Recommendations to Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin this week seek to set time limits on the return of non-Caymanians designated as “prohibited immigrants” under the Immigration Law.
The Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission noted last week in its annual report that it had received “numerous complaints” from individuals who have been declared prohibited immigrants and are unable to return to Cayman.
“These individuals have generally had close Caymanian connections and have thus alleged a breach of their private and family life by the Cayman Islands government,” the commission report states.
Under the current law, no time limits are set on periods an individual can be expelled from the islands. Typically, non-Caymanians who commit a crime can be considered “prohibited” after they are deported from the jurisdiction.
The prohibition can only be applied to individuals who do not possess permanent resident status. Anyone with Caymanian status or permanent residence would have had to have that status revoked prior to being considered a prohibited immigrant.
Although there are no time limits set on a prohibited immigrant’s return, the Immigration Law does allow for specific times to be set according to the offense committed. That has never been done, but proposed time limits are being presented to Mr. McLaughlin this week.
Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush said, depending on what lawmakers decide, time limits would be set for potential returns to Cayman in a similar fashion to the way prison sentences for criminal offenses are determined. The more serious the offense, the more time the person would have to spend away from the islands.
Mr. Bush said it was possible that a certain level of criminal offense would require the individual to be banned from Cayman for the rest of his or her life, but that it would be up to legislators to decide what offenses would warrant such a ban.
“Due to the human rights implications, the Human Rights Commission continues to encourage the Cayman Islands government to enact legislation which deals with the issue of prohibited immigrants,” the commission report stated.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson proposed in 2011 to set minimum periods of exclusion from the islands, but those were never enacted, according to Mr. Bush. The proposal also sought to deal with other problems within the prohibited immigration rules.
Mr. Manderson said Cabinet gets requests from individuals seeking to return “every six months or once a year.”
“If that request is refused, the person may reapply at any time and Cabinet is required to consider the new request,” Mr. Manderson said. “The [current] system is totally unregulated and open to abuse.”
The 2011 exclusion proposal called for a minimum 30 years for the most serious criminal offenses: murder, rape, robbery, arson, assaults and major drug offenses. For less serious offenses, such as assault causing actual bodily harm, fraud and handling stolen goods, the exclusion period would be 20 years. For consumption or possession of drugs, common assault and immigration offenses, the exclusion period would be 10 years.
People with Caymanian family connections were to be treated differently under the 2011 regulations. In most cases, the exclusion period was proposed to be cut by one-third compared to that for individuals who have no local family connections.