Cabinet ministers to approve their own ‘code of conduct’

An updated “code of conduct” for Cayman Islands government ministers – first considered three years ago – is expected to go to Cabinet members shortly for approval, which means the ministers themselves will approve rules for their own conduct.

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who collaborated on the proposed code along with the Cabinet Office, submitted a draft to the Commission for Standards in Public Life in May 2013, according to a commission report made public last week.

On Monday, Mr. Manderson said the final draft of the code for ministers should be presented to them soon.

According to the public standards commission’s report, dated August 2013 to February 2014: “[The commission] looks forward to sight of the final version that extends to the conduct of ministers not only in their ministerial capacity, but also in a personal and political capacity as elected members of the Legislative Assembly representing a constituency or particular community interest.”

Premier Alden McLaughlin pledged in October 2013 to release the code of conduct for Cabinet members, stating that the current 1995 code was “woefully out of step” with the 2009 Constitution Order.

Mr. McLaughlin said both the old code and the new would be released once Cabinet approved the documents.

“We are setting the bar for any future governments,” Mr. McLaughlin told members of the Legislative Assembly at this time. He said code of conduct guidelines will also apply to non-voting members of Cabinet – the deputy governor and the Cabinet secretary – but that those members’ interests and conflicts will be overseen by the governor.

In the 2013/14 report made public last week, public standards commission members expressed concern about the “behavior” of certain public officials that fell outside of their official duties.

“The commission has … received information from members of the public expressing their concerns regarding the unethical behavior of public officials,” the report noted. “Based on the information provided, it would appear that most, if not all, of the incidents referred to relates to behavior of a personal nature and does not fall within their capacity of public officials.

“It is recognized and agreed … that the commission’s powers do not extend to engagement with a public official’s private life or dealings except where the circumstances raise a reasonable inference of lack of integrity, incompetence, corruption, conflict of interest or lack of standards of ethical conduct in the conduct of that official’s public functions.

“The commission nevertheless recognizes and accepts that there may be instances where the lack of integrity or ethical standards in an individual’s life could either lead or reasonably be expected to lead to an allegation of corruption on the part of the individual in the exercise of his or her duties in public life.

“It is therefore the position of the commission that until such time as the requisite statutory powers are conferred upon the commission, any reasonable allegations of lapses of standards in public life will be referred to the attention and, if necessary, appropriate action on the part of the relevant authority, including the Anti-Corruption Commission.”