Archive for January 26th, 2010

Decommissioning Human Rights in Cayman

| 26/01/2010 | 154 Comments

The Human Rights Commission (which replaces the former Human Rights Committee) was established under section 116 of the new Constitution with a mandate of “promoting understanding and observance of human rights in the Cayman Islands.” However, the reputation of the Commission has been brought into question with the recent appointment of members who have a poor track record in the promotion and protection of equal rights for all.

While the new Commission continues to include members who have an unquestionable commitment to human rights, one (and arguably two) recently appointed member(s), Reverend Sykes, has on several occasions and over a period of many years acted and preached towards the exclusion of certain minority groups. By way of example, in 2001 when Cayman laws banning homosexuality were finally abolished, Reverend Sykes complained that this was ‘totally unacceptable’ and stated that such a move would lead to the mandatory inclusion of detailed acts of homosexuality in schools. The fact that this hasn’t happened has done nothing to dampen Reverend Syke’s crusade.

Reverend Sykes’ claims to defend a fundamental moral and biblical stance is little more than a matter of his own personal opinion. Many Christians argue that marriage rights for same-sex couples strengthens the institution of marriage and provides legal protection for partners as well as children of this family unit. The Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that “active homosexual relationships are comparable to marriage" in the eyes of God. South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that homophobia is a "crime against humanity" and "every bit as unjust" as apartheid.

Same-sex marriages are, according to many Christians, supportive of religions’ commitment to the equality and dignity of all persons.

But while religion’s stance on homosexuality may be a matter for interpretation, human rights law is without ambiguity. The universal declaration of human rights is founded on the principle that all human beings are equal in dignity and rights. The abolition of Cayman’s anti-gay laws was based on the fact that they were a violation of international human rights law.

This issue goes beyond the Cayman Islands. Caymanians on the whole enjoy the highest standard of living in the Caribbean, and has considerable influence in the region. A message ofintolerance here, particularly by members of the Human Rights Commission, can be translated into much worse in neighbouring countries. In Jamaica, Amnesty International has documented many cases of gay men and lesbian women being beaten, burned, raped and shot because of their sexuality. Sadly, we have increasingly seen signs of this in Cayman also. Reverend Sykes might not endorse such violence, but his public view that homosexuals do not have equal rights does little to help.

Reverend Sykes’ lack of tolerance of minorities may be viewed as inconsistent with his role as a religious leader; however I would argue that it is utterly and undeniably incompatible with his role on the Human Rights Commission whose primary responsibility is to promote understanding and observance of human rights in Cayman.

The Human Rights Commission is essential to upholding the basic freedoms that human rights provide: the equal treatment of all human beings regardless of the colour of their skin, their age, their socio-economic background, their sexual orientation or other forms of discrimination. To ensure that this important work continues, the Government which appoints members of the Commission should insist that Reverend Sykes publicly renounces his previous convictions, or replace him with someone whose views are not in conflict with the basic principles the Commission is established to uphold. Human rights are, before all else, an affirmation of our shared humanity. Any threats to the basic freedoms that flow from this principle are not a concern for minority groups alone. They affect all of us.

Danielle Coleman served as a member of the former Human Rights Committee from 2006-2009.


Continue Reading

OECD claims success with tax haven crackdown

| 26/01/2010 | 2 Comments

(Bloomberg): Cracking down on tax havens has been “one of the big success stories” of the Group of 20’s efforts in the financial crisis, the OECD said, as the Group shifts from naming-and-shaming to ensuring compliance with tax standards. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said 195 tax-information exchange agreements were signed last year as countries faced fresh scrutiny from the G- 20, up from 23 in 2008. Nineteen countries that had been branded as not sufficiently meeting international standards were removed from that category on the OECD’s so-called gray list. Jeffrey Owens, director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, said significant progress had been named and denied it was just a numbers game.

Go to article  

Continue Reading

Judge finds Martin guilty

| 26/01/2010 | 29 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, court news, murder trial of Randy Martin(CNS): Updated with full story 6:00pm – Randy Martin (37) has been found guilty of the murder of Sabrina Schirn (left) in March 2009 by Justice Charles Quinn. The judge told the court on Tuesday afternoon, that he found Martin’s evidence entirely unreliable, that he had been completely, dishonest about his meeting with Schirn and the crown had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. As the judge delivered his guilty verdict and handed down the mandatory life sentence, Martin who is already serving a ten year sentence in HMP Northward for aggravated burglary and firearms offences told Justice Quin he was “much obliged.”

The judgment, which took almost two hours to deliver, was read to a packed Grand Court room, which included Sabrina Schirn’s family and friends as well as senior officers from the RCIPS.

Justice Quin told the court that, taken together, the crown had demonstrated that the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to prove that Martin had brutally murdered Schirn at High-Rock on 11 March 2009, hidden the car and disposed of the glove and keys.

Reading his verdict, Justice Quin pointed to a number of issues that he believed had indicated Martin’s guilt. He said he accepted the crown’s submissions of how the DNA of both the deceased and the defendant was found on the glove recovered from near the scene of the crime by the prison farm, and the belt recovered from Martin’s cell, to the suggestions by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards that Martin’s behavior after Schirn went missing indicated his guilt.

The judge told the court he considered it was “significant” that Martin never tried to contact Schirn after what he claimed was their last conversation at 10:59 on the morning of 11 March when Schirn was killed, suggesting that he did not do so because “he knew that Schirn was dead.”

He said that when Martin lied to the police when he was first interviewed by them, he was not a suspect and had given his evidence voluntarily but had chosen to be entirely dishonest in his statement in regards to his knowledge of Schirn, the vigilance of the prison officers, the visits to the farm and more.

Although he said lying does not prove the guilt of a defendant, as it could also indicate an innocent reason to conceal something or someone else, when there appears to be no innocent reason for the lie it was the judge’s role to consider why a defendant would offer such dishonest testimony.

In this case he said he believed the defendant’s denial that he knew Schirn was consistent with the crown’s case that he was trying to distance himself from the murder.

Justice Quin also pointed to Martin’s insistence that he had met the deceased at 10:38 despite witness testimony and technical evidence from the telecommunication experts that all pointed to the fact that Schirn was in the Prospect area at that time, making it impossible for her to have met Martin in East End.

He also said he believed the evidence of Danielle Ramoon, who had testified that Schirn had received a number of voice mail messages from Martin, one of which included a request for Schirn to pick him up from the prison farm and drop him in East end on the morning of her murder. The judge said that, although Martin had denied leaving the message, he found Ramoon’s testimony to be truthful.

The judge said he considered a number of the defendant’s explanations when giving his evidence in chief as wholly implausible and dishonest.

Although when he reviewed the evidence presented by the crown and the defense Justice Quin had acknowledged the defense’s suggestion that Lance Myles was another possible suspect, he did not include consideration of that suggestion when he concluded that Martin was guilty.

Following the verdict, Adam King, Martin’s defense counsel, addressed the judge on future consideration of sentencing. King observed that, while there was currently no option but a mandatory life sentence, once the bill of rights, which is part of the Cayman Islands new Constitution, was implemented the mandatory tariff would have to be removed.


Continue Reading

Boatswain’s Beach

| 26/01/2010 | 12 Comments

It seems pretty simple. The Turtle Farm was, and is, an exclusive and unique thing with no equal worldwide. It was interesting, relevant and as important internationally as both a scientific and environmental facility as it was a tourist attraction. It was ahead of its time, in that environmental and/or educational tourism wasn’t really a big thing until relatively recently.

So, how did Boatswain’s Beach end up being what it is? As a world class, or even regional leading tourism experience, it simply doesn’t cut it. It is not a great idea to have designed a pool with minimal shade and landscaping and a snorkeling pool that is filled with green algae and a little spooky at best. It’s not my opinion, ask around. Caymanians, expats AND tourists all say so in large numbers. Ask the cruise tourism people if they wanted or needed a pool for people to visit in the country that has Seven Mile Beach or a snorkeling pool on the top island for real snorkeling, marine interaction and beach tourism in the Caribbean (and at prices that were entirely unrealistic). They didn’t and they don’t and, unfortunately, any capital project of that size needs the mass numbers of cruise visitors crawling over themselves in giant numbers to visit the place in order to really make it work.

Business is a mean game and the customer hits you or hugs you with their wallet. The financial performance of Boatswains tells you everything you need to know. Quite simply, it’slosing money, tons of it. If this business had to answer to shareholders it would have closed long ago. Some would say that it does have to answer to shareholders in a way, because the money required to keep it open comes at the expense of other things that could be done for people that live here, much less talking about the fact that it should be a revenue GENERATOR for the country, not an EXPENSE, or, gasp, a true not for profit….

Quite simply, this country does not need an ersatz beach and marine experience and the tourists have said so.

Think for a moment, ask yourself, what if all the money had initially been spent on creating a world class scientific research and tourism facility dedicated to the preservation of the Green Sea Turtle and the greater marine world that is 100% linked with almost all the Cayman Islands stand for in tourism?

What if all the money needed to really give these scientists the opportunity to have a cutting edge facility that could make a true difference internationally was balanced with creating an interactive tourism experience that educated people about the history of the turtle as it pertains to the Cayman Islands and the world? Many people say that it is hard for them to understand the harvesting of turtles for local consumption, so perhaps that could be much better presented and explained as well.

What if this facility was also dedicated to our other national treasure, the stingray? I’ll leave that one out there to let it sink in. We call it synergy…

What if this facility was also expanded beyond turtles to incorporate the greater marine world focusing on conservancy and protection of fish, coral, etc. Think of the interactive exhibits, think of a real turtle hospital and coral research facility that people could watch through windows, think of the "adopt a reef" and "adopt a turtle" programs that could be possible. Think about the international partnerships with organizations like, much less our own CCMI. Think of the caliber of visiting scientists coming to help, think of the international partnerships with other facilities around the world, think of the international companies that might also support this facility, think of an IMAX theater, dare i say it, think of a swim or dive with the turtles experience — ok maybe not … but think of the local pride that would be exhibited by the emphasis and expansion of this special facility, think of the watersports and dive industry all recommending their guests make sure not to miss something so important.

I could go on, the mind boggles, but I think you can get the picture of what could be.

Green is good right now. Eco tourism is all the rage and environmental tourism is the same. Family tourism and especially interactive/educational tourism is significant around the world as well. Finally, exclusivity is, without question, a huge driving force behind successful destination tourism products around the world, the chance to do something that can’t be done elsewhere.

People want and are willing to pay for something unique and special. People are interested in the marine world and it is in everyone’s best interest, especially the Cayman Islands, to develop and encourage that interest. People want to educate their children and themselves, in an entertaining way, on vacations. People happily pay premium prices for merchandise and additional on-site experience upgrades when they know that a portion of the proceeds helps support the facility and the good things it does.

"The Turtle Farm and International Turtle and Marine Research Center" ticks all the above boxes and would position the Cayman Islands ahead of the tourism curve. It would be important, it would be supported, it could some day be profitable, if it was actually run like a business, or it could be an international not for profit also, if it were really to be a proper scientificfacility

Can it be done?

Can we afford it?

What is the alternative?

Think about it. Would you want to come home from your trip to the Cayman islands and tell people about how you went to a pool instead of Seven Mile Beach or snorkeled in a pool with algae instead of the famous real reefs of the island? I don’t think so and so far, neither have our tourists.

Now, what about coming home from the Cayman Islands and in addition to talking about your amazing beach, snorkeling, stingrays, diving,fishing, kayaking, sailing, surfing, submarine, and dining experiences, you can also say you went to the only turtle, stingray and marine facility of its kind in the world and tell everyone something that you learned……

Can we not do it?

Can we not afford it?


This Viewpoint was originally posted as an anonymous comment on Tim takes on turles.

Continue Reading

Trapped crash victim is arrested for DUI

| 26/01/2010 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Police have arrested a 40-year-old woman following an early morning car collision in George Town. At about 1.45am on Tuesday 26 January 2010, the woman was driving a Jeep eastward along Crewe Road, as the vehicle approached Canal Lane it left the roadway, and crashed into a concrete column and overturned, leaving the female driver trapped inside. Emergency services attended and the driver was cut free from the vehicle. She was taken to George Town hospital where she was treated for minor injuries. She was then arrested on suspicion of DUI and released on police bail.

Police said that there was no-one else within the vehicle at the time of the crash and no other vehicles were involved but have now confirmed that a dog was killed during the collision. Inspector Adrian Barnett is now appealing for any witnesses to the incident to contact the traffic management department on 946-6254.

Continue Reading

Workers return to school sites

| 26/01/2010 | 15 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman education , new schools on Grand Cayman(CNS): Updated 10:50am. The Education Ministry announced this morning that work has now re-started at both school sites, and Alan Roffey of Caribbean Mechanical Ltd, one of the major sub-contractors on the site, has confirmed he received directions to return his men to the site following the announcement. Citing the need for urgent attention to preserve warranties and prevent deterioration, Rolston Anglin said the work was being supervised by the ministry’s project management team. The question of a general contractor has still not been resolved, but the minster said the project team will shortly be advertising for a tender for construction management services.

On Thursday the minister had stopped short of confirming the school development projects would be completed with local sub-contractor Caribbean Mechanical Ltd, but said it was very likely that the way forward for the stalled developments will be with a sub-contractor. In the latest release Anglin said the initial activity will see work re-start at both sites concentrating on roofing installations, exterior wall systems and mechanical and electrical.

"These works are necessary to preserve warranties and are critical with respect to mitigating costs going forward," he added explaining that the works will be supervised by the Ministry’s project management until a construction manger is secured through the tendering process.

Alan Roffey of Caribbean Mechanical Limited said on Monday he was unable to discuss the details of the negotiations with government but he confirmed that an agreement to move towards a contract was being discussed and he wanted to see his men back at work as soon as possible. The major subcontractor on the project, Roffey was forced to lay off almost one hundred workers when the original contract between Tom Jones International and the government broke down over what government says is a breech of that contract.

“We recognize the pressing need to get people back to work and to get the schools built for the sake of the people of the Cayman Islands,” Roffey said, adding that his firm still had outstanding legal issues with Tom Jones international, which he said had not made any payments to him since October.

The minister told CNS that he would be making a formal statement regarding the projects very soon but was committed to getting the schools built. He also observed that the problems over the school development projects had impacted various other developments in the ministry, in particular the full implementation of the Education Law.

There are however a number of new developmentscoming from the ministry, including the recent announcement defining the school catchment areas on Grand Cayman, which will come into effect in September, 2010 with the two “all-through” high schools catering to students from Years 7- 11 (ages 11 to 16). Students living at a physical address east of Spotts-Newlands road will be assigned to the new Clifton Hunter high school, which will initially be sited on the George Hicks site until the new school campus is ready. All Year 7-11 students living at a physical address west of Spotts-Newlands road will attend the John Gray campus.

The ministry said the school catchment areas are based on students’ physical home addresses. Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler said the assignment would not be affected by the primary school previously attended. The Spotts-Newlands separation line for the high schools corresponds identically to the existing electoral district boundary between Bodden Town and George Town.

Anglin said in making this determination, the ministry had recognised the benefits of aligning the school catchment to the electoral districts, at least initially as these boundaries are well known and understood.   “As in all school systems catchment areas may need to be updated in future years if significant movement of the population causes the student numbers to change substantially,” he added. However, this catchment boundary represents the best balance for students at the present time.”

Wahler explained that students who will be in Year 12 as of September 2010 will not be allocated schools on the basis of their physical address. Instead the Year 12 Further Education Programme will see students from all districts coming together to participate in a range of new educational opportunities based at the George Hicks campus.

The decision on catchment is one of the many developments needed to take place to achieve the reorganisation of secondary education, Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said. "The New Schools Transition Team is undertaking a mammoth task, with very tight timeframes, to ensure we do the necessary research, consultations, detailed planning and communications for a successful transition. I would like to acknowledge their efforts. This work is critical if we are to achieve our goal of better educational opportunities for our children," she stated.

Continue Reading

MPs twitter with voters

| 26/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(BBC): More than 100 British Members of Parliament are using the social networking site Twitter to communicate with voters, a survey suggests. Tweetminster, which monitors politicians’ use of Twitter, said more now used it than wrote their own blogs. It found that, of 111 MPs tweeting, 65 were Labour, 23 were Liberal Democrats and 16 were Conservatives. Across the UK, London had the highest number of MPs on Twitter – 57 – followed by south-east England, on 40, and south-west England, on 37. Tweetminster found that Labour MPs had 91,061 Twitter followers, Lib Dems 22,754 and Conservatives 19,247.

Go to article

Continue Reading

Telescope spots new asteroid

| 26/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(MSNBC): NASA’s latest sky-mapping space telescope has found an asteroid never-before-seen from Earth, the first of hundreds of new objects the telescope is expected to find. The near-Earth object, designated 2010 AB78, was discovered by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer  WISE, on Jan. 12. The space rock doesn’t appear to pose any threat to Earth, NASA officials said. Currently about  98 million miles (158 million km) from Earth the asteroid has an estimated diameter of 0.6 miles (I km). The rock comes as close to the sun as Earth does, but because it circles the sun in an elliptical orbit tilted with respect to the Earth’s orbital plane, the asteroid isn’t thought to come near enough to our planet to pose a hazard.

Go to article

Continue Reading

27million lost jobs in 09

| 26/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(9news): The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called for a global jobs pact in the wake of Twenty-seven million people around the world losing their jobs in 2009, The UN labour agency has warned of a jobless recovery in a report to be released on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.  About 12 million of the newly unemployed were in North America, Japan and Western Europe, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said. ILO chief Juan Somavia is calling for the same policy decisiveness that saved banks to be applied to save and create jobs. In an 82-page report, the Geneva-based agency said it expected unemployment to remain high through 2010.

Go to article

Continue Reading

Banks eye more ways to earn on hedge funds

| 26/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): After years of earning huge fees from hedge fund clients, investment banks are eyeing yet another way to extract revenue from these treasured customers. Banks such as Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse are looking to mine their lucrative prime-brokerage businesses by charging a fee to raise money for their hedge fund clients. The initiative is not without potential conflicts, as hedge funds that haven’t signed up for the service may find their prime-broking bankers favoring clients now paying for capital raisings. While still a relatively new and fledgling operation, capital raising for hedge funds is a potential cash cow for banks as fees charged will come as a percentage of the funds raised.

Go to article

Continue Reading