The second meeting of the Cayman
Islands 2010/11 Legislative Assembly may find itself with some weighty law
enforcement issues to decide as it gets under way on Wednesday.
Expected to come before the house
are two major public safety proposals, the Protection from Domestic Violence
Bill, 2010, and the Police Bill, 2010. Both proposals will replace the
country’s current legislation in areas governing police matters and the protection
of victims of violence.
The domestic violence bill seeks to
protect victims of stalking, as well as domestic violence.
The bill makes it a crime to
“follow the…person to or waylaying him at any place” or “watching or besetting
of the place where the…person resides, works or conducts business”.
Intimidation can also include
damaging or interfering with property, forced confinement, persistent calls,
text messages or emails or making “unwelcome contact”.
The Police Bill, 2010, will largely
rewrite or expand upon many of the rules now governing law enforcement officers
in the Cayman Islands if it is passed.
The proposal also gives detained
suspects the right to contact a lawyer within 24 hours and family members
within 48 hours of their detainment. However, the police are not required to
inform detained suspects of that right at any point.
Currently, Royal Cayman Islands
Police may hold arrested suspects for up to 12 days, assuming the appropriate
police supervisors and the courts approve of the continuing detention.
The bill as written does not
introduce an American-style “right to remain silent” for criminal suspects who
are arrested, but rather uses the UK model, which allows judges and juries to
draw what are called “adverse inferences” from a person’s refusal to speak or
omission of evidence to police.
The proposal also seeks to
establish a civilian review board that is given the power to look into allegations
of police misconduct. The three-person Police Public Complaints Authority would
be chosen by the governor and report to either him or the police commissioner,
depending on the case.
It was unclear at press time
whether ruling party members expected to bring a proposal to increase vehicle
registration fees as a way to raise revenues for the government.
Both North Side MLA Ezzard Miller
and members of the opposition party stated publicly during the previous meeting
of the legislature that they had learned government intended to bring such a
plan, but there has been no such public indication from the administration
Mr. Miller had proposed an increase
in vehicle registration fees as a substitute for increasing import duty on fuel
by 25 cents per gallon. He advocated an across-the-board increase of $160 to
$400 annually, which would cost drivers an extra $240 a year.
Government approved the 25-cent per
gallon duty increase during the previous LA meeting.
Premier McKeeva Bush said during
the previous legislative debate that such a fee should be made on a sliding
scale, requiring owners of smaller, more efficient vehicles to pay less and
requiring those who own larger vehicles to pay more.
Also expected to be considered
during the upcoming LA meeting is a private members’ motion filed by George
Town MLA Ellio Solomon that seeks to allow Caymanians to withdraw money from
their pension accounts to put a down payment on property or a home.
The motion by itself does not
require government to do anything, but such motions are taken under advisement
by government and have previously led to new legislation being proposed.
Mr. Solomon said last month that he
hoped the plan would eventually give Caymanians in both the public and private
sector the ability to realise the dream of home ownership.
Private sector pension plan
providers said they believe Mr. Solomon’s proposal is not a bad idea, as long
as it is backed up by alternate plans that would help keep investors’ retirement
plans solvent. In other words, allowing individuals to invest more than the
legally required 10 per cent or 12 per cent into their retirement accounts.
Opposition lawmaker Alden
McLaughlin said he had some concerns about the pension-for-property swap,
particularly since the country has a number of other housing assistance
programmes Caymanians can take advantage of.
“It’s an unnecessary thing,” Mr.