September 25, 2020

Cayman Islands Complaints Commissioner says “Goodbye”

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Cayman-Islands-Complaints-Commissioner-Nicola-WilliamsNicola Williams, Cayman Islands Complaints Commissioner, issued a 4 page ‘goodbye’ review just before she stepped down on Friday (9).

She pulled no punches and lamented governments’ slowness in implementing the necessary legislations that would have and should have been in place to give the necessary protections. Her exact words were, “[I am] extremely disappointed in the glacial pace” that the local government is moving.

Included in this was pension non-compliance in the private sector. She said in 2010 she had been told pension legislation was imminent. However, there is still no sign of a law to address the catalogue of issues relating to compliance and badly managed funds!

Many of her recommendations made in her Own Motion Reports had not been enacted.

The Protected Disclosures Bill that gives protection to whistleblowers in the civil service has not reached the statute books.

The Health and Safety Report made public 2 ½ years ago still had many important recommendations that have not been enacted.

There still no independent body dealing with police complaints and properly funded, something she had been advocating for years.

It is unusual and “deeply regrettable” that the OCC has no deputy complaints commissioner post, she said. It is the only senior job in government that doesn’t, she laments saying, “There is no justifiable reason for this difference.”

She is totally against the proposed merger of the Office of the Complaints Commissioner (OCC) with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that would also include a police complaints function under a one “super ombudsman”.

“It will serve to weaken and diminish [the OCC],” Williams said. “I am sure that is not the intention of the government or [the governor]. Splicing together disparate bodies with completely different functions whose only common thread is oversight is not, in my opinion, good governance.

“In addition, because the [complaints commissioner] is protected under the Cayman Islands Constitution, any such proposed merger will be unconstitutional without amendment.”

During her five years here, Williams said, the OCC had achieved a great deal.

“… as well as our core work of conducting investigations, has established and consolidated OCC as a professional and respected organization.” She also pointed out public confidence in the office has risen from 30% in 2009 to 75% currently today.

She hoped that whatever happened regarding the independent offices or the merger there would be proper funding and not what she has had to deal with since taking up her job as Commissioner.

Williams is to return to the United Kingdom (UK) to take up the position as the Ombudsman for the UK Armed Forces.

Bridgette von Gerhardt, who was the OCC administrative and investigative officer is now the acting complaints commissioner

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