Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston

Cayman Islands Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston sees “exciting opportunity” in her new position supervising two partially functioning departments and three others which are new to the Cayman Islands.

“It’s just rolling out the whole idea of what the ombudsman does and merging two offices and adding different areas of responsibility, There’s lots to do,” Ms. Hermiston said Thursday during Cayman’s Right-to-Know Day event at the Government Administration Building.

Ms. Hermiston said the office is interviewing for a second deputy ombudsman post, as well as a senior investigator who will look into public complaints against local law enforcement officers, one of the three new responsibilities assigned to the office.

She said Deputy Ombudsman Jan Liebaers would maintain responsibility for Freedom of Information matters and data protection/privacy protection when those responsibilities come online in 2019.

Ms. Hermiston said she is encouraged by how far Cayman has already come in the areas of Freedom of Information and public complaints against government departments.

“I was really impressed,” she said. “When I prepared for the interview, I saw each of the [government] departments have Freedom of Information featured on their [website] home page. I don’t think you can find that in many other jurisdictions.”

It was the same with complaints against entities other than those involving the police, Ms. Hermiston noted, adding that most government agencies already have an internal mechanism to field those complaints. “I’m very impressed by that; that’s not always the case.”

The new responsibilities involving police complaints, data protection and whistleblower complaints from the public and private sectors will not be dealt with right away.

The government’s Whistleblower Law takes effect in February, and data protection legislation passed earlier this year is not coming into force until sometime in 2019. The police complaints function, which is part of the Ombudsman Law, has also not come into force yet.

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