Letters to the Editor: Cayman constitutional committees performing

I write in response to the editorial for 11 March titled ‘Commissions get second-class’.

As background, I am the manager of the Commissions Secretariat, which is the office analytically and administratively supporting four of the constitutionally created commissions.

Your editorial gave several examples of ways that evidence the commissions ‘being irrelevant’ and some of those examples have confused me slightly. For instance, I am not sure in which circumstances the Human Rights Commission has “been bypassed for advice on certain legal changes” as the Government does not have a constitutional requirement to ask the HRC for legal advice on any issue, whether that issue is one concerning human rights or not.

Additionally, while the Commission for Standards in Public Life has not yet received enabling legislation “to give it the teeth required to prevent the possibility of public corruption”, this is no fault of the Government. The CSPL along with the Secretariat and the Legal Department has spent close to 300 hours working on drafting this legislation by attempting to gain an understanding of the constitutional mandate of the CSPL, researching best practices for monitoring a register of interests, exploring similar work being conducted in other jurisdictions, analysing aspects such as how this law will work in tandem with the Registers of Interest Law (1996), deciding who should be subject to this law, etc.

When the requirement of enabling legislation was brought to the attention of the governor and attorney general they both fully supported the creation of such legislation and the CSPL expects that this will continue once properly researched and justified legislation is drafted and presented to the Cabinet.

Another area of your editorial that confused me was the reference to the reports and recommendations of these appointed bodies sitting on a shelf somewhere.

As manager of the Commissions Secretariat, one of my responsibilities is to ensure that the reports of the constitutionally created commissions are completed and submitted as mandated by the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009.

To date the Commission for Standards in Public Life and the Human Rights Commission have fulfilled their constitutional requirements to report their work. The Commission for Standards in Public Life has now submitted two reports – one in August 2010, which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly shortly thereafter and made available to the public via their website www.standardsinpubliclifecommission.ky. The second report has been submitted and will be tabled in the LA in the next few days. Once it has been tabled, it too will be made available to the public via their website.

The Human Rights Commission submitted its 2010 annual report in January 2011, which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly shortly thereafter and made available to the public via its website www.humanrightscommission.ky or via its Facebook page.

Also available on the Human Rights website are copies of the responses to draft legislation and enquiries as well as other areas of interest of the commission.

The Constitutional Commission, which has no constitutionally mandated time frame in which to publish reports, released its first report directly to the public in October 2010 and is also available to the public via its website www.knowyourconstitution.ky.

The commissions have spent their first year in existence working hard to gain an understanding and appreciation of the scope their respective constitutional remits, establishing policies and procedures, building relationships with the Cayman Islands Government and establishing their identity within the community as a whole. The 2009 Constitution Order is changing the lives of the people of the Cayman Islands in more ways than one and it is going to take time for everyone to get used to and become comfortable with these changes. The secretariat realises that there are going to be growing pains along the way and sees these as all being a part of the implementation process.

We welcome members of the public to get involved, ask questions, make useful suggestions, give constructive feedback and help us to create an atmosphere of change and growth in the Cayman Islands as prescribed by the 2009 Constitution.

The secretariat can be contacted at 244-3685 or via e-mail at [email protected]

Deborah Bodden

Manager, 
Commissions Secretariat

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3 COMMENTS

  1. So, to sum up …

    The HRC hasn’t been bypassed because the Government is constitutionally allowed to bypass it (whether or not consulting it might seem, objectively, to be a good idea)

    The CPSL doesn’t have enabling legislation because they’re still thinking about it.

    Lots of reports have been published (although not necessarily read, either by Government or the public)

    This is all very new and please don’t be mean to us while we try and work things out.

    In the meantime, the Premier runs roughshod over all opposition and goes ballistic at the mention of accountability, the PAC is defunct and deliberately left that way with the Speaker’s connivance, the LA engages in protracted navel-gazing and the concerns of the public are unaddressed.

    Trluy we live in an age of wonders and the Cayman Islands are marching forward to a glorious future.

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  2. Question for you, Ms. Bodden…

    To whom is your secretariat constitutionally responsible ?

    The Caycompass editorial puts its position and opinions in its own words, as is the media’s right and remit but I see nothing in your response that denies or contradicts the facts (or opinions, if you wish) presented by Caycompass.

    As I understand it, in the spirit of implementing the 2009 Constitutional Order (which has some very serious pieces left to be completed, implementation of the Bill of Rights being the major one, the CI Government is at least responsible for listening to and following the advice of these constitutional commissions.

    If McKeeva Bush can ride roughshod over these commissions, he can circumnavigate any area of the Constitution that he does not wish to implement or change any area from what the Constitution originally intended.

    As I understand it, these Constitutional Commissions are there to ensure that all areas of the Constitutional Order 2009 are completed and fulfilled by the CI Government in a legal manner; a watchdog role, if you like.

    I can guarantee you that in the United Kingdom, the overseeing country for the Cayman Islands, these various Commissions have the legal power to take the British Government to court on any matters in which they determine the government or its representatives have acted illegally.

    It is this Human Rights Commission role to pursue legal cases for citizens against the CI Government when in its opinion, their rights have been violated under this Bill of Rights.

    This public chastisement and discrediting of the Constitutional Commission is only a test case for Premier Bush.

    Some more information on the mandate and responsibilities of your secretariat would be highly appreciated by interested readers, such as myself.

    Thanks.

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  3. Its time for a delegation to visit the UK on behalf of the people presenting the case of circumvention of the people’s rights in the constitution and the Bill of rights.
    nip it in the bud, or we’ll have no constitution and no bill of rights.

    Start working on a delegation to visit the UK to ensure enactment of the bill of rights and the constitution.

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