A Caymanian prisoner is challenging a decision to transfer him to the U.K. for “national security” reasons, claiming the decision impacts his right to a family life.
Osbourne Douglas denies he poses any security threat and has filed a writ in the Grand Court asking for a judicial review of the decision to move him to London’s Belmarsh prison.
Lawyers for Douglas say the transfer makes it virtually impossible for his family, including his 7-year-old daughter to visit him, and is a breach of his right to a family life, guaranteed in the Cayman Islands Bill of Rights.
Douglas, who is serving a 34-year sentence, and his brother Justin Ramoon were convicted in September last year of the July 2015 murder of Jason Powery, who was shot outside the Globe Bar in George Town. The brothers were both transferred to the U.K. in June under a 19th century statute known as the Colonial Prisoners Removal Act.
“This removal was authorized by the U.K. and Cayman Islands governments in the interests of national security and the public safety of the people of the Cayman Islands,” a statement issued by the government indicated at the time.
Now Douglas has filed a writ against the Governor of the Cayman Islands and the Director of Prisons, claiming the action was unlawful on human rights grounds and seeking to have the decision reversed.
Ramoon is also expected to challenge his own transfer but nothing had been filed with the court by press time Tuesday.
The court filing on behalf of Douglas states, “Prior to his transfer the applicant had been held in maximum security at HMP Northward. He did not consider himself at risk of any harm from others and he did not pose a risk of harm to the public.”
It says Douglas’s family, including his daughter, mother, brother, sister and partner, visited him regularly at HMP Northward and were in frequent phone contact, sometimes several times a day. Since his transfer to the U.K., he has not seen or spoken to his family, the writ indicates.
“For obvious reasons, it will not be practicable to receive regular visits from his family in future,” it states.
The court filing cites a previous judgment from the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that a decision to incarcerate a Ukrainian prisoner hundreds of miles from his family breached his right to a family life.
In that judgment, the court indicated, “Detaining an individual in a prison which is so far away from his or her family that visits are made very difficult or even impossible may in some circumstances amount to an interference with family life, as the opportunity for family members to visit the prisoner is vital to maintaining family life.”
The writ indicates that the distances in this case are far greater than in the Ukrainian case and that the time and expense of traveling from Grand Cayman to London will make family visits prohibitively expensive.
It also argues that the decision was procedurally unfair because Douglas was not given written reasons or a chance to make representations on his behalf and there is apparently no process for him to appeal the decision.