Constitution could affect daily life

Aspects of daily life could be affected by a modernised Constitution, so an expert in constitutional reform of non-self-governing territories has urged all Caymanians to make their opinions know on the subject.

Visiting expert Carlyle Corbin said Caymanians should not take the process lightly.

‘If you don’t speak up, the issues that matter to you may not end up being addressed,’ he said.

The recently retied Minister of State for External Affairs for the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands attended a number of public informational sessions this week.

The importance of citizen participation in the constitutional reform process can’t be stressed enough because the connection must be made between the constitution and daily life, he said.

‘It’s important to speak up so that when the time comes to draft the new document, it will effectively address the issues of the day, like cost of living and human rights, while looking to the future,’ said Mr. Corbin.

He stressed that the present reforms are only intended to modernize the current constitution, not to lead to changes in Cayman’s political status in relation to the UK.

Mr. Corbin is attending the meetings as a guest of the non-governmental Constitutional Working Group, a non-governmental organization formed in 2002 with a membership composed of the Chamber of Commerce, Cayman Ministers Association, People For Referendum, Concerned Citizens Association and The Forum.

The group is endeavoring to inform the Caymanian community about constitutional reform and has invited Mr. Corbin for meetings with the Governor’s Office, Government, Elected Members of the Legislative Assembly, other non-governmental Organizations and individuals to discuss a range of subjects surrounding relations between administering powers and non-self-governing territories.

People For Referendum Chair Dennie Warren Jr. hopes Mr. Corbin’s visit will open up dialogue about the future of Cayman’s self-determination.

‘We have little power to ensure that the UK complies with their obligations, the UK drafted the rules for relations between administering powers and their NSGT’s, but they did not draft consequences upon themselves for non-compliance,’ he said.

‘However, it is important for our people and our Government to fully understand the issues surrounding the UN obligations all administering powers have in relations with their NSGT’s. It is even more important at this time as we re-enter our administering power’s mandated constitutional review process,’ he said.

He is concerned the UK, as Cayman’s administering power, is not in compliance with their UN obligations in relations with their NSGT’s.

‘Further to that, we so far have been denied our inalienable right of self-determination to develop a constitution by and for the people of the Cayman Islands without external interference and within the available options,’ said Mr. Warren.

Mr. Corbin happens to have extensive experience in relation to the UN guidelines for the self-determination of states, and that is why Mr. Warren hopes his presence here this week will be able to forward his group’s cause.

The government is in the process of coordinating a Constitutional Reform process, and welcomes the input of interest groups like Mr. Warren’s.

‘The role and function of the Constitutional Review Secretariat is to act as a neutral body which provides a national platform for the people of the Cayman Islands to discuss constitutional issues that are important to them so that ultimately there may be negotiations for constitutional reform with the United Kingdom,’ said Constitutional Review Secretariat chair Suzanne Bothwell.

‘Our presence at stakeholder group initiatives is to identify areas of constitutional concern and forward them to the Cayman Islands Government. The public can look forward to taking part in the public consultation period which is scheduled to take place at a later stage in the constitutional modernisation programme,’ she said.

In the meantime, she says, private individuals and stakeholder groups are encouraged to also prepare themselves so that they may participate in the reform initiative in an informed way.

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