Editorial for 19 March: Hold everyone accountable

Injustice.

The issue may no longer be on the radar screens of many
readers, but this newspaper carried a story Friday detailing the local Human Rights Commission’s findings regarding the now infamous dispute that occurred
between this publication and certain members of the Cayman Islands Legislative
Assembly on 9 December, 2010, regarding an article and an editorial written
about the government’s review of the FOI Law.

The dispute, you may remember, ended in one of our reporters
being expelled from the Legislative Assembly and calls for this newspaper to
face prosecution.

The HRC’s finding in this case is what it is. The
commission, we believe, has sought to strike a balance in determining the
rights to freedom of expression and parliamentary privilege. It has spoken with
skill in a hard place and it did eventually meet with members of this
newspaper’s staff to discuss the situation – something local lawmakers did not
do before taking up the “motion to prosecute”.

Not to demean the work of the commission in any way, but we
believe there has been an injustice done to this publication with regard to
this situation as well as the reporter who wrote the news story that was
apparently so shocking it required calls for criminal prosecution.

The HRC has not addressed this issue.

Outside the legally protected confines of the Legislative
Assembly, both on a local radio station and a website publication, a member of
the assembly made separate accusations of law-breaking against the newspaper
and its reporter.

After reviews of the matter by the attorney general and the
Human Rights Commission, it seems that no legal authority has ever claimed the
report or the editorial published in the Caymanian Compass represented a
“gross, wilful or scandalous misrepresentation of parliamentary or committee
proceedings”. This is what is required by the law to determine alleged
illegality. We believe all people, not just newspapers or journalists, should
be held accountable for their statements.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Comments made by some politicians that are inflammatory and xenophobic are of great concern to me. With the coming elections current politicians and hopefuls search for and exploit voter hot button issues. Searching for scape goats and people to rail against seems to be the norm instead of actually offering solutions to the country’s problems.

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  2. I would like to extend this argument to another series of allegations.

    Last year Governor Duncan Taylor dismissed a lengthy complaint originally made by former Operation Tempura legal advisor Martin Polaine and then pursued by the former Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger.

    The complaint, which by all accounts was nothing more than malicious gossip, and the 185-page report into it are confidential. Despite a substantial leak of information to a UK national newspaper, that then named senior members of the judiciary, the Governor’s office has ruled that both the complaint and the response are exempt from release under FOI as the contents are defamatory. This decision is currently being challenged.

    The FCO have also just confirmed to me that no one named in either document, and that is reputed to include several senior politicians, has been made aware of the allegations made against them.

    Under ECHR Article 6 everyone has a right to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. By keeping the documents secret the Governor and the FCO are breaching the human rights of everyone named, and that includes myself, in the documents.

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