Opposition: UK report needs joint response

| 28/02/2019 | 45 Comments
Cayman Islands, Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly

(CNS): The opposition leader has warned that the Cayman Islands needs to take a measured, serious and joint approach to the recently published report by the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee about the British Overseas Territories (BOTs). Ezzard Miller said that Premier Alden McLaughlin’s recent response that he would lead the charge for independence if some of the recommendations were implemented appears to show that he is not taking it seriously. Miller said the report may not be UK government policy yet but that does not mean it will never be. He said the Legislative Assembly should debate it and come to an agreed position.

The report, which was published last week, includes a number of recommendations by British MPs after they spent several months reviewing the BOTs and their relationships with London.

Among the many recommendations in the report, the ones that have stirred up the most public debate in Cayman are the imposition of same-sex marriage and giving British and BOT citizens the right to vote and run for office.

The marriage-equality question is already in the hands of the courts, which will lead inevitably to some form of civil unions for same-sex couples in the near future, thereby preventing any outside imposition. However, the recommendation regarding democratic rights has fuelled concern that the UK might begin to push for this in the near future.

The premier’s initial response to the report was to state that if Britain tried to impose the rights of people not born in Cayman to run for office, it would be a trigger for independence. However, he has also dismissed the idea, saying that these are devolved areas of responsibility and that the report was not made by government but by backbench MPs.

In a statement on behalf of the opposition, Miller outlined how he thinks the report should be dealt with. He noted that the imposition of public beneficial ownership registers was not government policy but was nevertheless imposed on the British government by Parliament.

“Five of the eleven members comprising the Foreign Affairs Committee, including the chair, are members of the Conservative Party now in power,” he pointed out. While the report originated with a committee of the House of Commons rather than the executive arm of the UK Government and might not pose an immediate threat, the proposals could ultimately find their way into law, he said.

The amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill was opposed by the UK government’s executive, but given Prime Minister Theresa May’s shaky hold on her government, which has even deteriorated since then, it nevertheless passed into law, with the government powerless to stop it.

In light of this, Miller said, the potential that something could find its way from London to Cayman that the people here oppose could not be ignored.

He said the Cayman Islands had to have a deliberative response, as it is obviously not ready for independence yet. Any perception of a trigger for it should be taken very seriously and every effort should be made to deter any internal or external “untimely precipitating actions”.

The opposition leader called for active consideration of the report and “to channel the passion” about it into a Legislative Assembly debate with the aim of formulating a joint position to present to the UK.

He said he joined the premier in his concerns about the two main issues as well as others in the report, but “where our views diverge is with respect to the notion that we should sit tight and hope that the recommendations go nowhere”, while holding independence as a “sword of Damocles” if the proposals are forced on Cayman.

“We do not want external actions to push us towards a state for which we are not ready. We must take advantage of all available diplomatic options to press home our views with the hope that we can resolve issues without any harmful impacts for the islands and our people,” he said.

“We must begin from now to prepare for greater internal management of our own affairs by improving our standards of governance and by investing in our people and our institutions that would foster strengthening of our governance capacity.”

Miller added that greater attention should be made to safeguarding and expanding the economy, assessing global trends such as Brexit and threats to our financial industry before any consideration for constitutional progression.

“We must begin to set benchmarks in governance as a part of a naturally evolving process of constitutional development,” he said. “I do hope that one day we will arrive at a constitutional status that would allow us a significant level of true self-governance… But right at this juncture, we should not be making rash statements about independence, however passionately we may feel.”

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Category: Politics

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Critical points raised in the FAC Report which some in the media/press are either ignoring or not giving enough coverage too, perhaps because the “hot-button” issues in the report are overshadowing and drowning it out? It’s a pity because contained in this report is a significant issue that BOT governments should be very concerned about and not have a problem in getting resolved. It is not that they have not been made aware of it. Having their support is critical, and they should be in the driving seat leading the charge. Their mute responses are astonishing:

    It mentions the present day & historical unfair & unequal treatment of its people. The denial of British [OT] citizenship right’s to children, now adults of descent, born abroad, outside of marriage.

    Page 3 (Summary): “the UK Government needs to ensure that those who should be able to claim British Overseas Territories citizenship can do so.”

    Paragraph 4, Pages 58: “The issue of citizenship by descent stems from an anomaly in the British Nationality Act, which means that fathers with British Overseas Territories Citizenship cannot pass it on to children born outside the OTs between 1948 and 2006 if they were not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth. In May 2018, the Joint Committee on Human Rights described this anomaly as an unacceptable form of discrimination, while Montserrat’s representative, Janice Panton, said it “has caused a lot of anguish among some parents.” Lord Ahmad was not able to indicate when the matter would be resolved. He said that “discussions are ongoing across Government on this.”

    Paragraph 4, Point 60: “The Government should urgently address concerns in the OTs about the issue of citizenship by descent and anomalies in the British Nationality Act that have taken too long to resolve.”

    The people of the OTs have a right to be fully informed and engaged on the issue. We hope this post will raise the conversation.

    BOT Nationality & Citizenship Campaign.

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    • Jah Dread says:

      “ I will lead the charge for Independence” prophetic words? Or is it that this is the plan that the CIG is in the process of implementing.

      People learn to read between the lines of utterances from your politicos.

  2. Anonymous says:

    All these strange and confusing citizenship and status laws and passports are all due to the UK trying not to be overrun with foreigners itself when its empire was collapsing. BOT citizenship? BOT is not a place so this just means second class. You need a do-over.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    haha…cayman can’t win. democractic rights will prevail….don’t like it?…go independent and drown…..

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    • Anonymous says:

      Idiot. If you wanted democratic rights to win, then you would recognise the foundation of such an argument is the right of people to run their own democracy regardless of relationship to another country. Your ignorance is second only to your hypocrisy. Go independent and drown? You must not know my people. You might want to do some actual research into who we are. We never drown. Too many of us have forgotten that but people like you making comments like this will eventually help to wake them up.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Give unto third world only what is third world. And let them keep and live off it. Take away U.K. Status to third world Caymanians who don’t desearve it by not giving it back. Simple. According to them they don’t want or need it.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    The U.K. Has made a horrible ofcfheir homeland mainly because they do not want Eastern European in their country, but now the looney bunch want to come and take over our Little Rock. Have they all lost their minds. I am with the Premier on this one. IT CANNOT HAPPEN HERE!

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  6. Unison says:

    XXXXX

    CNS: Unison, please read our comment policy, point #8.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Ezzard

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Let’s not gloss over the fact that all the territories were asked for written comments from this Committee and the current regime, in typical fashion, decided to ignore those requests.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    imagine being afraid to give democratic rights to people who have earned citizenship!!!
    caymankind wonderland nonsense….

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    • Anonymous says:

      It might stop the revolving door of butt patting, gambling, consultant hiring self serving,corrupt uneducated local governance. With some fresh educated ideas if non Caymanians could vote and hold office. Could be worth a try although I really don’t think anyone can fix the world we have created.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Not just the Opposition in the LA but also Cayman’s NGOs and Civil Society in general.

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  11. 7th Generation says:

    FOREIGNORS and newly arrived British Nationals cannot be allowed to vote or run for office in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Constitution is clear on eligibility for public office.

    The country will be overrun with outsiders with no link to our communities, heritage and culture. It’s better to give back U.K. passports than to be overrun by those who have already made a mess of their own country. See BREXIT

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    • Anonymous says:

      You should try reading our electoral law. There are whole groups of Caymanians – and not talking about first generation immigrants – who are not allowed to run for office either. Try being born outside the country, even to a multi generational family, or spending extended time outside of the country on business. Of course those kind of rules work just fine for the established political and merchant classes who run the place. No wonder Alden would lead the charge for independence – his access to power depends entirely on restricting competition for LA places and restricting the franchise to those he thinks he can influence.

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      • Anonymous says:

        3:00 pm: Admittedly the rules are a bit crazy — even thought I acquired Caymanian status “as of right” and got a passport on the strength of that, in subsequent years I have had to produce my parents’ marriage certificate to prove my parents where married at the time of my birth, never mind that I received Caymanian status on the basis I was the product of a union of two Caymanians who were domiciled here at the time of my birth.

        I think I heard that that rule(parents must be married at time of birth) might have been changed now, but the last time I went to renew my passport in 2012 they raised that issue again — which was quite a bit funny to me as I had been traveling on a Cayman passport since 1972. Crazy! I had to get the marriage certificate from the registry in Jamaica — which took months!!

    • Anonymous says:

      @12:57pm- some valid points, however you lost me at “with no link to our communities, heritage or culture.”–

      Do you honestly feel like those in government have our best interest at heart?… selling every speck of natural habitat to Dart, or whoever else. Being environmentally irresponsible in every aspect possible? I’m not saying foreigners should be allowed to run for office, all I’m saying is, the Cayman community you speak about should be STEPPING UP to make sure these clowns don’t ruin this beautiful island for our future generations! Something has to be done about that!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes give back the rights that U.K. gives to you and then just be a Caymanian. How many will do that? Maybe 3.

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    • Anonymous says:

      WREXIT you mean.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Tara Rivers, Roy McTaggart, and Kurt Tibbetts are all persons not born in Cayman who are allowed to run for office. This is not the black and white issue some politicians are claiming it is. Be careful Cayman. This is a time for cool heads and responsible deliberation, not pontification.

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    • Anonymous says:

      But they’re not johnny-come-lately with Caymanian status granted post-2003.

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      • Anonymous says:

        True, but then Alden chose not to act against those status grants. If he was not willing to say any were not fit to be Caymanian he can hardly say 20 years later that they are not eligible to the same political rights of a Caymanian, and that all Caymanians should not be able to choose, from amongst all qualified Caymanians, who should represent them.

        Oh what a tangled web…

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      • Anonymous says:

        Caymanian for 20, 30, 40 years shouldn’t matter at all if they are otherwise nominated, qualified, and people want them to represent them. The grandparents of our current stewards, no more Caymanian under the law, certainly aren’t improving performance or transparency.

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    • Anonymous says:

      But they have roots going back for centuries and some of them may have been born overseas only because of medical circumstances.

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      • Anonymous says:

        So what? The law should be the law, and if the law is unfair then change it. But don’t say the law doesn’t apply to a Tibbetts – at least not a connected Tibbetts – but does apply to others. Exceptions are a very dangerous path to go down. And then we have the craziness where being born here to Caymanian parents is a qualification to hold office if you can get something like 300 people out of a population of 60000 to agree – and look where that leaves us with MLAs who are sock puppets for their masters who can buy enough votes, with convicted drug dealers and wife beaters, with MLAs who are notorious for doing nothing to earn their enormous MLA pay but very good at making sure their supporters get taken care of. Far better to make office available to anyone with the right to vote. Voters can decide whether the individual is the right person to represent them rather than an arbitrary rule than only allows some of those holding the vote to stand.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Sorry Bobo that what you get

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          • BeaumontZodecloun says:

            We get what we choose, and what we vote upon. I believe that we, the citizens, should create far more People’s Referendums* than we currently do. How else to be truly heard, if we believe the stewards of Cayman aren’t listening or otherwise steering us astray?

            *no, the plural of Referendums is not ‘Referenda’. ;o)

            • Anonymous says:

              It shouldn’t have to be so formalized…our MLAs should be taking regular soundings from their electorate on a variety of issues. Who could have predicted they’d get schooled by the first term member from GT?!?

    • Anonymous says:

      Before Cayman hospital, many folks with the means to do so, went elsewhere for childbirth. Some still do!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed. All I am saying is that where a Caymanian was born should not determine whether or not I can vote for them if I (as a Caymanian) wish to, and they (as a Caymanian) wish to run.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Multi-generational Caymanians who happened to be borne abroad for various reasons are defined as Caymanians as of Right. The other categories do not have such a track record of contributions that built these islands from the time when we had nothing here. And many do not know what it was to bat mosquitos or live off of the land, while their forefathers had to go to sea to provide for their families.

      The various categories should not be conflated or even confused.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You do not have to be multi generational to be Caymanian as of right. Just sayin.

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      • anonymous says:

        I have lived here for 50 years, and obtained status in the early seventies when I had to provide a written submission on why I should be given status, be sponsored by a Caymanian (Capt Eldon), and appear before commitee for interview. I was married here and all my children (who also have status as does my wife) were schooled here. I have never had political ambitions here and never will, but in a democratic country should I not have the opportunity to stand for election so that status holders and long term permanent residents of whom there are many, have a voice in the L.A.?.
        Caymanians let me have your vote on CNS!.I am not suggesting you would vote for me if I were able to stand, only whether I should have the (theoretical) right to register as a candidate.

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        • Anonymous says:

          3:58 pm: I feel for you but we have rules and we have to stick with them. Once we start making exceptions where does it end?

          If you are not born in the US or had at least one parent born in the US — not sure if it has to be the mother — you cannot run for elected office in the US.

          The only case of someone running for office in the US who was not born in the US that I am aware of was Ted Cruz—but his mother was born in America and I am not sure of all the other parameters that may had had to work along with that. But even so Trump still challenged his right to run.

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          • Anonymous says:

            That is only true for the office of U.S. President. Congress, Senate, quite okay to not be born there.

            • Anonymous says:

              11:26 am, 2/3: yes, you are right, with qualification: To be elected to the senate you must be a citizen for nine years. There is also a residency requirement for eligibility for citizenship.

              I would not be comfortable giving British citizens any further degree of ascendancy in local administration that they already have.

              One British overlord is quite enough.

              Further, the British already over-run the financial and related sectors of commerce.

              Allowing the British further political power would be a disaster for Caymanians who are trying to overcome enough obstacles to take their place in their own country.

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        • BeaumontZodecloun says:

          I completely agree with you. What is the primary difference between you and the current MLAs? One generation. This is the only country/territory/place I have ever experienced which has degrees of citizenship.

          That said, in the U.S., an immigrant who has acquired citizenship can run for any office, except that of President, which requires the person to be a “natural-born citizen”.

          I believe you should have the right to run for office, having paid your dues. I believe much of the disparity lies in the perception of how a person acquired status, whether by heritage or government appointment. We, the people, need to determine how we want these laws to apply and then DICTATE those desires to our government.

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    • Anonymous says:

      12:12 pm: My family travelled to Jamaica because my seaman father shipped out of Jamaica.

      As a result I was born in Jamaica. Years later when my family returned here I was able to claim Caymanian status “as of right”. That was the same case for people like Kurt.

      Other persons were born overseas because their parents decided for whatever reasons to travel overseas for the birth.

      So the persons you named have Caymanian status “as of right” and not “by grant.”

      That is the distinction that allows those persons to take seats in the Legislature.

      A similar though different case in how rules are applied is that of US Senator Ted Cruz, who ran in the last presidential elections. He was actually born in Alberta, Canada, but his mother is American. That is how their rules work.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And Tara Rivers became Caymanian how? Were her parents living here when she was born?

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        • Anonymous says:

          5:27: I can’t speak for Tara, but my parents were not living here either when I was born, but they were considered to be domiciled here, which was key in their children born elsewhere being able to claim Caymanian status “as of right” shen they returned home.

          • Anonymous says:

            Sure. If your parents were domiciled here. Were Tara’s? This stuff is subtle. It is not as simple as saying “I am generational therefore I am Caymanian as of Right.”

        • Anonymous says:

          She is a multigenerational Caymanian just like Roy and Kurt, so the same right applies.

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