News & Events
The public can learn more about the Constitution leading up to the Appointed Day – Friday, 6 November – during several education initiatives.
These include a four-part television series outlining the components of the new governing document. Titled The Cayman Islands Constitution: Navigating to a Brighter Future, this TV mini-series will begin on Monday, 26 October, at 6:30pm, on Cayman27 (Cable Channel 12). The initial show is called New Leadership: The Executive and The Legislature.
The second segment of the series will air Thursday evening, 29 October, at 7:30pm on Island24 (Cable Channel 9). It is entitled A New Public Service: A Higher Standard of Governance.
The third and fourth segments will air on November 2 and 5.
These TV programmes have been produced in conjunction with government officials, civic leaders and authorities on the Cayman Islands Constitution. The four shows will be accompanied by press releases which will appear in the print media.
Another initiative calls for an updated Constitution website, Constitution.gov.ky, which will launch on the Appointed Day.
District public libraries are helping out. Information – including copies of the new Constitution – is available for reference at each location.
Talk radio will also be used to familiarize the public with the contents of the new document. Two shows are planned: a morning segment on Rooster’s Crosstalk on Monday, 2 November; and a noon appearance on Radio Cayman’s Talk Today on Wednesday, 4 November.
Further public education and informational efforts will continue with the appointment of the new Constitutional Commission, which is expected soon after the Appointed Day.
In the meanwhile, public questions and comments on the Constitution implementation may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
News & Events
Constitutional Talk A Success! – Round Three
Foreign Office Minister Gillian Merron welcomed the successful conclusion of the Cayman Islands Constitutional talks.
Delegations from the Cayman Islands and the UK met in London on 3-5 February for the third round of talks on constitutional review for the Cayman Islands. The talks were hosted by Gillian Merron, and the Cayman Islands Leader of Government Business, Hon D Kurt Tibbetts led their delegation. She said:
'I am delighted that we have been able to work together to produce a draft new constitution for the people of the Cayman Islands, for whom this will be an important step forward. I welcome the inclusion of the Bill of Rights as a first step in raising awareness and strengthening respect for and the protection of human rights. I congratulate the Cayman Islands delegation on their determination to secure the best deal for the people of the Cayman Islands, whilst retaining their links to the UK.'
News & Events
Cayman Delegation for UK
Prepared by Government Information Services
A Cayman Islands delegation will be in the United Kingdom the week of 2 February for final discussions with a team led by UK Minister for Overseas Territories Gillian Merron. The meeting is expected to yield a final draft constitution for the Islands.
That was the word from UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Representative (FCO) Ian Hendry as he wrapped up the second round of constitutional negotiations with local officials at the Westin Friday (16 January). The talks opened on Tuesday (13 January).
The constitution will determine Cayman’s political relationship with the UK, and prescribe how government and its institutions will function to better serve the people. The related Bill of Rights will outline citizen’s entitlements, freedoms and responsibilities under the constitution.
Most participants agreed that significant progress was made during the latest round which saw participation by the FCO delegation, and Cayman Islands Government, Opposition members and non-governmental organisations.
Agreement was reached on key issues, such as increasing Cabinet representatives from five to seven and the Legislative Assembly from 15 to 18; adding a Minister of Finance as a Cabinet-level position, with the Financial Secretary retained in an advisory role, and establishing a National Security Council (to handle policy matters surrounding national security issues and a Judicial and Legal Services Commission to appoint the Attorney General and other key legal and judicial positions.
Describing the talks as "a very productive session", Mr Hendry added that participants demonstrated a real commitment to address unresolved issues from last year’s first round.
While noting that significant progress and compromise had been achieved this time, he said that the Cayman delegation to London will be attempting to resolve ten outstanding matters.
These include the Bill of Rights as a whole, specifically whether to include language relating to self-determination in the Bill; whether Her Majesty will now appoint the Governor in consultation with the Premier (now LOGB), and whether language mandating the Governor to act in the best interest of the Cayman Islands should be explicitly written into the new constitution.
Other points for the UK meeting comprise defining the powers of the new National Security Council and whether the Opposition should play a role in that body; restricting the power of the governor to enact legislation; whether there should be term limits for the Premier; imposing an intervening period before a former civil servant can hold elected office, and discussion of a provision to allow Cayman to make later constitutional changes.
In his comments, Leader of Government Business the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts, JP said that while government must await the next draft and the outcome of the final round, "there is broad agreement on all the key features of the proposed constitution."
He said the government will take a number of issues to the UK, among them the need for Cayman to have a Bill of Rights which balances the UK’s need to have overseas territories be compliant with its international obligations, but which also preserves the Islands’ distinct history, culture and Christian heritage.
Mr Tibbetts further identified other issues such as the need for greater accountability on the part of the Governor, to be in line with demands for accountability from elected officials, as well as measures to improve the clarity and accessibility of the constitution.
He lauded constitutional innovations such as a new Commission for Standards in Public Life, adding that it will ensure that all parts of government adopt the highest standards of probity and honesty. He also disclosed government’s plans to meet with the opposition and NGO groups ahead of the UK trip.
Opposition leader Mr McKeeva Bush warned against a document that will put more power in the hands of politicians, but voiced his support for Opposition involvement in the National Security Council and for LA members to attend Cabinet meetings.
He drew attention to the Opposition’s position paper which expressed commitment to fully informing the public of the ramifications of the new constitution and its effect on their lives.
Other representatives in the talks included the Human Rights Committee; the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce; the Cayman Islands Ministers Association and the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh Day Adventists.
Speaking on behalf of her HRC colleague Sarah Collins, HRC Representative Melanie McLaughlin said their organisation had successfully advocated clearer and more positive rights for children; rights to education; rights to environmental protection, and the establishment of a human rights commission.
However, she expressed disappointment at the lack of progress on including health care and housing as an aspirational right; non-discrimination rights and simplifying the language of the Bill of Rights.
Chamber President Eddie Thompson called the negotiations very progressive, adding that he was pleased that most of the Chamber’s points were incorporated. He reiterated the call for simple language in the wording of the document so it could be understood even by children.
Cayman Islands Conference of Seven Day Adventist representative Shian O’Connor said the talks had served to narrow the gaps among the groups. He noted however, that his organisation stood by its principled position on defending the moral, cultural and spiritual values of the Islands.
CMA representative Pastor Al Ebanks expressed his appreciation for the manner in which the proceedings were conducted. He said that the CMA had particular interest in the Bill of Rights and looked forward to seeing the final draft.
News & Events
Constitution Talks: Round Two
Prepared by Government Information Services
Efforts to craft a new constitution to govern Cayman’s relationship with the United Kingdom and a Bill of Rights to entrench citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms, recommenced Monday (13 January 2009).
The second round of constitutional negotiations which began at the Westin Casuarina Resort included a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) delegation, Cayman’s leaders of government and opposition; Chamber of Commerce representatives and non–government organizations such as the Human Rights Committee; the Cayman Islands Ministers Association, and the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh Day Adventists.
FCO Representative Ian Hendry assured participants that the UK’s commitment to a modern, effective relationship with Cayman would ensure a bright future: "Our delegation approaches these talks in a spirit of goodwill and co–operation…I hope we can concentrate on seeking the best constitutional arrangements available for the Cayman Islands with which both sides can live," he said.
Leader of Government Business the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts, MLA, JP noted that satisfactory progress had been made on most issues during the first round, particularly on the Bill of Rights. That, he said, provided a solid foundation on which to build further consensus.
Observing that government accepted that every negotiation is characterized "by a measure of give and take," Mr Tibbetts said that his fellow ministers are pleased that some of their comments have been taken on board by the UK.
He cited specifically the UK’s agreement on the importance of having a National Security Council to manage senior level security forces appointments, and the establishment of a Judicial and Legal Services Commission to oversee the appointments of judges and others into key legal positions.
Mr Tibbetts also expressed pleasure that the UK had accepted government’s recommendation to consider Cayman’s interests when negotiating international treaties.
He emphasised that government’s goal was to achieve an agreement that recognizes the Islands’ particular culture, traditions and values; that promotes openness, transparency and accountability, and ensures accessibility to all the people of Cayman.
"These negotiations provide us with a historic opportunity to modernize our centuries–old constitutional relationship with the UK so that it works better for the UK and us [Cayman] in the future. The world has undergone significant change since 1972 when our present constitution took effect…today we are more mature and more confident as a people and would like to have a greater say in running our affairs in a continuing partnership with the UK," Mr Tibbetts noted.
Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said that the country must continue to debate the draft constitution: "There are parts which we would support and have pushed since 2002–2003, such as our involvement in treaties and other such matters," Mr Bush stated. He added that there are other aspects to the working documents which the opposition will fight against and that the opposition would continue to take discussions on constitutional issues to the people.
Chamber of Commerce Representative Eddie Thompson said that the working document was "moving in the right direction" and was in keeping with the findings of the chamber’s own members’ survey.
"The working draft includes several provisions that the chamber membership supports," he said, citing among others, the need to maintain ties with the UK; avoid any move towards independence; modernize the role of the governor, and introduce checks and balances.
However, Mr Thompson also mentioned several issues which from a chamber standpoint remain unresolved. These included confirming the provisions of the proposed Bill of Rights; human rights and constitutional modernization, and confirming the functions of the governor.
Urging compromise and negotiation, he further challenged elected representatives to "set aside political differences and develop a new constitution that protects our unique way of life, provides for a more open, transparent and accountable government, and contributes to the fair and equitable exercise of power and delivery of public services.
Representatives of Cayman’s religious community were concerned mainly with protecting the religious values of the Islands’ people, while the HRC representative urged a rewording of sections of the working document to reflect more simple and positive language.
News & Events
The Way Forward
Remarks by The Leader of Government Business The Honourable D. Kurt Tibbetts, JP., MLA Cabinet Press Briefing Thursday 7th August, 2008
At the June 27 Cabinet Press Briefing I announced the government’s decision to postpone the Constitutional referendum for a number of reasons including that July was not a suitable time to hold a poll as most Caymanians are off island during the summer months and because there was concern that there would be a low turn out if the referendum was held at that time.
However, the postponement of the referendum has by no means signaled the end of the constitutional discussion, but rather a redirection of the programme.
The month of July has seen renewed dialogue between myself as Leader of Government Business, representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Honourable Leader of the Opposition with a view to moving forward with the Constitutional programme.
Accordingly, as of to date, it has been agreed by all that constitutional talks between a Cayman delegation and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will begin the week beginning September 29, 2008. The purpose of these talks will hopefully result in the production of a draft constitution to be presented to the Caymanian people early 2009 for consideration and their endorsement. It is expected that approximately 3 to 4 meetings will be required to negotiate a new constitution and the first meeting will be held here in Grand Cayman.
In preparation of these meetings, the government has proposed to the FCO that the Cayman delegation should consist of:
The technical assistance of our Constitutional Advisor Professor Jeffrey Jowell QC and the Director of the Constitutional Review Secretariat and her staff will also continue during this time.
Likewise I have also taken the opportunity to respond to the Honourable Leader of the Opposition’s letter of July 9 regarding the way forward. I welcome his statement that we should now work together for the good of the country, even though I had hoped that the last seven months would have produced a constitutional position by the Opposition and that we would have by had an opportunity to discuss our differences with a view to arriving at a compromise.
Nonetheless, the government’s intention to move forward for the good of the country continues, and I have written to the Honourable Leader of the Opposition highlighting the importance of using the time allotted wisely and to hold preliminary meetings in good faith with a view to agreeing the position on of the Cayman delegation and presenting a united front at the September 29th meeting with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
To facilitate this process, I have asked the Honourable Leader of the Opposition to provide me with the Opposition’s position on each of the Revised Proposals and present a clear statement of any additional proposal that the Opposition recommends. It is hoped that the Opposition’s position will be provided latest, the end of August, in good time for our internal negotiations early September.
At this time I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the Constitutional Review Secretariat for its outstanding job. I am sure that when the Honourable Leader of the Opposition finally presents his proposals and recommendations to the government and country the technical assistance of the Constitutional Review Secretariat and Professor Jeffrey Jowell QC will prove invaluable to the Cayman delegation before, during and after the negotiations with the FCO.
I look forward to updating the Caymanian people as major developments occur. On behalf of the government I would like to congratulate the Caymanian people for their keen interest in the constitutional future of these islands during the last seven months and for engaging the government on the issues.
This exercise has been a fine example of the dedication of the Caymanian people to see this process through, now it is for us your representatives to truly represent you and agree a position for the country with a view to successfully negotiating a draft constitution for your future consideration and vote in the referendum to come.
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