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LoGB Press Briefing Statements

Statement by Leader of Government Business, Hon D. Kurt Tibbetts, JP, Thursday, 20th November, 2008

2008 OCT EU FORUM

The Overseas Countries and Territories Association have a historic relationship with the European Commission, with the overall purpose of strengthening relations.

The Seventh Annual Overseas Countries and Territories Forum will be held in Grand Cayman because the Cayman Islands is a Member of the Executive Committee, Overseas Countries and Territories Association and is the Association's 2008 Ministerial Chairman.

The 2008 Ministerial Meeting will take place on Wednesday 26th November at the Westin Casuarina Hotel and the Forum meetings will follow on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th November. There will also be trilateral meetings between the administering entities: the European Commission, Member States (UK, Denmark, France and the Netherlands) and the OCTs.

Over 20 countries will be represented at these meetings, all meeting logistics being funded in full by the European Commission.

Representatives include Heads of Government, the Commission's Directorate General for Development Mr. Stefano Manservisi, Head of the Commission's Sector for Overseas Countries and Territories, in addition to the Representatives and officials of OCT Governments, the UK, France, Denmark and the Netherlands, and other Commission Representatives.

All representatives (from the OCTs including from the Member States and the European Commission) will be welcomed to the Cayman Islands at the Welcome Reception and Dinner at Pedro St James on Wednesday 26 November. (This event will commence at 6:30 pm).

Some of the activities that will take place during the OCTA Ministerial Meeting are election of the 2009 Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Ministerial, President and Vice President and members of the Executive and Audit Committee. The main focus of the meetings will be discussions on future relations of OCTs in relation to the EU in matters of trade, environment, capacity building and the 10th European Development Fund programme.

Endorsement of the UNIFEM Say NO to Violence Against Women Campaign

BACKGROUND

The Say NO to Violence against Women is an internet-based awareness campaign that aims to end gender-based violence. It was launched one year ago in November 2007 by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Global statistics paint a horrifying picture of the social and health consequences of violence against women. According to UNIFEM, violence is a major cause of death and disability for women aged 15 to 44 years. In a 1994 study based on World Bank data of approximately ten selected risk factors facing women in this age group, rape and domestic violence rated higher than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria. Unfortunately, we know all too well that our beloved Islands are not immune to this kind of violence against women, even though we do not yet collect comparative data.

Hundreds of thousands of concerned people have added their names to a global call to action to make the issue of gender-based violence a top international priority.

To date, the Heads of State or Government as well as Ministers of some 60 countries have added their names to the campaign on behalf of their Governments, thus expressing the political will to take action on the issue.

Last month, Ms. Roberta Clarke, the Regional Programme Director of the UNIFEM Caribbean Office in Barbados, submitted a written request to the Governor of the Cayman Islands for the Cayman Islands Government to participate in this global campaign.

ACTION TAKEN

Given the tragic circumstances surrounding the murder of Estella Scott-Roberts, an outstanding advocate against gender-based violence, and given our Government's desire for a peaceful society for all women, men and children in the Cayman Islands, I am pleased to announce that the Cayman Islands Government will be joining other governments, organizations and individuals around the world by endorsing the UNIFEM Say NO to Violence Against Women Campaign.

At this time, I would ask the members of Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly to come forward as we sign the petition for the UNIFEM Say NO to Violence Against Women Campaign on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government. The petition reads:

"As many as one in 3 women and girls may be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Join the ever-growing movement of people who are raising their voices and demanding that ending violence against women be a top priority for governments everywhere. Help break the silence."

AFTER THE SIGNING OF THE PETITION

UNIFEM's goal is to obtain 1 million or more signatures before 25th November 2008. As of yesterday, there were 893,048 electronic signatures in support of the campaign. Therefore, I implore individuals in the Cayman Islands to also let their voices be heard during this campaign by signing the electronic petition on www.sayNOtoviolence.org and passing the information on to other interested individuals wherever they may be.

All signatures to the Say NO campaign, along with a list of governments that have joined the initiative, will be handed over to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Kimoon at a high-level event on the 25th November, 2008 which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This will also be the day that we shall begin our observance of the annual, international 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign.

We trust that this campaign will send a clear message to the United Nations and the global village that gender-based violence must be viewed as a priority issue in order for humankind to obtain the highest level of social development.

FUTURE ACTIONS SUPPORTING THE ELIMINATION OF GENDER VIOLENCE

In addition to endorsing this international campaign, you will recall that in October 2008 the Cayman Islands Government sanctioned the establishment of a Special Advisory Committee on Gender Violence that will provide the Government with short and long term solutions to strategically address this issue. The report from this Special Advisory Committee will be handed over to the Cayman Islands Government next week at the official Opening Ceremony of the local 16 Days of Activism Campaign. Upon reviewing the recommendations, the Government will shortly thereafter provide a response to the report, and make the findings public.

The Opening Ceremony of the local 16 Days of Activism Campaign, which is being hosted by the Ministry of Health and Human Services, will take place on the lawn of the Government Administration Building from 1:00-1:30pm on Tuesday, 25th November. I encourage those who support this important issue to attend the opening ceremony if they are able to do so, and I trust that we will all do our part to sustain the messages behind this important campaign not only through December 10th when it officially concludes, but in the following months and years to come.

For further information contact: Bina Mani