Constitutional bodies get appointments

Nine appointments to three of the bodies established under the 2009 Caymanian Constitution have been announced.

The bodies include the National Security Council, the Electoral Boundary Commission and the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy. It is anticipated that all three bodies will begin their work early in the New Year.

The National Security Council is a completely new body established under Section 58 of the 2009 Constitution. Acting Governor Donovan Ebanks has appointed Mr. Dan Scott and Mrs. Brigitte Kirkconnell-Shaughness as the two persons ‘representative of civil society’ to serve on this body, states a Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs press release. They will join the permanent members of the NSC, who are the Governor (chairman), the Premier, two other ministers appointed in accordance with the advice of the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition or his designate, and three ex-officio members: the Deputy Governor, the Attorney General, and the Commissioner of Police, who will provide regular briefings to the NSC.

The purpose of the National Security Council is to advise the Governor on all issues concerning internal security. These issues may include matters relating to the police force but will exclude operational or staffing issues or matters that would prejudice current police operations. The two members representative of civil society will enable the National Security Council to tap directly into the public’s views. The appointments of Mr. Scott and Mrs. Kirkconnell-Shaughness are for two years and are renewable.

The Governor has also appointed the three-person Electoral Boundary Commission. The three appointments are: Mr. Carl W. Dundas (chairman), Mr. Norman Bodden, and Ms Adriannie Webb. Section 88 of the Constitution requires that the Governor appoint the chairman of the EBC in his own discretion. The other two commissioners are appointed separately: one on the advice of the Premier, and one the advice Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Dundas is an expert in the field of elections. He was the first director of elections in Jamaica in 1979-80. Since then he has worked in more than 30 countries in the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific on election management, electoral reform, and on numerous ways to strengthen the vital links between democracy and free and fair elections. Mr. Dundas is no stranger to the Cayman Islands having chaired the 2003 Electoral Boundary Commission, during which Ms Webb served with him as an Electoral Boundary commissioner.

The essential functions of the EBC are to review the boundaries of the existing electoral districts and to make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislative Assembly regarding any changes to the number of electoral districts in the Cayman Islands and the boundaries of such districts. Since the 2003 EBC report, the number of registered voters in the Cayman Islands has increased by some 33 per cent, from 11,483 to 15,330.

Mr. Dundas is completing an assignment with the International Foundation for Election Systems in Ethiopia. He is looking forward to working with Mr. Bodden and Ms Webb.

Appointments to the EBC are for the duration of the Commission until it submits its report to the Governor and the Legislative Assembly. It is anticipated that the Commission’s work may take from three to six months, subject to public consultations required by the Constitution, deliberations on advice it may obtain, and the collation of all relevant data.

Four appointments have been made to the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy. They are Ms Beulah McField, Pastor Stanwyk Myles, Pastor Davelee Tibbetts, and Mr. Arek Joseph.

The Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy is a new body established by sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution. Its function is to advise the Governor on extraordinary decisions he may make in Her Majesty’s name with regards to the pardon or remission of prisoners. (This is quite separate from advice the Governor receives from the Parole Commissioner’s Board each quarter about parole decisions.). The advice of the ACPM may be sought, for example, in relation to a remission of sentence because of the extraordinary medical circumstances of a prisoner.

There are three other ex-officio members of the committee: the Governor (chairman), the Attorney General and the Chief Medical Officer.

A ‘Governor’s power of pardon’ did exist under the previous constitution but it did not involve any input by the public. The four appointed members under the new Constitution ensure that the public’s views are taken into account when special decisions of this nature are being contemplated. Appointments to this body will be for renewable terms of between two to four years, with members serving for different periods, so that new appointments or re-appointments can take place in a staggered fashion.

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