Archive for June 4th, 2010

Judge reserves decision over Coke’s review

| 04/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Jamaica’s Chief Justice Zaila McCalla reserved judgment on Friday in the application for a judicial review filed by lawyers representing Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. McCalla promised to deliver her verdict ‘as soon as possible’ over the extradition of the alleged drug lord to the United States, the Jamaica Observer reports. Coke’s lawyers are seeking to prevent him from being extradited over drug and firearms charges and to over turn the decision by Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne to send him to the US. Coke currently remains on the run eluding security forces since a warrant was issued in the wake of the extradition announcement last month.

 Local reports reveal that Sandra Coke, Dudus’ sister is now in police custody after she was handed over to the police by clergyman Al Miller, who also handed over his brother Laighton ‘Levity’ Coke earlier this week. ‘Sandie Coke is wanted by Jamaican police as she is suspected of criminal gang affiliation.

The police have pulled in around 50 suspected gang members since Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced a limited state of emergency two weeks ago but the main man remains at large.

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Scaffolding collapses in GT

| 04/06/2010 | 19 Comments

(CNS): Update 2:40pm – The scaffolding on a building in George Town which collapsed this morning at around 8:30am had been inspected by a Cayman Islands safety inspector during the week and had been found to be satisfactorily deployed, according to the company responsible, Hurlstone Ltd. A statement from Hurlstone Ltd said that during a heavy gust of wind from an approaching squall, which was recorded by the National Weather Service at 30mph, a section of a building scaffolding which was attached to the south elevation of five floors of the building in Anderson Square, Shedden Road, became detached from its fastenings to the building and partially toppled into the secured work area. (Photos by Anthony Ricardo)

Police have confirmed that no one was injured during the incident.

Hurlstone Ltd said the company was employed to undertake a customised aluminium panel retrofit to the exterior of the building. The statement said two of its workers were exiting the top floor of the work area due to the approaching squall but were forced to remain in the hydraulic lifting equipment, which was entangled in a portion of the fallen scaffolding. “None of our personnel or any person or property was injured or damaged,” the company stated.

The Cayman Islands Fire and emergency services attended and assisted in lowering the men to the ground, Hurlstone Ltd said, noting that Cayman Islands safety inspectors also attended the site.

“We are proud of our company’s safety record during the Hurlstone Group’s 30 years of business during which we have never had a accident of this type and are profoundly grateful to our personnel for their efforts in this regard,” the statement read.

Rescue operation reportedly held up the morning traffic, and officials are now investigating the cause of the collapse.



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IRT seeks scientific approach

| 04/06/2010 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Proposed changes to the country’s immigration system to a more scientific and less arbitrary process moved further ahead this week. Sherri- Bodden-Cowan, chair of the Immigration Review Team (IRT), told CNS that since the meeting with the Chamber last month, more results from firms testing the online accreditation system have been forwarded to the team and testers are seeking a Q&A meeting to offer their views on streamlining the tool. Aware of the business community’s frustration over the immigration system, Bodden-Cowan said it is essential that the country tackle the problems, which means there was no choice but to change the way the system works.

“We understand that people are frustrated and what they are saying about more change, but the problem is the current system is not working and we must fix it; we can’t just leave it when it’s not working, so that means change,” Bodden-Cowan said.
At the recent Chamber of Commerce ‘Be Informed’ meeting, the IRT chair had asked the audience of business owners how many believed the Business Staffing Plan was working. “Only three people out of that crowded room raised their hand,” she added.
With immigration tied so directly to the country’s economy, there is a pressing need to strike a balance between the demand from business for foreign workers and the need to control the population growth. Bodden-Cowan said the 2003 Immigration Law and the subsequent rollover policy was the bi-partisan, non-political result that was designed to achieve that.
“The goal was to find a way of gradually growing the population in a controlled and manageable way from the most skilled and the most needed foreign workers and to ensure that businesses got to keep their best people,” she added.
The mechanism for that was key employee designation, but she admitted the struggle has been how the concept of ‘key’ is defined and who decides who is key and why, as well as making sure that only the best employers are able to benefit from the system. She said it was crucial that businesses that are training and investing in Caymanians, that are good corporate citizens, that are offering scholarships or apprenticeships, that support good works are rewarded but those that are not complying with the law or giving something back are not.
The accreditation system, which the chair noted again was bi-partisan and started under the last administration, offers a more calculated, less arbitrary and much more scientific approach to both the needs of the business community and the concerns of the wider community about unchecked population growth.
“We want only the best and most talented people to be the ones bypassing rollover and moving through the system to become Caymanians,” she added.  “This method will allow the businesses that are doing it right to get the staff they need but will also prevent those businesses that give cause for concern from abusing the work permit system.”
Bodden-Cowan explained that the new system will sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to employers. Those that are not complying with the law will not be given access to permits and those who are doing what they can to attract, retain and train Caymanians will gain more benefits and access to fast track permits.
As the system is rolled out across the community, Bodden-Cowan said the goal was to remove the business staffing plan as the accreditation system would become the tool that would measure the performance of companies against the legal requirements of the employment and immigration laws.
“I understand that people are going to be frustrated, but we have no choice but to fix the problem,” she told CNS. “What we must do is find a way to improve the system and introduce a process that can be calculated. We want to remove many of the frustrations associated with the degree of uncertainty in the current method of deciding who is key and who is not.”
Bodden-Cowan said that the fixed term policy or rollover had to stay and while the IRT was still looking at reducing the break in stay or increasing the number of years before employees were rolled over, there would be a number of issues to consider. “We have Lord Pannick looking at the question of reducing the break in stay after seven years down from one year to nine moths or even six months. But we must be careful that it is considered a legitimate break. If work permit holders return after six months and get past the ten year period, if the six month break is challenged in the courts then these people will be entitled to permanent residency,” she explained.
The unique position that Cayman finds itself in when it comes to its labour needs brings many frustrations, but the IRT chair said Cayman does not have enough people to support its economy. As a result it needs to grow its population via a properly controlled mechanism that would enable those individuals who were the most talented and the most committed to the community to stay.
“Our goal is to allow the best of the workforce to stay and settle and to encourage employers to be good corporate citizens,” Bodden Cowan said.
Over the next few weeks the IRT will be focusing on fine tuning the accreditation system in preparation for the pilot project across the financial sector by the beginning of next month. If that is a success the system will be rolled out across the wider business community, with adaptations to allow for the needs ofsmall businesses. One of the major aims during this period of development is to make sure, before the system is enshrined in the law, that it works effectively and efficiently and achieves the overall objectives of protecting Caymanians while facilitating the needs of business and the demands of the economy.
 “Change is always a challenge,” said Bodden-Cowan, “but we have no choice we need to fix the problems and make it work.”

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Gunmen hit ESSO gas station

| 04/06/2010 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Police have confirmed that at least two armed and masked gunmen robbed the On the Run ESSO gas station in Red Bay this evening (Thursday 2 June) at around 8:45pm. Officers were unable to reveal full details of the incident but said two men had escaped from the scene with an undisclosed sum of money. The men reportedly entered the gas station carrying what appeared to be handguns and threatened staff before making off with the cash. Police said that no shots were fired and no one was injured. Although no arrests have been made, one officer stated that a car had been seized. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

Police were unable to give descriptions of the suspects but said enquiries were now ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact George Town Police Station on 949 422 or if they wish to remain anonymous to call Crime Stoppers on 800-TIPS.

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