Rights group gets 16 complaints

The newly formed Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission investigated 16 allegations of human rights violations in 2010, but so far has found no evidence that a violation occurred in any of the cases.

According to a rundown of the complaints provided to the Caymanian Compass by the Commissions Secretariat, three cases are still under investigation by the HRC. Four others were referred back to the person making the complaint so that an additional review of the matter could be undertaken by the government agency involved.

Five of the complaints were thrown out because they involved a private individual or an organisation. According to the Cayman Islands 2009 Constitution, human rights conventions only apply between an individual and the government; not between individuals or a person and their employer. In four of the cases, the commission found no evidence that a human rights violation had occurred.

The Cayman Constitution’s Bill of Rights does not take legal effect until November 2012. Although it cannot investigate claims made specifically in relation to the Bill of Rights, the commission can investigate alleged violations of human rights treaties Cayman is a signatory to via the United Kingdom.

Some of the rights contained in the international documents are similar to those found in Cayman’s Constitution.

“Until 6 November, 2012, when the Bill of Rights comes into force, the commission cannot receive or investigate complaints regarding the decisions or actions of a public official that has potentially breached or infringed the Bill of Rights,” the commission’s annual report states. “Nor can it receive or investigate complaints that any local legislation violates human rights and freedoms, except in cases where any international human rights treaty extended to the Cayman Islands requires all legislation to conform to its provisions.”

Thus far, the commission has issued no formal reports on any of the complaints it has reviewed.

According to the commission’s website, final reports will include findings from the complaint and recommendations, as well as the names of the individuals involved – unless there is a specific reason to withhold those. “The HRC’s final reports are extremely persuasive documents,” the website states. “Indeed, the fact that they are a formal response to a real complaint means that there is an additional pressure on the authorities to respond positively to the recommendations.”

HRC Chairman Richard Coles said the government has already begun training its workers ahead of the implementation of the Bill of Rights in 2012. He acknowledged in the annual report that there remains a great deal of work to be done – particularly in the review of Cayman Islands laws so they will comply with the new constitutional rights.

That review is being done by the attorney general’s office; the commission acknowledges it has no idea how many law may have to be revised ahead of the implementation date.

“These rights are considered necessary to maintaining a fair and just society and belong to all individuals regardless of their nationality and citizenship,” Mr. Coles said.


  1. Some clarification here please. Am I to understand that a complaint can only be taken up against the gevernment and all other parties are exempt? Tell me this is not true in a country where a constitution which was only just revamped.Its almost as good as prejudice against age.

    Editor’s note: The rights conveyed by the Cayman Islands Constitution are what lawyers like to call a ‘vertical application’ of rights. That is, they exist to protect the individuals from potential abuses by their government. The bill would not apply to the relationship between an employee and their employer, for example.

  2. According to the Cayman Islands 2009 Constitution, human rights conventions only apply between an individual and the government; not between individuals or a person and their employer

    And now we have tangible evidence of the complete failure of the Constitution and those responsible to adequately address the real human rights problems in Cayman.

  3. The chickens are coming home to roost and the results will not be pleasant for anyone.

    These opinions are driving home how disconnected so many people were when this entire situation was evolving and this Constitution was being negotiated.

    The only dissenting voice to what was being pieced together as this Bill of Rights was Ms. Sarah Collins and the Human Rights Committee who were basically baracked into silence by the bullies who forced this Constitution down peoples throats.

    The very people who negotiated this vertical Bill of Rights were some of the people for whom a horizontal Bill was needed but the general public stayed out of this issue for fear of stepping on the wrong toes; a very Caymanian trait.

    The public can expect very little protection from this Caymanian Bill of Rights when it is finally implemented and they have only themselves to blame.

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