November 13, 2019

OTs Attorneys General annual conference opening ceremony – H.E. Governor of the Cayman Islands

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OPENING REMARKS BY GOVERNOR ROPER (INLCUDING ON BEHALF OF THE AG)

Thank you Cabinet Secretary and Attorney General for your welcoming words. I am delighted to see so many of you here today at what is an important date in the Overseas Territory’s calendar.

As you are aware we were hoping to have the UK Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox here with us today but with continuing uncertainty over BREXIT and the important role that he is playing in this it became impossible for him to travel at what is a very key moment for the UK and the . He has asked my deliver some messages to you on his behalf:

Begins:

I am very sorry that I cannot be here today to chair this important conference. It is fitting that we have the Attorney Generals’ Conference here in the Cayman Islands as they celebrate the 60th anniversary of the coming into force of the first Cayman constitution on 4th July 1959. I am aware that there will be celebrations taking place to mark this special occasion and that , Minister for the Overseas Territories, hopes to visit the islands for this special occasion.

I was very much looking forward to my first conference and meeting you all to discuss the important issues on the agenda.

As you are aware, due to the ongoing negotiations regarding the UK’s exit from the , I am required to remain in London.

In this respect, the conference is especially important in being the last before the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. I absolutely understand that it has been an unprecedented process for all the Overseas Territories and you as Attorneys, but it is also one that presents a unique opportunity to redefine our relationship with the EU. On this the Prime Minister has been clear: the UK is committed to securing a deal on our future relationship that works for the whole British family, including all the OTs.

So today there will be a discussion of a number of key legislative and other issues related to EU exit. All these topics have been discussed in varying levels of detail with you before, including at the last AGs conference, as well as at the teleconferences with FCO and cross-Government officials held in September and December. These issues have also been raised by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, with OT Premiers at both of last year’s JMCs, and I am clear that this UK-OT engagement on EU exit will continue, at both official and ministerial level, throughout the exit process.

It is because of their crucial importance that these topics feature on our agenda again today, at this moment of historic importance for the UK, it is important that the territories and crown dependencies work together to ensure an orderly exit from the EU for each and every one of our jurisdictions.

This conference is an important opportunity for the Law Officers from the Territories and representatives of the UK Government to discuss priority issues of mutual interest across the Territories and is a forum to exchange experience and share best practice in achieving this ambition. Many of your Territories face similar challenges as small islands or jurisdictions and there is often much to be learned from each other, across the family of UK Overseas Territories.

I was also pleased to note and welcome the Attorneys General from two of our Crown Dependencies, and representatives from the United States and Canada. Thank you for being here to share your views on these important issues.

Many of you have travelled a long way to be here, and I want the discussions to be as useful as possible. The conference has helped to drive progress in a number of important areas in recent years, including extradition and our shared responsibility for Territories’ compliance with international obligations and the extension of core conventions on human rights and anti-corruption.

Today, there is a full day of discussions which will cover EU Exit, our constitutional relationships and anti-corruption. Tomorrow, the agenda covers areas as diverse as child safeguarding, LGBT rights, criminal justice issues and law reform. I hope that you all have frank and substantial discussions on these issues.

I would also like to pass on my gratitude to those of our Caribbean colleagues who have helped their Territories to recover from the devastating 2017 hurricane season. Disaster Management remains a key priority and, whilst this will not be discussed in detail during the conference, rest assured that the UK remains committed to supporting all Territories to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

I also note that this is a particularly important time to be discussing the relationship between the OTs and the UK, given the recent UK parliamentary inquiry into the future of the Overseas Territories. The Committee received over 100 pieces of written evidence, as well as hearing oral evidence from many Territory leaders. The formal report from this inquiry is awaited and is due to be published towards the end of this month.

Finally, finally I would like to thank Sam Bulgin and his team for all the hard work that has gone in to the preparation of the conference and once again to wish you all the very best for a conference of mutually beneficial discussions.

I would like to add my own words of welcome to those of the Attorney General. Our AGs have a uniquely important role in all our territories and do a great deal to underpin stability, security and prosperity. We owe you all our thanks and appreciation for the role you play. I hope you all have a productive and informative conference. It is clear that there are many important issues for you to debate this year. I hope that you also find a chance to enjoy the wonderful Cayman Islands hospitality. I look forward to welcoming you to Government House this evening.

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