Case may be human rights test
Claiming an appeal of his immigration status should be heard, Northward prison inmate Christopher Omar Samuels is asking a judge to review the denial of his application to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal to restore his residency status, court records revealed.
According to tribunal chairwoman Sophia Harris, Samuels’s appeal was filed nearly two years late. The application for judicial review filed on behalf of Samuels states that “there is/are good reason[s] why [Samuels] should be allowed to file an appeal out of time”.
Samuels’s residency status was revoked following his guilty plea to rape charges four years ago. Mrs. Harris said she couldn’t provide any further details on the case.
Samuels, a Jamaican national who resides in Cayman, was sentenced in 2009 to 12 years imprisonment for a rape he committed in 2002. Details of the crime were set out by crown prosecutors who said the victim was a US national, 48, who came to Cayman on vacation. On the night of 3 May, 2002, she was walking along West Bay Road back to her accommodation after several hours of shopping at The Strand.
According to court testimony at the time, a gold-coloured car pulled alongside her and the driver asked if she wanted a ride. She said no. The car moved slowly and the driver asked again. She said no and he drove off.
The woman said she felt uneasy about the encounter and decided to cut through the Westin Casuarina property. She went to the ladies room in the area of the spa and went into one of the cubicles. She heard the door open and thought it was a security guard, but looking through the louvres, she saw it was not. She said, “Excuse me, this is a ladies’ room.” The man said “Sorry”. About 30 seconds later, the door opened again and she assumed it was the same person. She said she had a phone and was calling police.
Then the lights went off. The person began chopping at the door of the cubicle and was able to grab her hand as she tried to hold the door closed. Forcing the door open, he put a knife to her neck. She told him he could have her handbag and money. He said he didn’t want money – he wanted her.
The rape occurred in the bathroom stall, but it wasn’t until December 2008 that a routine “cold case” check by an RCIPS chief inspector revealed Samuels’s DNA match with a specimen from the 2002 rape case.
The Cayman Islands Immigration Law allows the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board to revoke awards of permanent resident status to foreign nationals for a number of reasons, including if that person has been convicted of an offence against the laws of the islands.
The application for judicial review mentions two sections of the 2009 Constitution Order’s Bill of Rights in support of Samuels’s appeal. Section 7 of the bill gives everyone the right to a fair and public hearing in the determination of their legal rights by a fair and impartial court within a reasonable time.
Section 9 of the bill states that government shall respect every person’s private and family life, his or her home and his or her correspondence.
The right to private and family life is not absolute. The right to privacy notes that government would not be in contravention of this section to the extent that it acts “to regulate the right [of an individual] to enter or remain in the Cayman Islands” to the extent that those acts are “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society”.