Cayman Islanders - Sociopolitical Organization

The Constitution Order of 1972 provided for much of the current government framework, vesting legislative power in the Legislative Assembly and executive power in an executive council and governor. During the early 1990s, the constitution was subjected to a lengthy process of review and subsequent amendment. The Legislative Assembly is now made up of fifteen members who are elected every four years by voters in the six political districts of the Cayman Islands. These elected members in turn elect the Speaker of the Assembly. An additional three "Official Members" of the Legislative Assembly—the financial secretary, the attorney general, and the chief secretary—are appointed by the governor. The executive council comprises five elected ministers and the three "official" appointees and is chaired by the governor. Although the Cayman Islands have achieved a fair amount of internal self-government, the final say still rests with the governor, who is appointed by—and is subject to—the authority of the British Crown. The Crown also has the power to disallow laws passed by the Cayman legislature, and the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council is the final domestic court of appeals for the Cayman Islands. In considering the issue of a constitutional amendment, the National Team government, elected in 1992, pointed out that the changes they recommended were minor and did not "advance" the constitution at all; that is, the changes did not move the Cayman Islands any closer to full internal self-government or independence.

It has been more difficult to assert control over crime and, even more significantly, fear of crime. Although crime rates remain generally low, violent crime being rare, residents who were accustomed to leaving their homes and cars unlocked, now have a growing perception and concomitant fear that Cayman is not quite as safe as it once was. A good deal of newspaper print and policing effort is devoted to the "war against drugs." It is commonly believed that the Cayman Islands are used as a warehouse for drugs en route to the United States, although most arrests are for simple possession. Among inmates in Northward Prison, 85 percent were jailed for drug-related offenses. In 1994 a new ministry was created, devoted to health, drug-abuse prevention, and rehabilitation.

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