October 30, 2020

Cayman: CPR seeks legal clarification on Referendum Bill

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CPR Cayman as a non-profit organisation and grass roots initiative made up of a diverse group of Caymanian Concerned Citizens has taken legal advice on the Referendum Bill to be debated in the Legislative Assembly on 28 October 2019.

Broadhurst Attorneys-at-Law representing CPR Cayman have today sent a letter to Government expressing concerns, along with the legal opinion of constitutional law specialists Helen Mountfield, QC of Matrix Chambers, in advance of the Referendum Bill debate on Monday.

Following widespread concern from the community on aspects of the Referendum Bill, which many have perceived to be unfair and undemocratic, CPR Cayman sought advice on the lawfulness of areas of key concern:

(a) the referendum question – lack of neutrality and inclusion of cargo

(b) the date of the referendum, and exclusion of 220 newly registered voters

(c) the exclusion of campaign financing

(d) the exclusion of section 91(1) of the Elections Law, 2017 which would otherwise ban the sale of intoxicating liquor on referendum day.

(e) The Premier’s comments suggesting that abstaining from voting indicates support for the port project

The legal opinion confirms that certain aspects of the Bill are incompatible with section 70 of the Constitution, the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights, and the Code of Good Practice on Referendums promulgated by the Venice Commission, and if the Bill is enacted in its current form the resulting legislation could be amenable to challenge by way of judicial review.

We feel it is in the public interests to share this information as we are guided by the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance. The attached legal opinion has been shared with the Cayman Islands Government and the general public because we all deserve to have accurate information on the referendum process before going to the polls to vote on this matter of national importance in Cayman’s first People’s Initiated Referendum.

CPR are committed to representing the views of the public and have sought answers and information from CIG and the preferred bidder VIPP over several months with no acknowledgement or updated information and full details provided to date.

As an NPO we will continue to advocate and question the referendum process despite the efforts made to deprive persons their rights. It is our opinion that the process has been unfair from the outset and neglects to provide the highest standards of international best practice, fairness and equality which is crucial in the democratic process.

Please visit CPR Cayman’s website to read the legal opinion and letter in full: https://cprcayman.com/Latest-news.php

For more information the public can contact [email protected] or call 938-5876.

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