April 15, 2021

Cayman Islands premier secures unanimous support for amendment to Private Member’s Motion

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GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman – Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin on Monday [25] secured the unanimous support of the Legislative Assembly to amend a Private Member’s Motion tabled by Leader of the Opposition Hon. McKeeva Bush.

Mr. Bush’s original motion stated “Government considers appointing an independent inquiry” into the search and rescue operation for five boaters lost at sea in March. After a long day of sometimes heated and emotional debate Mr. Bush withdrew his original motion and put forward the amended version suggested by Government. All 17 Members of the Legislative Assembly approved the amended version.

The amendment requests “Her Excellency the Governor to appoint an independent inquiry with a Chairman appointed by Her Excellency the Governor and two members (Justices of the Peace) one to be appointed after consultation with the Premier and one to be appointed after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition”.

Mr. McLaughlin said the suggested composition of the inquiry panel would ensure two pairs of Caymanian eyes and ears to help assure the credibility of the inquiry in the eyes of the community.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick has constitutional responsibility for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and as such all decisions to do with the inquiry rest with the Governor’s office.

The inquiry team will be charged with determining the facts surrounding the 6 March, 2016 disappearance at sea of five individuals including two boys, one aged 11 and the other 9. The report, when completed, will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

Debate began Monday morning with Deputy Governor Franz Manderson noting that Governor Kilpatrick had arranged for Commander Andy Jenkins of the United Kingdom’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency to travel to the Cayman Islands to conduct an independent review of the search and rescue operation. He said Mr. Jenkins is highly qualified and experienced in this area and that a technical review is the right approach.

Mr. Manderson said the Premier had discussed the failed search and rescue operation with the Governor and had noted the need for an independent inquiry prior to either the Commissioner of Police or the Leader of the Opposition requesting an independent review.

The Premier and other Government members including Minister Hon. Kurt Tibbetts, Minister Hon. Marco Archer and Minister Hon. Tara Rivers spoke during the debate and noted that while they had visited the family directly after the unfortunate incident they wanted to publicly offer their condolences as well.

Government members said they were confident that the proposed independent inquiry would be properly handled and stressed the importance of ensuring that the community has confidence in the report.

Government members also said they believed an individual of the calibre of Mr. Jenkins would provide a report that would be useful in considering whether the search and rescue operation was appropriately conducted. The report could also provide the RCIPS and Government lessons gleaned from the operation, determine whether the right assets are in place for such operations, ascertain if officers have appropriate training and discern whether proper procedures are in place and understood by all involved.

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