Info boss presses on with fight to see Ritch Report

| 03/04/2017 | 26 Comments
Cayman News Service

Jan Liebaers, Acting Information Commissioner

(CNS): Jan Liebaers, the acting information commissioner, has confirmed that he is not giving up on the fight to see the controversial Ritch Report, a review of the government’s immigration laws and policies, which the authorities are fighting hard to keep secret. Liebaers has told CNS that his office has filed an appeal of a ruling by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie supporting the premier’s refusal to provide him with a copy of the report for the ongoing hearing by his office regarding a declined FOI request.

The chief justice found that the Ritch Report was privileged legal advice, which meant that the premier did not have to disclose the document, even to the information commissioner. However, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has now submitted a Notice to Appeal on the ruling. 

“The ICO believes that there are several findings within the chief justice’s ruling which raise significant legal questions about the FOI law, and therefore merit further consideration by the courts,” Liebaers said.

The next appeal court sitting will be in the summer, which are usually public hearings, but it is not yet clear if this appeal will be heard at the next sitting or if the government will be applying for a closed-door hearing.

The report by attorney David Ritch was originally described in September 2015 as a review of the point system surrounding permanent residency applications. It was commissioned after the chief justice ruled that the regulations were arbitrary and unfair but it later morphed into a legal opinion. Speculation has mounted about its content, as the premier has battled to keep a lid on what the report says.

The government recently made some minor adjustments to the point system based on the Ritch report findings, but the minor adjustments don’t seem to justify the 18 months it took for the changes to be made or that this was the only finding in Ritch’s report, review or advice.

Government said recently that it plans to begin reviewing PR applications very soon but it is understood that there could be around 1,000 people waiting to have applications heard, some which date back to late 2013.

As a result, a number of legal actions have also been filed in the courts. It is widely suspected that many of these applications will result in grants of residency because of the delays which has seen some applicants continuously resident in Cayman for as much as 12 years, making it very difficult to refuse them, regardless of their merit or qualification.

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Category: Government oversight, Policy, Politics

Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    go jan go. the people have to have a voice i a democratic society….

    • Diogenes says:

      He’ll be going alright. The Governor has just crushed his appeal, and the Premier has just removed the Information Commissioner post altogether. Not so much the squeaky wheel getting the grease as the nail that stands up get absolutely hammered. Sad day for the public interest.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Every day I worry more and more about cayman. How is the truth not in the public interest and how far the governor have power to suppress this. Cayman needs a revolution!

  3. Usual stuff says:

    Will everyone just check the internet.
    Jeeze. Its been posted on a website for over a month now.
    It shows what has been going on with the board. It shows what was going on in Immigration. And it shows what was going on with the CI and UK officials.
    Trust me it names names of the people who were supposed to be upright citizens and what they were doing.
    I dont want to say anything more. You have to look for it. Its already out.
    Long story short it shows that there was a serious corruption of the system put in place that was being exploited by these people. It shows everyone knew it but instead of correcting it they sought to capitalize on it for their own benefit.
    Come on people, just like Tempura, what do you think happened. Now as usual, because the UK Gov’t was involved they have stopped it again. CYA time. 2+2=4 not 5.
    Its already out.

    • Anonymous says:

      What website?

    • Anonymous says:

      Which website???

    • East End Resident says:

      It’s posted on a website? I can’t find it. Been searching for 20 mins and just find more and more news reports but no website with any of the information you have referred to . Why not make it easy for us and just post a link? Or give us some hints what to search for…

    • Diogenes says:

      You don’t want to say anything more because you are talking complete BS. Prove me wrong – attach the html.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It seems likely the problem is that the contents of the report could be used against CIG in court. The Governor has now decided that releasing it would not be in the public interest and on that basis you can safely conclude that it must be pretty damning. FOI may have failed but that still doesn’t prevent it being called into evidence in the developing PR actions against CIG. As I’ve posted before this whole thing is going to get very expensive and we’re all going to end up paying the tab.

    • Diogenes says:

      If it has been determined by the court to be subject of legal privilege, it is not subject to the discovery process that would enable to be used as evidence in any legal action.

  5. Sharkey says:

    Anonymous 6:23am , you hit the nail on the head . The Government are not trying to help Caymanians even if they are Educated or not , but they are always using education as an excuse , just like how they talk about fixing the dump .

  6. Anonymous says:

    The appeal is a waste of time when the decision is so obviously correct. They asked for an analysis and got one. That’s what legal opinions do.

  7. Anonymous says:

    nah today bobo – The Governor!

  8. JTB says:

    Well Alden seems to have succeeded in his main objective of keeping it under wraps until after the election.

    Don’t you love open government?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Another $million down the drain. Didn’t CIG learn anything from the Aina Report FOI fight?

  10. Anonymous says:

    It’s pretty simple: the PPM should open their wallets and refund the public purse for the full cost of this report, if it was indeed undertaken for their own private consideration, and not an errand for the people of this territory.

  11. 345 says:

    How much longer does Jan have to be “Acting”? After so many years doing a job, you would think that you are no longer “Acting” but actually doing the job.

    • Diogenes says:

      Well, hasn’t his job just vanished anyway with the new ombudsman bill? So he wont be acting much longer – he wont be here. That’s what you get for asking CIG difficult questions.

  12. Gt Voter says:

    Thank you, Jan Liebaers.

    Transparency shouldn’t have to be forced from a government, but I am grateful for your enduring endeavours to have this report rightfully divulged to the public for scrutiny.

    Keep on fighting.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Of course he will push for it. Some people need to realize that not everything should be made public but of course they do not care about the ramifications. As much as I am not a pal of the Premier I support him on this, my take on this permanent residence/ work permit is that they should only let work permits go to seven yesr, after which the permit holder should have to leave for five years. Every five years a few permanent residences leading to status grants should be granted for the most worthy among us. Anything else is disenfranchisement of the rest of us. They Cayman Islands can only accommodate a small number of people, not every one who is granted a work permit should expect to stay.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! Otherwise locals will never progress in their on country. Th businesses will never train the Caymanians up or give the opportunities. Other countries protect their people. Cayman is the only place in the world that doesn’t seem to take care of their own.

      • Anonymous says:

        It frightens me just how people fail to understand what is going on…if you limit it to 7 years with no chance of staying, why would we bother to train anyone? If we have a chance of staying subject to certain conditions, including training a Caymanian, then fine. However the education system has got to change to allow more kids to come out of school able and willing to work, and educated in the subjects that matter. Turning up doesn’t qualify you for a job, despite what you may think.

    • Rodney Barnett says:

      I do think that you have a very good point. However CIG has promised work permit holders the opportunity to put down permanent roots here. If the government and the people do not want the current form of immigration, they should change it and be honest with work permit holders — not lead them on.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think the public should gauge who will be elected this time around by what they say on immigration/permanent residence/ status. It is time to change the system to what was stated by anonymous at 1:15 pm. And yes Rodney that should be articulated clearly up front there should never again be this horrible mess of so many waiting for permanent residence which no matter how we now feel will have to be granted. I say go ahead and grant them, but let this be the last time!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Too late for that! The new government should start doing that after granting the 1000 applicants PR!


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