CI’s poor people denied justice

The Cayman Islands Human Rights committee held the first of a series of lectures at the South Sound Community Centre on Thursday.

The speaker was Lord Anthony Gifford, QC; an internationally renowned human rights advocate.

Sara Collins of the Human Rights Committee introduced the speaker.

‘Lord Gifford is the type of advocate whose career encourages and inspires young advocates. He exemplifies the best of our noble profession, which is unfortunately too often consumed here and elsewhere, with subjects such as mutual funds and offshore trusts, to be concerned with the plight of the common man.’

Lord Gifford discussed why he believed a charter of basic rights and freedoms would be a positive development for Cayman.

‘At the moment, unless you go to the European Court in Strasbourg, there is no way of enforcing fundamental rights, which are not mirrored in the law. So rights are important because all of us may find that, at some time in our lives, we are on the wrong side of someone who has overridden our right to a fair hearing, our right to freedom of expression, our right to association; many of these fundamental rights, which have been enshrined in so many conventions around the world and I think it has been shown that they do add to the confidence a society can have in it’s justice system.’

When Lord Gifford invited questions from the public, it was perhaps surprisingly not controversial issues like gay rights or religious freedom that were raised.

Subjects that came up for discussion included areas such as the situation of Cuban boat people and the public’s right of access to a reasonably priced hearing in the civil courts. One member of the public pointed out that ‘anyone bringing a case to the civil court must come up with $750 a day to get a hearing.’

Lord Gifford responded saying ‘he was deeply shocked to hear that was indeed the situation here in the Cayman Islands, because if that rule was administered without exception it would have the effect of denying justice to persons without financial means. He added that one of the fundamental rights of the individual is the right of access to an independent and impartial court.’

The next lecture is scheduled for 28. It will focus on the development and evolution of human rights in the Caribbean Region. Renowned jurist Lloyd Barnett has agreed to deliver that address and once again the public is welcome to attend.

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