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Premier stumps ICO… again

Government’s facing legal action on two fronts over the permanent residence backlog
First, from the Information Commissioner’s Office over Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin’s decision today (Monday) to issue a certificate of exemption blocking the ICO from viewing the Ritch immigration report.
And second, from PR applicant Mark Edmunds, who’s challenging Immigration and the Caymanian Status and PR Board over their failure to make a decision on his 2014 PR application…
“No we were not expecting them to do that. We were expecting them to release the record to us or apply for judicial review from the Grand Court,” says acting Information Commissioner Cory Martinson.

It’s a move Mr Martinson and the ICO team didn’t see coming Premier McLaughlin issuing a ministerial certificate under Section 25 of the Freedom of Information law blocking the handing over of the report. He says it’s the first use of that provision and there’s some confusion.

“Basically, where the Governor or a minister can say that a record is simply exempt but it’s not clear what that means it doesn’t mean we cannot see the record or not. That’s what I am still deciding,” Mr Martinson says.

Now the Premier’s decision was issued in his capacity as Home Affairs minister on Monday certifying the report as legal advice and it’s not in the public’s interest to disclose the report. But Mr Martinson says he’s unsure how that impacts his office viewing the report.

“I am actually going to write back to the Cabinet Secretary who sent the document to me today and get some clarification on how this prevents us from examining the record. I am not sure what their thinking is I so I am going to have to go back and ask them what their thoughts are,” he says.

In October acting Commissioner Jan Liebaers issued the order instructing the Ritch report be handed over even with this new move the ICO can still take the Premier’s office to court for contempt if they continue to keep the Ritch Immigration report out of the Information Commissioner’s hands.

Now Mr Martinson says taking the matter to the chief justice would be a lengthy process and will further delay the ICO’s ability to decide on the two FOI appeals before the commissioner seeking the release of the report.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 16 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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