Threat to the press, democracy in Cayman

| 28/12/2010

(The Jamaica Gleaner): The decision by the attorney general of the Cayman Islands, Sam Bulgin, against prosecuting the Cayman Compass newspaper and its journalist, Brent Fuller, is welcome and sensible. Mr Bulgin’s decision, however, does not resolve the more fundamental question that has arisen in recent weeks about the commitment of the Cayman Islands legislative assembly, and by extension the territory’s government, to freedom of the press, transparency in governance and, ultimately, democracy.

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  1. Legal Beagle says:

    One country recently passed a similar law, criminalising the disparagement of the institutions of the state. 

    Venezuela.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      But a number of other countries already have them e.g.  Germany. The relevant offences of Germany’s Criminal Code are §90 (Denigration of the President of State), §90a (Denigration of the State and its Symbols), §90b (Unconstitutional denigration of the Organs of the Constitution), §185 ("insult").

      There are many countries in which defamation against individuals is criminalised: e.g. Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Greece,  etc etc. While not criminalised at the federal level in the U.S. it is criminalised in many state laws.     

       

      • Legal Beagle says:

        Wikipedia is awesome isn’t it? 

        We have defamation laws that would protect MLA’s from improper treatment.  But what we don’t need are threats of criminal sanction interfering with genuine press freedom.

        • Anonymous says:

          It is sometimes quite useful but I didn’t use it for this. Was that where you found the info re Venezuela? 

          But back to the issue. The issue is less about individual MLAs and more about bringing into disrepute foundational institutions which cannot sue for defamation.  If theissue is "genuine" press freedom then issues of defamation will not arise.   

          I suggest you tell that to the umpteen countries first world countries that also criminalise defamation.

          • Just Commentin' says:

            May I further suggest that just because a country is deemed to be "first world" that does not mean that all it’s laws are just or even sane. Case in point: Iran just sentenced a woman convicted of adultery to be stoned to death.

            The issue is not whether such and such country has such and such laws or what Wikipedia says; the issue is what kind of laws we the people of the Cayman Islands want for our country!  If we must emulate another country the question I would ask is if we are doing so because of that country’s track record of democracy and freedom.

            • Anonymous says:

              I have never seen Iran classified as a first world country by anyone. I don’t know anyone who thinks it is fully developed. Mentioning Iran in this context is clearly a red herring. There are many first world countries which criminalise defamation and have very good track records of democracy and freedom. They include France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada and Australia. Indeed, these are amongst the most liberal countries in the world.   

      • Anonymous says:

        It is correct that these regulations are part of the German criminal code, but it is important to note that, historically, these regulations are relicts of the 19th Century.

        This section of the penal code is aimed at protecting the institutions from slanderous attacks that threaten the existence of state institutions and the state as such. 

        The protection of the president of state from denigration is also understood in this context.

        In practice therefore these laws have little relevance nowadays. In the 1950s and 60s the German presidents Luebke and Heuss deliberated many times whether they should personally (which is what §90 requires) sue individuals for slander and generally did not.

        Heuss actually asked his justice minister once "when it would be statepolitically necessary for him to feel insulted", referring to caricatures. I believe it was recommended at the time only to sue in cases of libel.

        The German president (just like everyone else in Germany) is much more protected by §185-200 (libel and slander) of the penal code and other civil law provisions. 

        • Anonymous says:

          The Criminal Code creates criminal offences. §90 does not of course require the President personally to sue individuals for slander. It is translated as follows:

          "Whosoever publicly defames the President of the Federation, in a meeting or through the dissemination of written material (section 11 (3)) shall be liable to imprisonment from three months to five years".

          The President is only personally involved in that his consent to the prosecution is required.   

          Far from being a mere relic of the 19th century, the German Criminal Code was promulgated on 13 November 1998.

          Clear enough for you?

          But before we bogged down in detail, the overall point is that there is a vast number of countries, all signatories to the ECHR and the ICCPR, which criminalise libel and slander, some with special protections to the organs and institutions of state.   

          No more disinformation, please.

          • Anonymous says:

            Disinformation? Being able to read a law and knowing how it is used in practice is a massive difference.

            Yes it requires the consent of the president. Admittedly that is technically not the same as suing personally, but try to tell the difference when it actually happens.

            §90 is a clause that follows from 19th century legislation covering lese majesty. Most legal scholars in Germany agree that trying to protect the personal integrity of the president is a very odd clause that does not fit into the general context of this section of the penal code and it is generally explained by its history.

            The idea is that in free democratic society not everybody who criticises the president (or other state institutions) can be prosecuted willy nilly because the president feels insulted.

            This is exactly the problem in the Cayman Islands, where the Speaker of the House behaves as if she is some 19th Century royalty.

            Rather than saying this is disinformation, why don’t you present cases where §90 was used in practice or cases from other truly democratic countries where state institutions were protected in such a way. I think you will find that if such cases exist at all, they will protect the individual from untruthful, libellous and slanderous comment rather than protect the state organs themselves.

            In a democracy individuals have the right to say that elected officials are incompetent or state organs are corrupt, if they have good reason to believe that they are.

            I can understand your desire of not wanting to be bogged down by details, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. 

            • Anonymous says:

              "I can understand your desire of not wanting to be bogged down by details, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

              LOL! And you are the best example of that. Note that I gave a detailed explanation of the position which demonstrated that a number of your statements were incorrect. In particular, it was plainly incorrect to state that §90 required the President personally to "sue" the offender rather than correctly recognising that it created a criminal offence for which, uponconviction, one could be subject to imprisonment.  It was either disinformation or reflected simple ignorance. Take your pick.

              And please leave of the waffle about 19th century legislation. Had Germany considered such a provision to be anachronistic, or that it offended the ECHR, it would not have included it legislation promulgated in 1998.

              Now do us both a favour and be quiet before you embarrass yourself further.   

              • Anonymous says:

                So instead of suing, he has to give his consent for prosecution. Big deal. The point is that it depends on him whether it comes to a prosecution or not.

                Talking about anachronisms: I am still waiting for cases where this has been relevant in recent decades ………zzzzz

                • Anonymous says:

                  If you really do not understand that the differences between liable to a civil suit versus being liable to criminal prosecution (which may result in imprisonment) are a "big deal" then you really are out of your depth in this matter and should be quiet. I have no intention of wasting any more of time in exchanges with you.       

        • Just Commentin' says:

          Wow. Duuudes! Too much time on your hands or what? I mean getting your knickers in a knot debating German libel laws is indicative of someone seriously needing to get a life.

      • Just Commentin' says:

        Good God man! I do not think that any country in their right mind would want to modeltheir democracy and laws after Germany for chrissake!

        The USA – the bastion of a liberal and free press – does have laws against defamation in several states and the District of Columbia. However, take a look at media portrayals of politicians and public figures and you can plainly see that the laws are obviously quite broad and do not allow for the persecution of the press evident in some so-called democracies.

        In America, a prosecution for defamation or libel cannot proceed unless the statement in question is one relating to fact rather than a patent and obvious expression of mere opinion. Inflicting an insult is not enough to warrant prosecution.

        Solely because a statement mocks or subjects the person in question to derision is generally not enough to warrant criminal action in the U.S.A. In other words if you state that a particular person or politician never achieved a score on any IQ test ranging above the retarded level, you might be liable for prosecution. However, expressing an opinion that the person in question is a "damn fool" or a "dumbass" would be OK. Moreover, relative to public figures, actual malicious intent must be proven – which is why American media could portray President G.W. Bush as a dunce in print, in commentary, and in satirical cartoons with no fear of being criminalised. The politically-incorrect comedian, Bill Maher, often opined that Mr. Bush was retarded, a dumbass, a fool, a moron, an idiot, a dunce, among other colourful descriptives. The fact that Bush was indeed a dunce notwithstanding, the media and people like Bill Maher were providing political commentary, satire, and entertainment – they were not making deliberately malicious statements.

        Would but could our laws emulate those of the United States rather than those of Victorian England, or worse yet, Germany!  Gee, can you imagine what a jolly good time the American media could have with our very own Mr. Bush?

        • Anonymous says:

          The U.S. is a mess and is not necessarily a good model for us. It is society where "rights" have gone mad. There are so many rights that there are no more wrongs.   

          • Just Wonderin' says:

            And as far as press freedom is concerned you will be hard pressed to find a country with more fair and democratic laws relating to freedom of the press. It is freedom of the press, not rights or laws in general, that is the issue here.

            While I agree that the USA is a mess, we are not far behind. Seems you need a dose of reality, so bite into this: Good or bad, the USA is our model and as I see it, it will continue to be.

            The American influence is so pervasive in the Cayman Islands that we have come to accept it – yea, adopt it as our own – without even thinking about it.

            Riddle me this:

            In which foreign country do most of us choose to shop?

            What country’s TV shows and movie channels do we spend the most time watching?

            From what country does the majority of our web content originate?

            What country’s food franchises predominate here?

            What country’s pop culture figures do our young people emulate?

            What country has the most influence on our style of dress?

            The Cayman Islands building, plumbing, electrical, gas and fire-safety codes originate from what country?

            In what country do the majority of our young people get obtain their post-secondary education?

            From what country does our most wealthy and influential resident, and to date biggest investor, hail?

            What country is our most significant source of foreign exchange revenue?

            From what country have we borrowed our modern residential architectural style?

            From what country does the majority of our slang originate?

            What foreign country has the largest population of Caymanians and those of Caymanian heritage?

            One of our most prestigious private school’s educational structure is based on what country’s education system?

            From where does the most significant number of our tourists come?

            The list goes on and on and on.

            Other than our banana republic politics and far too many archaic laws, the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman anyway) more resembles a suburb of Miami than an idyllic Caribbean paradise. Ours is as near to an American way of life as one can have outside the USA and her territories.

            So what’s your point?

            • Anonymous says:

              Simple. We take what we like, and don’t take what we don’t like from the U.S. The U.S. has a "rights" culture which most of us don’t like. It is intensely litigious which we don’t like. What’s your point? 

  2. Libertarian says:

    If Cayman had a democracy, Cayman wouldn’t be under the UK government which loves to interfere or intervene in the political process whenever she feels "good governance" or Her Majesty’s Interest is being threatened or ignored – simple!

    All this thing now about we losing our democracy is complete hogwash!

    • SM says:

      Cayman don’t need a Democracy but Britain!  Since there is no way that Parliament would give Caymanians complete democratic freedoms and rights like you have in the UK, I suggest we allow them to take over the island completely and get rid of our local government. That way we will be fully under a Democratic government. The local government is not fully democratic, but Britain is!

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t be ridiculous. That would be a dictatorship. The UK Govt. is not a government of the Caymanian people, by the Caymanian people and for the Caymanian people.  The fact that it was elected by the people of the UK does not make it a democratic govt. for Cayman. 

        The only element of the local govt. that is not fully democratic is the UK’s involvement.  The issue is not lack of rights and freedoms. That is given in the Bill of Rights contained in our Constitution and in the ECHR in respect of which we have right of direct petition to European court. It will take time for those rights and freedoms to work themselves into local legislation and practices.   

        • Legal Beagle says:

          Odd that because the denial of the right guaranteed in the ECHR to vote and to stand in elections is contained in the Constitution.  The ECHR will win but it will take time.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think you must have inadvertenty included the words "the denial of" in your post. The right to vote and stand in elections consistent with the ECHR is clearly provided for in the Constitution.     

        • SM says:

          And why does the UK has to off-and-on get involved?  Answer:  Because the Cayman Islands is not fully hers.  If the islands had fully belong to the UK then it would had been considered like any other district in the UK with the same rights and freedoms that they do have up there. This thing that we need a separate governmentfrom the UK’s to better serve the local people, is completely contrary to how the districts in the UK are right now being governed.

          Have a Member of Parliament that represents the islands and conjoin the islands completely to Britain, and you will not have the stress of worrying about a local government that is not accountable, fair, and transparent. You also won’t have the worry of some dictator rising or the misfortune of becoming independant. Good bye Bush, Ezzard… all of them. I think a local dictator is what we need to worry about – not a UK one.

          Cayman needs to become "one" with Great Britain, get rid of Caymanian passports and make them UK ones, and you will see a control in crime as well.

           

          • Anonymous says:

            1. We are not the same people as the people of the UK and we are not seen by the UK as the same people. Rather like the Chagossians they see us as "man Fridays". For this reason The Channel Islands have always had a different status from us. We presently have a right to self-determination. This would be completely lost. 

            2. Obviously a population of say 30,000 voters (incuding British Citizens and Commonwealth citizens) would not be entitled to have their own UK MP. We would have to join with at least one other Overseas Territory who would stupid enough to join us.  One MP could easily be ignored. The UK Govt. would certainly not be accountable to us whereas our govt is. 

            3. We would be liable to be taxed by the UK.

            4. Our financial industry would be history.  

            5. Every EU citizen would have the right to live and work here. The employment prospects for Caymanians would be seriously damaged.   

            At this point I am going to ignore you since you are obviously afflicted with incorrigible ignorance and stupidity.

            • SM says:

              Well then sir, don’t complain about Cayman’s democracy being threatened! You choose to be under us, and therefore you must be loyal subjects to the Crown; or, else, you will be living on this island in illusive misery!  You belong to Great Britain and that is that!

              It is either two ways out for Cayman:  Independence or "shut up and comply"!

              You see… I am smart!  How I see it; if you can’t beat them, JOIN THEM!  And if you want the UK fully represent you, I suggest:-

              1. You yield further allegance to her; and,

              2. You join other political forces in the UK to reform the its Government for better democratic representation. 

              It would be easier that way to deal with one central Government. Right now, Caymanians have to deal with two governments!  Tell me, does that really make sense?

              Trust me, you will accomplish nothing by trying to reform this local government whilst the UK government, which umbrellas the local and all other Overseas Territories, is the government that really needs the reformation!  You will accomplish nothing by trying to portray yourselves as "different" from the "caucasian people" up there!  This thing about we are "different," of Caribbean blood and roots, is an excuse to further severe ties from accepting reality!  Let me remind you that in the UK alone, there are diverse nationalities, groups, and races of people up there. So don’t try to make it look like Caymanians are some special group from the rest of humanity.

              I think you are the one who sounds ignorant and stupid!  Why should Caymanians have to deal with two governments??? 

            • Anonymous says:

               VERY WELL SAID.  We are not the same culture,race or anything and as such we need to value our culture and stand up for our self determination.  If we allow ourselves to be "Man Fridays" as the Uk sees us, we will undermine our culture.  Do not let the UK whitewash history by forgetting that we are different, not inferior as they believe, but different.   

  3. Anonymous says:

     How can the Cayman Islands be described as a democracy !  A population of 50,000 with 10,000 (20%) being able to vote.  One guy with maybe 200 votes in his area making the LA look like a joke and trying to jail journalists, publishers and editors one day and all government accountants, financial controllers and book keepers the following day.  How can Cayman be respected in the world and as a leading offshore financial centre when it is run by these jokers and moderated by a woman who could not get voted in to the LA and published a vitriolic paper years ago which went further to impugn the House and the then members than the existing press.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman is not a true democracy not for the reason you give but because it is an overseas dependent territory of the UK which can pass laws for Cayman without the consent of the people and has an unelected Governor who can override the laws passed by a duly elected legislature. 

      I wish you would stop writing nonsense quoting 10,000 of 50,000 people having the right to vote as proof of a lack of democracy:

      1.  Obviously many of the 50,000 are not adults

      2.  Many of the adult population are not citizens but transient workers (some 21,000 on work permit). The right to vote is a right properly reserved for citizens.      

    • Dred says:

      You my friend are a IDIOT.

      If you don’t like it here then simply leave.

      First our population is actually around 60K and second our voters are around 15k. So before you go spouting off get your facts straight.

      Every country has idiots for politicians, it’s a prerequisite if you ask me. Our 200 vote one actually is more sensible than many I have seen in MAJOR nations. And when I say MAJOR nations I mean EVERY MAJOR nation including the US, UK, etc.

      And as for the votes it took him to get in this is not something surprising if you did any research before having a brain bleed. In the US there are big states such as California with 37mil people accounting for 12% of the US population to states like Wyoming with only 544k or 0.17%.

      North Side had 571 voters out of 15,361 or 3.7%. Mr Miller got 253 of the 498 votes actually cast which was more than 50% for his district.

      Also in every country you have voters and non-voters. I hope you realise this. Because some are too young to vote (20% of Cayman population) and some don’t have the right to vote (foreign nationals). Cayman is no exception to this rule as we import a large degree of our labor force and we are also a tourist destination.

      So please go to Foster’s later today. Brains are in aisle 5. I passed it last night while looking for Idiot repellant. I believe I need a few more cans as they seem to be coming out of the woodwork today.

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re right, Dred, and he got 12 other idiots to agree with him.

      • Anonymous says:

        And because there are so many that think like you on Cayman (Especially in Government) it will continue to be a third world country that is TRYING to be something more.  Don’t worry though for many of us X-pats this brings a certain charm that can not be found in a first world country.  Kind of neat that my 5th grader is smarter than most adults and much smarter than your leaders.

      • Anonymous says:

        ‘if you don’t like it leave’……..you lost the argument right there…..

        • Dred says:

          An argument has two sides. It was a statement. There are no two sides.

          • Anonymous says:

            Dred you had some lucid points in your rebuttal of the previous post and your points would have carried more weight had you been able to refrain from the personal attacks and name calling.

            Before you attack me please consider this as a suggestion in your future posts because personal attacks do not strengthen your argument. The person that was turned off by your first line was offering you some sound feedback.

            When I have an emotional bit of feedback, I write it first with the attacks included with my argument and then I edit out the attacks before I push the submit button.

            I guarantee it will strengthen you future posts. Happy New Year.

            • Anonymous says:

              "Dred you had some lucid points in your rebuttal of the previous post and your points would have carried more weight had you been able to refrain from the personal attacks and name calling."

              I suggest you and Dred need to get  your act together… You calling the LA members "jokers" as well.

              • Anonymous says:

                I read you posted reply and it made no sense, I called no one jokers. Other than that your post was very helpful thanks…

  4. Roy Tatum says:

    Tony Blair speaks on the Media:

    The following link to the BBC is a good read and one former top politician’s take on today’s media and politics.  

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6744581.stm

     

     

    • John Evans says:

      Comments that need to be taken in the context of Tony Blair’s long-standing relationship with Rupert Murdoch and his current tie-in with Time Warner.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for that, Roy. That was an insightful speech by Mr. Blair. It has some application here.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What’s so ironic about all of this is that the two people who have made the most moronic and detrimental decisions for this country (in so many other matters) came out of this looking like knights in shining armour.

    How many times has our "premier" flaunted his disregard for the sanctity of human rights (freedom of speech etc.)?

    How many times have we wondered, "Who the hell will fire this AG? He surely has shown that he is incapable of defending the laws of this island…how many times can we count?"

    Yet, they are both still there. Yet, to the international press…they now look like darlings.

    smh!!!

  6. Simon says:

    Democracy is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “a government by the people; especially, rule of the majority.”

    How is it that you people complain so much about losing Democracy in Cayman when we never had that in the first place? Correction: What we do have is “a government under the rule of the United Kingdom, which allows the people to have certain rights, priveleges, and powers of governance.” You people need to understand that this is far from a Democracy, because the UK could at any time step in and take away those rights, priveleges, and powers from the people. People, please use your heads for once! There is no way that the Cayman Islands will have Democracy without first becoming free from the fears of becoming Independent, completely severed from the lordship and rule of the UK.

    Once completely severed, then can one say, “OUR Press is being threatened and OUR Democracy as well.” But oh Cayman, Cayman, Cayman, you are but still a baby in the arms of a mother.You are far from being independant, and the best you can do with your scripts and Constitution, is dream that you are in a Democracy when in reality, your freedom is dependant on how far mother tells you can go.

    Hence the title, “Threat to the Press, democracy in Cayman” is misleading in itself.

  7. au revoir says:

    Thankfully, the media is currently the only institution keeping the politicians and various institutions somewhat accountable.  Thank you CNS, and more recently, the CaymanCompass for your bravery – the Cayman Islands would slide back into the Dark Ages once again if Mrs. Lawrence, Ezzard and Co. would have their way…  Shame, shame, shame on them!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    the worst thing is that on rooster this morning, haris and mclean (during their first hour of waffle) actually tried to say that this whole episode was good for democracy on cayman and we should all just move from this……zzzzzzzz

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Harris and McLean got it exactly right.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was very disappointed with the AM radio talk hosts and first when Ezzard was on the program the Tuesday after his motion passed and the AG decided not to prosecute,  they spent the entire program talking about the East End port and nothing else. It surprised me that they ignored such an important issue and the politician who made the motion against the press. What were Ezzard’s thoughts about the AG’s decision to not prosecute. Perhaps he could prosecute the AG.

      As members of the media their soft sell of the issue sounded disingenuous and a disservice to their listening audience. Perhaps Mr Miller told them what he would and would not care to talk about and they followed his lead. Tuesdays seem to belong to Ezzard and the co hosts are there to feed him  questions and to cheer him on as they agree with everything he says. Perhaps we have 2 more independent candidates in the making.

      I believe that Austin & Gilbert have some areas of disagreement with Ezzard but I don’t know what they are. Certainly Ezzard doesn’t take disagreement well and the studio is small so they keep their opinions to themselves. This intended threat toward the the is a big deal and the soft sell is not good for the country.

      • Anonymous says:

        In this instance Harris and McLean followed proper broadcast journalism protocol by keeping their opinions out of the discussions. Their role is to moderate debate (which incidentally is not always the case on that show!) and encourage discussions amongst callers so that a cross section of the community will be allowed to share opinions on this and other matters of interest. The usual case, however, is that one has too much opinion and/or general blab while the other has very little to say or is reluctant to express much. It was refreshing to hear them allow Miller to give his reaction to the AG’s ruling and move on to other discussions.

        • Anonymous says:

          "Harris and McLean followed proper broadcast journalism protocol by keeping their opinions out of the discussions. Their role is to moderate debate (which incidentally is not always the case on that show!) and encourage discussions amongst callers so that a cross section of the community will be allowed to share opinions on this and other matters of interest".

          Actually, I don’t think that is correct. They are not functioningas news anchormen when on their show. They are editorialising and at least attempting to analyse the news. There is also a need for entertainment. Do you seriously there could be a radio show that lasts some 3 hours which strictly observes "broadcast journalism protocols"?. Their personal opinions must inevitably surface or they simply will not be able to fill in the gaps and there will be long silent pauses.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thx CNS again for finding pieces like that.

    The democratic understanding of the LA is Banana republic like, good god we have still the UK watching some times about whats happening here…

    • Anonymous says:

      and what exactly did they do in this instance?

       

      • My2cents says:

         They don’t need to do anything. But they could if they chose. The threat of action is as important as action itself, and acts as some balance to the excesses here. Those who push against a democratic Cayman Islands know full well if they push it too far, the UK will step in. 

  10. Anonymous says:

    There’s a reason why voters kept her out of the LA for all these years, unfortunately, Mckeeva saw it fit to put her in there nothwithstanding the voice of the people as evidenced by her performance at the polls. Now this, a shameful day for us all, just another consequence that we have to bear as a result of Mckeeva’s decision making.

  11. bradley says:

    We never had a democracy!  Britain has always been in the people’s business of the Overseas Territorys!  We love to think that our Constitution gives us absolute freedom and democracy, but that is delusional. Just read that last clause of it and you will see – "all powers are reserved to Her Majesty."

    The LA attacks freedom of the press!!!

    We ought to be thankful that such attacks on democracy isn’t worse! Other places, you don’t even have the freedom to petition or speak out against the government without being imprisoned or sentenced to death!

    Let us all wake up and realize that if we want ultimate solution, we have to strike at the "root" of our problems. It is not the LA! 

  12. Michel Lemay says:

    I am sorry to agree to disagree on this. The reality is that it happenned and too many things in the past were just swept under the carpet. Our legislators, speaker of the house,bloggers ALL contribute to this as a matter of fact. That means we all have a responsibility to take heed of our actions and choice of words. That we like it or not the whole world is reading and paying attention to what is going on here and the picture we are painting is not pretty. Apart from Mr. Miller and Madame Speaker trying to muzzle the press, the hatrageof each other and it’s culture here in Cayman versus one another speaks volumes. just go back and read the many posts at the end of the day and it tells the whole story. In a way most of us are to be blamed even though we live in Paradise, income tax free, mostly sunny with the occassional nice cool weather. Let’s make certain that for 2011 whathever resolutions we make,I pray that it includes to be better persons towards each other and for our Government and legislators to start leading by example having it’s Country ,it’s people and resident at heart first and foremost. Happy New year to all and may God continues to Bless our beloved Cayman Islands and may we move forward in a positive way so we may live together in peace and harmony.

  13. Anonymous says:

    While I agree that the legislators acted hastily and without much thought there are four points worth making:

    1. The fact that there is a free press does not mean that the press is entitled to act irresponsibly. While we understand that its businessobjective is to increase readership and circulation, like the MLAs it should exercise a great deal of care and forethought about what it prints.

    2. It is somewhat hypocritical about the issue of freedom of speech since it is known that media often censors its own critics or those who espouse a view which strongly differs from its own. 

    3. Quite apart from being guided by its duty to inform the public, it often pursues its own political and ideological agendas and in doing so distorts the news. One need look no further than the media treatment that Cayman receives to recognise the truth of this.

    4. The media is not elected by the people and there should be some means of accountability lest it get puffed up and intoxicated with power. While it is having a field day beating up on the politicians and engaging in sanctimony its practise of its own noble ideals is not above reproach.  

       

    • Lachlan MacTavish says:

       07:14

      Your view is flawed. You are correct, the media is not elected , they are a private enterprise. Look at countries with state run media and what do you see. Were you in Cayman 20 years ago, if yes then you saw the height of politician private sector interference, bullying, intimidation and down right threats to individuals that did not agree with the power brokers. Thank God we have the media of today. They are helping to drag our 3rd world government back towards serving the people by showing the people what is truely going on. "Press on". 

      • Anonymous says:

        Lachlan, you have pronounced my views "flawed" but so far as I can see you have not explained why you think so. I think you need to re-read my post but this time a little more carefully. 

        My point about not being elected is that there needs to be some level of accountability. I am concerned that this may lead to pendulum swing where the media is almighty because they are not accountable all in the name of freedom of the press. That is equally a threat to democracy. I also made the point that the media is not simply about  "showing the people what is going on" (which is their proper function). You are naive if you think so. 

        None of this is negated by saying that historically there have been threats to individuals by politicians and so apparently the media must now be given carte blanche.  

        How about actually addressing the points that I made, rather than throwing in red herrings? 

        • Lachlan MacTavish says:

           Respectfully there is accountability for the media and the private sector. It is called "the law of the land". Should anyone break the law they can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It is obvious that Fuller and The Compass did not break any laws or the AG would have pressed charges. The pendulum is swinging, it is finally swinging towards the center and its rightful resting place. I read your post and all I got was you are concerned about the media becoming to powerful. All I see is the media attempting to give us the transparency we deserve in order to finally make our politicians accountable for their actions and the expenditure our our money.  

          • Anonymous says:

            Now you are showing your ignorance. It is not obvious that Fuller and the Compass did not break the Legislative Assembly (Immunities, Powers and Privileges) Law. The AG did not state his reasons for not proceeding. A breach of a law does not necessarily in every case require prosecution "to the fullest extent of the law". In the case of the two candidates from Bodden Town who were, on the face of the matter, in breach of the Constitution he determined that he would not take the matter to court to have it judicially determined. His reasons in this case could be any of the following (or any combination thereof):

            1. The elements of the offence were not established on examination of the evidence and the Law.

            2. Notwithstanding that there was a breach of the Law he deemed it not to be in the public interest to proceed. 

            3. Notwithstanding that there was a breach of the Law he may have considered that those provisions of the Law itself are not compatible with our Bill of Rights or the ECHR. 

            The Jamaica Gleaner editorial on the issue was clearly calling for a repeal of the sections which criminalise defamation of the Legislative Assembly and its committees. It has been established by a House of Lords (now the Supreme Court) decision that a public body (which would include the LA and its committees) is not entitled to sue for defamation. The clear implication of the open letter from ‘the Centre for Law and Democracy’ (as they call themselves) was clearly suggesting that there should be no restrictions as contained in the Law: “We believe that the right to engage in criticism of elected bodies, even of a trenchant or unreasonable nature, is central to a democracy.” 

            The media does not like to be regulated and likes to think that it can properly regulate itself (although it would be the first to ridicule any other profession which took that approach). However, this has often had unhappy consequences. Let’s take for example the Press Complaints Commission in the UK which has often declined to take any effective action against newspapers which print damaging, false or misleading stories.  A poll earlier this year showed that 52 per cent of the British public want the press to be regulated by an independent regulatory body, while only 8% think that self-regulation is satisfactory.

            Clearly, my post went over your head if you think that all it said was I was concerned about the media being powerful. I am right to be concerned about potential abuses by the media given the experience elsewhere. It might interest you to know that an opinion poll in 2004 in the UK found that the British public regarded journalists – taken as a group – as the least trustworthy professional body in British society. Although the poll of 2,000 adults found that trust in journalists had risen modestly to 20%, this was below the number who trusted politicians.

            I am all for freedom of information. I am all for making politicians accountable.  However, this does require responsible, fair and accurate reporting, and effective accountability for the press when it is out of bounds. There is some pressure to remove such accountability. To assume that the press will only ever serve the interests of the public to information to hold their representatives accountable flies in the face of the experience with the media elsewhere and is obviously ridiculous.     

             

            • John Evans says:

              Three points to consider here –

              1. The PCC is not an organisation that editors and journalists like to tangle with. PCC investigations tend to drag on, tying up resources and blocking further stories on the same subject or person. I’m aware of one on-going complaint that has been dragging on for nearly two years and its sole purpose has been to stop the publication of follow ups to the original story because the complainant does not want, as could happen is he filed for libel, the dispute to go public. One of the reasons that the PCC is often accused of, "declined to take any effective action against newspapers which print damaging, false or misleading stories," is that numerous complaints, as in this case, are vexatious or malicious and many of them are treated accordingly.

              2. Most self-styled ‘opinion polls’ in the UK are nothing of the sort. I did a lot of research into the subject back in 2005 and the results were very distrurbing. At the time one media group had just found themselves forced to issue very strict guidelines on what could and could not be regarded as public opinion after evidence that their phone-in polls were being rigged. Overall, the problems include respondents rarely representing a true cross-section of the community or group whose opinion is being sought, questions that tend to be biased to produce the results required by whoever commissions the survey and no more than a token attempt being made to determine whether or not the respondent actually understandsthe subject of the poll with their responses then being driven by the person conducting the poll. In some instances I found that specific groups had been targeted (as I believe might have been the case here) to generate the required responses.

              3. The poll figures quoted above come from a survey commissioned by the Media Standards Trust and they represent the views of just980 respondents out of a current UK population on over 62million – that’s a sample too small to be even remotely representative and certainly way to small to be touted as, "52% of the British public." Just to muddy the waters a bit more, the MST’s board of trustees includes the founder of MORI, the organisation that conducted the poll, and a senior representative from the BBC, who are not only self-regulating but notorious for failing to investigate complaints about their own programmes.

              Moral – don’t believe everything you read 😉

               

              • Anonymous says:

                "Moral – don’t believe everything you read ;-)".

                We agree on that, John. Of course what you read is most often put out by journalists. The media is itself responsible for rigging many opinion polls. 

                The PPC is toothless, overly influenced by the press and is not seen as fair and balanced. It cannot award damages or imposefines, compel apologies or make findings of fact or the as to the truth or falsity of allegations. There are a number of cases where it has been found to be willing to let irresponsible reporting off the hook. A Committee of the House of Commons had this to say: "The failure of the PCC to prevent or at least limit the irresponsible reporting that surrounded the McCann and Bridgend cases has undermined the credibility of press self-regulation. In future the Commission must be more proactive".

          • Dred says:

            Actually LM I do not agree with you on this. If you look at the BT Elections you will see a situation where the AG had a situation where the law was broken and even admitted by the people who broke it but he himself, someone with the right to address the matter did nothing.

            The case that was won on the matter did not address whether the law was broken only that the filing of the case itself was done incorrectly and out of time. No ruling was made or even considered whether the law was in fact broken.

            So please do not say that if the law was broken he would have done something because there is grounds for correction there.

            While I do see a need for the press to be able to speak freely they should be held to some standard of ethics in reporting. It might be necessary to have some independent arm managing their ethics.

            Let’s be clear here. From time you are government be it a ministry or a department a politician can work you. So saying that the AG himself is probably not the right person.

            Let’s take a look at what the previous writer said shall we:

            1) Responsibility in actions – Why should there not be responsibility in writing accurate articles? It states that MLAs and Media need to act responsible for what they do and say. Seems sensible to me. MLAs can be voted out of office and at extremes removed from office but Media has to check themselves right up until the action becomes libelous.

            2) This one I agree less with I guess only on the grounds that I do not have proof of this being done but I can say that there are times where I feel it might be done. CNS has done a great job of featuring all sides for and against.

            3) The Compass and the former Cayman Net News both have/had political agendas. Anyone with half a brain could see this in their writeups. First they pick sides (UDP or PPM). Then they sensationalise certain topics. I have seen this on quite a few occassions even when I was supportive of their position I saw it because I am not a drone. I actually think for myself. I would say that even CNS leans slightly one way or the other if not by design then by default. Businesses do what they need to do to survive and with media it’s all about the stories and good headlines gets readers back or sell papers. It’s simply naive to think elsewise.

            4) Speaks on accountability. At some point there needs to be a line in the sand. The problems with lines in the sand is that they become foggy.

            Now let me say this. I believe the following:

            1) The story was written to sell papers. I believe that the reporter knew information but wrote his story in such a way as to create excitement. Maybe it was to sell papers or it was to bring light to an issue. Eitherway reporting inaccurately is wrong.

            2) I believe that the MLAs and the speaker went too far. I believe that they did not think out the situation completely and made a serious error in judgement.

            In the end we need to learn from this something. Writers need to know that what they write is far more important in detail than it is for selling papers. Words on paper can make people do stupid things so THINK before you write. Where’s the editor on this? Did he not do some research himself on this?

            MLAs you need to develop thick skin.  We pay you exorbitant amounts of money and although it seems to you and us (due to what you actually do) that we pay you to keep a seat warm the fact remains that we look to you for results and although this to a great degree is in error on our part we do reserve the right to hold you accountable for what we HOPED you would do.

            Ezzard you need to sit back and think about this. I know where you are coming from but this is a time and place for restraint.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What a embarrassing International opinion as to the Cayman Islands government recent attempt to muzzle the press. The speaker and all who voted with Mr Miller and his draconian motion ought to be ashamed.

    It makes the country look bad in the eyes of the world.