Human Rights Commission Welcomes Ruling

July 15, 2019

The Human Rights Commission said they welcome the ruling by the Court of Appeal that “children involved in legal proceedings have been denied a right of access to the Courts through the Government of Bermuda’s failure to provide funding for their legal representation”

An HRC spokesperson said, “On the 21st of June 2019, the Court of Appeal granted [PDF] a declaration that children involved in legal proceedings have been denied a right of access to the Courts through the Government of Bermuda’s failure to provide funding for their legal representation. The Human Rights Commission welcomes this ruling and congratulates the firm Marshall Diel & Myers Limited for its advocacy before the Court of Appeal which led to this result.

“In particular, the institution is immensely gratified to see that these court proceedings, since their original inception in 2017, have attracted such broad media coverage and have further resulted in engaging residents of Bermuda in open and free discourse concerning the value and importance of the protection of constitutional rights and the statutory protections afforded to such a vulnerable segment of our community.

“Questions, however, have arisen as to why the Human Rights Commission, which was a plaintiff in the original case, withdrew as a party to the proceedings prior to the matter being heard by the Court of Appeal in March 2019.

“While there were several reasons which led to the decision that the Commission be withdrawn as a party, the matter was effectively decided by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Bermuda, as rendered in November 2018, which held that the Human Rights Commission has no legal standing through which it may sue, or be sued in that name.

“The Human Rights Commission reiterates that it is very pleased with the outcome of the ruling from the Court of Appeal and, again, commends counsel for that result. The Human Rights Commission is and will continue to support the rights of all residents of Bermuda in accordance with the powers afforded to the institution under its establishing legislation, the Human Rights Act 1981.

“The Commission would like to formally recognise the difficulties and challenges faced by the children and other Appellants in successfully appealing the Supreme Court decision. The dedication, commitment and bravery that they have demonstrated to the public and to the Courts underscores the vital role that community stakeholders play in upholding constitutional rights and statutory protections.”

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