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Supporting Democracy

Commissions Secretariat Manager Deborah Bodden (seated at right) and Office Administrator Doralyn Stewart. Standing (L-R) are analysts Jason Webster, Josephine Hislop and Michael Ebanks.

The Commissions Secretariat is celebrating its first year of public education and other services in support of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009.

This office is the public's point of contact for the four Constitutional Commissions as well as for the Anti-corruption Commission, and provides those bodies with strategic, analytic and administrative support.

The Secretariat was established in February 2010 under the Deputy Governor's Office. Prior to that, the first national referendum was held and the revised governing document was adopted on 6 November 2009 - replacing the 1972 Constitution.

Thereafter, the four bodies, each with a specific legal mandate, were appointed to enact and protect Cayman's new Constitution: the Human Rights Commission, the Commission for Standards in Public Life, the Constitutional Commission, and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

The Anti-corruption Commission became a new Secretariat responsibility last month.

Commissions Secretariat Manager Deborah Bodden said, "Each commission has unique responsibilities and challenges. We are still very much in the infancy of our development, and are only now really beginning to understand the impact that the Constitution will have on the lives of the people of the Cayman Islands."

The Commissions Secretariat includes analysts Jason Webster, Michael Ebanks and Josephine Hislop, as well as Office Administrator Doralyn Stewart.

To date, the staff has been engaged in laying the framework for the commissions, work that has entailed researching best-practices, developing policies and procedures, and identifying goals and focus areas.

Noting that public education is a key objective, Ms. Bodden said that three websites have already been developed and copies of the 2009 Constitution have been widely distributed.

Further, the Secretariat facilitates monthly talk-show appearances and other media activities, and has held events such as Constitution Week and coordinated the local observance of International Human Rights Day.

"Public feedback remains vital," said Ms. Bodden. "The community is encouraged to remain involved by asking questions and providing feedback on areas of the Constitution which impact them in some way."

Another way the public can assist, she added, is by contacting the Secretariat, not the respective commission members, to make enquiries, complaints or requests relating to any of the commissions.

"This is important because the commissioners are all volunteers, and have other private responsibilities," Ms. Bodden explained. "However, the Secretariat staff members work full-time to support them."

To contact the Commissions Secretariat, call 244-3685 or fax 945-8649; visit their offices at the Smith Road Centre, or email Ms. Bodden at deborah.bodden@gov.ky.

Information on the commissions can also be found on the following new websites: Human Rights Commission; Standards for Public Life Commission; and Know Your Constitution.

A secure and confidential phone line (928-1747) has been established for persons wishing to provide the Anti-Corruption Commission with tips, or to make complaints regarding alleged acts of official corruption.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Lennon Christian