing things like this.”

The Department of the Environment noted that, despite the fact that the Sandbar is a protected area as a Wildlife Interaction Zone under the Marine Parks Regulations, the fact that a floating liquor bar was never envisioned when the regulations were drawn up means there is no specific rule prohibiting the proposed facility. DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said that without regulations her department was unable to prevent the bar from becoming a reality and it would require a policy decision by the ministry to change the existing regulations to include prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the area.

She said the DoE believed the idea of a boat-bar in a wildlife interactive zone, which was established to protect the rays and the habitat, seemed inappropriate. “It is at odds with the ethos of conservation management,” she added. “We would certainly caution against anything that could upset the delicate balance of the zone and it is not the sort of activity one would promote in an area considered in need of special protection.”

Ebanks-Petrie explained that the Sand Bar was adopted as a special wildlife interaction zone because it was perceived as an attraction that needed this special protection for a number of reasons. This was to maintain the integrity of the stingrays’ environment and to protect them and the people using the area, as well as to regulate how the rays are fed and how many tour boats are in the region at a given time. Therefore, she said, it appeared that adding a floating liquor stop to the zone would to be in conflict with the desire to protect the area.

CNS has attempted to contact Bernie Bush, former election candidate and local businessman, regarding the issue to no avail. Attempts to contact the minister with responsibility for the environment, Mark Scotland, about the government’s policy regarding the introduction of a bar at a WIZ were also unsuccessful.

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Cops claim success for high profile NYE policing

Cops claim success for high profile NYE policing

| 04/01/2010 | 5 Comments

(CNS): While 26 people may have found themselves celebrating the New Year in the police cells, officers from the RCIPS said the New Year weekend passed peacefully and safely for the vast majority of people in the Cayman Islands. A public safety operation launched by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service RCIPS on the 31 December to ensure that the many public events and New Year parties passed without incident was a success police stated. The high profile presence and random roadblocks helped to keep the roads and public safe throughout the night.


A total of 26 people were arrested however for a variety of offences including outstanding warrants, traffic offences, disorderly conduct, possession of drugs, suspicion of burglary, and traffic offences. This number includes four people arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) on New Years Eve.

 “The high profile presence on our streets made sure that thousands of people not only had a great time while bringing in the New Year – but were also safe during those celebrations,” said Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, the officer in charge of the New Years Eve operation. “The combination of high visibility patrolling and our zero tolerance approach to crime meant that the few who did commit crime were quickly arrested and will now face court.”

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Marine unit deals with three sea rescues

Marine unit deals with three sea rescues

| 04/01/2010 | 17 Comments

(CNS): Officers from the RCIPS Marine Unit came to the rescue of three different boats over the New Year weekend when one ran out of fuel, another capsized and a third most almost sank. With the help of a private boater and the local helicopter the sea cops potentially saved the lives of seven people. However, the officers said that some of the marine regulations were being flouted by the vessels involved and warned that they would deal with all those on the water who fail to obey safety regulations.


The first incident which saw the unit in action occurred at around 4.15pm on New Years Eve, (Thursday 31 December 2009). Police received a report that three men had apparently run out of fuel while returning from a fishing trip on the 12 Mile Banks. The men were unable to use their GPS system and were unsure of their exact location.

Police said that search and rescue effort was co-ordinated involving Harbour Patrol, Marine Unit vessel Tornado and the helicopter. A short time later the boat was traced to a point approximately 16 miles northwest of North West Point. The RCIPS Marine Unit towed the boat and it’s occupants to safety. No-one was injured.

Then at about 6.00am on New Years Day (Friday 1 January 2010) police received a report from the owner of a boat that his craft was on the edge of a shallow bar and was sinking close to Water Cay. The Marine Unit immediately attended, pumped the vessel and towed the boat and its owner to safety.

Later that same day – shortly after 9.00pm, police were informed that a boat with three men on board had capsized in heavy seas off of Gun Bay. One of the men was a non-swimmer. A Police Marine Unit officer from that area was dispatched and was assisted by a private boat owner. Shortly after commencing a search the three were found. Again no one was injured.

Inspector Brad Ebanks, officer in charge of the Marine Unit Operations, said the unit was grateful to the member of the public who was willing to render assistance. “The arrival of our Marine Unit vessel would have been some time away and time is of the essence when it comes to reports such as these. I also wish to commend the officer who responded to the call and as a result three persons are back home safely,” he said.

“All of these people were lucky to have escaped without injury or worse. It’s important that people using boats are fully aware of how to operate the equipment on the vessel they are using – such as their GPS and radios – and that they are able to contact the police as soon as they realize that they are experiencing problems.”

He explained that in a number of these incidents the vessels involved did not have the necessary safety equipment (i.e. life vest for every person onboard, flares etc.) required under that Port Authority Law. “We will be addressing these issues with the necessary boat owners,” Ebanks added.

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Input wanted on legal aid

Input wanted on legal aid

| 04/01/2010 | 20 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Cayman local news, legal aid(CNS): In the wake of the controversies surrounding the premier’s decision to change the way legal aid is managed and funded, the committee set up to examine those potential changes is asking for public input. As part of its review process the Legal Aid Review Committee is inviting people to submit their comments on any aspect of the regulation of legal aid in the Cayman  Islands or to highlight any issues or problems which have arisen in this area of the law. The committee, which itself caused controversy because of the inclusion of  Steve McField who is set to benefit from the proposed changes, is expected to report back with its findings early this year.

Written submissions should be made no later than Friday, 15 January, and should be posted to Cheryl Neblett c/o Law Reform Commission, Government Administration Building or delivered by hand to the offices of the Commission on 3rd Floor Anderson Square. Submissions may also be sent to

McKeeva Bush first announced his intention to change how legal aid is funded during the last late sitting of the 2009/10 budget debate during Finance Committee in October last year. He said that local attorneys Theresa Pitcairn and Steve McField had proposed establishing a legal aid clinic, which would receive funding through the Ministry of Finance, Bush’s own ministry, instead of through the Legal Department. The proposed change was intended to cut annual spending on legal aid from $1.8 million to $1.2 million.

It soon became apparent, however, that neither the chief justice, who currently administers Legal Aid, the attorney Ggeneral, and the Criminal Defence Bar Association, the Law Society or the Human Rights Committee had been consulted regarding the proposal.

Before his departure the former governor, Stuart Jack, stepped into the debate and told the elected government to return funds to the current legal aid system until a full assessment and review about the changes had taken place, which includeed consultation with all the stake holders.

The committee, which has members from the courts, government and the governor’s office, has no representative from either the HRC or the legal community, with the exception of McField.

Auditor General Dan Duguay is also conducted a simultaneous value for money study of the current system and will be reporting his preliminary findings to the committee this month.

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Sand bar closes,marine copsurge caution on water

Sand bar closes,marine copsurge caution on water

| 04/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As cooler blustery weather moves across the Cayman Islands this week officers from the RCIPS Marine Unit have closed the Sand Bar. The RCIPS warned those using the water to exercise caution during the continuing inclement weather. The two cruise ships visiting Cayman this morning (Monday 4 January) were also diverted to Spotts. The forecast for Monday called for rough seas with wave heights of 4 to 6 feet, especially along the north coast and a small craft advisory is in effect as swells are expected along the northeast to west coasts.

Inspector Brad Ebanks, officer in charge of the Marine Unit said the RCIPS was working with the Water Sports Operators to ensure safety for people who use the water and marine life alike. “It’s a fact that during this time of the year we experience unsuitable conditions bringing high winds and rough seas that cause unstable “in water” activity as the Sand Bar is situated near one of the channels,” he said.

“These conditions mean that we do receive a higher number of calls about people being in distress – either because they have ventured too close to the surf or intentionally gone surfing and ended up in difficulty. Rough seas are entertaining for some but can be easily misjudged.

“We would remind people to exercise caution in this type of weather and stay safe. “Always check with the local weather forecast before venturing out to sea in boats or personal watercrafts. Parents should also try to ensure that their children do not venture out during these times of inclement weather conditions.”

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Security measures take on more permanent footing

Security measures take on more permanent footing

| 04/01/2010 | 5 Comments

Cayman Islands News, World News, Cayman airport security(CNS): Increased security measures, pat downs, restrictions to carry-on and limited movement on board aircraft will continue into the New Year aviation officials have stated. The measure which were imposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in the US following the failed attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day. But despite the increase in security across the US and around the world, on Sunday night a man caused further concern at Newark airport when he was able to entirely bypass security at one of the world’s busiest airports.


Officials from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA)have also confirmed that the security measures imposed at Owen Roberts International for flights to the United States will continue until further notice. Passengers are being asked to attend the airport some three hours before departure in order to get through the new screening before boarding.

“Airlines at the Owen Roberts International Airport have implemented increased security checks which will require that passengers, on flights to the USA, be hand searched at the boarding gates prior to boarding,” the CIAA said in a statement. “In order to accommodate these additional measures and to avoid delays, passengers are encouraged to arrive at the airport and commence their check-in processes earlier than usual. A minimum of three hours before flight departure time is recommended.”  
CIAA explained that the additional security measure will not apply to passengers on flights bound for the Sister Islands, Kingston, Montego Bay, Cuba, the UK and Honduras. “The additional security measure that has been implemented is in respect to the security check to be conducted by individual USA bound carriers and will impact passengers as they prepare to leave the departure hall for boarding” CIAA stated.  

Once passengers have been checked in they will be encouraged to proceed to the security check point immediately after check-in to allow for the extra time that will be required for boarding. It is now not known when this TSA directive will be lifted.

The botched attempt by a 23 year old Nigerian student to ignite explosives on a Northwest Airlines plane carrying 290 people to Detroit from Amsterdam has reportedly caused travel chaos around the world. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was overpowered by a passenger, has been charged with attempting to blow up an aircraft and a second Nigerian man was arrested for “suspicious activity”.

Airlines are undertaking individual body searches and passengers are being restricted to just one item of hand luggage and are being limited in their ability to move about a plane. US authorities said passengers should not be allowed to stand up or even go to the toilet an hour before landing. The crackdown could also signal the widespread use of in-flight air marshals on transatlantic routes to counter the terrorist threat.

The "enhanced" security measures, which are being described as the toughest ever, will be particularly acute for passengers traveling from nations deemed by the US as "state sponsors of terrorism" or "other countries of interest", the Transportation Security Administration said in its latest release. Those other countries include some that Washington considers its allies against Islamist extremism, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, according to media reports. It also includes the four nations the US has formally designated sponsors of terrorism, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.

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Exodus down to immigration, admits offshore firm

Exodus down to immigration, admits offshore firm

| 04/01/2010 | 56 Comments

(CNS): The departure of financial firms from the Cayman Islands as well as the downsizing of some operations over the last year has generally been blamed on the global economic crisis. However, Roger Hanson, former regional manager for Fortis Prime Fund Solutions, has admitted that it was immigration issues that played a significant part in the firm’s downsizing on the island. Speaking to Reuters last week, Hanson said the company moved part of its operations to Curacao and downsized its people after failing to obtain the immigration flexibility it sought for staff.

He told the international news agency that, following Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, the company wanted to spread its risk. "We asked for two-to-three year permits for our staff to lower our risk. But we were not given them. So we said, fine. We can’t continue to build back our infrastructure and not have any certainty after making all that investment," Hanson added.

In the last year or so Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Citi, Rothschild Trust, Fortis, Butterfield Fulcrum Group, Caledonian Fund Services, Maples & Calder have moved part or all of their operations to other jurisdictions such as Canada, Ireland, UK, US, Bermuda and Curacao. While few have admitted openly to immigration limitations being the reason, in reality it appears to have played a significant part.

While the current United Democratic Party government has promised to offer greater flexibility to new investors, when it comes to work permits and key employee status, it has also announced dramatic increases to the cost of permits, the details of which are expected to be announced shortly. Permits across the board will be increasing by around 50% but some in the professional sector could increase by as much as 200%.

"As a jurisdiction, we cannot run the risk of making it too difficult to do business or increase costs," John Lewis of the local Fund Administrators Association told Reuters. "Once these companies have gone, they will never come back."

Government, however, is hoping that the fast-tracked three- to five-year work permits and assurances that senior positions in investing companies will get key employee status will encourage more new inward investment, despite the rising costs to do business in Cayman.

The goal, according to the head of the Immigration Review Team and UDP deputy chair Sherri Bodden-Cowan is firstly to stop the exodus and then seek new investment. 

"First, you have to stabilize the companies that are already here and stop the haemorrhaging," Bodden-Cowan told Reuters.  "Then we can talk about new business. We are looking at attracting fund managers, brokers, deal-makers who have a lot to say on where capital goes on creating funds.

Although Premier McKeeva Bush has appealed to the community to embrace the changesto immigration policies, there are many who remain firmly against what they see as offering more opportunity for foreigners to Caymanian status. 

In contrast, there are still concerns from the offshore sector that decisions by the immigration boards regarding such decisions as key employees do not reflect the policy of government and are arbitrary and unpredictable.

With unemployment rising rapidly and more than 6% of people out of work, government is faced with the dilemma of wanting to encourage foreign investment but also deal with the local perceptions that foreigners are still being given the plumb jobs at the expense of Caymanians.

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Acceptability of  violence

Acceptability of violence

| 04/01/2010 | 42 Comments

Given that I’ve spent the last six months writing a great dealabout violent crime from a perspective of police news stories and from inside the court, I’ve had the opportunity to think a lot about what is going on, and while I may well be wrong, I personally believe the problem is the cultural acceptability of violence to resolve disputes.

From the obsession with possessing guns under the guise of self defence and the constant comments about beating children to the acceptance of domestic abuse, among other issues, common not just in Cayman but throughout modern western culture, it seems that violence is accepted. Whether it starts by whipping your kids, keeping your woman in line, gaining respect, defending your property, the death penalty, governments declaring war on countries because they  believe they have right on their side, all of it is down to justified violence.

At the risk of enormous criticism I’m going to stick my neck out and say I think when children are brought up in homes where parents use violence to discipline them, combined with a lack of security and love, you will produce very violent people. When children are not taught to love themselves and are shown that it is possible to get your way through violence they will grow up to be violent people, especially in a world where violence is used as a means of achieving goals. These youngsters who are currently shooting each other are angry and resentful.  When they think that someone has disrespected them they respond in the only way they have been taught.

The parent that stoops to slap the five year old boy for being too loud in Fosters thinks nothing of it if it achieves the result of making the child conform, but the message delivered to that five year old is that violence achieves an end. You can get want you want by forcing others to do what you want through doing them harm. Simple. While it may seem outrageous to many that the idea of slapping your child for being naughty can turn him into a ‘gun toting gangsta’ (and I agree there are a few more ingredients required a long the way) there does seem to be something in it.

The countries in the west that seem to have the lowest levels of violent crime and the ones with lower rates of social problems are the northern European countries such as the Scandinavian states. These countries which outlawed any kind of violence against children years ago tend to be much more peaceful nations. Compared to other European or North American communities and the Caribbean, where parents still use violence, but which have similar social and economic resources, these countries have comparatively very low levels of violence.

Violence is used by many governments as control mechanism, and when used to its extreme it demonstrably can control people. On the surface Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Afghanistan under the Taliban had considerably less crime but certainly no less violence. Dictatorships can use violence to quash violent crime because they are simply all powerful and unlimited or unsanctioned in the levels of violence they can display and it gives the veneer of control. However, get things out of balance and one arrives at the failed state of places such as Somalia, for example.

If we are to examine all of the world’s war zones we see that most stem from governments or political groups attempting to use violence to get their way and it rarely works in the long run. Even if you are strong enough to prevail in the initial war, those who have suffered at the hand of violence will keep fighting back, as demonstrated by the growing levels of terrorism in the world as a response to the violent power of the state.

Sometime in thesixties a generation of people tried to promote the idea of world peace, love and harmony among the human race. Half a century later, however, their message has been drowned out by the gun fire.

I have no answer because not only do I hate any kind of violence, I don’t understand it and I don’t feel it. I cannot ever understand how one a human being could shoot, stab or chop at another. How a man who professes to love a woman can raise his hand to her or how a parent can hit a child.

I do not know if violence is a learned behaviour or inherent – nature  or nurture – perhaps it is a bit of both. Even if it is a fundamental human characteristic, do we not at this point in our evolution still have the intelligence to overcome the urge to commit acts of violence on our fellow human beings and begin teaching our children that all acts of violence no matter how small are wrong.

Although I am not a Christian, at school we were still taught lessons from the Bible, many of which I believe were valuable. I do not need to believe there is an omnipotent being somewhere in the sky to believe that if we all turned the other cheek and did unto others and all that stuff the world we live in would be a darn sight nicer. And yet many practicing Christians I have met agree with violence, be it towards corporal punishment for children or in regards to the death penalty, which is supported most vociferously in the US by the Christian right, as well as the right to bear arms.

In recent weeks there have been an awful lot of comments posted on CNS about the crime problem and calling for an end to the violence. But often those calls come with suggestions of perpetrating more violence or condemning society, the police, parents, schools, prison, etc, for not being violent enough.  I can’t help but think that’s the problem.

Perhaps I’m wrong and of course I’m sure you’re all going to point out my naivety, and I don’t deny being something of an old peacenik, pinkie, tree-hugging, cowardly, liberal at heart that always tries to see the funny, rather than the angry, side of life …… but you know what?  I really do wish people could find a way to resolve disputes without bombing, shooting, stabbing, punching, hitting or slapping each other.  Anyway, that’s my two cents for the New Year.

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Stats reflect public concern

Stats reflect public concern

| 04/01/2010 | 38 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Islands headline news, crime statistics(CNS): Although the police have not yet announced their official crime figures for 2009, a commenter to the CNS website has taken the time to collate crime statistics over 2009 based on news reports on the site which reveal a dramatic increase in murders, armed robberies, muggings and burglaries in the second half of the year. The reader’s statistical analysis comes in the wake of an outpouring of comments from literally hundreds of CNS readers over the Christmas break demanding something be done about what is seen as an uncontrollable surge in violent crime within the community. (See full graph below)

Since June the Cayman Islands has seen five murders, compared to the first six months when there were three and 13 armed robberies compared to four between the end of 2008 and the end of June 2009. The stats also reveal 16 muggings during 2009, 13 of which have happened since June. The statistics are based on reports posted on CNS throughout 2009 and come following an intense display of concern to the site this week about Cayman’s crime problem.

The commenter, who wishes to remain anonymous, also calculated there were 19 burglaries reported on CNS, 14 of which had occurred since June, a statistic which probably reflects only part of the picture as the RCIPS does not routinely report break-ins and burglaries to the press.  There are also a number of other crimes that may have gone unreported over the last 12 months. CNS understands, for example, that a stabbing also occurred during a domestic dispute over the holiday weekend, though no report was made by the police to the media.

While the wider public has been convinced for some time that the last six months have seen a dramatic increase in violent crime, the work of the CNS commenter dramatically illustrates that position.

Following literally hundreds of postings in the last few days about crime and demanding that politicians and the police take action, a number of posters have also suggested organising a public demonstration to the Legislative Assembly to show the authorities how they feel about what is perceived as increasing lawlessness in the community.

The reader who created the graph said that he was certain that assaults, muggings and armed robberies were up in the second half of the year but when he took the time to make the graph he said he was shocked to see how much. “Please look at the posts below and see for yourself,” he told CNS. “My numbers might be off one here and there but the huge increase can’t be disputed.”

Although he said he did not want to blame any particular political party or the police as he believed the situation had been building for a while, it was clear something had to be done. “Now the current government, police, business community, and its people need to all work together to turn this around. If New York City can do it we can. We as a country have to stop this from growing any further. If we don’t, what will crime numbers look like by Dec 2010?” he asked.

As the readers to CNS call on police and politicians, the politicians and police are calling on the public to help solve the crime. With no willing witnesses coming forward for the spate of tit for tat killings, which started in July of this year and have resulted in the death of five young men at the end of a gun, police continue to appeal to people to come forward and tell them what they know. However, perceptions that the police cannot protect their identity and incidences of witness tampering have made the public increasingly reluctant to give information as they fear for their own safety.

Last week following the murder of Fabian Powell by Welly’s Cool Spot sometime on Monday night / Tuesday Morning, 27/28 December, Police Commissioner David Baines appeared briefly on News27 to state that he was working with the attorney general on legislation to allow witnesses to give evidence during trials while protecting their identity through voice distortion and screens. Pleading for witnesses in the latest shooting, Baines promised that they could come forward in confidence. “I am assuring anybody that comes forward they will be able to give evidence with anonymity in the New Year,” he told News 27, although no official announcement has been made regarding the potential legislative change.  

CNS has also submitted a number of questions to the commissioner regarding the current crime levels, the ongoing murder investigations and the surge in the use of firearms and is awaiting a response.

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