Rights of people to protest publicly

| 22/06/2017

If government gives the OK to remove beach rock along Seven Mile Beach, can a group of citizens legally protest the decision and the operation?

Auntie’s answer: I approached the Human Rights Commission (HRC) about your question, but they are only able to answer in general terms. The commission can point to what rights are guaranteed under the Cayman Islands Constitution but cannot offer legal advice on any particularly scenario, especially, it was explained, “where the factual situation is hypothetical or not clearly defined”.

It is not clear what type of protest you are talking about: “If they propose to protest by expressing their views verbally or in writing to those responsible for the decision, it is unlikely to raise any legal concerns if done in appropriate terms.”

The right to protest in that way is guaranteed under Section 11 of the Constitution covering freedom of expression. However, that is considered a “qualified right”, which means “the right can only be lawfully restricted or taken away by the government in certain broadly defined circumstances”. The list of criteria setting out those circumstances indicate when the government can lawfully interfere with or restrict that right, “balancing those rights against the rights and interests of others”.

If you are talking about a protest at the site of the possible beach rock removal or any other public place, then the rights to assembly and association (which are also qualified rights) under Section 12 come into play.

“Individuals in the Cayman Islands have the right to assemble with others in a peaceful way; this would include the right to protest in public, hold demonstrations or processions, form associations, political parties, etc. as long as any protest does not infringe the rights of others,” the HRC representative said.

However, if you are considering a public protest, the commission advises you to seek legal counsel beforehand to make sure you are protesting in a way that does not break any of Cayman’s laws.

The document mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (2)

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  1. Sharkey says:

    at , you’re completely right . I am surprised at how long the answer to question have been posted and you’re the only one to comment on it..

    I have enough balls , want me to give um some.
    They can’t see until it too late and all they do is what they know best , complain .

  2. at says:

    People are too passive on this Island, you don’t ask to protest you simply do it, you think the people of Egypt asked to protest to the Gov. Did MLK ask to protest, no !! Grow some balls people!!!