Just weeks after the huge debate surrounding what is now the Civil Partnership Law (formerly the Domestic Partnership Bill) - which is still smouldering - one of the central issues in that discourse has again surfaced.
This time regarding the setting of the Cayman Islands Regiment.
Once again it’s all about communication, especially the timeliness of such.
That was one of the main points of discontent with the-then Domestic Partnership Bill.
To be fair, HE Governor Martyn Roper did embark on a media-blitz and other community outreach after he had triggered Article 81 which gave him the power to bypass the Legislative Assembly’s rejection of the bill.
But that was separate from the earlier questions about the time allocated for public consultation from the tabling of the bill to its debate and eventual demise in the LA.
Move the clock forward about two months and once again we are at the same juncture.
This time though it’s with the added element of a ‘horse-after-cart’ scenario - or as one calypso famously a similar situation as building the house first and drawing the architectural plans after.
The Defence Bill 2020 establishing the Cayman Islands Regiment will be tabled in the LA next month we understand.
Already members (we use this generic term advisedly) of the regiment have been recruited and trained and more are being encouraged to sign up.
However, the law governing the regiment and what it entails has not yet been passed.
The draft bill is only now being scrutinised although there has already been a passing out ceremony for the first contingent of recruits.
We said ‘members’ in describing the recruits, but we could have said ‘soldiers’ as an advertisement on the government’s website describes them as such - although the Governor himself has stated that’s precisely what they are not.
So what are they? And what will be the mandate of the regiment?
The draft Defence Bill (note ‘defence’ bill) says: “The Regiment will be responsible for — (a) the defence of the Islands; (b) providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; (c) assisting the Police Force and the Coast Guard when called upon to so by the Governor; and (d) such other duties as the Governor determines.”
That extract mentions defence first and providing humanitarian disaster relief second. Is that a determined order of priority?
On the government’s website it says: “The role of the CI Regiment is to provide disaster relief and security within the Cayman Islands and the wider Caribbean region.”
The blanket authority of the Governor has also come in for question. Under the constitution defence - to an even greater extent than foreign affairs where there’s some latitude - is the domain of the Governor.
Already, those and other queries pertaining to the regiment are the subject of much debate.
But, the regiment is already in place.
Shouldn’t we have been having these discussions prior to its establishment?
One thing is certain, there would have been more clarity on whether we are recruiting soldiers or reservists.
That difference would have been defined along with whether matters of disaster response or defence sit within an order of priority.
After all this is military and precision matters.
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