The Acting Governor, the Hon. Donovan Ebanks MBE JP is pleased to announce today 13 appointments to three new commissions established under the 2009 Constitution: the Constitutional Commission, the Human Rights Commission, and the Commission for Standards in Public Life. Described in the Constitution as being amongst the key "Institutions Supporting Democracy" in the Cayman Islands, these commissions will broaden citizen involvement in constitutional governance and strengthen our democratic way of life.
The Constitutional Commission is a three-person commission established under section 118 of the new constitution. The Governor has appointed Pastor Al Ebanks (Chairman), Mrs. Julene Banks, and Mr. Wil Pineau to this commission. Under the constitution, this commission has a threefold remit of advising government on questions concerning constitutional status and development, promoting public understanding and awareness of the constitution and its values, and publishing reports, papers and other documents on any constitutional matters affecting the Cayman Islands. In broad terms, this commission may be said to combine the functions of an advisory body with those of a think tank on constitutional matters.
The Human Rights Commission comprises five members. Established under section 116 of the constitution, it replaces the Human Rights Committee. To this commission the Governor has appointed Mr. Richard Coles (Chairman), Mrs. Sara Collins, Mrs. Cathy Frazier, the Reverend Nicholas Sykes, and Mr. Alistair Walters. The primary responsibility of the commission is to promote understanding and observance of human rights in the Cayman Islands. This remit includes educating the public about the Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities (Part 1 of the constitution), most of which are scheduled to come into effect on November 6th, 2012. The Human Rights Commission has powers to establish mechanisms to hear and investigate public complaints about potential breaches of human rights, to provide a forum for mediation or conciliation, to give advice and guidance to enquirers of all kinds in relation to their human rights, and to publish reports on its own initiative on human rights issues.
Appointments to the Constitutional Commission and the Human Rights Commission will be for renewable terms of between two to four years, with members serving for different periods, so that new appointments or re-appointments can take place in a staggered fashion.
Five people have been appointed to serve on the Commission for Standards in Public Life: Mrs. Karin Thompson (Chair), Mr. Roy McTaggart, Pastor Winston Rose, Mrs. Nyda-Mae Flatley, and Mr. Hedley Robinson. Established under sections 117 and 121 of the constitution, this commission has a broad remit but also specific responsibilities. Its overall function is to promote "the highest standards of integrity and competence in public life in order to ensure the prevention of corruption or conflicts of interest". As such, it is entrusted with the specific responsibility for developing and maintaining up-to-date registers of interest for those employed in public life. In conjunction with its primary role of promoting standards in public life, it has powers to monitor compliance with such standards and to investigate breaches of them. In addition, it has powers to review and strengthen procedures for awarding public contracts and making public appointments. In broad terms, it acts as a watchdog, it responds to citizens' concerns, and it promotes public trust in public servants and elected members. Under the constitution, its commissioners serve a four year term.
Administrative support for these three new commissions will be provided by a joint Commissions Secretariat, consisting of a Manager and up to five staff. The Secretariat is being established under the aegis of the Deputy Governor's Office. A "joint services" approach to supporting the new commissions is considered prudent in the current fiscal climate.
The Commissions Secretariat will also support a fourth commission, the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, which will advise the Governor on all judicial and legal appointments and will develop a code of conduct for the judiciary and a procedure for dealing with complaints. It is anticipated that appointments to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission will be made within the next two to three months.