Ministry & Overseas Groups On Ombudsman

October 6, 2015

[Updated] Following letters by the International Ombudsman Institute and the Ombudsman Association expressing their concern in relation to the Minister’s comments about the Bermuda Ombudsman’s report, the Ministry of Home Affairs said they “will continue to support the work of the Ombudsman but in this particular case she has overreached.”

In releasing their annual report earlier this year, the Ombudsman’s office said, “The Annual Report includes a special report regarding a complaint where the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Immigration failed to follow certain Ombudsman’s recommendations.”

The report [PDF] said that in December 2013 a Bermudian professional lodged a complaint with their office against the Department and the Minister of Home Affairs, and detailed what happened following the complaint. You can read the full extract from the the Ombudsman’s report here.

Following the Ombudsman’s Report, Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy said he found the report “disturbing,” and the two Departments did “absolutely nothing wrong and for the Ombudsman to portray anything other than that is utterly false and misleading.”

A letter from the UK-based Ombudsman Association said they “viewed with some concern the dismissive language that has been used towards the Ombudsman for Bermuda by some members of the Government,” while a letter from the Vienna-based International Ombudsman Institute said they it is “with great concern that the IOI has learned about the difficulties faced by one of its members, the Ombudsman for Bermuda, due to the damaging remarks made by the Minister of Home Affairs and by a Government Senator, after the release of the Ombudsman’s most recent report…”

Screenshot of a section of the letter from the Ombudsman Association:

screencapture-OMBUD LETTER

In response to the letters from the two overseas groups, the Ministry said they “believe in the freedom of the Ombudsman to conduct her investigations.

“The Ombudsman plays a crucial role in providing an independent and objective consideration of complaints, as well as ensuring that any injustices or systematic failings are put right based on his or her findings.

“However if in our opinion those findings are simply not correct then there is nothing in law that prevents any Minister from putting across another point of view.

Minister Fahy’s statement on June 29th 2015 provided a factual and clear counterview to that of the Ombudsman’s, notwithstanding the concerns which have since been raised by the International Ombudsman Institute and the Ombudsman Association.

“These organizations are entitled to their own view, which sadly have clearly come from only one source and is representative of only one view.

Video of the Minister’s full press conference on June 29th

“It should be noted, however, that in the Department’s letter to the Ombudsman dated September 11, 2014, they committed to address several recommendations proposed by the Ombudsman.

“As one example, the Ombudsman suggested the Department amend the Advertising and Recruitment Criteria so that changes to job closing dates or changes to application addresses would render the advertisement invalid. This was in fact a very good suggestion and was included in the Work Permit Policy as at 1st March 2015.

“Additionally, the Ombudsman’s Report relates to matters that happened over two years ago. Significant strides have been made in the Department since then, including a new Work Permit Policy and a Civil Penalty regime – with literally dozens of cases being investigated and dealt with by the Chief Immigration Officer and her team.

“We will continue to support the work of the Ombudsman but in this particular case she has overreached especially as regards to the fine line between her role to investigate maladministration and that of Ministerial policy and Ministerial discretion.

“The Minister stands by this view, notwithstanding the apparent pressure being made by outside organizations of which the Ombudsman is a member.”

Update 7.43pm: A Cabinet Office spokesperson said, “‎In response to the correspondence regarding Bermuda’s Ombudsman, Premier Michael Dunkley took the opportunity to reaffirm‎ that Government has the utmost respect for Bermuda’s Office of the Ombudsman.

“Premier Dunkley confirmed that he had spoken to the Speaker of the House regarding the matter roughly two weeks ago. The Premier has already written to both the Ombudsman Association and the International Ombudsman Institute to not only address the matter, but to formally express Government’s support for the role of the Ombudsman.

“The Premier also noted that it is his intent to discuss the matter with Bermuda’s Ombudsman in due course.”

The letters from the two overseas groups and the Speaker’s letter follows below [PDF here]

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Comments (49)

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  1. kangoocar says:

    Maybe I can say it MORE honestly than Min Fahy because of his political situation??? I would simply answer that letter from the Overseas group of ombudsman by saying, ” please understand our ombudsman is a LOT different than most elswehere, ours happens to be a STAUNCH plp supporter!!!

    • Onion Juice says:

      The arrogance of this guy.

      • hmmm says:

        The individual wasn’t qualified for the role. The individual posted their application on the final day and the agent of the employer had closed the mail one day earlier. the employer is being monitored from an immigration perspective.

        The ombudsman copying in the individual with direct correspondence with govt was wrong.

        • hmmm says:

          Don’t dislike go research it, and prove me wrong.

        • smh says:

          Isn’t this about the lady that failed her professional vet exams five or six time but still felt entitled to the job? She was then turned down by the PLP and now again by the OBA so she went screaming to her friend and political ally the Ombudsman screaming that she was denied the job. She’s NOT QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB….nothing to do with Immigration.

          • smh says:

            The article is not clear, but it appears that Dr. Smith failed, multiple times, to pass the Veterinary Boards administered by the U.S. National Board of Veterinary Medicine. Passing this test is required for U.S. vets to practice, unsupervised, just as passing the Medical Boards (given by the National Board of Medical Examiners) is required to practice human Medicine. All this has nothing to do having a Vet degree such as Dr. Smith’s from Tuskegee as some comments suggest. In 1997, to qualify as the Government Vet one had to have a Vet degree, which Dr. Smith had, and ALSO pass the U.S. or equivalent European Vet Boards which Dr. Smith failed to do.

      • Juicy Onion says:

        Look inde mirror

    • Really really Bettty says:

      Stop kangaroocar with your attempt to slander the current Ombudsman. You too have just didrespected the Office.

      Regardless of the Ombudsman political affiliation she conducts her jobs within the strict guidelines of Professional Standards. There are regulations that govern her role, such is the case for others in such similar post, that also hold a political affiliation.

      Stop using a poor rational to excuse the unprofessional attitude displayed by the Minister towards the important role and office of the Ombudsman. As this Office is very important to Bermuda it can not be disrespected by any one. MPS are not above the law and they too must respect are Appointed Office of the Ombudsman.

      • Really really Bettty says:

        If the Diehard blindfaithfulness OBAERS are clicking like just to support party and not objectively examinating the issuse at hand, well Bermuda is in bigger trouble than I want to believe.

        A Government that is about Honesty,Transparency snd Fairness and Respect will stand in support of the recent call out by the International Organization. If not Bermuda will never be looked upon respectfully in the International arena. We have been come a laughing duck to the greater world on true meaning of transparency and the Office of the Ombudsman.

        • impressive. says:

          Couldn’t agree more,,

        • Hmmm says:

          Your unintelligent posts pasted all over our media do the damage to us on the international stage. Hellbent on destroying Bermuda aren’t you Betty.

          • impressive. says:

            ummm, how could the posts or a random individual on a internet forum do more damage than the actions of a government minister??? stretching it a bit far there???

          • mixitup says:

            And is this all that YOU have to contribute to this discussion (Hmm)?

            • hmmm says:

              I contributed plenty to the discussion.

              Betty in the various disguises makes Bermudians appear stupid. That is not good for Bermuda or Bermudians.

              Or do you believe Betty improves how the world views the intelligence of Bermudians. we can look at the thousands of Betty quotes as evidence if you like.

        • serengeti says:

          Is it normal Betty for an Ombudsman to copy private individuals in on letters sent to a Government Minister on an unresolved matter?

    • 2000 job promise LOL says:

      Look it’s easy request the Immigration file through PATI that our Ombudsman investigated and display the information to the public. Unless the contents of the file goes among the missing like the $350K from Jetgate. If people recall the oba described the scandal as a “fabricated controversy.” Later on it turned out to be all true with Premier Craig Cannonier handing in his resignation.

      Where there’s smoke there’s fire” means that if something looks wrong then it probably is wrong. You have to be willing to dig deep enough!

    • JustAskin2 says:

      What??? I suppose if she were a staunch OBA supporter that would be alright with you. Who cares what party the Ombudsman supports as long as she is doing her job.

  2. Vulcan Trash Cleaner says:

    Politicians are so scared of being caught with their hand in the cookie jar!

  3. Chris Famous says:

    Well well

    even they see how arrogant he was towards the Ombudsman

    • Zevon says:

      No, it was the ombudsman who was arrogant. If she can’t be impartial she should resign.

      • Onion Juice says:

        This UPB Government is PATHETIC, anybody who opposes them or they feel are a threat they, sanction them with court threats, file lawsuits and legislate laws to suit them (suspend contracts).
        Well you fools voted them in and they’re flogging the S!@# outa you. Next thing they are probably going to do is try and ban is a radio show, (that’s why they have the announcement before the show starts concerning statements being made).
        And they compared Dr. Brown to Mugabe.
        These Dreamers could never walk in Doc’s shoes(even though I wasn’t a big fan of his), but he never ducked questions and on a dime was ready for a one on one.
        These guys are JOKERS.

        • serengeti says:

          Ok, village idiot. Can you let us know, who in this case has “sanction them with court threats, file lawsuits and legislate laws”? (sic)
          Let us know. Dreamer.

        • ouch says:

          never ducked questions???

          ever heard “That’s a plantation question?”

          recall an AG being arrested?

          take it easy. *exposed*

  4. Maddog says:

    Dunkley….you need to discuss the matter with Michael fahy…
    Not the ombudsman….The ombudsman report stands!!!!!!

  5. Coffee says:

    It’s reports such as this that damages beyond repair Bermudas otherwise sterling reputation . There isn’t any room for the unbridled arrogance show by this government as they stretch their hands out for foreign inward investment .

    • Zevon says:

      And when the PLP publicly critical of the Ombudsman you said nothing.

      • Coffee says:

        So it’s been nearly three years already ! When do you stop crawling and own the bull pit you create , standing as the OBA ?

        • Zevon says:

          Fahy explained it. She was wrong. She isn’t impartial.
          You’re the one that said criticising the Ombudsman “damages Bermuda beyond repair”. You thought it was fine though when the PLP criticised the Ombudsman. Hypocrite.

        • Hmmm says:

          Sadly Coffee the PLP continue to exhibit the same behavioural patterns of the last dictatorship they held. People will never forget. NEVER.

          Yet you seem to, you are a member of the PLP, everthing you write is tainted.

          • Coffee says:

            However the PLP never raised the ire of any international body . In just two weeks the OBA has drawn the distasteful attention of the august bodies of Canadian trade unionist , and now this … We are living in technicolor the worst government Bermuda has ever seen hold democratic power , … I say undemocratic that is ..hehe .

            • Toodle-oo says:

              If this ‘august’ body of international ombudsmen knew all the gory details of this complaint/complainant going back 12 years or so and then were able to connect the dots , per se , they’d more than likely have kept their noses out of it and maybe , in fact , sided with Min Fahy .

              • Coffee says:

                If … If … If . I would suggest you have a little talk with the former OBA chairman if your seeking clarity on the OBA party/government .

      • jt says:

        And the AG fiasco.

      • Johnny says:

        Zevon, You and your childish replies – whaaa whaaaa, mommy but he did it first, whaaa, whaaa.

        Grow up and stop being a baby.

        • serengeti says:

          How inconvenient it is when you’re reminded what a bad government the PLP was.

          • Johnny says:

            Yes the PLP was bad, but the OBA is worse, you guys make it seem like 2 wrongs makes it right.

            • serengeti says:

              No, it isn’t two wrongs. Fahy was right. The (current) Ombudsman isn’t impartial. She should resign.

  6. BDA Friend says:

    Is it the practice of all job applicants to contact the Dept of Immigration, rather than the employer to find out the status of their employment applications?

    • Moonshine says:

      Only the Employer can contact Immigration.. I believe applicants can follow up with the Company and the Dept of Work Force Development.

  7. Kevin says:

    boy do folks have short memories it was only a few years ago remember the graveyard issue within Tucker’s point but hey that was back then init

  8. Spectator says:

    The Ombudsman is not infallible. The Ombudsman is free to investigate and those organizations or individuals investigated are free to accept the recommendations or not, and they are free to respond to what they perceive as inaccuracies or faulty interpretation. The fact that this Ombudsman, when faced with some mild push back, went whining to international Ombudsman associations, indicates a particularly thin skin and poor judgement.

  9. THE MAN! says:

    I actually read this whole story and the one from June from front to back. The ombudsman has mishandled this. Crying like a baby! she is just not fit for the job.

  10. San George says:

    Dismissive! Sums up their attitude towards the entire country and the constitution.

  11. Alvin Williams says:

    Since the ombudsman is a post under the permit of the governor; where is he as this attack was made weeks ago? Yet we have head nothing from the man on the hill. One would have thought he would be front and centre to protect his domain as he was when former PLP premier Brown attempted to broach protocol by suggesting that the governor should have his weekly meetings with Bermuda’s premier on an alternative basic between government house and the cabinet. Of course that was not on; but in this case the defence of the realm is not worth it.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Good question Alvin. Lets hear his justifications in appointing a person with known political affiliations in the first place. Such an appointed position should be held by somebody with no political ties, past or present.

      This appointment should never have been made from day one.

      • Johnny says:

        Maybe all govt. Ministers should have no political ties either.

  12. clearasmud says:

    The real issue is respect for the office and role of the Ombudsman. The Minister has the right to disagree and challenge any finding but the manner in which this was done was not appropriate. Even if we accept that the Ombudsman got it all wrong if the Minister does not repect the office then why would anyone else? It would be interesting to know if the Ombudsman sought the assistance of the Governor at all?

    • hmmm says:

      I wonder is the ombudsman sought the assistance of the individual too, perhaps a reason to be copied in.

  13. San George says:

    Drip, drip, drip; let the world know about their behaviour.