Brackers Work the Constitution
The recent Constitution Week observance included a full-day visit to Cayman Brac. There, government officials, civil servants and others met the Constitutional Commissioners and were reminded that their involvement in the continuing process is critically important.
During the visit which occurred under the week's theme Working Our Constitution, two major objectives came under discussion: current constitutional developments and the future implications of these changes.
Acting Governor the Hon. Donovan Ebanks, MBE, led the visiting contingent which included chairpersons of the four Constitutional Commissions:
Mrs. Karin Thompson, who heads the Commission for Standards in Public Life; Dr. Al Ebanks, who chairs the Constitutional Commission; Mr. Richard Coles, head of the Human Rights Committee (HRC) and Mr. Dan Scott, who was last week appointed chair of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC).
Sister Islands' officials included District Commissioner Ernie Scott and his deputy, Mark Tibbetts.
Also in attendance at the Aston Rutty Centre presentations were Constitutional Secretariat Manager Deborah Bodden and Strategic Policy Advisor Peter Gough.
Referring to the new Constitution which was introduced last November, Mr. Ebanks said, "This is a significant upgrade, one that strengthens the institutions of governance. These will provide new opportunities as we move into a new decade."
Highlighting the importance of the Constitutional Commissions, he added, "We are grateful that these Commissioners have stepped forward to offer their services."
The Acting Governor also told the gathering that the public service is becoming attuned to the new regimens under which they will have to operate and take the lead.
"We have already gone through some significant changes in public administration during this decade," he said. He described recently-revised legislation as being "in the best interest of the people of the Cayman Islands," adding, "we will, in time, look back at the revisions with appreciation."
Mr. Ebanks noted the costs of these changes and said that in the current economic climate, there was need to rebalance expectations concerning services that government can adequately provide to the public.
"We need to take the lead in all circumstances, make sacrifices, rein in unrealistic expectations and focus on doing what we can with the resources we have," he said.
In his turn, Mr. Gough outlined the provisions of the new governing document. His presentation was followed by individual introduction of the Commissioners, as well as question-and-answer sessions with each.
"There are many human rights implications for civil servants," Mr. Coles noted. He explained that because many government services and laws will otherwise be non-compliant when the new Bill of Rights is introduced in 2012, proactive measures and preparatory work will help government prepare accordingly.
He further acknowledged that the process will be "tedious, extensive and time-consuming," and will focus on three areas-education; living up to existing expectations of international treaties and conventions; and ensuring that government is adequately prepared for 2012.
Dr. Ebanks commented that the Constitutional Commission's immediate goals are educational, but include providing the community with opportunities to engage in topical discussions.
Mrs. Thompson's presentation covered standards expected of public officers and she responded to questions from the audience.
And in the wake of his own just days-old appointment, Mr. Scott announced that the JLSC will hold its first meeting this summer and that the seven remaining members will soon be named.
Other supporting agencies such as the National Security Council and the Electoral Boundaries Commission are also holding regular meetings.
Following the formal presentations, the officials embarked on a tour of Cayman Brac, during which they visited the new police station, the Faith Hospital, and other locations.
More information on the Cayman Islands' constitutional process and the new document can be found on the Constitution website: www.constitution.gov.ky. Information on the Human Rights Commission can be found at www.humanrightscommission.ky. Contact the Constitutional Secretariat on 244-3685 or fax 945-8649.
For further information contact: Lennon Christian