(CMR) The Opposition leader the Honourable Ezzard Miller announced today that with the support of all members of his Opposition they are calling for the immediate deportation of convicted offender Ato Stephens.
In a statement issued this afternoon Miller is calling for Cabinet to give this matter urgent consideration because of the high public interest. Mr. Stephens was convicted last year of the offence of using an information and communication technology (ICT) network “to annoy, harass or abuse” an underage female.
“We urge the Cabinet to now do its duty and remove this man from the Cayman Islands,”
He reminded the Premier:
“that the law requires that this matter be considered by the Cabinet and that a decision must be made.”
This follows published comments by the Premier’s Chief Officer (in the Ministry of Home Affairs) to the effect that Cabinet had no immediate plans to issue deportation orders for Stephens and more recent media reports that the Cabinet had not considered the matter. The former track coach, who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago but holds United States citizenship, currently remains in the Cayman Islands on conditional release.
Mr. Miller confirmed that he had discussed the issue with his Opposition members and had received unanimous support for him to call on the Premier to carry out the court’s recommendation in compliance with the Immigration Law.
Concerned about the message the Government is sending regarding crimes of this nature, Mr. Miller said:
“The Government has a responsibility to respect the recommendation of the court and the requirements of the law.”
Mr. Miller noted that Mr. Stephens had fled this country and had to be brought back from the United States to stand trial here in the Cayman Islands.
“We have seen no evidence of remorse for his crime, and when we consider that he was in a position of trust in his role of coaching our young athletes, I believe the court’s recommendation must be carried out without delay,”
Mr. Miller said, adding:
“Given the increasing incidence of crimes of this nature, I believe we have an obligation to send a very strong message.”
Mr. Miller acknowledged that Mr. Stephens has a family living in the Cayman Islands, and said he did sympathize. However, Mr. Miller said,
“We firmly believe that the actions of Cabinet must be in the interest of the wider community, and not just with regard to one single family.”
Mr. Miller continued that the Government has an obligation to protect children from predators and emphasized that the law requires this matter to be referred to Cabinet for their due consideration.
“We must remind the Premier that the Cabinet must make a decision. The DPP, the police, the court have all done their jobs and now the Governor and Cabinet must do what is right for the country.”