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Security Council Launched

The new NSC begins work.

This is not a decision-making body; it is a discussion group which will provide advice, which will in turn be considered by policy-makers.

—NSC Chairman, His Excellency Governor Duncan Taylor, CBE.

The inaugural meeting of the Cayman Islands' new National Security Council (NSC) took place yesterday (Wednesday, 3 March).

Its second meeting has been scheduled for next Monday, specificially to consider measures to resolve current crime issues and to determine how the public and business community can assist in the effort.

Yesterday, the Council discussed a range of issues but focused on the "priority concern", the current high rate of crime and what can be done to combat it. However, the NSC's first agenda also included procedural matters, such as members' taking formal declarations of non-disclosure (oaths of secrecy).

NSC Chairman, His Excellency Governor Duncan Taylor, CBE, explained, "This is not a decision-making body; it is a discussion group which will provide advice, which will in turn be considered by policy-makers.

"The NSC has a very key role to play and it is an important institution," he continued. "I am conscious that we meet at a time of hightened concern about security matters."

Welcoming the participation of the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, as well as other "senior and respected representatives of civil society," Mr. Taylor noted, "The spirit of inclusion is a great constitutional innovation and is one of the distinctive features of this new Council."

The NSC was mandated in the 2009 Constitution to provide advice to the Governor on internal security matters, although it will not focus on operational or staffing aspects of national security services. These remain the remit of the Governor.

The Council will examine issues at a strategic level and make recommendations to the Governor. Therafter, his recommendations will be submitted to Cabinet and to the RCIPS for consideration and implementation.

Council members will consider possible external and internal threats over the medium and long term, including natural disasters. Several agencies will be involved in security considerations, especially the uniformed services.

Council members are: Premier the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP; Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks, MBE, JP; Opposition Leader Kurt Tibbetts; Attorney General Sam Bulgin; Commissioner of Police David Baines; Minister of District Administration, Works & Gender Affairs the Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly; and Minister for Health, Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture, the Hon. Mark Scotland.

Representing civil society are the remaining members, businesspersons Mrs. Brigitte Kirkconnell-Shaughness and Mr. Dan Scott. Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Orrett Connor, MBE, JP, serves as NSC Secretary.

In welcoming the group, the Governor said, "I look forward to hearing your views and to participating in helpful discussions. There is urgency to move forward, and [I] hope to soon work on the national security strategy and on a national crime prevention strategy."

Noting that community participation is essential to the group's success, Mr. Taylor added, "There's a role for everybody...We want people to feel they can come to any of us [to] give us ideas, thoughts and information which we can use.

"National security is not simply a matter for the RCIPS; everyone in society has to contribute in some way, such as providing suggestions or policy ideas."

He said all Council members, including the Secretary, would receive representations from the community, and that confidentiality would be ensured by the members' oaths of non-disclosure. "Further, under FOI laws, NSC considerations and proceedings are exempted from access," the Governor concluded.

The NSC: A Constitutional Milestone

Under the new Cayman Islands Constitution, public accountability is reflected in the formation of the National Security Council (NSC), which allows elected representatives and lay persons to contribute to policy issues concerning national security.

This was previously the Governor's exclusive function and although the Police Commissioner will continue to report to the Governor, he will also periodically update the NSC and the Premier on matters relating to internal security and criminal activity.

The NSC comprises the Governor as Chairman, the Premier, two more Cabinet ministers, the Opposition Leader, the Deputy Governor, the Attorney General, the Police Commissioner and two members of the public. The Cabinet Secretary is NSC Secretary.

NSC members will advise the Governor on matters relating to internal security, other than police operations and staffing which remain the Governor's remit. His resultant action must accord with advice received, unless he believes it would adversely affect Her Majesty's interests. In such cases, however, the Governor shall also report this reaction to the NSC.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Lennon Christian