Archive for September 26th, 2013

Cops to get new-lock up

| 26/09/2013 | 17 Comments

(CNS): Following the damning findings in last year’s report from the UK’s prison inspectorate that condemned the George Town lock-up as unfit for human habitation, government has taken a step towards addressing the situation. The new PPM administration is investing $2.1 million in a new modern police custody suite to house up to 24 remand prisoners following their arrest in the Fairbanks area of George Town. The state of the current lock-up at the main police station is a serious human rights risk for government, has poor security, is unsafe for both staff and inmates and poses problems for police investigations because criminal suspects cannot be separated.  

As the new home affairs minister, Premier Alden McLaughlin led a groundbreaking ceremony at the site Thursday morning, signalling the start of construction on the crown land. Situated next to the women’s prison at Fairbanks and the plot where the now stalled young offenders institute had been planned, the unit will be built on land where government trailers had been located in the wake of Hurricane Ivan to house the homeless. As a result, the site already has a cistern and septic system in place and is appropriately zoned.

McLaughlin said that the construction of the new and humane lockup system would “right a wrong” that had existed for too long and “replace the miserable cells at the George Town and West Bay Police Stations” with a human rights compliant facility.

Pointing out that the constitution requires that anyone deprived of their liberty has the right to be treated with humanity, the premier said the cells currently in use in George Town, which are more like cages, were “sweltering”, reaching temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. The cells hold people who are not convicted of a crime but who are merely suspects and being questioned in connection with a crime.

“This is an important step in making us compliant with our own Bill of Rights and, at the end of the day, it is simply the right thing to do,” the premier said to the small gathering present for the groundbreaking.

David Baines, the police commissioner, has been asking government for a new custody suite since he arrived in Cayman in June 2009 and said he was delighted that the RCIPS will have the use of the facility by early next year, with full completion around November. Aside from the need to hold those who have not been charged with any crimes in far more humane conditions than presently on offer, Baines explained that the police are, more often than not, also the ones to take responsibility for troubled mental health patients.

He said that it was not unusual for people suffering from mental health problems who become a danger to themselves or others to be taken to the police lock-ups in the first instance until other arrangements can be made for their security. The new suite will offer far more suitable facilities for that, Baines explained.

From an investigation perspective, he explained that the current situation can seriously undermine police enquiries because it is impossible to keep prisoners secure and apart at the George Town lock-up. In circumstances such as those that the police encountered just this week, where four young men were arrested at the same time for an armed robbery, it was almost impossible to keep the suspects apart at the central lock-up, facilitating their ability to ”get their stories straight”, Baines noted.

Describing the squalid and dangerous conditions at the lock-up, Baines said he was surprised that there had not been far more incidences of prisoners harming themselves in the cage-like cells, as they posed a serious risk for vulnerable or dangerous offenders.

The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs has already tendered the project via the Central Tenders Committee for the design, build, delivery and installation of the modular facilities. The contract has been awarded to Eagle Construction, a company with years of experience in designing and delivering high quality secure detention facilities and meeting tight budget and time constraints. The modular unit is now being constructed overseas and will be shipped to Grand Cayman for assembly.

Eric Bush, the chief officer in the Home Affairs Ministry, gave assurances that the facility would not be a repeat of the situation with the juvenile institution and would be completed. The planned secure unit for young offenders is now on hold and a temporary facility is being constructed at HMP Northward. Although the foundations have been laid for the proposed youth facility, in the next plot to where the new custody suite will go, it is currently on hold due to the costs of theproject.

Bush also explained that because the new suite can hold up to 24 prisoners at a time, some suspects remanded by the courts and awaiting trial will also be housed there. The chief officer said that, at present, there are forty people being held by the prison system on remand who have been charged with crimes and are awaiting trial, mostly at Northward.

Cayman's Bill of Rights, however, requires that remand prisoners who are arrested suspects or charged defendants but who have not been convicted be separated from offenders who have gone through the court system and been found guilty.

The new facility will separate male, female and juvenile prisoners who have been arrested or charged. Each individual closed off cell will be human rights compliant, with two bunks and an in-room toilet and sink.

See UK inspectorate’s report regarding the current police lock ups below.

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Robber jailed for 3 years for bakery hold-up

| 26/09/2013 | 19 Comments

(CNS): A young man was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for his part in a robbery with a flare gun at the Caribbean Bakery in West Bay more than three years ago. Derrick Simpson Jr sat in the prisoner's dock alone, since his alleged co-conspirator, Dan Kelly, had jumped bail before a schedule trial earlier this year. Simpson had initially denied committing the robbery but eventually entered guilty pleas in August of this year. Despite Simpson's immaturity and what was said to be a more minor involvement in the crime, visiting judge, Justice Alastair Malcolm said that it was his duty to protect small shopkeepers from this type of crime.

Simpson was only 17 at the time of the robbery, which took place on a rainy day in September 2010, while his alleged co-conspirator, Kelly, was just 21. The two young men were said to have held up the bakery with a flare gun and made off with $400 from the shop’s cash register. Kelly was reportedly captured on the CCTV footage holding the flare gun while he told the female cashier to open the till, and Simpson was seen placing the cash in a bag before fleeing by foot through the bushes, the court heard.

Defense counsel Guy Dillaway-Parry submitted to the judge that there were many mitigating features in the case. He pointed out the tender age of his client at the time of the offence and the obvious influence of an older and more "criminally sophisticated" person. He said that Simpson contributed almost nothing to the unorganized hold-up that day.

The judge accepted that the young man had acted out of his normal character and played a lesser role in the robbery than Kelly but he pointed out that the crime was more frightening for the employee who was the victim as there were two robbers.

Handing down his sentence, the judge said he understood the reason for Simpson's late guilty plea because he did not want to stand trial alone when he had not committed the robbery by himself. Despite this being Simpson’s first serious offence, the judge ordered a three year custodial sentence to the now 20-year-old offender.

The court heard that Kelly was recently located in the United Kingdom and efforts are currently being made by officials to extradite him back to the Cayman Islands as soon as possible so he can also answer for his alleged part in the bakery stick-up.

Related article on CNS:

Robbery suspect jumps bail

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Public encouraged to ask for information

| 26/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman will join 60 other countries on Saturday to celebrate the enshrined right of people to access information held by government under the freedom of information law. As part of the annual Right to Know celebrations, the The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is encouraging people to use the law and seek the information they want or need. It is five years since the law was passed, and despite some issues regarding procedures, the law has had a significant impact on the relationship between the public and government. People are being asked to show their support for FOI by wearing blue on Friday. 

As part of Right To Know Week, the ICO has already begun a busy schedule of events that celebrate the value of freedom of information and stress the importance of government accountability. Activities aim to educate the public and encourage people to learn about their rights under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law, which not only allows for public access to government-held records but promotes accountability and transparency.

Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert encouraged everyone to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Law,.

“Obtaining information from public authorities is simple and anyone can make a request in writing, including by email,” she said. “If you want to know information in government that pertains to you, then FOI is the key.”

For a full list of Right to Know Week events, contact ICO at 747-5402 or visit

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Charity & accountability

| 26/09/2013 | 9 Comments

I was affected by the article on ‘Meals on Wheels’ (MOW), and agree wholeheartedly that this program cannot be allowed to fail, and so I set about to learn a lot more as to how MOW now find themselves in this position, having been heavily sponsored and supported in the past by Rotary and many individual Rotarians, some of whom I understand still provide support by donations and delivering meals.

I do feel very strongly that we MUST look after our elderly and infirm and MOW should not fail due to lackof funding.  BUT, I would suggest the following,

  • There must be stringent criteria in order to enter the program (e.g MOW absolutely cannot deliver food to a home with a resident who owns a late model luxury car, for example).  This criteria must be transparent (i.e. a document that is readily available to the public) so that those wishing to provide support can see how these decisions are made and so that those wishing to be supported can discover if they ‘fit the bill’.
  • MOW must be able to provide accounts – these accounts must include absolutely every donation received, both in terms of money and direct gifts of packaged food, and be accounted for down to the penny. They  must include absolutely every outgoing including of course details of any ‘salaried volunteers’.
  • The provision of MOW meals should go out to tender – I understand from the article that each meal costs CI$4 however also understand that some of the people providing meals to the schools are providing meals for CI$3 each – this is an enormous saving when you consider just $1 shaved off each meal amounts to just over CI$40,000 each year.

This concept is not intended to point a finger at the current management of MOW alone, because despite the above suggestions which are specific to  the current  MOW situation, I think that some of this ‘common sense’ approach applies to all of our charities here in Cayman – without exception. After all, If they require the support of the public, they ought to be open, honest and transparent.

I think that some trust has been lost lately. However, this trust can be (re)gained and the charities must be prepared to put egos and politics aside for the greater good.  Being asked to provide accounts is not querying the integrity of the individual who is running the charity but instead ensuring that the integrity of these individuals and organizations is above question – unfortunately in this day and age the anomaly is that you do have to answer questions, sometimes before they have even been asked, in order to keep yourself ‘above question’!

We must still support those in need – we are a small Island with an awful lot of need – there are many people willing and able to provide for this need but the charities MUST do everything they can to provide as much comfort as they can to those willing to support them.  

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Protest planned against immigration changes

| 26/09/2013 | 150 Comments

(CNS): Although the PPM made it clear on the campaign trail that, if returned to office, a Progressive administration would remove the seven year term limit, known as 'rollover' and reform the immigration policy, the backlash against the decision is mounting. The government, which has been in officer for just four months, is now facing its first demonstration rally. Organisers of a protest march are calling on all Caymanians and those who "love the Cayman Islands", to join the demo scheduled for 10am on Friday 11 October, aginst the extensive and recently published Immigration Amendment bill. Having taken part in a number of rallies themselves while in opposition, it remains to be seen if the march will move the PPM to reconsider the proposed bill and halt its planned presentation to the Legislative Assembly next month.

Organisers said that this was the “final opportunity to save Cayman” and an effort to stop the proposed immigration reform bill, which was published this week and is expected to be debated in the LA later in October and before the expiration of some 1,500 Term Limit Exemption Permits.

“We will gather at the Government Administration Building on Elgin Avenue at 10am and proceed to the Legislative Assembly Building,” protesters stated in an email circulated Thursday.

The government's decision to eliminate rollover and allow all of those who live in Cayman for eight years to apply for permanent residency, switching the decision of who gets to stay in Cayman from employers back to government, is being strongly opposed by a number of Caymanians who see it as a further stumbling block to local workers' ability to advance in the local economy.

With more than 2,000 Caymanians unemployed and many blocked from advancing in the jobs they currently hold, the prospect of more expats being allowed to stay for longer has increased concerns significantly about future localemployment.

It is understood that not all of the members of government are in support of the reform, which is being spearheaded by Premier Alden McLaughlin. Questions submitted by CNS to government concerning the alleged Cabinet and government bench split on the issue have so far been ignored. During his time as leader of the opposition, McLaughlin had criticised the previous leader McKeeva Bush for not listening to the concerns of the people and ploughing ahead with unpopular policies.

See bill below.

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Cops continue murder probe with second suspect

| 26/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 26-year-old man from West Bay remained in police custody Thursday morning as police continued the investigation into the murder of Irvin Garlon Bush (52) in Miss Daisy Lane on 15 September, which was the first murder in Cayman this year. Following a major police operation in West Bay, the man was arrested at 2:25pm on Tuesday 24 September on suspicion of the fatal shooting. The RCIPS said that officers from the Uniform Support Group led the joint police operation, supported by the Air Operations Unit. Meanwhile, a 22-year-old suspect who was arrested in connection with the same crime has been released on police bail. He was arrested in Breakers on Tuesday 17 September.

The police have not stated since the shootinghow many gunmen were involved in the crime, in which Bush was shot outside his house as he was returning home. The victim was the father of Robert Mackford Bush (28), who was also shot and killed in the district two years ago in September 2011 in a gang-related killing that sparked a series of shootings in West Bay and George Town, in which three other young men lost their lives.

Brian Borden (28), also from West Bay, has been charged with the murder of Robert Bush and has been on remand at HMP Northward for more than one year awaiting trial. His hearing was recently postponed as a result of problems with the prosecution’s main witness in the case against him.

Police have still not stated if they suspect the motive for the slaying of his father was also gang-related.

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Another home invaded

| 26/09/2013 | 89 Comments

(CNS): Police have confirmed yet another frightening aggravated burglary in which a George Town couple woke to find armed robbers in their house in the early morning hours. According to a limited police report, the residents were awoken at around 2:00 this morning, Wednesday 25 September, and discovered two men in their home. One of the men was armed with what appeared to be a handgun, according to the RCIPS report. When they were discovered, the two men left the house but not before pointing the firearm towards the homeowners. No shots were fired and no one was injured in the incident, police said, but no descriptions were available.

Police confirmed this evening that they were having communication issues, which had delayed the release of the information, but said an update would follow with more details.

The report comes at a time when there has been a surge in gun crimes, including doorstep hold-ups and robberies on commercial premises, as well as home invasions and aggravated burglaries where the suspects have been armed. 

Although police have successfully arrested a number of suspects, the crime count continues to climb.

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Shetty shifts target market to Caribbean

| 26/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Although the original goal of Dr Devi Shetty’s Health City medical tourism facility in East End was to attract patients in need of tertiary care from North America, at a special update lunch yesterday there was no  mention of the United States as a target for patients. Instead, Shetty spoke about the 39 million people in the Caribbean, and of course the small market in Cayman, that the Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital would now be seeking to service. Shetty focused very heavily in his presentation on the principle of affordable healthcare for all and reaching out to those who were in need in the region. Read more on CNS Business

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