US State Dept Report: Bermuda Human Rights

April 14, 2011

Earlier this month the US State Department released their ’2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,’ with the report on the United Kingdom also covering Bermuda

The State Department said, “This report reflects the Department of State’s assessments and concerns with respect to the human rights situation around the world. The Department of States does not use sources or information it believes lack credibility.” Excerpts from the report pertaining to Bermuda are below.

On our prisons:

The Bermuda Department of Corrections reported on October 12 that the prison population on the island was 277 in facilities with a capacity of 373.

On bail and court matters

To combat the rise in gang and gun crime in Bermuda, the government enacted the Police and Criminal Evidence Amendment (No. 2) Act in August (effective in the summer of 2011), increasing to 66 hours the length of time suspects can be held in police custody without being charged. A senior police officer reviews the case at 42 and 54 hours and in each review must be satisfied that the investigation is being conducted expeditiously and diligently.

A magistrate may order a further 30 hours of detention to give police time to complete their investigation. Under the new legislation police may also deny bail to suspects as young as 16 years of age, a change from the previous age designation of 18.

For those arrested on firearms or ammunition offenses, the Firearms Amendment Act of 2010 passed in July authorizes police to apply for a warrant of detention to hold suspects without charge for 14 days and also allows police to apply for a second 14-day warrant. Police may use the time to gather evidence or obtain forensic results from overseas, but not to question suspects.

In July Bermuda enacted the Court of Appeal Amendment Act, allowing prosecutors to take previously tried cases to the Court of Appeal when new and compelling evidence, such as DNA, comes to light. The law applies to defendants acquitted of murder, found guilty on a lesser charge, or whose cases were discharged.

On wiretapping:

Bermuda enacted the Telecommunications Amendment Act in July requiring telecommunications companies to install equipment enabling police to monitor, pursuant to a warrant, landlines, mobile telephones, and the Internet and provide police with a database of customer names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Police officers already had the power to intercept landline messages if the police commissioner and the governor ruled it in the public interest to do so. The new law provides the additional capacity to fine carriers up to $10,000 per day for noncompliance.

On our elections:

Bermuda held free and fair elections in 2007. There were seven women in the 36-seat House of Assembly and six women in the 11-member Senate. Five women served in the 13-member Cabinet.

On sexual assaults:

In Bermuda, aggravated sexual assault is a felony carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and serious sexual assault has a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment. Sexual assault by a person with AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B, or other sexually transmitted diseases also carries a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment.

Police reported two serious sexual assaults (rapes) against women during the year, but both complaints were withdrawn.

Police estimated 20-30 reported incidents of domestic abuse per month, approximately five of which involved physical violence. Of these, only two or three were official complaints moving forward to prosecution. Several NGOs provided assistance to abuse victims.

On media and information:

In July Bermuda enacted the Public Access to Information Act (PATI), which establishes a mechanism through which the public may access information. The government appointed three individuals to make PATI operational.

In Bermuda, local newspapers, television stations, and a radio station created a voluntary Media Council to raise journalistic standards, elevate accountability, and provide an effective forum for grievances against the media. The effort sought to forestall creation of a legislatively mandated media review group that they believed could have imposed censorship.

On discrimination based on sexual orientation:

During the year 20 Bermudians took part in the London Pride parade, protesting Bermuda’s failure to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The full 26-page report is below, click ‘Full Screen’ for greater clarity:

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Comments (3)

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  1. Mike says:

    Next year’s report will document the inhumane speed bumps that are apearing across the island.

  2. Patricia says:

    lol, right Mike.

  3. Bermyman says:

    Funny how Conscription leading to removal of ones civil liberties is not included in this? Or the countless sexual assault cases in the Bermuda Regiment that have yet to be properly investigated. Surely if one is forced to serve against their will in the military, they should be protected against inhumane treatment (detailed on page 2) such as sexual assault? And if they are these matters should be investigated to the full extent of the law. Or you could allow those men to suffer in silence and dust it under the carpet. Disgrace!