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LoGB on Constitutional Review

"The objective is to achieve the best possible constitution for these Islands, one which represents the views and aspirations of the majority of our people."

—Leader of Government Business, the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts

Cayman's constitutional modernisation initiative will be a four-part programme. The Secretariat set up to deal with the initiative is now fully staffed and fully operational, Leader of Government Business the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts said in the House on the opening day of the 2007-2008 session on Friday (27 April).

Bringing the Islands up to date on government's policies and their implementation, Minister Tibbetts outlined that the first component of the four-phase restarted modernisation programme will consist of a review of constitutional options viable in the Caymanian context. This will take the form of internal discussions among all elected MLAs to determine the key options to be presented to the people. A paper to follow will form the basis of public discussion, he elaborated.

During Phase One, a public relations initiative will familiarise the public with the Secretariat and its role in order to spike public interest in the next phase of the programme. The initiative, starting in May, is expected to continue until the publication of the public discussion paper, Minister Tibbetts said.

A lengthy Phase Two stage will follow providing a comprehensive public education programme as well as a public consultation period. This is scheduled to last a number of months.

A national referendum on constitutional issues and subsequent negotiations emanating from the results will take place in Phases Three and Four. "The results of the referendum will provide the Cayman Islands Government with the basis upon which it may enter into negotiations with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in achieving a modern constitution for the Cayman Islands," Mr. Tibbetts explained.

The Secretariat, under the Cabinet Office and headed by Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor, is currently working with an advisor from the UK to produce a range of constitutional options for presentation to Government in June. Guiding them would be comparative analyses of the constitutions of other British Overseas Territories and other countries as well as "from considerations that are driven by the Government," Minister Tibbetts outlined.

Some areas being explored include:

  • A bill of fundamental rights;
  • Clarification of the relationship with the UK so the interests of the Cayman Islands and the UK are harmoniously safeguarded;
  • Review of all democratic institutions, their promotion of the rule of law, efficiency, fairness, transparency and accountability;
  • Review of the UK's/Governor's Reserve powers;
  • The composition of the LA;
  • Commissions and Offices.

The Secretariat has four staff members and has Senior Crown Counsel Suzanne Bothwell as its director. Officially open from 12 March, the office is located at Elizabethan Square, Second Floor, Phase Three, in George Town. It is open to the public from 9 am to 5 pm, Mondays through Fridays, and its telephone numbers are 244-3603 or 949-7900.

Advising the Secretariat is Prof. Jeffrey Jowell, QC, a Research Professor of Public Law. He is also a practising barrister at Blackstone Chambers. He is a leading authority on public law, including Constitutional, Administrative, Human Rights and Planning and Environmental Law, and is co-author of leading Public Law texts.

Mr. Tibbetts hoped that everyone in Cayman would participate in what he termed "a critically important exercise".

"The objective is to achieve the best possible constitution for these Islands, one which represents the views and aspirations of the majority of our people," he added.