October 30, 2020

Bill of Rights and the system of releasing prisoners on licence.

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Natalya Human Rights ParolewebMs. Natalya O’Prey, MBE, Head of Member Development and Practice at the England and Wales Parole Board conducted a two day workshop on how the Cayman Island’s Bill of Rights affects the parole system.

Ms. O’Prey, in her previous role as Deputy Head of Litigations, dealt with litigation against the board, including judicial reviews, damages claims and other civil proceedings.

She previously spent 18 years in the courts service, and since 2011 has been closely involved in supporting parole activities in the Overseas Territories.

The workshop, which took place on the 21st & 22nd of November, 2013, was organized by the Office of the Deputy Governor in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and was attended by representatives from the Governor’s and Deputy Governor’s Offices, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Community Rehabilitation, the Prison Service, the Parole Board, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Immigration Department, the National Workplace Development Agency and the Department of Counseling.

The workshop focused on those specific rights that affect parole and the licensed conditions imposed, e.g. personal liberty, movement, fair trial and private and family life.

“It was exciting to see the interaction of agencies and I was impressed with the excellent practices and procedures in place and the desire of all participants to address problems,” commented Ms O’Prey.

She also said that “the Cayman Islands officials are striving to ensure that parole hearings and decisions are fair and proportionate and do not compromise human rights”.

Ms. O’Prey noted, “that while there are very similar human rights issues in different jurisdictions, the Cayman Islands is a very sophisticated country and is already adhering to most of the recommended principles, which permeate the justice system. It would therefore not take a big shift in operations to achieve the desired results”.

At the same time, she noted that achieving the balance of natural justice is not always easy, for there are many considerations that have to be taken into account relating to the victims, the offenders, as well as the issue of public protection. However risk to the community is the paramount consideration.

The present Cayman Islands Parole Board is chaired by Miss Deborah Ebanks and the members are Mrs. Twyla Escalante, Pastor Alson Ebanks, Ms Marilyn Conolly and Mr. Dwene Ebanks.

Apart from the human rights concerns, the workshop participants heard about the provisions of the draft Conditional Release Law being sponsored by the Deputy Governor’s Office. Government has agreed to bring in new legislation shortly, which is called the Conditional Release Law, to replace the current parole system.

Conditional Release is a much tougher and harsher regime that is planned to reduce the high re-offending rates in the Cayman Islands and will result in lower risks to the community; it will also prepare the prisoner for release through rehabilitation and re-entry schemes.

Photo:  Ms. Natalya O’Prey (3rd left) with HE Helen Kilpatrick (centre) with some participants in the training workshop.

 

 

 

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