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Compass Article Refuted

Solicitor General Cheryll Richards

The article in the Caymanian Compass of Friday, 22nd October 2010 titled: "Dozens of crimes not prosecuted" is a clear misrepresentation of facts bringing the Cayman Islands system of justice into disrepute.

The Government Legal Department has responsibility for the prosecution of all matters before the several courts of the Islands, including traffic prosecutions from 1st July 2010 at the request of the police. Given this responsibility, the Department gives opinions regularly with regard to the laying of possible charges.

To move forward, the process requires a comprehensive criminal file to be submitted. From time to time, the Department has been compelled to advise the RCIPS that the matter cannot proceed because the time prescribed by law, within which charges can statutorily be laid, has elapsed.

The term "statute barred" refers to not complying with a statutory requirement for bringing certain charges. Some offences, usually summary only charges, are required to be laid at Court within six months of a competent complainant receiving evidence of the offence.

When a submitted file is statute barred, a public prosecutor would advise the investigator of this legal position. It would be irresponsible and contrary to the law not to.

The Legal Department does not, however, have any control over when a file is submitted for review after a complaint has been made to the RCIPS or an investigation conducted. The time frame for completion of investigations is a matter for the police. We agree with the RCIPS spokesperson that there are many reasons which may be outside of the control of the Police as to why an Investigating Officer may be unable to complete an investigation before the time period has elapsed.

Once a file is submitted to the Department, the date it is received and relevant particulars are recorded in the Legal Registry System. We obviously could not properly have a record of files which have not been submitted to us for review. It would, in the circumstances, be entirely appropriate for the RCIPS, which has a record of every single complaint (whether or not it has been submitted to the Legal Department), to respond to a request for information or for such records.

The RCIPS spokesperson's statement carried in the article clearly outlines the position with statute barred cases. We are understandably quite puzzled as to why the unfortunate misrepresentation of the Legal Department and the prosecution system persist in the article.