CJ denies ICO access to Ritch report

| 30/01/2017 | 48 Comments

(CNS): The chief justice has ruled that the premier does not have to show the controversial Ritch report on the immigration law to the information commissioner because of legal privilege. In a 44-page decision, the country’s top judge accepted the public interest in and the problems with immigration legislation but nevertheless found that the premier could withhold the report because he was legally entitled to declare the document exempt. But in the wake of the decision and the now stalled FOI appeal, government has said regulations to address the current problems will be released soon.

The ruling keeps the lid on the report made by local attorney David Ritch, which was commissioned by the premier following an earlier court ruling by the Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, which found that elements of the point system being used by the government to determine permanent residency applications was arbitrary and unfair.

In this latest ruling, the chief justice again raised concerns about immigration legislation. He described the delays, a lack of transparency and procedural irregularities surrounding immigration issues and pointed out that a resolution to the sensitive and difficult problems posed by the immigration system have proved elusive.

Ritch was asked to find a solution to what the premier has stated is a complex and challenging issue. But since its completion nothing has happened and well over 800 permanent residency applicants remaining in limbo. A freeze on decisions by the immigration boards on PR applications means that they have not heard any by all those who applied after government amended the law in October 2013 to make the PR process more difficult.

It appears that the public will not get to see the Ritch report but it is understood to contain politically sensitive issues regarding the immigration system, which has over the years been criticized by all sides as a failing policy.

Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers had applied to the courts for an order to compel the premier’s office to release the document so he could complete an appeal in response to a denied FOI request for the report. However, the premier has fought hard to keep the document secret and has so far succeeded.

Following the release of the chief justice’s ruling, the premier’s office issued a statement saying that Cabinet would shortly consider amendments to the Immigration Regulations to allow the boards to process applications again.

“As I have said before, there is no easy fix for this. The root of the issue goes back to systems and processes that have been in place from the introduction of the points system in 2004,” said Premier Alden McLaughlin, who sat on the committee that helped shape the current immigration legislation, which introduced the rollover policy.

“This has been a vexing issue, not just for those impacted, but for me and the government,” he stated, adding that the CIG was committed to finding a solution that is fair to all and to get the process moving again.

He gave no details of what was going to change and when people could expect to see the new regulations but said that he would make a more detailed announcement “shortly regarding this change”.

The premier welcomed the CJ’s findings and said it had provided clarity over legal professional privilege as an absolute and fundamental right. He said it showed the important objective of the FOI law of ensuring public access to government information does not take precedence over preserving legal privilege, nor does the law vest the information commissioner with the power to infringe or abrogate it.

See CJ’s ruling in the CNS Library

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Category: Government oversight, Policy, Politics

Comments (48)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Life has been much sweeter…..I just stopped caring…..so I encounter people that care, that have lost a house or whatever in divorce and they are like breathing down on me…trying to enforce rules or trying to tell me that it is I who owe them money…its like this big money grab outside…here I am little me……I retire into my hole each night…

  2. Dummies the bunch says:

    What a bunch of crap.

    The supposedly learned judge stated that the premier has attorney/cleint privaledge. That this issue must be treated as one would a member of society.

    What a bunch of hog wash. This report was paid for using PUBLIC funds. It was requested using PUBLIc credentials (ie: GOVERNMENT).

    The premier DID NOT pay for this report out of his own pocket. He did not request this using his personal email/Po Box address. He used the Government credientials (ie:Public).


    If the Premier pays for it out of his own pocket then yes its entitled to privelage. He did not so its PUBLIC.

    • Jotnar says:

      Sarcasm like “Supposedly learned judge” looks really sharp when weighted against your spelling and grammar. You do understand that

      a) its not a personal issue for the Premier, but a government decision – so the Premiers personal views do not count, nor is he the lawyers client – its the government

      b) rightly or wrongly, the lawfully elected representative of the Caymanian voting public is taking a position where he opposes those seeking PR getting a tactical legal advantage by seeing CIGs legal advice on the subject. Ask yourself, do you really wish he had lost this fight, or not brought it, and in so doing increased the chances of success of the expats trying to get PR?

    • OJ Smith says:

      Clearly you are incapable of understanding the finer legal points. Go back to the bar and have another Caybrew. You will be supporting the local ecomy.

    • Anonymous says:

      And you studied law where???

  3. Anonymous says:

    There must be explosive stuff in that report that Alden has gone to all this effort to keep it covered up.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Anyone with a brain knows what the report says and why they won’t release it.
    It says that over time the local Cayman population will be overwhelmed by the expats in numbers and will lose political control of the country. Cayman has already become a melting pot with all the mixed marriages between local Caymanians and expats from around the world. The Cayman of 40-50 years ago is gone the Cayman population is now mixed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like you have sympathies with the Apartheid movement.

    • Anonymous says:

      We shouldn’t have to assume anything.
      Public funds were used to carry out this report and the public should have a right to view it!

      How are we okay with this??


      • Ex-Patriat says:

        Should the public have a right to matters of national security because it is paid for with public funds?
        Fix up your argument before you try to persuade legal scholars.

      • Ex-Patriat says:

        You all just shut up and go home….
        …to your families sitting beside you in the room.
        Get off the Internet and interact with people

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank God! It’s time the gene pool was diluted.

    • anon says:

      lol – its a legal opinion not a demographics thesis. All it says is that the government is breaking the law and the likely result is that anyone effected can sue the government and win. The bungling of the law by government has led us to a point where either those effected would likely become automatically entitled to the PR they applied for and also some form of financial restitution for any loss they have incurred as a result of government’s non-action.

      • sham says:

        I agree with Anon 100%… had it not contained the same or similar points, there would be no great need to shield the content of the report. The government clearly has gotten itself in a rather precarious position where human rights infringements are concerned and the PPM gov’t cannot afford for that kind of news (that they may have to grant those applications qualified or not) to see the light of day months before elections…that would be a political catastrophe. Hmm…interesting times ahead.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Alden won’t do anything before the election…he is the master of delay…as a Caymanian seeking employment, the only thing I see that he has done is rubber stamp management level work permits. Next administration will have to give 600 PR’s and will rightly blame it on the PPM. Alden has devastated the employment opportunities for the people of this country for the sake of work permit revenues. Hope he experiences looking for work in this environment come May.

  6. Anonymous says:

    At some point the voters must wake up and vote out these political dinosaurs yes I mean the one in your district perhaps a relative.

  7. Anonymous says:

    When the best they can do is nothing. And doing nothing is still better than the last clown’s antics. It is time to vote in some new blood and let the old guys retire to a life of goofing off but not getting payed for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      5.13pm And exactly what improvement did we get from all that new blood introduced in 2013. Two of them deserted the team that they had supported for three years and are busy trying to make themselves look good and to make their former colleagues look bad ( better if they acccept the good and bad of those years supporting the PPM). I am sure that they will be tied to the failings of the PPM by other candidates in the upcoming campaign.

    • OJ Smith says:

      Where is all this new blood coming from. All I am seeing is recycled UDP candidates masquerading as Independents. Oh and Kenneth and Alva. Who will be Premier of this motley crew? Ezzard? Who will be Minister of Finance and International Financial Services? Kenneth and Elio? Time to get into the 21st Century my brother’s and sisters.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So much for transparency by PPM. And we all know who courts side with.

  9. Diogenes says:

    Going to be more than vexing if the court rules in favour of that applicant asking for damages and interest for failing to process his application for over 2 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      So they would ask for damages against the ICO. And the ICO would just go back to Cabinet for an appropriation which they in turn would approve???

  10. Anonymous says:

    This must be the 4th time a solution to the problem is coming soon…… definition of soon “in or after a short time” 3+ years since the rules changed again? That be a long time. I won’t hold my breath, at least the weather’s nice here in limbo.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The PPM have certainly lived up to their ‘motto’ of being an open and transparent government.

    What are you so afraid of?

    We already know the Immigration system is messed up. We already know that the PPM has done literally nothing to actually take steps to fix the fiasco it has become.

    The worst that the report could say is that because of the mess you made of Immigration, the government now has no choice but to grant PR to those affected, and possibly pay costs.

    Immigration affects everyone living and working in the Cayman Islands. What right do you have to hide this report from the residents, Caymanians and foreigners alike, of these Islands?

    Or perhaps you’re hoping to get back in office before you have to reveal the recommendations of the report?

    Hope you enjoyed your stint as Mr. Premier, as you won’t be seeing another four as Premier.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Or perhaps you’re hoping to get back in office before you have to reveal the recommendations of the report?”

      Hammer meet nail.

    • SSM345 says:

      They will ALL get Caymanian Status because they held up 20 applications and possibly pay costs to people for the holdup with their lives. That is my guess at what Alden does not want you to know.

    • .LONDONER says:

      Alden do not be so reckless to think we all have amnesia, we are well aware who was in control in 2004 and you were at the forefront with your list of expats you were pushing for status. Now thats election time, youre pulling the same gimmick trying to hide behind the Chief justice coat tail, but We See You clearly,

      We are watching you and you will not be returning to Georgetown. We need Elio Solomon and Frank McField, but Alden McLaughlin you GOT TO GO NOW!

      • Anonymous says:

        Mac and UDP were in charge in 2004. They introduced the Rollover and points system. PPM won in Nov 2005

      • Marathon says:

        Frank McField?????? Don’t make me laugh. Complete waste of space (and that’s being kind).

        • Jotnar says:

          You are confusing competency with the ability of approximately 300 people to vote for him anyway and get him into the LA. Welcome to democracy, Cayman style, with 1000 voter districts more driven by populism and unrealistic promises than credibility .

        • Anonymous says:

          9:22 am agreed 1000%, if that was possible

      • Anonymous says:

        WE sure as hell don’t need Frank and Elio, but we don’t need Alden either

  12. Anonymous says:

    The PPM with this decision, as finalized my decision to not support them in the upcoming election as I did 4 years ago. Between that and them letting Dart dictate some of the changes to the planning law they have lost my vote.

  13. Cayman Spectre says:

    You mean the next government will pay because i seriously doubt these jokers will be elected back in unless the Grand maitre D Kurt who lives in everybodies pot runs for Georgetown. The PPM are a complete Utter Failure no vision no future no nothing a stooge for the UK. They are the 3 L’s Lazy LIons lodge !

  14. Anonymous says:

    cj will never go against government? take it to court of appeal mon…..?

    • Jotnar says:

      CJ will never go against government? You mean like the judgment that underlines all this, where he said their application of the immigration law was fundamentally wrong? Without him there would have been no Ritch report. Whilst the plaintiff in that case would have loved to use the Ritch report, not having it makes square root of sod all difference to a) the requirement to process PR applications in a timely fashion and b) the fact that the Privy Council has set the upper limit of timely at 1 year. CIG is going to lose big time. Only issue is whether they can string it out so the verdict is handed down after the election.

      • Anonymous says:

        But who can afford the privy council…who is in fact that interested. If I could afford the mountain of costly paper for the privy council it would be Hawaiian sunsets and large glasses of shaved ice drinks…

  15. Anonymous says:

    So Alden moans about the Aina Report but when it is his document ……

  16. Anonymous says:

    A welcomed decision by our CJ. Compass must learn they do not run the Government or make government policy.

    • Anonymous says:

      12.07 Since when did an FOI request signal an intent to run government? It is about making government more transparent-clearly you are part of the machine and don’t want everyone to know what is really going on. Long live the free press, challenge governments everywhere!

  17. Anonymous says:

    wow… even after 4 years the ppm are looking at another ‘soon come’ solution to immigration…..
    my bet is the solution will involve more expensive reports and reviews….
    the ppm have done nothing for 4 years and never had any solutions to begin with….

  18. Anonymous says:

    what is so politically sensitive?????
    this is just nonsensse….the do nothing ppm have failed…
    just look at the dump, port, civil service reform……
    i cannot wait for the civil suits and compensation that cig will have to pay….

    • Anonymous says:

      Mac’s legacy – granting 3000 plus dependents status without vetting
      Alden’s legacy – refusing to deal with PR for 800 plus dependents thereby forcing the next Government (which neither of them will lead) to have to grant these PRs. Horrible leadership, anyway you look at it. Both of these issues could have been dealt with differently with less fall out.

      • Anonymous says:

        of the 3000 status a lot was granted by PPM members too, and others high up’s, was not only UDP, , be a fool sometimes,but don’t make a career out of it.

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