ICO passes PR report case to courts

| 07/12/2016 | 35 Comments

(CNS): The legal challenges are mounting for government over the permanent residency controversy generated by the point system for occupations in the new law. As well as the action requesting a judicial review on the applicant’s 29-month wait for a decision, the premier is about to face another legal battle. On Tuesday Acting Information Commissioner Cory Martinson wrote to the chief justice seeking the court’s intervention after the home affairs ministry failed to comply with his order to release the Ritch Report to his office.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is dealing with an appeal regarding a denied freedom of information request in relation to the report, Martinson told CNS, explaining that as part of that process he needs to see it in order to determine if it is, as the premier has claimed, legally privileged or not.

If it is, that would mean the report can be lawfully exempt from release, but at this point the ministry has refused to let the ICO even see the document.

Yesterday, on the deadline of the ICO’s order to release the document to the commissioner, a ministerial certificate was sent by the premier claiming that under the law he, as a minister, can exempt a record, something Martinson said he disagrees with because it does not cover the commissioner.

He told CNS it is his belief that the Freedom of Information Law only provides for the governor to have the power to order that a document be withheld from the ICO during an appeal and that a minister, even the premier, cannot do so.

Martinson said this means that the ministry has not complied with the order and he has therefore written to the country’s top judge asking him to consider that the government is in contempt.

The acting commissioner said it was very important that the ICO is not denied any document to be able to do its job properly and maintain public trust in the law and the office. He said for people to have faith in the system they must see that it works fairly and equitably and that public authorities are obligated to follow the rules.

The government has become embroiled in a growing controversy around the permanent residency application system after failing to deal with the legal ambiguity surrounding the points system. The Progressive government changed the law in 2013 in order to abolish the ‘key employee’ stage of the residency process and the seven-year rollover policy, allowing all foreign nationals on work permits who live in Cayman for eight years or more to apply for residency.

But not one person has been approved since the law was changed after a ruling by the chief justice found the point systems for jobs was arbitrary and unfair.

The situation has left more than 800 people in limbo and has led to mounting speculation that government may be legally obligated to grant residency to all of them as some have now been legally resident in the Cayman Islands for 11 years.

Local attorney David Ritch was engaged by the premier to review the chief justice’s findings, the law and the regulations, but he has refused to release the report, citing legal privilege. CNS has tried to contact the premier for comment about this issue but we continue to be unsuccessful.

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Category: Government oversight, Local News, Politics

Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is the problem with kicking the can down the road.

  2. Anonymous says:

    this whole scenario is a very sad indictment on the country…and its been made worse purely by politics – it’s seemingly likely that whoever is in power after the next election will have to award all the applicants the PR grant or risk massive legal challenges and costs…so just do it now, and let the current CIG repeat to everyone that they had no choice, even Big mac would have to award them, or the Independents, etc…this should not be an election issue based on the awarding to the 600-800 applicants that now can sue the country….its a national emergency

    as to what to do in future? no idea – is it legal to ask all new immigrants to waive the right to future grant of status, or to waive the right to stay longer than 9 years without a break of at least 1 year, i dont know….but this is some mess we’re in, and it could be hugely costly to families, friends, communities, and the CIG’s bank balance

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s not true that no one has been granted PR in over 3 years. 1 person has been granted by the board and 4 have been granted by the IAT

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why aren’t the citizens of the country raising Holy Hell with Alden’s refusal to release the Ritch Report? Why isn’t this secrecy the primary topic of discussion on every radio talk show? This country is built on secrets and until the elected politicians are held accountable they will see the LA as nothing but a big trough where the can feed for 4 years.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hey Alden. Why do you not give the long-suffering applicants for PR a Cabinet Status grant? They would appear much more deserving than the last beneficiaries of that sacred trophy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Those that went before, and played by the rules, would be shafted yet again. The mass grant was a massive mistake. It is why I now have to learn Spanish.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Openness and transparency, eh, Alden? You’d better sort out this nonsense if you want to keep your post. McKeewa is rubbing together his palms and waiting in the wings!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sad but true.

    • NEW CAYMANIAN says:

      This is a complete joke! The progressives claim to stand for transparency and good governance. They are a bunch of hypocrites spouting political rhetoric thinking we fall for it. Can you imagine if the udp pulled this sort of stuff what their reaction would be?

    • Anonymous says:

      Neither party can field sufficient vote-worthy colleagues to sweep the crown under a OMOV system. If either past Premier’s “win” their district, they could be selected to form a different and fragmented coalition government in May 2017. That’s not a bad thing in my mind. It will require evidence, transparency, and professional collaboration rather than the misguided party-line gut-impulse-driven suasion we’ve witnessed for last decade.

      • Anonymous says:

        I would like to be persuaded by your argument. How will evidence, transparency, and professional collaboration be effected by your heard of cats?

  7. Anonymous says:

    The contents of the report are irrelevant in determining if it falls under legal privilege (and is therefore exempt from forced release). The MOU and any invoices/receipts should be sufficient to determine the nature of the report. The ICO is overreaching.

  8. PPM OUT!!! says:

    Have fun finding a new job in the real world Alden.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Not a controversy. A Contravesty. Or an Omnishambles if you please.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Is anyone else having a problem with this ‘ministerial certificate’? How can this be a democracy when the governor and/or premier can block you from getting information that you paid for? Where’s this transparency they preach about? Where are the protest organisers? these are the issues that need to be on the forefront of the people minds as much as the high gas prices and every thing else they protest because these seemingly unknown laws and privileges are what enable them circumvent the people’s will.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If actions speak louder than words, most of us can clearly infer what this publicly commissioned report states. It is ironic that our gov’t repeatedly pointed to the preparation of the report themselves as reason enough for the stalling. It’s not going to be in the public’s interest to pay out restitution to the hundreds of financially sound, fully-committed, and contributing residents that have been victimized and abused unnecessarily by the ill-advised adoption of Bermuda’s xenophobic roll-over policy (scrapped by them in 2013), and this more recent obstruction of the human right to a path to citizenship. We will recall that this was spearheaded by Kurt Tibbitts when he was leader of PPM years ago. Now those expats registered to vote will stand with our fellow Caymanians to thoroughly reject platforms of bigotry, exclusion, and hatred, and oppose the historic opaqueness of our Cabinets. Those running in May 2017 really need to adapt to the times, and new voter landscape, or make other career plans.

  12. PPM OUT!!! says:

    Anyone know how much Paul Allen paid for the damages to the reef and where the money went????????????

    • Anonymous says:

      8.56 you seem to suffer from attention deficiency and inappropriate musings on incorrect subjects. Do not fret, I believe this is all treatable now.

    • Jotnar says:

      Well you could file an FOI but I suspect you will be told that telling you the answer would be in breach of a confidentiality agreement with Mr Allen – the ” Kernohan” excuse. Of course, if Mr A didn’t pay anything other than the cost of the investigation and stabilisation work, which he did up front, and the cost of installing a permanent mooring for his vessels use going forward, then the second part of your question is redundant.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, there is no obligation that it should have gone into the Environmental Protection Fund, but even if it did Cabinet still holds all the cards there too.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Boy I can’t wait to vote these clowns out of office next year.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The report says you must let these people in otherwise they would release it .
    They don’t like this because it would taint the pure bloodlines that exist now and cause the world as they know it to end

    • Anonymous says:

      Pure bloodlines? In a place this small that means incest and vice and all things nice.

    • Anonymous says:

      That statement alone is enough to ensure new blood comes onto this island.
      Pure bloodlines, you moron, you’re probably the most intermixed, interracial and intercultural community in the Caribbean.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The more the premier resists, the more I want to see this document. At first, I didn’t really care if it was released. I wouldn’t have read it. Now, given how much the Premier digs his heels in, I’m thinking there must be something really juicy in there.

    • Anonymous says:

      It could only say one thing: “massive liability”. That’s before all of the corrupt and illegal tampering of applications, misplacing/shredding of application documents, failing to collect registered post, etc. Billing both working spouses for separate applications and five-figure fees and then saying that the wife is a dependent chattel of the husband’s application.

  16. Anonymous says:

    How much did we pay for this report that we are not allowed to see?

  17. Revelations 3:45 says:

    This episode is another example Alden’s and the PPM version of transparency, accountability and good governance in operation.

    “Now that’s progressive”

    • Anonymous says:

      maybe we can ask him about it at the next gov press briefing??….oh wait alden cancelled them in his first month as premier bec ause he ddin’t want to answer tough questions……..zzzzzzzzzzzzz

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