HRC Urge Govt to Withdraw Immigration Bill

October 10, 2017

[Updated] Following the tabling of the Bermuda Immigration [No. 2] Act 2017 in the House of Assembly, the Human Rights Commission said they are “steadfastly against the Government’s decision to table” the Bill, and urged the Government to “withdraw the tabled Bill to allow for proper consultation.”

HRC Human Rights Commission Bermuda TC October 10 2017

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.”

Human Rights Commission Statement

A spokesperson said, “The Human Rights Commission [HRC] is issuing a brief statement to address the tabling of Friday’s Bermuda Immigration No. 2 Act 2017. We wish to acknowledge the questions and concerns that have arisen from members of the public and all the stakeholders we serve.

“The HRC is steadfastly against the Government’s decision to table the Bermuda Immigration No. 2 Act 2017, the purpose of which is to exempt the majority of the Bermuda Protection and Immigration Act, 1956 [BIPA] from compliance with the Human Rights Act, 1981 [HRA].

“The HRC has not yet seen the draft Bill, and therefore cannot effectively address specific questions on the potential implications of the Bill.

“Tabling a Bill of this nature, one that will have human rights implications without consultation is entirely inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of the HRA particularly as the topic of immigration has necessarily been highly emotive and divisive.

“The HRC has already communicated with the Government that it is imperative to undertake an inclusive process of consultation that reflects the gravity of the proposed amendments, and the significance of this national issue.

“The HRC advocated for comprehensive immigration reform under the previous administration, and has reinforced this need with the Government, however, ensuring an inclusive consultation process is essential.

“The preamble of the Human Rights Act expressly states that it was enacted “to make better provision to affirm [international human rights] and freedoms and to protect the rights of all members of the Community”.

“The Act was born from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations and the European Convention on Human Rights, which were both created in reaction to the erosion of human rights during World War I and II, and to expand protection afforded under the Bermuda Constitution Order, 1968.

“The treaties were measures to ensure equality, democracy and the protection of minorities, in particular. Consequently, our Human Rights Act is a measure to protect those same aims, and it is a shield behind which protection is afforded.

“The strength of this shield is made stronger by the HRA’s primacy over all other laws, except the Constitution; that is that all other laws must be read to be compliant with the Act. The stronger the shield, the stronger the protection for us all.

“It is therefore reckless to undermine the Human Rights Act or have it portrayed as either a tool to be manipulated, or for manipulation. Steps to reduce the effectiveness of the Act should invoke thorough examination before being enacted and should only be taken in rare cases.

“This is clearly the position in most democratic societies where exemptions from Human Rights legislation are carefully considered in support of balancing rights and associated implications for all stakeholders. For example, the entirety of the UK immigration legislation is not exempt from their Human Rights Act.

“The HRC is committed to engaging with Government on this issue, and have expressed our urgent concerns. There is too much at stake for media sparring and speculation at this stage. We are determined to steer the course towards less polarizing and divisive engagement to address these challenging issues.

“We therefore urge the Government to withdraw the tabled Bill to allow for proper consultation as advised. Our view is that the HRA should be strengthened and protected, not weakened or minimalized.

“The HRC will continue to communicate our concerns with the Government and advocate for the upholding, advancement and protection of human rights in Bermuda.”

Ministry Response

Update Oct 11, 8.29am: A Ministry spokesperson said, “It should be remembered that a major tenet of this Government’s platform promise was to put Bermudians first.

“However we must also clarify that there was consultation with the HRC on the matter of exempting sections of the Bermuda Immigration & Protection Act 1956 from the Human Rights Act 1981. While the Minister was apprised of their concerns, he took a different position.”

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Comments (85)

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  1. sandgrownan says:

    Your move Walton.

    Be interesting to see CURB’s take on this…oh wait…*crickets*…

    • jt says:

      She was certainly quick to comment on the other recent issue.
      And on Pathways.

      • Double S says:

        They are anti-white, not anti-racist.

      • sandgrownan says:

        The statement here on Bernews from CURB is a perfect example of their irrelevance and political allegiance.

        It’s so fundamentally wrong, on so many levels, and ignorant in it’s message that it does nothing to bridge any sort of divide.

        And yet silence on this issue.

    • aceboy says:

      CURB is in the news today stating as fact that Moniz was making a racial comment in the House. That is more important…showing how thin skinned they are. It was not racial. Rabain was acting like a schoolboy boasting that despite OBA success he was sitting on the front bench. CURB is twisting it into something else because that is their agenda, not human rights.

      • legalgal says:


        • aceboy says:

          Yea…just don’t add the “boy” if you speak to me. I will call CURB on you. It would offend me.

    • Onion Juice says:

      I see they pick their battles.

      • jt says:

        Pick/orchestrate. Whatever.

      • aceboy says:

        They do indeed. If it is an issue that is important to their party it is important to them. Only certain human rights seem to matter to them.

  2. Double S says:

    PLP = Far Right.

    BDA’s very own National Front.

    • sandgrownan says:

      They are aren’t they..I mean apart from being beholden to the Unions, the PLP are a right wing, xenophobic conservative party.

      • Double S says:

        Very much so.

        Just look at their policies directed at immigration and gays.

        Look at their supporters asking if certain people are really Bermudian.

        They are fast becoming our modern day fascists.

        • Onion Juice says:

          Ya, and Dr. Martin Luther King was labelled a Cummunist.
          Same $#!+ different day.

          • Double S says:

            You’re not a communist OJ.

            You are just an a&&hole racist.

            • Yahweh says:

              Spot on DoubleS.

              Time to call these people for what they really are.

              • Onion Juice says:

                So racist as we know it in the West was created by Europeans, so how do Blacks become racist when we dont deny whites from progressing socially, economically, etc……..
                I guess you need to be educated on the definition of racism.
                Ok school is out.

                • FU says:

                  “I guess you need to be educated on the definition of racism.”

                  No, you do. You are nothing but a filthy racist. Your hatred of your fellow man is disgusting.

                • therock says:

                  “I guess you need to be educated on the definition of racism.”

                  No, you do…but you’ve proven yourself to be far too stupid to learn anything. You are a RACIST through and through. Admitting it to yourself would be a good first step. Perhaps then, you wouldn’t be such a miserable, hate-filled a$$****

          • nerema says:

            So now you compare yourself to MLK?

          • sandgrownan says:

            He was, but he was rooted in the labour movement which to some at the time was considered supremely socialist if not exactly communist. In fact, most of the leaders of the civil rights movement came out of the secular labour movement (which is often forgotten).

            Of all the labels applied to King, this one did have the ghost of an element of truth to it.

          • Build a Better Bermuda says:

            There’s a difference between communist and fascist. And while not communist, MLK was in fact socialist. And the PLP have moved far too far from the left to be equated to MLK anymore. So your attempt to draw comparison misses the target far too much to the right to be relevant to the argument.

            • Onion Juice says:

              But to be fair, every Black Leader that fought against racist ideology had a title, but no one labelled de oppressors racist.

              • Build a Better Bermuda says:

                But label them as racist now, and now we have the PLP trying to undo the very law that came about to ensure that minorities wouldn’t have to struggle for equal treatment under the law, and would have a legal recourse to address any unfair treatment.

                The HRA should only ever be strengthened, not weakened for a political whim.

        • Rhonda says:

          No one likes, cheap slave Labour more than an OBA aka GOP conservative.

          • Shameful says:

            How did you come up with that little gem of stereotyping?

          • Double S says:


            The PLP emulate the religious right, GOP Conservatives and Trump in just about every way possible:

            - Dislike gays and want to deny them rights
            - Dislike minorities and constantly spew rhetoric to the same effect via elected representatives or surrogates (ie talk shows)
            - Blame foreigners for the problems of the locals
            - Halt immigration because of your hatred of people who differ

            Just think about it logically Rhonda. Would you say that the PLP’s proposed and implemented policies around such subjects, such as immigration, are aligned more with the Trump/GOP or with President Obama. Answer truthfully if you dare.

            • Onion Juice says:

              But one thing thats missing, Friends and Family with wealthy elitist suburbanites.

              • Double S says:

                Then you haven’t being paying attention a$$hole.

                Why don’t you answer my question you little right winger? Or dies the answers make you realize you are what you hate?

    • princess says:

      Double S the days for deflection and propaganda and portraying people for who you are, and those that think like you, are over. We are well aware of the tactics being used this is the same tactics being using from the beginning of time. History has proven who is the masters of propaganda, lies and deception.

      Also the Human Rights Commission should remove the words “human right” from their name they only protect the elite, and those who practice a perverted and immoral lifestyle and try to dress it up real pretty as being a human right and equal rights.

      When you have the majority of the population whose ancestors are the descendants of the indigenous people of this Island, catching hell from the time they were enslaved and to present and this same so called “human rights” commission do not say a mumbling word they are hypocrites. It is an afront

      • Politricks says:

        Those days aren’t over as you and people who think liek you trye and portray anyone ho doesn’t toe your line as being ‘racist’ and what not.

        You are BDA’s far right and your defense of diluting our human rights act shows what a good little fascist you are. You can’t even deny that fact.

        “Also the Human Rights Commission should remove the words “human right” from their name they only protect the elite, and those who practice a perverted and immoral lifestyle and try to dress it up real pretty as being a human right and equal rights.”

        Little Trumpette…sad and pathetic

        And you better brush up on the word indigenous you ignorant little troll. The only think indigenous to BDA are the cahows.

        You are a prime example as to why racism and ignorance goes hand in hand.

      • Herb Adderley says:

        Indigenous people oh really please explain

        • Standing for Truth says:

          Herb Adderley The cradle of civilization began in the continent of Africa and we had a history prior to slavery and before they were enslaved and their human rights violated they were sailing the world and discovering land. While a certain group where still in the Caucasus mountains/caves.

      • FU says:

        “When you have the majority of the population whose ancestors are the descendants of the indigenous people of this Island, ”

        Wow, how absolutely stupid of you. You’re clearly nothing but another racist troll.
        Learn some history, stupid.

      • LongBay Trading Inc. says:

        Dear Princess,

        I hate to break the news to you or perhaps you did not get the memo. In response to yours
        “When you have the majority of the population whose ancestors are the descendants of the indigenous people of this Island……..”
        End Quote….
        newsflash – when the first settlers arrived the only “Indigenous people of this Islands” were wild boars who had made it ashore and thrived from ship wrecks. Surely, being called an ancestor to a wild boar would be more of an affront and quite insulting I would think. Gimmie HRC any day I say!

  3. aceboy says:

    The PLP made a grand showing of an “inclusive” government as well as transparency and good governance. We have seen nothing of that at all since they took over government. Quite the opposite.

    • Onion Juice says:

      Ya and O.B.A. made a promise of Transperancy, Oppeness, Honesty and Fairness.
      Thats why their @$$€$ got voted out.

      • aceboy says:

        I know exactly what was spent on all MP trips while the OBA was in power. I know nothing about what has been spent by the PLP so far on trips.

        The PLP are all about secrets. That is what you voted for. Congrats.

        • Onion Juice says:

          Secrets like sneaking in Parliment 5 oclock in de morning and de phantom airport deal?

          • FU says:

            oj, your anger is born out of your absolute stupidity.

            I feel so sad for you

      • onions says:

        They were voted out exactly because they were transparent, open, honest and fair. The problem was, they weren’t all one type.

      • Mark says:

        and now the PLP is doing the same thing that you complained about the OBA doing. See the irony?

        • FU says:

          “and now the PLP is doing the same thing that you complained about the OBA doing. See the irony?”

          No, they’re far far too stupid to see it, or know what the word means.
          The plp are like their hero, trump.

      • Edmund S says:

        Yes, the voters don’t want Transparency, Openness, Honesty and Fairness. Lesson learned!

  4. Nortel says:

    I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on the political rise of a certain someone in the 1920s and 30s. There are many, many similarities between what happened then and what is happening here now. Worrying times.

  5. inna says:

    Funny how Walton and Co were crryyyyying for “comprehensive, inclusive, immigration reform” while in opposition. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the he and the PLP are doing as they damn well please.

    Bermuda has gotten the government that we deserve!

    Funny thing is those who elected them in will be those who suffer the most!!

    Start saving up them US dollars!!!

    • jt says:

      Having u.s. dollars in bda banks may not save you.

      • inna says:

        Once you have enough greenbacks (or BM savings for that matter), sign up for HSBC Advance or Premier and you will be enlightened!

    • ian mcewan says:

      That is very noticeable indeed and so very two faced it is painful to watch. Pathways was dropped because of the opposition and a committee hastily put together to carry out a review of immigration policies.
      Where is the opposition to this? It is outrageous that Govt can try and push this through without one iota of consultation.
      Some of the actions we are seeing from the PLP come straight out of a right wing (religious) handbook.

    • Politricks says:

      Did anyone actually believe, especially given their past method of governing, that they had any intention on working with anyone outside their crew? They despise anyone that doesn’t think and/or look like them.

      This decision was not bipartisan nor was it collaborative.

      Those were just buzzwords they used in Opposition to make them appear that they were being alienated and had actually changed their divisive and dictatorial ways. It is what it is with the PLP and they will never change.

  6. ian says:

    This comes right out of a religious-based right wing handbook. Where are the protests over a lack of consultation? Where is the dismay over introducing legislation without warning? Where are the marches?
    Where is the condemnation over the denuding of individuals’ human rights?

  7. I'm you says:


    *Judgment of the Human Rights Court of Strasbourg -France*

    *Unanimously, the World Court of Human Rights has established, verbatim, that “there is no right to homosexual marriage.” The 47 judges of the 47 countries of the Council of Europe, which are members of the full Court of Strasbourg (the world’s most important human rights court), issued a statement of great relevance that has been surprisingly silenced by information progressivism and its area of ​​influence. In fact, unanimously, the 47 judges approved the ruling that “there is no right to homosexual marriage.” The sentence was based on a myriad of philosophical and anthropological considerations based on natural order, common sense, scientific reports and, of course, positive law. Within the latter, in particular, the judgment was based on Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is equivalent to the articles of human rights treaties, as in the case of 17 of the Pact of San José and nº 23 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In this historic but not disclosed, Resolution, the Court decided that the concept of family not only contemplates “the traditional concept of marriage, that is, the union of a man and a woman”, but also that they should not be imposed on governments to “obligation to open marriage to persons of the same sex”. As for the principle of non-discrimination, the Court also added that there is no discrimination, since “States are free to reserve marriage only to heterosexual couples.”*

    It is important and absolutely necessary to spread this kind of news because governments and sympathizers of such lobbies will not want people to know.

    • Casey says:

      This proposed legislation is not about homosexual marriage. It will impact immigration and much more. Essentially, it allows the department of immigration to make decisions without consideration of the Human Rights Act. After all the PLP instigated demonstrations in the past four years and their demands for bipartisan consultation and comprehensive immigration reform, it boggles the mind that the PLP Government would table this. Shame on them and shame on Walton Brown, just the latest in a long string of PLP hypocrites.

    • Mark says:

      That is cherry picking of the worst kind. You got that from the lifesitenews website that was started by the Campaign For Life Coalition, a Canadian lobbyist group that advocates for socially conservatives and opposing such things as abortion and same sex marriage. The judgment they are referring to did in fact say that Same Sex Marriage is not a human right but all the rights that come with marriage are and so they (ie. same sex couples) must be given the same rights but states don’t have to call it marriage.

      Its misstatements and overt lobbying like this that ruins our country. Please stick to your own opinions rather than trying to find websites that spread mistruths and lies to support your opinions.

      This is in fact the ratio of the case:

      “On 21 July 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously ruled in Oliari and Others vs Italy that Italy’s failure to provide any form of legal recognition for same-sex couples violated Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.”

      • PBanks says:

        Cheers, that quote from “Im you” did appear to be something out of a propaganda website.

    • Mark says:

      We should also be worried about the ironic fact that the hate groups and others like them are funded by foreign interest groups and get their talking points from websites like the one you just used.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Marriage may not, but equality under the law is. And marriage is a legal institution, thus is subject to equality under the law

  8. Say Whaaat says:

    So because the bill wants to put Bermudians first HRC has an issue?!? Why is it that they stick up for foreigners but they don’t care about Bermudians? This is nonsense and the HRC should be ashamed of themselves.

    There is nothing wrong with giving Bermudians first preference in their own country! Try to do this mess in the USA.

    • Politricks says:

      Yeah, the HRC should be ashamed for defending ALL human rights and for speaking against out against the dilution of our Human Rights Act.

      Not a clue as to how fascist you sound and are becoming.

      Scary stuff indeed.

    • Mark says:

      that’s not the issue because Bermudians already have that protection under the law – certain parts of the BIPA are already exempt such as the part that allows employers to choose Bermudians over foreigners and not breach the HRA. The point is that they are seeking to take a sledgehammer to human rights protection under the guise of “Bermudians First”. Well, this Bermudian is not going to let them trample human rights in my country and Bermudians that let them have a carte blanche based on their own baises should be ashamed. Wake up.

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      So why haven’t menial jobs like cleaners, servers, workers at buzz, etc been taken over by Bermudians?! I’ll wait…

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      This bill does nothing to enhance to promote Bermudians first, it does nothing to support the already robust policies that are in effect. It will not protect Bermudian jobs, having primacy over the Human Rights Act, it will only weaken the purpose of the Human Rights Act, which is to ensure minorities can never again be subjected to immoral and discriminating laws and actions. Over 400 years of Bermudian history highlights the importance of such protection, and if you haven’t learned that…

  9. Say Whaaat says:

    Remember the British UK officer who didn’t get the promotion because his contract was up and he was not Bermudian? They are trying to do this more. HRC won’t be happy until Bermuda is like Cayman with foreigners being the majority of workers in Bermuda.

    • Mark says:

      Nope. Missed the point again. HRC wont be happy until human rights are respected and protected for ALL not just a select few. Do you understand that? I wont be happy until bigoted and racist fools like you leave my generation to it. Bye

    • Happy says:

      They basically “slow walked” him for 6 months til his permit ran out saying it was administrative and they would promote him once they renewed his permit. In the meantime they promoted 5 officers who scored lower than he did ahead of him. Then they told him his permit was up and he had to leave.

  10. Joe Bloggs says:

    “It is therefore reckless to undermine the Human Rights Act or have it portrayed as either a tool to be manipulated, or for manipulation. Steps to reduce the effectiveness of the Act should invoke thorough examination before being enacted and should only be taken in rare cases.”

    I could not agree more. Thank you to the Human Rights Commission, which sees all of us as human, no matter our race, place of origin, sexual orientation or other deviation from “the norm” (whatever that may be).

  11. Jiminy Cricket says:

    Why is there primacy of the Human Rights Act at all? I agree that it is important but so are many other concerns. Its seems that we just prima facie believe this. Maybe a more holistic view of the world and that Human rights are part of this view point rather than the bedrock of all existence.

    • Mark says:

      See history of the world until www2 and civil rights movements.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      If you don’t understand why primacy of the HRA is so critical, then you haven’t learned anything from the lessons of slavery, WWII, civil rights… and on of everytime a majority has sought to impose their beliefs on a minority, over the principles of legal equality to life and liberty.

  12. jaden says:

    our dictatorship government will plough on in the so called name of the people and are clueless bunch of oppressors man up and come out of the closets you lot we see who u are

  13. CT says:

    As some have pointed out, national origin is already protected by our Constitution, as is race and a few other characteristics. Gender, mental health, etc are NOT and are only protected under the HRA here. So, what the govt is actually doing is removing the ability of either GENDER to challenge BIPA on the basis of the HRA. Interestingly, it was largely the HRA’s protections against discrimination on the basis of gender that permitted Rev Tweed to be exempt from a work permit since he is still married (but estranged) from his Bermudian wife (husbands were discriminated against but wives were not under BIPA). And the PLP wants to change this?

  14. Rhonda says:

    What are the human rights of legally born Bermudian?

    I recalling hearing there’s no such rights.

    • Politricks says:

      That’s because they are inherent and none are in threat of being taken away or diluted. Stop deflecting from your Party’s attempt to erode universally accepted human rights to fulfill their and yours ingrained xenophobia.

  15. Rocky5 says:

    PLP will likely remove all current Human Rights Commissioners and appoint a completely new “hand-picked/compliant” Commission in Jan. 2018.

  16. Standing for Truth says:

    Rocky5 as they should because the individuals that are there now are gatekeepers of the status quo