Video: Minister On Rev Tweed’s Work Permit

January 6, 2017

Saying she “cannot leave the accusations unanswered,” Minister of Home Affairs Patricia Gordon-Pamplin held a press conference this afternoon [Jan 6] to address the situation surrounding Rev Nicholas Tweed’s work permit.

The Minister provided a chronological summary of the events, and added that “it is the responsibility of the Employer in all cases to comply with the work permit policies that apply to all employers and that includes all religions.”

“I can confirm that the other religious denominations adhere to the policies. To illustrate I would like to inform you there were 17 advertisements in 2016 for religious ministers and priests that were posted on the Job Board,” the Minister said.

57-minute live video replay of the press conference

“It appears that this entire application process was mired in misinformation, and my decision was based on the information that had been provided,” the Minister said.

“The inconsistencies were substantial and relevant, and the absence of truthful disclosure to request for information sought by the department rendered the application ineligible for a new work permit.

“I conclude that I am pleased that the industrial action has ceased for now. I am hopeful that we can put this matter behind us.”

The Minister’s full remarks are below:

Today I wish to address the matter regarding the refusal of Reverend Tweed’s work permit. There have been a number of accusations that have been made about me and how I arrived at the decision. I have read the statement made by the Church and I cannot leave the accusations unanswered.

I had committed to convene a press conference to provide clarification once I met with my technical officers. In my absence, I instructed my technical officers to review the file and provide me with a chronology regarding the events that led up to the final decision that was made.

On July 14th 2016, I considered a request which was received from a Trustee of the Church asking permission for Reverend Nicholas Tweed to continue to work after his work permit expired on July 19th 2016 pending a full application for a new work permit.

You should note that the current policy states that if an application is not received at least a month prior to the work permit expiry date then the employee must cease working until the application is processed. Any waiver of the policy must be considered by the Minister. As the work permit application had not yet been received, I directed that the Reverend Tweed should cease work after July 19th.

On July 19th a work permit application was submitted to the Department for Reverend Tweed in addition to an email request for him to be permitted to conduct a funeral the next day. I agreed to allow Reverend Tweed to participate in the funeral service but directed that he should cease work after the service.

However, after consultation with my technical officers, on July 20th, I approved the request for Reverend Tweed to continue working while the new application was being considered.

On August 1, 2016 the Chief Immigration Officer [CIO] communicated the following instructions to the Trustee via e-mail that:

  • The post be advertised;
  • The outcomes of the advertisement be submitted to Immigration;
  • That documentation be provided in support of the Reverend Tweed’s change in surname from Genevieve to Tweed (as the legal name on his valid passport and police certificate was “Nicholas Damon Genevieve”) ;
  • That the marital status of Rev. Tweed be answered on the current work permit application. It was highlighted in Reverend Tweed’s Immigration file that communication dated December 20th 2013 from Immigration to the Presiding Elder concerning the marital status of Rev. Tweed was never responded to.

On August 1, 2016 the Church replied in an email in response to the email from the CIO that:

  • The application sought a three year period for permission to work similar to the request in 2013 (although only 1 year had been paid for);
  • Referred to the Customs and Practices of the AME Church in Bermuda suggesting that the requirement to advertise was incongruous with the practices of the AME Church and stated that Rev. Tweed was appointed by the Bishop of the District and that appointment subsists until otherwise altered by the Bishop pursuant to the Doctrine and Discipline of the AME Church. The Representative insisted that there is no requirement to advertise owing to the custom and practice of the Church and suggested that, as a result, there was no necessity to seek permission to waive advertising and therefore no fee would be paid in this regard;
  • The Church asked for the matter to be referred to the Board for its further and proper consideration.

On August 25th the Department sent an email to the Church advising that before further consideration was given to the application they:

  • Provide a copy of the advertisement;
  • Apply for a waiver of advertising if they chose not to advertise,;
  • Complete Section 3 of the application, “Marital Status”;
  • Complete Section 7 of the application, “Application Checklist Details”;
  • Provide documentation to support the change of Reverend Tweed’s last name from Genevieve to Tweed.

Although the information was still not forthcoming, the work permit application was considered by the Immigration Board on September 14th 2016. The Board instructed that the post should be advertised. The Board’s decision was communicated to the Church in letter and via e-mail dated September 16th 2016.

On September 20th, The Trustee again reiterated via email the information that was communicated previously to the Department and appealed for the Immigration Board to give further and proper consideration of the matter in light of their representation.

After receiving the response from the Church, the application and the latest correspondence was reviewed by the Immigration Board who referred the matter to the Minister for review. Before I would consider the application, I noted that the Church had been be given a deadline of October 16th to comply with the letter of September 16th to advertise the position or request a waiver of advertisement together with the requisite fee.

The Church did not comply and I refused the application on October 20th. A letter to that effect was sent to the church.

In a letter dated October 21st 2016, Reverend Nicholas Tweed was also advised that the application from St. Paul AME Church requesting permission to continue to employ him was refused and he was directed to settle his affairs and leave Bermuda by January 19th, 2017.

An appeal to my decision was received on the October 27th. It was at that time, for the first time, that the Presiding Elder submitted a request for the waiver of the advertisement together with the requisite fee. I should add at this juncture that the information regarding his marital status was submitted indicating that he was “Living Apart: Spouse residing in Bermuda and separated due to marital matters”

He also provided a new passport with the last name of Genevieve-Tweed which was issued on September 28th 2016. However he did not provide the documentation requested to explain how his name changed from “Genevieve” on his passport issued in 2012 to “Genevieve-Tweed” in 2016.

I took considerable time to examine the appeal and request for waiver, during which time I allowed Reverend Tweed to continue to work. On December 28th the Department delivered my decision to the Presiding Elder.

That ends the chronological summary of the events. I want to further clarify some points.

I must emphasise that it is the responsibility of the Employer in all cases to comply with the work permit policies that apply to all employers and that includes all religions. I can confirm that the other religious denominations adhere to the policies. To illustrate I would like to inform you there were 17 advertisements in 2016 for religious ministers and priests that were posted on the Job Board.

There has been one application for a waiver and that request was submitted for a non-Bermudian application for the position of Bishop-elect. It is not fair to other religions in Bermuda to be required to follow the rules and one Church be allowed to ignore the work permit policies. In addition, it is unfair to aspiring Bermudians to not have an opportunity for consideration.

It is important to note that under Section 61 of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956, there is no expectation of further work permits once a work permit has expired; hence there is no right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. As a result, the next step in the appeals process is to seek a judicial review. This process may be time consuming and costly for employers, especially those employers with limited funds. Hence it has been a matter of precedent and procedure that a Minister may consider any new information that is presented to him or her that would change a decision. I have been advised by my technical officers that this has been the norm through successive administrations.

I have heard this accusation repeatedly and must advise the public that there is no remedy within the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act that would allow a Minister to recuse himself or herself from his or her responsibilities. At best, a Minister can assign an application to an Acting Minister when he or she goes overseas, however it will delay the adjudication of the application.

As a final note, it appears that this entire application process was mired in misinformation, and my decision was based on the information that had been provided. The inconsistencies were substantial and relevant, and the absence of truthful disclosure to request for information sought by the department rendered the application ineligible for a new work permit.

I conclude that I am pleased that the industrial action has ceased for now. I am hopeful that we can put this matter behind us.

click here Bermuda Rev Tweed’s work permit

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All, News, Politics, Videos

.