Deadline passes for permanent residence FOI challenge

An immigration consultant’s report presented to government earlier this year which was the subject of an open records request by the Cayman Compass had not been given to the information commissioner’s office by the deadline of Friday, Dec. 2.

The consultant’s report was penned by noted local immigration attorney David Ritch and was commissioned following Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s August 2015 judgment concerning a number of permanent residence issues.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has refused to release the report, stating that it was intended as legal advice and that it was not meant for publication. Mr. McLaughlin has said the report would guide government as it sought to address some of the matters surrounding the grant of permanent residence in the islands.

The information commissioner’s office is considering the open records request the Compass filed in October under the Freedom of Information Law seeking a copy of that report. The commissioner’s office wishes to examine the document in furtherance of its review.

Acting Information Commissioner Cory Martinson said Friday that if nothing was received by the office Monday morning, he would write to the Grand Court seeking it to force the government to turn over a copy of the Ritch consultancy report to his office.

If government is forced to release the consultant’s report to the information commissioner, it does not necessarily mean the document, or any part of it, will ultimately be made public. The commissioner’s office must review the records requested and come to a final decision in the matter. Any decision it makes can be appealed to the Grand Court.

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