EDITORIAL – Cleaning up our “dusty and moldy” law books

Informal Mental Health Court hearings are held in various courtrooms at the George Town Courthouse.

“Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and for the law of the land than the passing of laws that cannot be enforced. “
-Albert Einstein

Cayman, we all know, offers some of the most beautiful sunsets in the sky. Whether you prefer Seven Mile Beach or Rum Point, sunset suggests the end of one day and portends another at sunrise tomorrow.

These “new beginnings” have also found their way into many legislative and regulatory regimes around the world. We refer, of course, to the “sunset provisions” which are enshrined in certain laws (and / or the regulations that accompany them) ensuring that they will automatically expire after a set period – unless they are renewed or proactively modified.

Cayman should impose such a legal euthanasia on himself. Otherwise, laws tend to pile up, unused and often even unnoticed, not only for years but decades, litter cluttering both our legal cupboards and sometimes our courts.

For example, in 1975, lawmakers passed the Cayman Islands Penal Code, listing most of our islands’ criminal offenses and their penalties.

Over the next 40+ years, there have been significant advancements in the Cayman Constitution and Bill of Rights, which recognize differences and articulate freedoms and freedoms that were largely not discussed at this era simpler. Yet through it all, the Penal Code has remained largely unchanged, with lawmakers proposing small changes and additions to existing law.

Enter the Law Reform Commission, which has recommended removing several archaic, unenforced, and potentially unconstitutional bans from the Cayman Penal Code. We endorse their position – and their work.

As we wrote, there is nothing “harmless” about leaving laws in the books that are not (or cannot be) enforced.

Such “dormant” laws are dangerous temptations of selective enforcement, calling for their application to punish individuals either for political reasons or to reflect a temporal shadow.

One need only look at the recent trial of Ronald “Foots” Kynes to understand the risks of letting ill-defined and unconstitutional laws linger in the books. Readers will recall that Mr. Kynes was charged with “obscene publication” after neighbors complained about several nude statues he had installed on his personal property.

Just last year, customs officials used the same law, which prohibits the distribution or exhibition of “photographs, cinematographic films, records, magnetic tapes or other obscene objects or any other object tending to corrupt morals”, to justify their seizure of a shipment of back massagers. they feared they would be used as sexual devices.

Eventually, the masseurs were released and “Foots” was acquitted. But neither of the two situations should have happened in the first place.

Other laws ripe for overhaul, reconsideration or outright extermination run counter to constitutional protections of individual rights – to movement, association, freedom of expression and privacy. . And still others are just so archaic that they are no longer relevant.

Imagine young athletes raising money for new equipment or a summer camp by shaking a box at Foster’s Food Fair, accused of violating section 158 (a), which can sanction a person who “gets into a box. public place for the purpose of collecting alms “.

Can you imagine the conversation at Northward?

“Why are you?”

“Multiple murder. How about you?”

“They got me to give alms. . . “

How do you feel after reading this?

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Nancy I. Romero

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