Archive for August 13th, 2013

GT top cop asks community to give offenders a chance

| 13/08/2013 | 13 Comments

(CNS): With the issue of recidivism a major contributing factor to crime levels on Grand Cayman, the commander of George Town police station has called on the community to give offenders a second chance to try and help them turn away from crime. During a community meeting on Saturday with a group of residents who were clearly concerned about crime, both Angelique Howell and the new head of the burglary unit, Detective Sergeant Sean Bryan, spoke about habitual offenders and the need to find work for people so that they don’t resort to crime to make ends meet.  

As well as fighting and preventing crime, DS Bryan said that the department was also keen to work with other agencies to try and get some of the repeat offenders who are responsible for a lot of low level crime help and steer them away from theft as a means of survival.

With frustrations running high among residents, who said they were repeatedly victims of crimes, the attendees at the first of a series of police community meetings were more concerned about seeing petty criminals taken off the street and locked up, regardless of the offence, than helping them.

Nevertheless, CI Angelique Howell, commander of George Town police station, pressed ahead with the point that locking up low level criminals who have drug dependency, alcohol or mental health problems was not necessarily the answer.

Using those going through drug court as an example, she said that they needed work to stay clean and straight .

The senior officer said that it was a vicious circle for many because even when they tried to go straight no one wanted to give them a chance, so it was no surprise they reverted back to their old ways.

“We are asking people in the community who can to consider taking these people on and giving them a chance as it may help them change their ways,” she said. CI Howell said she knew that some people do try and sometimes the offenders do let them down but they were not all bad.

“We can’t give up on this people, otherwise we will always be dealing with the problem. Some can’t help themselves and we need to help them. They are not all as bad as you think,” she said, as she called on the residents to give people a chance.

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Historic home preserved on Cayman Brac

| 13/08/2013 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Restoration is now complete on one of only a handful of homes on Cayman Brac that survived the 1932 Hurricane. With the help of donations and support from the community, the National Trust has been able to preserve the Eldemire House in the Creek. The home was originally constructed in 1927 for George Eldemire and his wife. After the 1932 storm it served as a distribution facility for food, shelter, medical and other relief supplies.

In order to preserve this important part of the Brac’s heritage, the home along with furnishings, photographs and a small wooden boat named the “Seven Sons” was donated to the Trust by the Eldemire Brothers in 2005.

Denise Bodden, Historic Education and Development Manager at the Trust said, “This is an amazing donation considering this home wasone of only 11 that survived the great hurricane of 1932 which devastated Cayman Brac.” 

Although significant roof repairs had been carried out by the Trust in 2006/07 the home sustained damage due to Hurricane Paloma in 2008 which further delayed the project.

Restoration efforts commenced in late 2012 and included foundation, wooden floors throughout the house, both interior and exterior walls, ceilings and the inner structure of the roof. The interior and exterior of the historic home was also painted and a new septic tank, above ground cistern and air condition units were also installed.

The work was conducted by Seth “Boosie” Arch,  and project managed by volunteer Jim Scott, with significant financial support from Maples Finance and donations from Jacques Scott and Billy Reid.

”The Trust is pleased to have restored the Eldemire home with its rich history, traditional architecture and cultural importance to Cayman Brac. It’s very rewarding to see this old home standing proud again” said Christina McTaggart, Executive Director of the National Trust.

With the major work completed, the Trust will now seek additional funding to add appropriate landscaping, fencing, parking and install interpretative signage on the site.

For more information on sponsorship opportunities for ongoing developments of the Eldemire House, contact director@nationaltrust.org.ky or call 749-1121.

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Cayman agrees automatic exchange deal with US

| 13/08/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands Government has concluded its negotiations with the United States on a Model 1 intergovernmental agreement (IGA) and a new tax information exchange agreement (TIEA), officials revealed Tuesday. This paves the way for automatic exchange of information (AEOI) under the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).  Representatives for CIG and the US have initialled the deals with the intent of signing them as soon as possible, after which the texts will be publicly available. Cayman’s financial services minister Wayne Panton said government was pleased to have arrived at this milestone, which recognises that the global community is moving in the direction of one AEOI standard for tax purposes. Read more on CNS Business

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Police appeal for witnesses to fatal road crash

| 13/08/2013 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Officers investigating the fatal road smash in East End during the early hours of Saturday morning (10 August) are appeal for anyone who may have seen what happened to come forward. 26 year old Deutron Dawson Linwood arrived in Cayman from Honduras to join his family in East End just hours before the fatal smash in which his younger brother was driving. 19 year old Dilroy Linwood was also injured in the single vehicle accident and he remains in a critical condition at the Cayman Islands hospital. The smash happened on Seaview Road when the blue Honda Inspire which the two men were in crashed into the sea wall close to East End primary school.

Anyone who was in the area around 01.30am on Saturday 10th August and witnessed the crash, or has any information which could assist the investigation, is asked to contact the Bodden Town Police Station on 947-2220.

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Officers recover 2lb of ganja on prison compound

| 13/08/2013 | 18 Comments

(CNS): A routine check around the prison on Friday morning turned up another tightly wrapped package of drugs and booze. Officials believe the latest batch of contraband was tossed over the prison fence and destined to be picked up by inmates. However, the new director of prisons, Neil Lavis, said the package which contained 2lbs of ganja and an unusual tipple for prisoners, Bailey’s Irish Cream, was found behind the new vocational training early on 9 August, during the perimeter check when officers were monitoring the double-fences and the surrounding areas, which they now do at varying times each day.

Lavis added that the daily staff briefings emphasise the importance of being alert to the movement of contraband in all areas, including the entrance gate, on the cell blocks, in the general areas of the compound, as well as while monitoring the security cameras.

Officials said the intercepted drugs were turned over to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and anyone found either throwing contraband or attempting to smuggle it into the prison compound is liable to criminal prosecution.
 

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Teen launches petition for sex education in schools

| 13/08/2013 | 42 Comments

(CNS): Seventeen-year-old Madeleine Rowell has launched a petition to introduce sex education in schools in the Cayman Islands. Addressed to Health Minister Osbourne Bodden and Education Minister Tara Rivers, the petition asks them to adopt a national sexual education curriculum and to improve access for young people to information, testing, and contraception aimed at reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. Rowell told local TV station, Cayman27, “I think it’s important for all Caymanian youth to have access to this kind of information in particular and to have a cohesive education about sex education in general.”

The introduction to the petition states, "Youth in the Cayman Islands, like their counterparts in the rest of the Caribbean region, are vulnerable to contracting a sexually transmitted infection (including HIV), experiencing an unwanted pregnancy, and in most (albeit not all) cases having that pregnancy result in teen parenting.

"Currently, no school in the Cayman Islands delivers a consistent, age appropriate comprehensive sexual education curriculum which is aimed at empowering youth with knowledge, skills and information equipping them to make responsible choices throughout their lives.

"Over the past ten years the Cayman Islands Red Cross has been working to offer such information to youth via it’s comprehensive Peer Education Programme, yet even this- which started off as a part of the Year 11 life skills curriculum at the public high school- has been reduced to a couple of activities throughout the school year.

"Outside of the classroom access to this information, skills, testing, and contraception aimed at reducing the risks of contracting a STI or becoming pregnant is also extremely limited, and that which is available is most likely restricted to those students in the public high schools.

"As individuals, each young person will make an individual choice based on his/her own values and the morals with which he/she was raised. However, like basic literacy and numeracy skills it has become imperative that all youth in the Cayman Islands are privy to the same high quality, age appropriate, standardised, comprehensive sexual education curriculum and have the same access to these potentially life saving information, skills and tools inside and outside of school."

See the petition here

Go to the Cayman 27 report

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Alden promises job enforcers

| 13/08/2013 | 217 Comments

(CNS): As part of a major overhaul of the immigration system, the premier has promised that a new task force will monitor workplaces and ensure employers are obeying the law when it comes to giving qualified Caymanians work. Alden McLaughlin said government knows what is happening in the workforce and there are employers who are not giving local workers a chance by applying for and getting permits when Caymanians are available. The new minister of home and community affairs said the issue of enforcement would be at the centre of the reforms, with the creation of work permit inspectors that could properly monitor employers, making sure that they are truthful about permit applications and are not just taking on but training and promoting Caymanians.

Speaking at the PPM’s National Council Meeting on Saturday, when the premier and his ministers gave an overview of their first eleven weeks in office, McLaughlin said that the main weakness in the immigration system at present was not necessarily the law but government’s inability to properly monitor what is actually going on in the workplace. He said he now wanted to find a way to monitor and make sure that what employers say they are doing they really are doing.

With other major policy changes coming, so that most non-contentious permits will be dealt with by immigration staff rather than boards, the premier promised a more streamlined and efficient system. He said that the Progressives had focused on immigration during the campaign because the system at present was hurting Cayman. The premier said it had to be addressed in order to “wind up with a balance” between employers' need for permits and full local employment.  

Addressing the issue of the Term Limit Exemption Permits (TLEP), McLaughlin said that because over 1,500 workers were all scheduled to leave on the very same day, he was forced to take action and allow them to be included in the abolition of the seven year term and to apply for permanent residency.

The TLEP was created by the previous administration as a stop gap solution to the feared mass exodus of workers, particularly in the tourism sector, who had all started their tenure on island around the same time during the post Hurricane Ivan period in 2005 when the recovery began. This mass exodus threatened to make a difficult economy even worse. However, the introduction of the specialist permit at the same time meant that these permits would all expire on 28 October 2013, merely pushing the same problem into the future.

The estimated number is 1,522 and all of those workers as well as their dependents will be gone by the morning of the 29 October unless government takes action, the premier explained. Amendments to the legislation will allow them stay and have an opportunity to apply for PR.

“A lot of people departing at the same time for a fragile recovering economy would be a problem,” he warned. “We believe that by extending their stay it will be a chance to stagger their departure and have them be replaced or stay.”

Addressing the complaints that their departure would pave the way for locals to get jobs, McLaughlin said this was not the case. He pointed out that at least 400 of the posts were domestics and sending them home would not automatically translate into jobs for Caymanians.

“We need to make significant immigration reforms but it is in best interest of Cayman that these workers are incorporated back into system and go through the process,” he said. “Sending them all away on the same day not in best interests of the economy. “

McLaughlin explained that this was part of wider reforms government has proposed to do away with key employee, as it was mostly members of the managerial and professional class of workers who were getting to stay. He said other very good employees generally do not get to apply for key and so do not get the designation or the ability to apply for PR.

Emphasising that the application process would be more robust, he said that just because people were allowed to stay long enough to apply for PR did not mean they would get to stay.

He the latest immigration review team was expected to have an interim report completed by October relating to wider reforms, which would be implemented by next April.

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Scholarships now approved, Rivers reveals

| 13/08/2013 | 14 Comments

(CNS): In the face of major concerns across the community about the delay in scholarship approvals for the forthcoming term, the education minister revealed that the process has now been completed. Tara Rivers told the PPM National Council Meeting that the delay was as a result of the election and the budget. She confirmed that Cabinet had now approved all applications for scholarships where students have met the criteria. She also said the education council would be honouring commitments made to students who received scholarships via the controversial Nation Building Fund but there were a “number of irregularities” regarding those that would need addressing in future.

Rivers put the election challenge to her eligibility behind her, after an extremely favourable result for her political future from the chief justice on Friday, when she joined the PPM National Council Meeting on Saturday evening to deliver an update on her ministry. The new education minister said that while she remained an independent candidate, she was part of one government.

Turning to the affairs of her ministry, which she can expect to be at the centre of public attention given the levels of unemployment and continuing education challenges, Rivers said that there were concerns about the nation building scholarship, which had been transferred to the ministry.

“It has been an interesting process in trying to find out what was going on and we found some irregularities in how these scholarships were being administered and the money disbursed,” she said, adding that policies were now being developed to regularize these scholarships and create a fair, level playing field and to eliminate the abuses that existed previously.

She said the process has taken some time but the ministry was at the point where they could say whether these students do meet the criteria or not and were developing what might have to be a transition year for some of these students. With the commitments made previously, she said, the ministry’s hands were tied for this year but there would be changes.

Rivers promised a more detailed update on the future of these scholarships, which it is understood have been given to students who failed to meet the Education Council criteria.

Talking generally about education policy, she said she would not be throwing out her predecessor’s National Strategic Plan just because her name was not attached to it. Rivers stated that she planned to strengthen and developed the plan in line with the PPM manifesto and the independents’ national plan, which the C4C had insisted was not a manifesto.

However, Rivers said she recognised that employment was her number one issue and she made a commitment that the employment of Caymanians would be front and centre of the ministry’s work. She said the wheels were in motion for a broader policy to guide the future of employment issues. The minister said she had opened dialogue with employers about taking on local workers and with immigration so that the department could begin to look at the permits being issued to see which jobs could be held by Caymanians instead.

Recognising the need for work-permits where there were skill shortages, she said the system could “not disenfranchise our own” and said, “We want to achieve balance.” 

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US to cut back sentences on drug cases

| 13/08/2013 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The Obama administration has unveiled major changes to the criminal justice system, dropping mandatory minimum sentences in certain drug cases. Such terms will not be imposed for non-violent drug offenders with no gang or cartel ties, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech.The US has one of the world's biggest prison populations, despite a 40-year-low in the country's crime rates.Critics say that heavy drug sentences have hit minorities hardest."We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate – not merely to convict, warehouse and forget," Holder said in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco on Monday.

Under the reforms, Holder is directing US prosecutors who draft indictments for certain drug offences to omit any mention of the quantity of illegal substance involved, so as to avoid triggering a mandatory minimum sentence.

Only non-violent offenders with no previous charges or ties to gangs or cartels will be affected.

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Accused man denies killing or jealousy

| 13/08/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The 22-year-old George Town man accused of killing Jackson Rainford stood before the jury and the courtroom Monday and denied the allegation that he was the gunman that shot the 23-year-old victim last December or being at the crime scene. Tareek Ricketts remained composed as he took the stand and denied both the murder and having any motive to kill the deceased, as he believed his ex-lover and Rainford were just friends. Speaking in his own defence, Ricketts told the court that he had no previous convictions and was employed as a computer technician at a local law firm since he had attended college and before he was arrested.

The local man said both his mother and stepfather were police officers and he was the breadwinner for his two children with his former girlfriend, Tarina Tomlinson.

One crown witness has alleged that Ricketts was close to Tomlinson’s residence on the night of the shooting just before she arrived with both Jackson Rainford and his brother, Che. Dale Vernon testified that he was with him outside of the church near Tomlinson's residence. In his evidence, he said Ricketts had become upset after watching a white Honda civic arrive with the Rainford brothers, Tomlinson and his two young children at such a late hour before he approached the vehicle.

However, Ricketts' denies these allegations and gave the jury an account of hiswhereabouts the night that Rainford was shot three times as he sat in the car. He told the jury and presiding judge, Justice Alex Henderson, that he had been waiting for Tomlinson to return to her house with their children and had tried contacting her multiple times. He explained that he had taken multiple routes in the George Town area, including stopping to fix his car, which had broken down.

Ricketts said that it was not until the later hours of the night that he and his girlfriend had received the information that her estranged husband had been murdered in the passenger seat of his brother's car.

The defendant said that shortly afterwards his mother had called and explained that she had been asked to inform her son that he was a suspect in the crime, which the crown claims was motivated by jealousy and the interconnection of relationships between Ricketts and Rainford, who had essentially swapped partners.

Ricketts denied these claims and instead submitted that he would have been happy for Tomlinson to find a partner so that she would not need to call or stress him out about the children, which would result in less stress for him.

He admitted that later in the evening in question, he had called Tomlinson to find out what had taken place around her house. Ricketts told the court that he had been driving around George Town that night without any fear, and had even passed through the road blocks set up around what he later learned was the crime scene. Ricketts explained that as a result of seeing the commotion in the area of Tomlinson’s home when he was passing, he had called her to find out what was going on and to check on the children, but she had said nothing about a shooting or murder.

The defendant, who has no previous convictions, described how he voluntarily went to the police station when he heard the police wanted to question him. He gave a short statement denying the killing and was swabbed for gunshot residue just a few hours after the shooting, but the test was negative.

Completing his evidence in chief Monday afternoon, Ricketts will face cross examination from the crown Tuesday as the case continues in Court One.

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