CAYMAN ISLANDS
Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands
(overseas territory of the United Kingdom)
Joined United Nations:  24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 25 November 2012
CAPITAL
POPULATION
CHIEF OF STATE
SELECTION PROCESS
George Town (on Grand Cayman)
52,560 (July 2012 est.)
McKeeva Bush
Premier since 6 November 2009
The monarch is hereditary; the Governor is appointed by the
monarch;

Next scheduled election: None
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
SELECTION PROCESS
Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or
coalition is appointed by the governor Leader of Government
Business. Elections: last held 20 May 2009

Next scheduled election: May 2013
DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ETHNIC GROUPS
Mixed 40%, white 20%, black 20%, expatriates of various ethnic groups 20%
RELIGIONS
Church of God 25.5%, Roman Catholic 12.6%, Presbyterian / United Church 9.2%, Seventh Day Adventist 8.4%, Baptist 8.3%,
Pentecostal 6.7%, Anglican 3.9%, other religions 4%, non-denominational 5.7%, other 6.5%, none 6.1%, unspecified 3.2% (2007)
GOVERNMENT
STRUCTURE
British crown colony with 8 districts; Legal system is a combination of British common law and local statutes
Executive: None; the monarch is hereditary; the governor is appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the
majority party or coalition is appointed by the governor Leader of Government Business
Elections: last held 20 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2013)
Legislative: Unicameral Legislative Assembly (20 seats; 18 members elected by popular vote and 2 ex officio members from The
Cabinet; to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 20 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2013)
Judicial: Summary Court; Grand Court; Cayman Islands Court of Appeal
LANGUAGES
English (official) 95%, Spanish 3.2%, other 1.8% (1999 census)
BRIEF HISTORY
Christopher Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands on May 10, 1503 and named them Las Tortugas after the numerous sea
turtles there. Columbus had found the two small islands (Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) and it was these 2 islands that he named
"Las Tortugas". A 1523 map of the islands referred to them as Lagartos, meaning alligators or large lizards, but by 1530 they were
known as the Caymanas after the Carib word for the marine crocodile which also lived there. The first recorded English visitor was
Sir Francis Drake in 1586, who reported that the caymanas were edible, but it was the turtles which attracted ships in search of
fresh meat for their crews. Overfishing nearly extinguished the turtles from the local waters. The first recorded permanent inhabitant
of the Cayman Islands, Isaac Bodden, was born on Grand Cayman around 1700. He was the grandson of the original settler named
Bodden who was likely one of Oliver Cromwell's soldiers at the taking of Jamaica in 1655. A variety of people settled on the
islands: pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, and slaves. The majority of Caymanians are of African
and British descent, with considerable interracial mixing. Britain took formal control of the Caymans, along with Jamaica, under the
Treaty of Madrid in 1670 after the first settlers came from Jamaica in 1661-71 to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. These first
settlements were abandoned after attacks by Spanish privateers, but British privateers often used the Cayman Islands as a base and
in the 18th century they became an increasingly popular hideout for pirates, even after the end of legitimate privateering in 1713.
Following several unsuccessful attempts, permanent settlement of the islands began in the 1730s. The Cayman Islands historically
have been popular as a tax haven. In November 1794, 10 vessels which were part of a convoy escorted by HMS Convert, were
wrecked on the reef in Gun Bay, on the East end of Grand Cayman, but with the help of local settlers, there was no loss of life. The
incident is now remembered as The Wreck of the Ten Sail. Legend has it that there was a member of the Royal Family onboard
and that in gratitude for their bravery, King George III decreed that Caymanians should never be conscripted for war service and
Parliament legislated that they should never be taxed. However, no real evidence has been found for this. From 1670, the Cayman
Islands were effective dependencies of Jamaica, although there was considerable self-government. In 1831, a legislative assembly
was established by local consent at a meeting of principal inhabitants held at Pedro Castle on December 5th. Elections were held on
December 10th and the fledgling legislature passed its first local legislation on December 31st 1831. Subsequently The Governor of
Jamaica ratified a legislature consisting of eight magistrates appointed by the Governor of Jamaica and 10 (later increased to 27)
elected representatives. In 1835, Governor Sligo arrived in Cayman from Jamaica to declare all slaves free in accordance with the
Emancipation Act of 1833. The Cayman Islands were officially declared and administered as a dependency of Jamaica from 1863,
but were rather like a parish of Jamaica with the nominated justices of the peace and elected vestrymen in their Legislature. From
1750 to 1898 the Chief Magistrate was the administrating official for the dependency, appointed by the Jamaican governor. In 1898
the Governor of Jamaica began appointing a Commissioner for the Islands. The first Commissioner was Frederick Sanguinetti. In
1959, upon the formation of the Federation of the West Indies the dependency status with regards to Jamaica ceased officially
although the Governor of Jamaica remained the Governor of the Cayman Islands and had reserve powers over the Islands. Starting
in 1959 the chief official overseeing the day to day affairs of the islands (for the Governor) was the Administrator. Upon Jamaica's
independence in 1962, the Cayman Islands broke its administrative links with Jamaica and opted to become a direct dependency of
the British Crown, with the chief official of the islands being the Administrator. In 1953 the first airfield in the Cayman Islands was
opened as well as the George Town Public hospital. Barclays ushered in the age of formalised commerce by opening the first
commercial bank. Following a two year campaign by women to change their circumstances, in 1959 Cayman received its first
written constitution which, for the first time, allowed women to vote. Cayman ceased to be a dependency of Jamaica. During 1966,
legislation was passed to enable and encourage the banking industry in Cayman. In 1971 the governmental structure of the Islands
was again changed with a Governor now running the Cayman Islands. Athel Long CMG, CBE was the last Administrator and the
first Governor of the Cayman Islands. In 1991 a review of the 1972 constitution recommended several constitutional changes to be
debated by the Legislative Assembly. The post of Chief Secretary was reinstated in 1992 after having been abolished in 1986. The
establishment of the post of Chief Minister was also proposed. However, in November 1992 elections were held for an enlarged
Legislative Assembly and the Government was soundly defeated, casting doubt on constitutional reform. The "National Team" of
government critics won 12 (later reduced to 11) of the 15 seats, and independents won the other three, after a campaign opposing
the appointment of Chief Minister and advocating spending cuts. The unofficial leader of the team, Thomas Jefferson, had been the
appointed Financial Secretary until March 1992, when he resigned over public spending disputes to fight the election. After the
elections, Mr. Jefferson was appointed Minister and leader of government business; he also held the portfolios of Tourism, Aviation
and Commerce in the Executive Council. Three teams with a total of 44 candidates contested the general election held on
November 20, 1996: the governing National Team, Team Cayman and the Democratic Alliance Group. The National Team were
returned to office but with a reduced majority, winning 9 seats. The Democratic Alliance won 2 seats in George Town, Team
Cayman won one in Bodden Town and independents won seats in George Town, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Although all
administrative links with Jamaica were broken in 1962, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica continue to share many links and
experiences, including membership in the Commonwealth of Nations (and Commonwealth citizenship) and a common united church
(the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands) and Anglican diocese (although there is debate about this) as well as a
common currency (until 1972). Also, by 1999, 38-40% of the population of the Cayman Islands was of Jamaican origin and in
2004/2005 little over 50% of the expatriates working in the Cayman Islands (i.e. 8,000) were Jamaicans (with the next largest
expatriate communities coming from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada). In September 2004, The Cayman Islands
were hit by Hurricane Ivan, causing mass devastation, loss of human and animal life (both wild and domestic/livestock) and flooding,
with some accounts reporting that 25% or more of Grand Cayman had been underwater and with the lower floors of buildings being
completely flooded. This natural disaster also led to the bankruptcy of a heavily invested insurance company called Doyle. The
company had re-leased estimates covering 20% damage to be re-insured at minimal fees when in fact the damage was over 65%
and every claim was in the millions. The company simply could not keep paying out and the adjusters could not help lower the
payments due to the high building code the Islands adhere to. Much suspense was built around the devastation that Hurricane Ivan
had caused as the leader of Government business Mr. Mckeeva Bush decided to close the Islands to any and all reporters. This led
to severe reports in the media of hundreds dead, when in fact none but two that refused to stay in the shelters were lost. It was also
a collective decision within the government at that time to turn away two British warships that had arrived the day after the storm
with supplies. This decision was met by outrage from the Islanders who thought that it should have been their decision to make.
However, when the Island re-opened in early December to tourists the cruise ships once more started to pour in, all intrigued to see
the damage. While there were visible signs of damage, in the vegetation and an apparent lack of construction in some places, the
Island was bustling again as some things had been freshly re-built and those that were not were quite on their way. There remain
housing issues for many of the residents as of late 2005. McKeeva Bush was reappointed on 27 May 2009.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Cayman Islands
ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 93,000 companies were registered in the
Cayman Islands as of 2008, including almost 300 banks, 800 insurers, and 10,000 mutual funds. A stock exchange was opened in
1997. Tourism is also a mainstay, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is
aimed at the luxury market and caters mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 1.9 million in 2008,
with about half from the US. Nearly 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy a
standard of living comparable to that of Switzerland.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Cayman Islands)
POLITICAL CLIMATE
The Cabinet is appointed by the governor on advice of the Premier. The British Crown appoints a Governor, who is recruited from
the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and serves as the British representative, including his role as the direct representative of
Queen Elizabeth II. Daily administration of the islands is conducted by the Cabinet. The Deputy Governor, and Attorney General
are appointed by the governor. Responsibility for defense and foreign affairs resides with the United Kingdom; however, the Deputy
Governor handles the portfolio for External Affairs, and the Cayman Government may negotiate certain bilateral matters directly
with foreign governments.

The governor can exercise complete executive authority if he wishes through reserve powers reserved to him in the constitution.
However, he must consult with the Premier prior to using such powers and must do so in the interest of the Cayman Islands (so long
as it doesn't prejudice British interests). He must give royal assent to all legislation, which allows him the power to strike down any
law the legislature may see fit for the country. In modern times, the governor usually allows the country to be run by the cabinet, and
the civil service to be run by the Deputy Governor, who is the Acting Governor when the Governor is not able to discharge his usual
duties for one reason or another.

Constitutional Modernization has come to the forefront of politics recently with the collapse of the now defunct Euro Bank
Corporation in 2003. The prosecution in the trial was forced to reveal that the British Government had planted moles (and used
wire taps) throughout the banking industry using MI6, at the consent of the governor. This caused the trial's collapse, and
subsequent release of those charged with wrongdoing. Along with this, the only mole that was known at the time was allowed to
leave the country, never to answer for what he (or the United Kingdom) was doing. This infuriated the elected members of the
legislative assembly as they maintained that the governor and the United Kingdom had put into question Cayman's reputation as a
tightly regulated offshore jurisdiction. Some saw this as the United Kingdom meddling in the territory's affairs to benefit itself (and
the EU), at the expense of the islands' economy.

Constitutional talks however went on hold following Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Subsequently in May 2005 the ruling UDP was ousted
by the PPM, which restarted the process of constitutional modernization. A new draft constitution was passed by the electorate via
referendum on 20 May 2009 and adopted on 2 November 2009.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Cayman Islands
INTERNATIONAL
DISPUTES
None reported.
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
REFUGEES AND
INTERNALLY
DISPLACED PERSONS
(IDPS)
None reported.
ILLICIT DRUGS
Major offshore financial center; vulnerable to drug transshipment to the US and Europe (2008)
Human Rights Commission
U. S. STATE
DEPARTMENT
HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
BACKGROUND NOTES
March 22, 2012

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The Cayman Islands' physical isolation under early British colonial rule allowed the development of an indigenous set of administrative
and legal traditions, which were codified into a Constitution in 1959. Although still a British Overseas Territory, the islands today are
self-governed in nearly all respects. The Constitution, or the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009, that governs the islands came into
effect on November 6, 2009.

The Cayman Islands' political system is stable, bolstered by a tradition of restrained civil governance, sustained economic prosperity, and
its relative isolation from foreign policy concerns. Public discussion revolves around public sector expenditure and social services, the
pace of additional economic development, and the status of the large foreign national community on the islands.
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UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Forty-ninth Session
15 September – 3 October 2008
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD –
OVERSEAS TERRITORIES AND THE ISLE OF MAN

CAYMAN ISLANDS
PART I

Please indicate whether the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been invoked or referred to directly in domestic courts, and if so,
please provide examples of such cases.

In the Court of Appeal decision in Grant v J.A. Cumber Primary School and ors [2001 CILR 78] the appellants appealed the Grand Court
decision which upheld the exclusion of their son from school so long as he wore his in dreadlocks in accordance with his religious
beliefs as a Rastafarian.  Both the Grand Court and the Court of Appeal referred to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as a
number of other international conventions.  However, in both instances it was emphasized that unless these conventions were translated
into the domestic law of the Islands either by a Law of the legislature or the enactment of a bill of rights in the written constitution, no
relief could be entertained by the courts for any alleged breaches of these or any other international conventions.

The Court of Appeal concurred with the finding of the Grand Court that notwithstanding the fact that the CRC had not been
incorporated into the domestic law of the Islands, it could be relied on indirectly as a background standard by which to assess the
reasonableness of the decision to expel the child from school.

Please provide brief information on the ten-year Children Plan which was adopted in 2007 after the submission of the State party’s
report.

This Plan does not apply in the Islands.

Please indicate the processes and mechanisms that exist to ensure an efficient coordination of policy and strategy development with
regard to programmes, services and laws for the implementation of the Convention in each devolved Administration as well as in the
Overseas Territories.

Within the Islands, the agencies charged with responsibility for children or issues affecting children receive clear mandates from the
Government and take the necessary action to implement and coordinate that government policy.  These stakeholders are often brought
together at various seminars and conferences where pertinent issues are raised for discussion with a view to identifying the challenges
that must be addressed and the most effective means of doing so.

By way of example, in February 2008 the Attorney General and the Ministry of Health and Human Services hosted the opening session
of the National Children and Youth Symposium to which all agencies that impact child development, as well as the general public, were
invited.  The Symposium was held with the aim of creating a national policy framework to facilitate measures for the growth and
development of children and youth.
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FREEDOM HOUSE
Freedom In The World 2005 Report
Cayman Islands (in conjunction with a report on Montenegro)

The government failed to resist the influence from management of two companies: C Market (a supermarket chain) and Knjaz Milos (a
mineral water bottler), which pressured the government to stall foreign takeovers of these two large companies. (Both were partly
privatized in the 1990s.) The government attempted to arrange the sale of Knjaz Milos to the preferred investor (Danone of France) and
pressured the Security Exchange Commission, an independent body in charge of takeover bids, to reject the bid of another investor (FPP
Balkan Ltd. of the Cayman Islands). Worth ᆲ55 million (US$66.5), the transaction was completed only when the government withdrew
from the process. The commercial court, a body known for acceding to government influence, is stalling the takeover of C Market after
the Slovenian supermarket chain Mercator expressed interest.
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AMNESTY
INTERNATIONAL
Summit of the Americas fails to address human rights
20 April 2009

The fifth Summit of the Americas has failed to recognize that human rights must be placed at the centre of efforts to confront the many
fundamental challenges facing the region.

Governments from every country in the Americas, except for Cuba, took part in the four-yearly meeting held in Port of Spain, Trinidad
and Tobago, between 17 and 19 April.

The 34 heads of state and government discussed the Summit's three principal themes: human prosperity, energy security and
environmental sustainability.

The Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain was adopted by consensus at the close of the Summit on 19 April. Based on the three
themes, the Declaration fails to lay out a clear human rights framework for progress in these areas.

A number of governments, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Honduras, indicated that they were not prepared to formally sign
the Declaration. Leaders agreed to instead adopt it by consensus and have Trinidadian Prime Minister Manning sign on behalf of all
leaders.

The governments that had registered objections did not feel that the Declaration deals adequately with the current global economic crisis.
They also wanted to see strong references to the issue of Cuba's reintegration into Organization of American States (OAS) and the lifting
of the US embargo against Cuba.

Amnesty International delegates at the Summit urged the governments of the region to make a firm commitment to ensuring that all
measures taken in response to the current global economic crisis fully conform to their human rights obligations. But the recognition in
the Declaration of the responsibility governments have to address the crisis does not acknowledge human rights at all.

"At a time of global economic turmoil and with a new spirit of compromise in the air between the government of US President Barrack
Obama and other governments in the Americas this Summit offered an unparalleled opportunity to lay out a strong human rights vision
for the Americas," said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, who was part of the Amnesty International
delegation at the Summit. "Instead, human rights have once again been pushed to the back."

Amnesty International had made a number of recommendations as to ways in which an earlier draft of the Declaration needed to be
strengthened with regard to human rights. The organization said it was disappointed that there were no such improvements in the final
Declaration.
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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Cayman Islands: Ensure Equality for All
Restore Broad Anti-Discrimination Protections in Draft Constitution
March 11, 2009

(New York) - The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, should revise a draft constitution that will be submitted to voters on
May 20, 2009, to ensure that it gives full protections to all against unequal treatment, and the British government should ensure that this
happens, Human Rights Watch said today in letters to the Cayman governor, Stuart Jack, and the British foreign secretary, David
Miliband.

The draft constitution is being revised by the Cayman Islands government and will eliminate a free-standing guarantee of equality before
the law and limit anti-discrimination protections only to rights expressly included in the constitution. This means that large and critically
important areas of daily life would not be covered, including access to jobs, housing, and medical treatment. Reportedly, the government
succumbed to pressure from religious groups, and the action was apparently intended to deny protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender people.

"The British government is using a double standard, approving a draft constitution for an overseas territory that gives fewer protections
than British citizens enjoy at home," said Boris O. Dittrich, advocacy director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights
program at Human Rights Watch. "Equality means equality, and it should apply across the board."

Human Rights Watch urged the British and Cayman governments to ensure that protections in the new constitution apply not only to
discrimination by the state, but also to discrimination by private entities.

The new constitution will be voted on in a referendum during the territory's general elections.

Equality Cayman, a nongovernmental organization in the Cayman Islands, has strongly criticized the scope of the proposed language for
section 16 in the draft constitution, stating that it offers inadequate protections against prejudice and inequality.

Human Rights Watch urged the British government to ensure that the new constitution is in line with expanding protections against
discrimination in UN and European law. The United Kingdom has extended the UN human rights treaties and the European Convention
on Human Rights to the Cayman Islands.  

"Protecting against discrimination and promoting equality should be core purposes of a bill of rights," said Dittrich. "The territory's new
constitution should not fall short of that aim."
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OFFICIAL
GOVERNMENT HUMAN
RIGHTS STATEMENT
Statement by The Attorney General, the Hon. Samuel Bulgin, QC, JP
Coming into Effect of Bill of Rights
0
5 November 2012

On Tuesday, 6 November 2012, the Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities, as mandated by the Cayman Islands Constitution
Order 2009, comes into effect.
Before this domestic provision takes effect, the Cayman Islands was covered by the Rights and Freedoms guaranteed by the European
Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”), which were not justiciable in the Cayman Islands’ Courts.
The “Bill of Rights” recognizes the distinct history, culture, Christian values and socio-economic framework of the Cayman Islands, and
is an affirmation of the rule of law and democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
Significantly, the Bill of Rights will serve to confirm and, in some cases, create certain responsibilities for the Government (the State)
and guarantee that these rights are enforceable against the Government.
A Bill of Rights enshrined in a Constitution signifies that the Government has accepted the legal obligations to secure the basic human
rights for all persons within the Islands.
Additionally, any person, who alleges that the government (comprising public officials) has breached or threatened to breach his or her
rights and freedoms, will now be able to bring a claim against the government in the Grand Court that could culminate in a legally binding
and enforceable judgment.
This means legal action brought by persons aggrieved by the violation of their rights and freedoms can now be dealt with in the local
courts, which will be able to grant certain remedies in appropriate cases.
Going forward, there are certain basic imperatives that we must all bear in mind. These include:
I.        The Courts’ role will continue to be that of guardian of human rights and  will therefore be called upon to decide/adjudicate on
controversial matters arising out of the Bill of Rights;  

II.        There will be limits to the scope and legitimacy of Executive and Legislative decision-making, and in this regard, we should bear
in mind that executive expediency and the rule of law may not always be allies;

III.        Although the Executive, Legislature and the Courts have different functions, it is fundamentally important that an independent
judiciary, served by an independent legal profession, is charged with the responsibility of interpreting and applying the constitution,
consistent with the rule of law.  

IV.        In considering any alleged interference with some rights and freedoms, a court will have to deliberate:
-        whether the government’s action or attempted action is a sufficiently important objective to justify limiting a particular right or
freedom;
-        whether the measures, by which the government seeks to meet the objective, are  properly connected to the particular right or
freedom; and
-        whether the means used by the government match the intended objective.
As we celebrate this momentous occasion, it is also important to bear in mind that a Bill of Rights does have certain important
restrictions. This is expected in any democratic society where rights do carry with them duties and responsibilities.   
By way of examples, freedom of expression does not allow persons the right to willfully make defamatory statements about others.
Freedom of movement does not permit the unlawful trespassing on another’s premises, while freedom of assembly does not give the
right to unlawfully block a public thoroughfare to the inconvenience of others.  
The limitations are necessary for balancing the interests of various rights against the interest of    public order, safety, morality etc. The
question will be whether restrictions on the rights and freedoms are proportionate and or reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
The advent of a Bill of Rights is an important milestone in the constitutional and democratic development of these islands, of which all
should be understandably proud. Yet some of the challenges and rulings from the courts, at times, will be perceived as challenging or
threatening deeply rooted and strongly held cultural assumptions, and will therefore be unpopular.
A domestic Bill of Rights enforceable in our local courts is the dawn of a new era and will require a degree of recalibration and
readjustment by all, but more so our public officials.  It may be seen as daunting but we should all show a willingness to embrace it. It
is, ultimately, about a just and fair society for all.
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HUMAN RIGHTS
COMMISSION
Cayman gets Human Rights
By: Richard Coles
06 November, 2012

As chairman of the Human Rights Commission, I am pleased to share in the celebrations of Implementation Day.  

Today – 6 November, 2012 – is a monumental day; one of which we should all be proud; one which marks a new beginning for the
people of the Cayman Islands. Today is the day in which our Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities become enforceable on a local
level.

The rights within the Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities are fundamental to the lifestyle we are all so blessed to enjoy in the
Cayman Islands. The people of these Islands have fought for these rights and it is our duty to continue to work to ensure our future
generations receive the same or better rights than we do today.  

With these rights come freedoms; but so too come responsibilities. We look to our government to ensure that the people of the Cayman
Islands are treated with dignity and respect, fairly and humanely, lawfully and rationally through sound policies, procedures and
legislation. We seek to promote the importance and democratic values amongst those who form the next generation through these
rights.  

The Commission continues to seek to promote, protect, and preserve human rights for the people of the Cayman Islands and we hope
you will join us to embrace the journey and the challenges which lie ahead.  

Remember that these are YOUR rights!

Richard Coles  
Chairman, Human Rights Commission
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OFFICE OF THE
COMPLAINTS
COMMISSIONER
Mental Health Law failures cited by OCC
By: Brent Fuller | brent@cfp.ky
06 September, 2012

Recommendations to improve the administration of care and housing for the mentally ill in the Cayman Islands have not been
implemented more than two years after they were put forward.  

The issue deals with how a mentally ill patient should be handled if they are determined to be a safety risk to themselves or others.
Regulations of the Mental Health Law [1997 Revision] set out how a “place of safety” can be designated for a mentally disordered
person, but, put simply, Cayman lacks sufficient facilities to suit that purpose. Usually, the “place of safety” has been a prison lock up.  

Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams said Tuesday that the issue is not only one of conscience and social responsibility for the
Cayman Islands, but one that could land the territory in legal trouble when the 2009 Constitution’s Bill of Rights comes into effect later
this year.  

Ms Williams is not the first person to make such a claim. In fact, her report on the matter – made public last week in the Legislative
Assembly – cited statements in 2009 by the late Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation William Rattray who noted that current
prison facilities weren’t the solution to the territory’s mental health problems.  

“It is my view that Fairbanks [women’s prison facility] is not adequate as a place of safety for mental health patients who have not been
committed to prison as an untried prisoner, waiting for sentence or sentenced to imprisonment by a court,” Mr. Rattray opined during an
April 2009 investigation by the complaints commissioner’s office. Ms Williams’ recent report was done as a follow up to that
investigation.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gerald Smith, speaking to investigators in 2009, generally agreed to that statement at the time, but noted that
“it is the best we can do with what is and is not currently available to us”.  

Dr. Marc Lockhart also noted during the complaints commissioner’s 2009 investigation that the Cayman Islands Health Services
Authority has an eight-bed mental health care facility at the Cayman Islands hospital. However, that facility is too small to meet the needs
of all three Islands in Cayman and is not necessarily appropriate to treat and care for all types of mental disorders, Mr. Lockhart stated.  

Essentially, public safety authorities are still being forced to find “somewhere else” to put mentally ill people who may pose a risk to
society, but who have committed no offence.  

At the time of the 2009 investigation by the complaints commissioner, an “ad hoc” process was used to evaluate a place of safety for a
mentally ill person. That process included no inspection of the place of safety before a recommendation was made to send a mental
patient there, potential violations of a person’s rights by false imprisonment if they had committed no crime and lack of adequate
treatment for various mental health issues.  

“The [complaints commissioner’s office] firmly believes it is not appropriate to incarcerate the mentally ill who are not convicted of
crime,” Ms Williams wrote in her 2012 follow-up report, which sharply criticised what she perceived as government’s lack of action or
delayed action on the issue since the issuance of the 2009 investigation.  
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Report
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Queen since 6 February 1952
Duncan Taylor
Governor since 15 January 2010
TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS
None reported.
Franz Manderson
Deputy Governor since 9 February 2012
Juliana O'Connor Connolly
Depity Premier since 6 November 2009