Governor gets kudos from UK

The chairman of the United Kingdom’s Foreign Affairs Committee has applauded Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack’s approach in dealing with governance issues which have arisen here over the past year.

The committee of the UK House of Commons last week held up the Cayman Islands as an example of how investigations should start and be conducted, while denouncing delays that occurred in calling for similar inquiries in the Turks and Caicos Islands, another UK Overseas Territory.

‘Unlike the Cayman Islands, where the Governor has taken the initiative in investigations; the onus has been placed on people to substantiate allegations in (Turks and Caicos),’ Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Gapes said in a prepared statement. ‘This approach is entirely inappropriate given the climate of fear on (Turks and Caicos).’

Mr. Jack initiated a Commission of Inquiry last year, which convened in January to look into whether government files were improperly removed from the Ministry of Tourism in 2004. In March, Mr. Jack ordered the temporary removal of three top police commanders to facilitate an investigation into public misconduct allegations.

Cabinet Ministers, in particular Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Education Minister Alden McLaughlin, were critical of the governor’s decision to call for the inquiry into the removal of Ministry of Tourism files. Both men said a previous investigation had already been carried out by the civil service, and said they believed no further review was required.

The Commission of Inquiry led to a number of recommendations for improvement of governance in the Cayman Islands, including the suggestion that there should be a delay between the time senior civil servants resign and when they are able to stand for election.

Mr. Jack said Friday that he didn’t want to comment on the investigation in Turks and Caicos, and that the situation there and the events that led to the Commission of Inquiry in the Cayman Islands were completely different.

‘Generally, the standards in public life in the Cayman Islands are high and they’re good,’ Mr. Jack said. ‘But where there are problems, we need to correct them.’

Other recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry in Cayman were: abolish the declaration of secrecy all civil servants must sign before taking up employment in government, create specific definitions for whistle-blowers (those who report wrong-doing) and specifically state to whom they should report, prevent government ministers from serving as chairmen of appointed boards and from participating in compulsory acquisition (eminent domain) proceedings.

Mr. Jack said in March that the islands’ chief secretary and attorney general would review those recommendations and report back to him. There has been no word since then from the governor’s office on if, when, or how any of those recommendations might be implemented.

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