“What We View As An Unfortunate Proposal”

October 11, 2017 | 20 Comments

Following the tabling of the Bermuda Immigration [No. 2] Act 2017 in the House of Assembly, OUTBermuda wrote to the Minister saying they “would like to register our objection to what we view as an unfortunate proposal that will erode human rights protections to the detriment of everyone in Bermuda.”

Out Bermuda October 10 2017 TC

Bill Tabled In House

In the House on Friday, Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown tabled a Bill that seeks to exempt the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 from the primacy of the Human Rights Act 1981.

Minister Brown said, “The bill entitled ‘Bermuda Immigration [No. 2] Act 2017′ seeks to amend section 8 of the principal Act to provide for the provisions of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 to operate and have effect, notwithstanding the Human Rights Act 1981.

“In essence this means that this bill seeks to exempt the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 from the primacy of the Human Rights Act 1981.

“This does not mean that the Immigration legislation can ignore the consideration of human rights,” the Minister added.

“Section 12 of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968, which has primacy over all Government functions and legislation, provides protection from discrimination based on race, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed. Even then the Constitution makes provision for this right to be limited if it is ‘reasonably justifiable in a democratic society’.

“In addition, the UK is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and that Convention has been extended to Bermuda. Therefore any decisions that are made in accordance with the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 must also adhere to the articles contained in the Convention.

“You may ask why we are tabling this Bill. Over the years, the tenets of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956, i.e. to protect Bermuda for Bermudians, have been challenged and continue to be so.

“Unfortunately, the primacy of the Human Rights Act 1981 has caused some non-Bermudians to claim that they are being discriminated against based on their place of origin.

“There are very few countries other than Bermuda and Canada that allow their human rights legislation to extend to their immigration legislation; not even the United Kingdom allows this.

“In a country with limited resources, 22 square miles and a population of 65,000, the protection of land for Bermudians and the promotion and protection of Bermudians in the workforce is perfectly justifiable in a democratic society.”

OUTBermuda

OUTBermuda said, “We are writing to register our initial objection to your stated proposal to give primacy to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 [“the Immigration Act”] over the Human Rights Act 1981 [“The Human Rights Act”].

“Our interest in your proposal primarily stems from our initial concern about the potential adverse consequences to families that are likely to result. We are also cognizant of the potential for harm that removing human rights protections will have on vulnerable people.

“We do not believe that upholding human rights principles is in any way incompatible with the Government’s mandate to serve in the best interests of Bermudians.

“If Bermuda’s laws are not to be enacted and enforced with reference to those principles, which by their very nature seek to give effect to the inherent dignity of all people, then by what guiding principles does the Government seek to act?

“By virtue of Schedule II to the Human Rights Act, there are already a number of provisions within the Immigration Act that exist outside the Island’s Human Rights regime.

“We are unsure whether the Government’s intention is to expand Schedule II by increasing the number of provisions from the Immigration Act to which the schedule refers, or whether its intention is to exempt the Immigration Act in total from Human Rights scrutiny. Regardless, we believe both to be problematic.

“We do not believe your statement about United Kingdom immigration law operating outside the scope of human rights scrutiny to be accurate. Indeed, the experience of the current British Prime Minister during her tenure as Home Secretary demonstrates otherwise.

“Even if it were true that Bermuda was in the minority in terms of granting human rights protections in matters of immigration to non-citizens, that of itself should not be regarded as something nefarious or untoward.

“There is no reason why an employer, faced with the prospect of hiring from overseas given the absence of a qualified Bermudian, should be permitted to do so in a manner that that is discriminatory under the Human Rights Act.

“For example, where an employer seeks to favor employment of individuals from one country or region over another, merely because those individuals are willing to accept less in pay, that should not preclude a non-Bermudian applicant from another country or region from raising a human rights complaint as a result of unfavorable treatment when seeking to have their employer renew their work permit.

“Clearly, allowing such an employer to operate outside the scope of human rights protections promotes exploitation, and serves ultimately to undermine working conditions for Bermudians. This is just one of the unintended, yet foreseeable, adverse consequences your proposal may have.

“The Bermuda Supreme Court judgments to which your statement alludes have highlighted that the Immigration Act is not fit for purpose in a number of respects. That is a point upon which most will agree.

“While we agree that there is a need for wholesale reform of Bermuda’s immigration laws, we do not believe exempting those laws from Human Rights scrutiny is the best way forward.

“We will await sight of the proposed Bill and intend to write further on the specific matters proposed therein, once we have had opportunity to review the same.

“For now, we would like to register our objection to what we view as an unfortunate proposal that will erode human rights protections to the detriment of everyone in Bermuda.”

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Comments (20)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “OUTBermuda wrote to the Minister saying they “would like to register our objection to what we view as an unfortunate proposal that will erode human rights protections to the detriment of everyone in Bermuda.”

    What makes your members think they are entitled to “human” rights in Bermuda? Have your members not been paying attention over the last 5 years? The opposition branded the Human Rights Amendment Act 2013 (which included sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination) the “gay rights amendment” and the man who is now the Junior Finance Minister brought a private members bill designed to deny marriage to gay people.

    Face facts, Bermuda may not be the place for gay people to live at this time. Hopefully things will change in the future.

  2. aceboy says:

    Is this the good governance we were promised?

    It is simply pandering to their faithful in a very dangerous way.

  3. The Original Truth™ says:

    “There are very few countries other than Bermuda and Canada that allow their human rights legislation to extend to their immigration legislation; not even the United Kingdom allows this.”

    To add to this, Canada’s human rights legislation extend to their immigration legislation ONLY when it’s in the case of someone with refugee status. If it’s relatively safe to go back to your country you are not covered under human rights legislation through immigration legislation.

    On the other hand we have it backwards wanting to get rid of our only refugees the 5 Uyghurs who face death by going back home but want to give rights to those who have no problem going back home. I guess OUTBermuda doesn’t care about the lives and needs of the Uyghurs as much as they do self entitled wants of expats.

  4. The Original Truth™ says:

    Why do foreigners feel entitled to citizenship in a country they are not citizens of? No one is ever entitled citizenship in a foreign country.

    Do these people decide to squat in someones home when they are invited over as a guest? These people clearly have alternative intentions and should not be welcomed.

    Any country where I’ve lived as a guest has always made it clear to me that I am a guest and that when it was time to go home I was required to do so. I never felt that my human rights were not trampled on as it was clear to me that this is never a human right for someone who has a country they can go to.

    • Double S says:

      Does that extend to Rev. Tweed? Or is he a special foreigner?’

    • aceboy says:

      I hold Citizenship in 3 countries, including Bermuda.

      I WAS entitled to do so for very specific reasons, just as there are specific reasons for allowing people who have been here for 20 years to gain citizenship. It is called human rights.

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        I’m willing to bet anything you had to apply for citizenship and went through a process to get it in the other countries. These procedures are not entitlement they are a request to have the privilege of becoming a citizen that can be turned down without any human rights being violated.

      • andrew says:

        I have been here 22 years no PRC, no Status, nor my kids.

    • JAYBIRD says:

      There are very few countries in the world that do not offer their long term expatriate residents a pathway to citizenship…

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        The countries that offer pathways to long term expatriate residents still have term limits and only let a select few get to the point of being long term residents. It’s a privilege in those countries to be a PR not a human right and they would have to prove their value to the government themselves in order to get that privilege. These countries you speak of are not like Bermuda where someone can just arrive on vacation and get a 1 year work permit that rollsover for the next 10 years. It’s the CEO’s and their executives that get to stay not menial workers like they do in Bermuda. If you want it like them them all those who came on short term contracts need to leave to allow room for the executives to come in.

    • puzzled says:

      Tell me I am wrong “Original”.

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        You might be but I wouldn’t know because you haven’t stated any point.

    • Sima says:

      It only happens in Bermuda… they all know the stacks are against the people of Bermuda so their doors are open with the freedom to trample in with their cultures…

  5. Family Man says:

    A bit like Tweed then?

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      Yes like Tweed. He should be sent packing with the rest who have over stayed their welcome. There are Bermudians who could fill his position easily just as they could fill others taken by foreigners. I will support PLP’s stance but they are still overall hypocrites. Heck, they are the reason so many expats got their 1 year permits renewed for every year for 10 years. Unemployment would never have gotten so high if they didn’t approve a record number of permits in 2007. Doesn’t anyone see that when they helped their friends and family it wasn’t just their Bermudian friends and family.

  6. Joe Bloggs says:

    “There are very few countries other than Bermuda and Canada that allow their human rights legislation to extend to their immigration legislation; not even the United Kingdom allows this.”

    Umm, NO! It is the fact that the Human Rights Act 1998 DOES take precedence over all other laws (including immigration laws) that drove slightly more than half of all registered voters in the UK to vote to leave the EU. It is called Brexit.

    Oh, by the way, human rights take precedence over immigration laws in all countries in the European Union. I do not know how the Minister missed such a large part of the developed world when he made that statement.

  7. FU says:

    “Why do foreigners feel entitled to citizenship in a country they are not citizens of?”

    Yea, like Tweed, etc… why?

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      Exactly like Tweed and like the PLP’s thousands of other foreign friends they let stay in Bermuda for over a decade. You mistake me for a PLP supporter but you’re wrong. I don’t support any party. I just support what’s right and giving Bermudians a far chance to get a leg up in the country they are citizens of without being passed over by employers looking for cheap labor or just because the employer is prejudice against Bermudians.

  8. Standing for Truth says:

    OUTBermuda and the “human rights commission” support gentrification. Which is a violation of REAL human rights. Both of them support agendas that are dressed up as human rights.

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