March 1, 2021

Cayman: HRC Statement on the matter of Asylum Grantees Alleged Breach of Human Rights

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The Human Rights Commission is aware of the general concern and public interest in relation to the matter of the Cuban refugees who have been actively and peacefully protesting on the steps in front of the Government Administration Building in the past week. As a brief background on the matter, a Cuban political refugee is seeking rights for his family to be granted residency and employment rights for his spouse in the Cayman Islands. This ongoing sensitive matter has identified a gap within the Customs and Border Control Act, 2018 (the “Act”), as there is currently no provision to regularise the expatriate spouse.

The Commission has been working in the background to seek a sound resolution to address this matter. The Commission has been in correspondence with the Ministry of Employment and Border Control (the “Ministry”) since 2019 and upon identifying the inability to add spouses to asylum approvals which is in accordance with s.113 of the Customs and Border Control Act, 2018, the Commission has expressed recommendations to consider a prima facie conflict between the Act and s.9 of the Constitution – Right to Private and Family Life, as well as the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, to which Cayman is a signatory. Furthermore asylum grantees are required to be treated equally to nationals, and therefore spouses should be able to apply for Residency and Employment Rights Certificate.

The Ministry has indicated that work is currently being undertaken to amend the Act to address these concerns. Due to the sensitive nature and the alleged breach of human rights in this regard the Commission continues to advocate for the urgent remedying of this matter to remain a top priority particularly for the incoming Government, so that no one residing in these beauteous Cayman Isles are disenfranchised in any respect.

The referenced 2009 letter correspondence to the Ministry of Employment and Border Control, can be found on the Commission’s website http://www.humanrightscommission.ky/legislation

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