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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
Bermuda citizenship, being Bermudian, is effectively in two parts. One is to be a British Overseas Territory member, meaning that all who are Bermudians by both birth and Bermudian parentage are British Overseas Territory citizens. This is under British UK law, not Bermuda laws. As it affects persons born in Bermuda neither of whose parents are Bermudian, it merely confirms where they were born but does not give them citizenship. The other part, where Bermuda laws step in, is that both parents or one qualifying parent of a child born in Bermuda must also be Bermudian by birth and descent, including having other family members born in Bermuda - or by formal award of Bermuda status awarded by the Bermuda Government, for the child to claim local citizenship as a Bermudian. This is covered under Bermuda laws (see references to "Acts" below) and is what Bermuda citizenship means.
This means that all persons born in Bermuda at (former) Bermuda-based American or Canadian or British UK military bases, which at the time were respectively and legally American or Canadian or British UK military property, assumed their nationality at birth, not Bermuda's, unless a parent was Bermudian.
Citizenship cannot be bought nor can it be bestowed under any circumstances other than those described above and below.
Many British United Kingdom nationals and British Overseas Territory members live and work in Bermuda. Most are welcome but all are treated as foreigners. Britons - those from Great Britain or non-Bermudian British Overseas Territory members - do not have the same freedoms here in residing and working without restrictions as they have in Great Britain, Ireland and rest of the European Economic Community. Britons visiting Bermuda on business or vacation or as professional newcomers, and non-Bermudian citizens of other countries, cannot get Bermuda citizenship or vote or buy real estate at the same price as Bermudians - unless they both marry Bermudians (see below) and wait 10 years. Any children born here to non-Bermudians are not Bermudian unless one qualifying parent is Bermudian, so they cannot apply for any local scholarships or grants for further education abroad (but many have, as non-citizens, been conscripted illegally into the Bermuda Regiment), or work without a Work Permit, or operate their own business in Bermuda, or reside without an appropriate residential certificate, or buy any property except the top 5% in market and assessment valuation.
Many Bermudians do not regard themselves as British - despite this being their only official nationality - but as Bermudian.
The Bermuda Government-mandated Acts concerned include:
Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956
Bermudian Status Register Act 1992
Bermudian Status By Birth Or Grant Register Amendment Act 1993
Bermudian Status By Birth Or Grant Register Act Commencement Day Notice 1993
Bermuda Immigration And Protection Amendment Act 1993
Bermuda Immigration And Protection Amendment Act 1994
Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2000
Bermuda Immigration And Protection Amendment Act 2002
Bermuda Immigration & Protection Amendment Act 2007
Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Designation of Eligible Condominium Units) Regulations 2007
Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Rental and Use) Regulations 2007.
Without Bermuda Status (local citizenship), persons also cannot buy any real estate as Bermudians can if they can afford it but are limited to the top 5 percent of property in assessed value and a particular kind and type of property only and must pay a substantial purchase tax on top of other taxes; cannot obtain any local scholarships from any organization; if of employable age are not allowed to take any employment but are limited to the kind of employment on a Work Permit approved by the Immigration authority of the Bermuda Government; and may not under any circumstances be an executor or executrix of any Bermudian-owned property not in the top 5% of Annual Rental Value. Moreover, any non-Bermudian spouses of Bermudians, who have not been living in Bermuda for more than 10 years with their Bermudian spouses, are not allowed under the 2007 Act to own or partially own as part of spousal rights or to be bequeathed in part or in whole any Bermudian homes or land. The attorneys of testators or legatees are required to tell them this and would-be executors are expected to know this. Non-Bermudians, including those deemed to no longer hold Bermuda Status, may only be executors of Bermuda property which is presently in non-Bermudian hands and as such is in the top 5% in Annual Rental Value. Nor are they - or any other non-Bermudian - allowed to be sole owners of a business in the local marketplace. They are not allowed, as non-Bermudians, or are no longer deemed to be Bermudians, to hold shares in Bermudian companies as Bermudians. They are prohibited from employing any ruse that will enable them to overcome this restriction. If they were once but are no longer Bermudian by Status and hold any Bermudian companies' shares in their names or on behalf of their mother or father or siblings - it is their legal responsibility to declare these to the companies concerned and as required by Bermuda Immigration to divest themselves of these holdings. All Bermudian companies are required by law to keep an exact and up-to-date register of Bermudian and non-Bermudian shareholders and to ensure that at least 60% are registered as Bermudian shareholders.
Many parents and grown children have been on restrictive Work Permits for more than 20 years. If as expatriates they marry a Bermudian spouse, they must wait for 10 years to get Bermudian status and pay a hefty fee. In contrast, Bermudians can apply for a UK passport, get full United Kingdom and European citizenship immediately they get the passport and live, work, vote and buy any property they wish there. This one-sided arrangement was a British Government decision taken without any referendum from the British people.
For decades now, it has not been sufficient for persons born in Bermuda to be regarded as Bermudian, unless one parent is also Bermudian (which does not include having Long Term Residency). Elsewhere, such as in the USA, Canada and UK, citizenship applies automatically to all children born there. But not in Bermuda - automatic citizenship does NOT apply to all children born here. Children born in Bermuda, without either parent being Bermudian by birth or status at the time, are not Bermudian unless they got Bermudian status and a Certificate to prove this in their own names and in writing in the period in the 1950s through 1991. Prior to 1991 - but no longer - a limited number of persons not born in Bermuda. or with parents not born in Bermuda, and without Bermuda spouses were given Bermuda Status in writing. Technically, it is the equivalent of full citizenship by law, while one lives in Bermuda. But it has term limits and persons once given Bermuda Status hare deemed to have lost it after more than the stipulated length of time living and working abroad.
Under Bermuda law, the only people who are irrevocably Bermudian are those born here with at least one Bermudian parent who was born in Bermuda. Those persons born in Bermuda with a Bermudian parent don't lose it - and some persons born to a Bermudian parent in Canada or USA - such as the Hon. Paula Cox (born in Canada), or last children of the late Hon. Frederick Wade (born in USA), or a daughter of Dame Lois Browne-Evans (born in USA), may not lose it either, depending on the laws of their country of residence, or when/if dual nationality is permitted . In the democratic countries beyond Bermuda, citizenship once given cannot be revoked unless at the particular request of the applicant.
Those not born here from a Bermuda-born parent must have received Bermudian Status officially before 1991 (no longer issued except in the special cases to spouses and children of Bermudians) by virtue of residence up to that time. If, after getting a Certificate of Bermuda Status, they have spent more than a certain number of years (believed to be a maximum of 7) living and working away from Bermuda, their conditional Bermudian Status or citizenship is deemed to be revoked, even if they visit Bermuda on holiday (vacation) after that expired time.
Adult Bermudians not born in Bermuda of a Bermudian-born parent, or born in Bermuda from a parent or parents not born in Bermuda, or born abroad to a Bermudian will only be regarded as Bermudian if (a) they are on the registered voters list; (b) are on the Register of Bermudians; and (c) - like all Bermuda-born persons who have at least one Bermudian parent - if they have a Bermuda or British-UK passport which includes a stamp certifying they hold Bermuda status.
It is technically possible for someone not Bermudian to get a Bermuda passport, but it does not make them Bermudian. In most other countries, persons of good character who wish to become citizens can do so after 2-5 years, do not need a qualifying local connection; can buy any real estate they wish, at any price; and do not have to be a particular age.
See the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act. In contrast, some non-Bermudian residents with unblemished continuous residence have been there for periods exceeding 20 and 30 years yet have not been given citizenship. It means they are not allowed to vote, or to register to vote, in any election after they become 18 years old, even when they have been model residents for years. Those in this category are mostly from the USA, Britain, Canada, Caribbean and Europe, but some are from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and elsewhere. Without citizenship, persons also cannot buy any real estate as Bermudians can if they can afford it; are limited to the top 5 percent of property in assessed value and a particular kind and type of property only and must pay a substantial purchase tax on top of other taxes; cannot obtain any local scholarships from any organization; if of employable age are not allowed to take any employment but are limited to the kind of employment on a Work Permit approved by the Immigration authority of the Bermuda Government; and may not under any circumstances be an executor or executrix of any Bermudian-owned property not in the top 5% of Annual Rental Value. Their attorneys are required to tell them this and would-be executors are expected to know this. They should also check with the Bermuda Government to see if it is permitted or not for them to benefit in any way financially from any Bermudian-held estate. They may only be executors of Bermuda property which is presently in non-Bermudian hands and as such is in the top 5% in Annual Rental Value. Nor are they - or any other non-Bermudian - allowed to be sole owners of a business in the local marketplace.
They are are not allowed, as non-Bermudians, to hold shares in Bermudian companies as Bermudians.
They are prohibited from employing any ruse that will enable them to overcome this restriction. If they were once but are no longer Bermudian by Status and hold any Bermudian companies' shares in their names or on behalf of their mother or father or siblings - it is their legal responsibility to declare these to the companies concerned and if required by Bermuda Immigration to divest themselves of these holdings as all Bermudian companies are required by law to keep an exact and up-to-date register of Bermudian and non-Bermudian shareholders and to ensure that at least 60% are registered as Bermudian shareholders.
In contrast, see:
2019. February 12. A court ruling that cleared non-Bermudian “belongers” to compete in sport for the island affected “a tiny fraction” of youth athletes, a top lawyer said. Peter Sanderson, who has handled cases involving people found to be belongers to Bermuda under the Constitution, added: “Maybe people didn’t appreciate how few people this is — it boils down to probably a couple of dozen children.” Mr Sanderson was speaking after Alia Atkinson, a Jamaican Olympic swimmer, said on a visit to Bermuda to run a clinic that the ambiguous status of some Bermuda residents was “heart-wrenching”. Narinder Hargun, the Chief Justice, ruled last December that two people “belonging to Bermuda” as children of naturalized British Overseas Territories Citizens had the same right to compete in sports events as “a citizen and/or national under Bermuda law”. The Chief Justice wrote: “In my judgment, Bermuda law affords a large measure of equality to the concepts of Bermuda status and belonging to Bermuda.” Belongers cover a mix of categories that Mr Sanderson said reflected the make-up of the island. It included naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens, as well as the spouses of Bermudians and British Overseas Territory citizens and holders of permanent resident’s certificates. Mr Sanderson said, in terms of young people eligible to compete in sport, belongers represented perhaps “one in 20 of the number of Bermudian children” He added: “Out of that, how many of them are in a sport? It’s a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction.” Mr Sanderson, who is the head of litigation at Benedek Lewin Ltd, said that Bermudians should not feel disadvantaged at having to compete against belongers, who could hold multiple citizenship. He added: “The suggestion that belongers can represent two countries, whereas Bermudians cannot, is false. All Bermudians born in Bermuda have British nationality in addition to British Overseas Territory citizenship — they are eligible to represent the UK in sporting events if they so choose and are selected to do so.” Mr Sanderson added: “There are also many, many Bermudians who have a third nationality through a parent — commonly American, Jamaican, Canadian or Portuguese, among others. I understand there are Bermudian athletes who have opted to compete for other countries in the past. Ultimately though, sports federations do not allow dual-national athletes to hop back and forth between nationalities. You have to stick with one or the other.” Mr Sanderson said the Chief Justice’s ruling involved the Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association, but set a precedent that could affect other sports. He added: “It’s not binding on the other sports bodies, but they should be able to see what the law is. The court has ruled on what the situation is. If other sporting bodies choose not to follow it, then they could themselves face legal action.” Mr Sanderson admitted that long-term residents and belongers obtaining Bermuda status was “contentious”. Days of demonstrations shut down Parliament when the former One Bermuda Alliance administration attempted to table Pathways to Status legislation in March 2016. The legislation was designed to make it easier for long-term residents to gain permanent residency and status. The Bill was withdrawn after the protests for a review intended to lead to comprehensive immigration reform. Wayne Caines, the national security minister, is responsible for immigration under the ruling Progressive Labour Party government. He said last month that he expected “key elements” of reform to be debated and passed in the House of Assembly “before the end of July 2019”. Mr Sanderson said: “It’s understandable that there’s anxiety about it. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that just by being born here, you should get status. Everybody accepts that’s not enough. It seems accepted that you should be here for a significant time before becoming eligible. But these are people who are already here and have been here for a long time, so you’re not going to see a massive change in how Bermuda looks.” Mr Sanderson highlighted that “there was a pathway in place for children brought up here, until 2008 — up until 11 years ago, anybody born in Bermuda could apply for status once they turned 18”. He said: “It’s only in the past decade that we have not had a pathway to status for people born and brought up here. This is not the norm for Bermuda — it’s a problem that has been allowed to develop.” Mr Sanderson added that the section that allowed status in Bermuda’s immigration laws expired at the end of July 2008 and that “successive governments did nothing to fix it”. He said: “It seems people have forgotten that — a lot of people got status that way.” Mr Caines has not yet specified what sections of immigration law would be changed first. Mr Sanderson said: “Kids born or brought up here is an obvious one. The other would be adults who have been here for more than a certain number of years. By allowing the process to stall, it has put the courts in the unhappy position of having to enforce minimum constitutional standards. If the Government neglects that area, they end up losing control of the process. The best way for the Government to maintain control is to put forward workable reforms.”
2019. January 10. A young woman fined for doing unpaid work as a schoolgirl said last night she hoped the incident would inspire changes to immigration law. Ashley Aguiar, 22, who was born and brought up in Bermuda, said she was pleased the $5,000 fine for working without a permit was quashed by the Supreme Court. Ms Aguiar added: “I think this whole situation is an opportunity to talk about this issue. Something needs to come out of it because people are being put in this situation and I don’t think it’s fair.” The Chief Immigration Officer fined Ms Aguiar $5,000 in 2017 for working without a permit at Tranquil Hair and Beauty in the town of St George. But Chief Justice Narinder Hargun found that Ms Aguiar did not break the law because she was never paid and was there only to learn the trade. Ms Aguiar said her time at the salon began through an internship made possible by the Berkeley Institute. But an anonymous complaint was lodged against her on the basis that she did not have a work permit. She explained that her father has Permanent Resident’s Certificate B status, which meant she could not inherit Bermuda status from him. Ms Aguiar is considered a Portuguese citizen, even though she has only ever visited the country on holiday. Ms Aguiar said she was interviewed for “hours” after the complaint was made, but the fine was not imposed until more than two years later. She added: “Nothing was done for more than two years, then it just popped back up. “I had even called in the meantime to follow up on the situation. I wanted to put in my work-permit papers.” Ms Aguiar said she was stunned by the $5,000 fine, especially as her work experience was unpaid. She added her immigration position continued to be a problem, even after her victory in the courts. Ms Aguiar said: “I still cannot do anything. I can’t even leave Bermuda if I wanted to because even though I have put in for re-entry permission since I was 19 I haven’t received it.” The story of the successful appeal, published in The Royal Gazette on Tuesday, sparked fierce debate on the island’s immigration system. Many social-media commenters said they supported Ms Aguiar. Derek Jones wrote: “The law says if you’re not getting paid, it’s schooling. You can walk up to a chef and ask him or her to teach you how to cook. You can then take those skills and donate your time to go make dinner for a bunch of elderly people at Agape House to practise your skills. Afterward you can then go off to college and pick up a job working in a kitchen to help pay the school fees. All you have to do is ask someone if they’ll invest some time in you. Nothing illegal about that. Bermuda needs more internships and people willing to learn the skilled trades.” Kamathi Warner, however, objected to the court’s decision. He said: “What happens to persons who have Bermuda status by birth who can’t get these types of hookups or even any job? We’re lazy etc ... Stop usurping the role of the legislature, Supreme Court.” Mr Warner later started another Facebook post, which claimed he wanted advice on how to work in Portugal. Other posters pointed out that, as a British and EU citizen, he had an automatic right to live and work in Portugal without restriction and could acquire citizenship after just six years. Sarah Lorimer Turner said that people without Bermuda status needed a letter of permission to do unpaid volunteer work for charities. Linda Brown said that the policy was “dumb”. She added: “How about all the walkers/runners raising money for Bermudians? If we start asking everyone for a letter who will police all that? This is like PC-ness going too far.” Christopher Broadhurst said the story had highlighted a major immigration problem. He said: “The bigger tragedy is that Ashley was born and raised here and apparently still can’t call Bermuda her home — after 22 years.”
2019. January 8. A $5,000 fine served on a schoolgirl who got work experience as a hairdresser without a work permit has been quashed by the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Narinder Hargun ruled that the Chief Immigration Officer was wrong to penalize Ashley Aguiar for working unpaid in Tranquil Hair and Beauty in St George’s without a work permit. Mr Justice Hargun said that the youngster, a lifelong Bermuda resident, but who did not have Bermudian status, was not employed or paid by the salon and was there to learn the trade. Ms Aguiar told The Royal Gazette: “I am happy with the outcome and truly believe the right thing has been done. Mr Justice Hargun said in his ruling: “The crucial fact in this regard is that Ms Aguiar was not engaged in the ordinary business of a hairstylist but was limited to the activities undertaken in order to gain practical experience. An essential feature of this arrangement was that it was carried out without ‘reward, profit or gain’.” Ms Aguiar was fined in November 2017 after the immigration department found she was in breach of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act. Officials said that she had broken the law “notwithstanding that no reward, profit or gain may be obtained or obtainable in the circumstances of the particular case”. At the time she was a Berkeley Institute pupil who wanted to become a hairdresser. The court heard that the girl was allowed to go to the salon by its owner to help her career ambition. Ms Aguiar also helped to style the hair of her family and boyfriend on a “non-commercial basis”. Peter Sanderson, representing Ms Aguiar, argued his client’s work at the salon was limited to styling the hair of family members and work at charitable events, which did not amount to gainful occupation. He added that — even if there had been a breach of the law — the $5,000 penalty was “unreasonable and disproportionate”. Mr Justice Hargun said in his written judgment last November: “The informal arrangement between the owner of the salon and Ms Aguiar does not amount to the relationship of an employer and employee. Likewise, this unstructured informal arrangement to obtain practical experience would not appear to amount to the practice of a ‘profession’; or ‘carry on any trade’ or ‘engage in local business’.” He added that, if immigration law had been broken, it was up to the Chief Immigration Officer to decide if a warning was appropriate. However, Mr Justice Hargun said that did not apply to Ms Aguiar’s case, as there was no breach of the law.
2018. November 6. The public have been kept in the dark about government plans for immigration reform, it was claimed yesterday. A spokeswoman for pressure group Supporting Fair Immigration Reform said the lack of progress was a broken promise by the Government. She added: “It has now been 12 months since the Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group submitted their report to the previous minister of immigration.” The spokeswoman said that Walton Brown, the former home affairs minister, who had responsibility for immigration, had promised legislation would be passed by February. But she said: “Since February, we have constantly questioned the ministry on progress since no meetings or interim reports have been released. The failure to communicate anything leaves us to assume that no milestones have been reached. We were advised in July that the committee was in the final stages of producing recommendations to be included in their document to be reviewed by Cabinet. Nothing further has been released to the public about immigration reform besides yet another promise of more information down the road.” The spokeswoman said that population growth was essential to the future of the island. She added: “With recent headlines concerning a declining birthrate, shrinking working population, and greater demand to be placed by seniors on pension funds, the need to grow our population is clear. It is in the interests of all Bermudians to have more people paying into our seniors’ social safety net and to ensure that future generations are protected.” Wayne Caines, the national security minister, took over responsibility for immigration from the home affairs ministry last week in a Cabinet shake-up. The spokeswoman said that Mr Caines had “a big role to fill” and that the public had “no knowledge about the current state of immigration reform”. She added that a simple solution would be to make it easier to obtain Bermudian status for long-term residents, “especially those that were born here or who have known no other home. These are people who have already demonstrated a commitment to Bermuda. They are already here and have contributed to our society. Many of these people also have immediate Bermudian family members and have grown up as a Bermudian.” Mr Caines said in a statement today: “It was the intention of this government to deliver legislation in February, however as a result of ongoing critical analysis by the Bi-Partisan Immigration Working Group, it was advised this be postponed to ensure delivery of comprehensive legislation that fully encompasses Bermuda’s needs. As the minister now responsible for immigration, moving this legislation forward is a priority for me. I will continue the good work of Mr Brown and put forward sound legislation that is in the best interest of all Bermuda.” Sylvan Richards, shadow home affairs minister, backed the group. He said: “It is clear that this issue is one of the business community’s main concerns and the extended delay in announcing any meaningful reform to immigration is only adding to the economic challenges this Government is facing. Additionally, it is unacceptable that so many local families are being left in limbo regarding their immigration status, and they deserve better.” Mr Richards added: “I am also concerned that moving the immigration department to the Ministry of National Security, which already encompasses a very large portfolio, will only add to the delay.” Mr Brown said last month that the Government was still working on comprehensive immigration reform. He added: “We have come to a position on a number of key issues involving mixed-status families and we will be unveiling that in due course, in the next few weeks.” Mr Brown said in July that he hoped legislation would be tabled by this month. Mr Caines said in a statement last night he had met with a range of industry stakeholders and immigration officials after taking on the responsibility for immigration. He said: “I made it clear in this meeting that my office is always open and available to meet with them to discuss any concerns they may have regarding any application process.” Mr Caines added: “The key point I spoke of is maintaining the delicate balance of ensuring transparency, fairness and a seamless process for expatriate workers while ensuring Bermudians are given the opportunity to grow and develop in local and international business. Bermuda will be a place where everyone has equal access to opportunity thus ensuring a co-operative relationship between businesses and Bermudians.”
2018. September 4. An immigration reform group said last night that its members had “mixed feelings” over a decision to grant British Overseas Territories citizenship to four Uighur Chinese men who have lived in Bermuda for nearly a decade. The statement from the pressure group came after the men, who were brought to Bermuda from the United States’ prison on its Guantánamo Bay base, in Cuba, in secret in 2009, had been made British Overseas Territories citizens. The move was announced by the home affairs ministry. The men had been captured in Afghanistan during the US invasion in 2001 and 2002 but were later deemed to not be a threat. Supporting Fair Immigration Reform said: “Some members are pleased with this news as these men can now travel. They were brought to Bermuda through no fault of their own and were promised citizenship but never received it. They now have achieved a major step to becoming naturalized.” But the group added: “They cannot receive Bermuda Status as there is no provision in our current immigration laws that would allow this.” The campaign group said that the decision was praised by some of its members, but that others were not pleased that the situation was “pushed to be resolved” faster than other immigration matters. A group spokesman said: “Currently, we have so many different classes of people in Bermuda. There are some that are given partial rights and some that have no rights. We have people that were born or came to Bermuda 20 to 25 years ago and have absolutely no rights. They are treated just like a dependant of a work permit holder until they no longer become a dependant. Once they are no longer a dependant they must either go back to where their parents came from or find somewhere else to live.” The group said that the ministry had advised in July that the Immigration Reform Group were in the final stages of creating recommendations to be in their document to be reviewed by Cabinet. But the spokesman added: “As of today, nothing further has been released to the public about immigration reform. We once again implore and urge the Government to fulfil its own stated promise of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform to correct the injustices and divisions that exist within many families in Bermuda.”
2018. August 28. Four Uighur refugees have been granted British Overseas Territory (But not Bermuda Status) citizenship nine years after a secret deal with the United States to give them asylum on the island. The move was welcomed by Ewart Brown, the former premier, who arranged their transfer to Bermuda. The home affairs ministry confirmed the former detainees at Guantánamo Bay have been made British Overseas Territory citizens. The decision, which made the men eligible for passports, ended years of uncertainty for the men, who have wives and children on the island. A home affairs spokeswoman said that there was “currently no legislation that would give them Bermudian status”. Abdullah Abdulqadir, Salahidin Abdulahat, Khalil Mamut and Abilikim Turahun, originally from Western China, were held by the US as suspected terrorists for seven years before they were cleared. They were given asylum in June 2009 by Dr Brown, then Premier, and Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, who was at the time the minister responsible for immigration. The US used the Cuban prison camp to hold 22 Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority whose members said they faced persecution by the Chinese Government. They were sent to new homes overseas once the American Government ruled that they were not “enemy combatants”. Dr Brown negotiated with the US Government to bring the four to the island, but never obtained the consent of Britain. The move angered Dr Brown’s colleagues and sparked a political firestorm. Dr Brown and Colonel Burch defended the decision on humanitarian grounds, but the four have been stateless since their arrival. Dr Brown said last night: “I feel, as I felt in the beginning, that this was part of doing the right thing — we did the right thing to give them safe haven, and now Government House has done the right thing by granting them their citizenship. Once I met these gentlemen, I observed that they are simply hard working and God fearing, and they deserved this. They deserved it a lot earlier. I don’t think there’s ever been a reasonable explanation as to why they did not receive their citizenship, but I’m really happy that they have.” Dr Brown added: “It has taken them longer than the time that they were in Guantánamo to get it.” The men will now hold the same rights as Bermudians, except the right to vote. Peter Sanderson, an immigration lawyer, said yesterday that the Uighurs and their families were now regarded as “belonging” to Bermuda. Naturalization will also cover their children up to the age of 18. Mr Sanderson said it was “unclear” what their children’s status would become after the age of 18 as the Bermuda Constitution sets a cut-off at that age for “belonging”. The Uighurs will also have the right to register as British citizens, which would allow them to live anywhere in the UK. The men have always maintained they had no terror links and left China for work. They have been housed in government property since their arrival and held construction and landscaping jobs. Mr Mamut told The Royal Gazette in 2013 that his young son had been unable to fly overseas for medical treatment because he had no passport. He added: “Since we have been here, the Bermuda Government and people of Bermuda have been so kind to us and so friendly. We have never been abused by people. I thank you all.” Richard Horseman, the lawyer for the four men, made repeated calls for their immigration status to be settled. He declined to discuss the case and the decision last night, but he added: “It’s been a long time coming.”
2018. May 15. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley made the wrong decision in the landmark Bermuda Bred case which gave same-sex partners the same rights to live and work on the island, the Court of Appeal has said in a written judgment. The Appeals Panel found that the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act had priority over the Human Rights Act. Appeal Judge Geoffrey Bell said: “If it had been suggested to Parliament in 1981 that the effect of the Human Rights Act was to take precedence over the regulation of employment by the minister under the BIPA, the answer would have been swift and strong to say that was not Parliament’s intention.” He added the issue was now only one of “academic interest” due to the passing of the Bermuda Immigration (No 2) Act last year, which spelled out the primacy of the BIPA. The comments came as the Court of Appeal overturned a separate Supreme Court ruling, which was based in part on the Bermuda Bred case. In the Bermuda Bred case, Mr Justice Kawaley ruled that same-sex partners of Bermudians have the same right to live and work in Bermuda as spouses of Bermudians. The ruling was based on the view that the Human Rights Act had primacy over immigration law. The Bermuda Bred case was quoted in the later Godwin-DeRoche case which paved the for the introduction of same-sex marriage in Bermuda. In the present case, Marco and Paula Tavares, long-term Bermuda residents, had applied for indefinite permission to work in Bermuda but were refused. Ms Tavares is a British Overseas Territories citizen born in Bermuda and Mr Tavares her husband. Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman earlier found the minister had unlawfully discriminated against Ms Tavares by treating her less favorably than someone whose parents had Bermudian status. The Minister of Home Affairs, the Governor and the Attorney-General’s Chambers argued the island’s immigration legislation has primacy over the Human Rights Act — contrary to the ruling in the Bermuda Bred case. All three members of the panel backed the appeal. They found in a judgment handed down on April 20 that the Chief Justice had erred in the Bermuda Bred ruling Mr Justice Bell said: “The HRA does not operate so as to render the provisions of the BIPA subject to the discrimination provisions of the HRA. To hold otherwise would, in my view, be to ignore the fact that the Constitution expressly recognized the need to discriminate against persons who do not belong to Bermuda in the regulation of employment.” Fellow appeals judge Sir Christopher Clarke supported Mr Justice Bell’s ruling and said immigration legislation was “inherently discriminatory”. He said: “If the regulation of engagement in gainful occupation of non-Bermudians is to be regarded as the provision of a service by the ministry, I find it difficult to see why the regulation of entry into, and of stay and residence within, Bermuda are not also the provision of such a service. By this logic it would be unlawful to refuse to allow a non-Bermudian with no links whatever with Bermuda to enter, remain and work in Bermuda. To do so would be direct discrimination. The UK citizen would be at liberty to come, reside, and work in Bermuda without restriction, in company with the citizens of any other state.” Sir Scott Baker added he was unable to avoid the conclusion that the Supreme Court had been incorrect in its decision. He said: “The minister, in exercising his powers through an immigration officer under section 60 of the BIPA, is quite simply not supplying goods, facilities or services.”
2018. May 1. The Ministry of Home Affairs is to release interim reports concerning immigration reform, it was announced yesterday. A spokeswoman said public meetings would also be held as “specific milestones” were reached. It came after pressure group Supporting Fair Immigration Reform warned that the island could face problems similar to those in Britain over the Windrush generation — people who moved there after the Second World War and were named after the first emigrant ship to arrive from the Caribbean in 1948. Migrants and their descendants were threatened with deportation from Britain this year after they were told they were in the country illegally because of a lack of paperwork. The ministry spokeswoman said: “The Ministry of Home Affairs will be issuing interim reports on progress with regards to immigration reform, in addition to holding public meetings as we reach specific milestones.” The spokeswoman said the committee was using a report released last year by the Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group as it continued to recommend reforms of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act and its relevant policies. The report set out principles and made recommendations relating to mixed-status families, permanent-resident certificates and Bermudian status. The spokeswoman said: “It should be noted that the bipartisan committee on immigration reform are looking at a much broader set of issues regarding immigration reform such as work permit legislation and policies, land ownership and establishing key definitions such as ‘domicile’ and ‘ordinary residence’.” She added that the committee, made up of home affairs minister Walton Brown, Progressive Labour Party MPs Renée Ming and Christopher Famous and One Bermuda Alliance MPs Leah Scott and Ben Smith, had met regularly “to move this work forward”. The spokeswoman said: “Immigration involves a wide range of issues and will not be resolved in one fell swoop. Therefore, because of the complexity of immigration issues, the public will have the opportunity to review those issues in a series of interim reports.”
2018. April 26. A pressure group has called on the Government to continue its work to reform Bermuda’s immigration laws. Supporting Fair Immigration Reform warned that the island could face problems similar to those in Britain over the Windrush generation — a group of people who emigrated there after the Second World War and were named after the first ship to arrive from the Caribbean in 1948. The warning came after the British Government said it would grant citizenship to people who emigrated from Commonwealth countries from the late 1940s to the 1970s. Migrants and their descendants were faced with deportation this year after they were told they were in Britain illegally because of a lack of paperwork. A spokesman for Supporting Fair Immigration Reform said: “If we sympathize with those people, why can’t we sympathize with those people who are in the same situation here in Bermuda? We currently have families where different members have a different immigration status. If nothing is done, immigration will divide families in Bermuda.” The group, which has about 2,500 members, added: “We applaud the UK Government for the action that they have taken to correct this injustice. As we all know, immigration is a very sensitive and serious topic in Bermuda. No one agrees that the current immigration laws are reasonable and sustainable. If we do not find a solution to resolve our immigration problems, Bermuda will eventually have its own Windrush generation situation on its hands. We agree wholeheartedly with the need to protect Bermuda for Bermudians. However, as we have always said, this should extend to persons who are thoroughly Bermudian in their hearts and who know no other home than Bermuda, but for whom the law has failed to make provision. We once again implore and urge the Government to continue to work on completing comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform to correct the injustices and divisions that it has created within families.” The group pointed to people who were born in, or came to, Bermuda 20 to 25 years ago but were not allowed to stay when they came of age. “They are Bermudian in every sense of the word — except when it comes to their rights to call Bermuda home. It is harsh to tell these people ‘go back home’ when this is where they grew up.” The group referred to comments by Progressive Labour Party MP Christopher Famous in ZBM’s evening news on Friday. Mr Famous said the UK should do the “right thing” and provide British citizenship to those descendants of the Windrush generation. The group also raised the issue of “belongers” — people who “belong to Bermuda” and hold a Bermudian passport but cannot vote. “Does this sound fair? How can someone who is not Bermudian have a Bermuda passport? Shouldn’t that come with all the rights and privileges of becoming a Bermudian?” The Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group was set up to review and propose amendments to the Bermuda Immigration Act in 2016. The group was created in the wake of protests sparked by the Pathways to Status immigration proposals by the former One Bermuda Alliance government. The working group released a report in November last year after 18 months of discussion and public consultations designed to help lay out guiding principles for new immigration policies covering mixed-status families, permanent resident’s certificates and Bermuda status. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, was to examine the report alongside a bipartisan committee on immigration reform. Mr Brown said at the time that he hoped new legislation would be brought to Parliament as early as February.
2017. November 6. Two people who claimed Bermuda status had their appeals dismissed by Supreme Court. Luis Corria and Carly McQueen both made separate applications for status, but were refused by the Minister of Home Affairs and the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. Both argued that the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act only required that they had enjoyed Bermuda status “at any time” in the previous ten years. But the Attorney-General’s Chambers argued that the law required them to have enjoyed the status throughout the ten-year period. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, in a written judgment issued last week, said the dispute was based on the specific wording of the legislation. Immigration law says that a person can apply for status if they are a Commonwealth citizen, have lived on the island for ten years before the application and have a “qualified Bermuda connection”. Peter Sanderson, representing the applicants, told the court there was an “inconsistency” in the Act because a section used the phrase “at any time”. But Phil Perinchief, from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, told the court the Act’s wording was “plain as a pikestaff”. The judgment said: “There is an ambiguity, Mr Sanderson argued, and that ambiguity ought to be resolved in favour of the appellants and in conformity with their international treaty rights.” But it added: “Mr Sanderson’s argument, rigorously scrutinized, entailed inviting the court to prefer an overly loose and liberal construction of the statutory language over the natural and ordinary meaning of the words in their context.” Mr Justice Kawaley found against the applicants on the grounds that the legislation was clear. He wrote: “The language of the relevant statutory words in their context is far too clear for their natural and ordinary meaning to be displaced by abstract speculation.”
2017. November 1. A report on immigration reform has been handed over to Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, after more than 18 months of deliberations by an independent working group. Mr Brown said he hoped to table legislation as early as February after reviewing the group’s findings — although he conceded that might be “optimistic”. The team, led by chairman William Madeiros, examined the case of mixed status families, permanent resident’s certificates, and Bermuda status. The group was formed as a result of the immigration reform protests which brought Bermuda to a standstill in March 2016. Mr Brown pledged swift movement on the group’s findings. “We will not allow the report to lay around without action as soon as we possibly can,” Mr Brown said. Mr Madeiros said that “the people of Bermuda can take comfort knowing that the contents of this report enjoyed the full consensus support of our group, without dispute”. It was prepared with “collaboration, soul searching, and most importantly, open consultation with all the people of Bermuda”, he added, noting that immigration was “one of the single most challenging topics that any country can deal with”. The media will be provided with copies of the report after 24 hours, the chairman added.
2017. October 21. Immigration legislation to “protect Bermuda for Bermudians” was passed in the House of Assembly last night despite vocal opposition. The new laws give the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act priority over the Human Rights Act. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the Bill would protect Bermuda for Bermudians but the Opposition expressed concerns about the lack of consultation. The Bill was introduced after a May 2014 Supreme Court ruling that enabled certain holders of a permanent resident’s certificate to apply for status. Mr Brown said the intention of the Bill was to “restore the primacy the [Bermuda Immigration and Protection] Act once enjoyed” and ensure that “Bermudians come first”. He told the House that Bermudians continued to be the most economically disadvantaged in terms of unemployment, salary, and total jobs filled, according to statistics in the Labour Force Survey 2015. “If the court ruling prevails, hundreds could work here without the minister’s permission,” he said. “It is for governments to pass laws not the courts. The court’s job is to interpret law. Only a weak government lets the courts decide.” On a point of order, Trevor Moniz took issue with Mr Brown’s assertion that other countries operated with the same restrictions as the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act. “The European Convention gives rights through citizenship — it is standard practice,” he said. But Mr Brown highlighted that there were special considerations for smaller countries and that Britain was currently trying to decide its position on immigration control as part of the Brexit process. Mr Moniz accused Mr Brown of lack of “broad consultation” over the Bill, which Mr Brown has consistently said was imperative for comprehensive immigration reform. He said he believed that the court ruling had prompted a “panicked” tabling of the Bill and that if he truly wanted broad consultation he should wait for the Immigration Working Group, which Mr Brown had originally been a part of, to deliver its findings on October 31. Mr Brown said he had consulted with the Human Rights Commission but Mr Moniz maintained that was not considered “broad consultation”. Mr Brown told the House that he had been an advocate for human rights for more than 30 years and defended his party’s stance on human rights, making the point that it was the Progressive Labour Party that had extended rights to permanent residents in the first place. Mr Moniz joked that Mr Brown “deserved a little statue” for his show of “self righteousness. We are talking about people who were born here, we’re not talking about strangers,” Mr Moniz said. Mr Brown estimated that it might take a year for full reform to take place but due to “harrowing stories of people marginalized and people in limbo” he would deal with the issue of PRC holders and status as a matter of urgency, while the reforms would come later. Mr Brown also said it was important to distinguish between human rights and privilege. During the debate Michael Scott, PLP backbencher, said the move was of public importance, calling it a response to “judicial activism”. He said: “It’s a matter of public importance. It’s a matter that’s essential.” Meanwhile, Walter Roban, Deputy Premier, said that legal actions had “pulled the rug” out from under laws protecting Bermudians. “The protections that underpin the law have been weakened and the sense of stability and security is at risk,” Mr Roban said. “We have to bring stability to the current situation so we can bring about the rational change. However, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Opposition Leader, said that the Government’s handling of the Bill had caused public anxiety. She called on the Government to hold the Bill until the end of the month so consultation could take place. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “I think there’s nothing wrong with ensuring that you are not using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.” Grant Gibbons supported the intention of the Bill. He said: “There probably is mischief that needs to be addressed but there may be a more targeted approach rather than sweeping aside the Human Rights Act.” However, David Burt, the Premier, said the OBA objected to the Bill because it was the death of Pathways to Status. “What this Bill represents to them is the end of their dream of Pathways to Status through the back door,” Mr Burt said. “That’s what they are trying to do.”
2017. October 20. New legislation giving the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act priority over the Human Rights Act will be debated in the House of Assembly today. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, has said the move “will not take away from anyone’s fundamental human rights”. Mr Brown also told The Royal Gazette that the Bill was not aimed at eliminating the May 2014 Supreme Court ruling that enabled certain holders of a permanent resident’s certificate to apply for status. The remarks came as the minister delivered an “impromptu” press conference in the wake of what Mr Brown described as a “litany of comments” about the intent of the legislation. Mr Brown further stated that the legislation was separate from the business of the immigration working group, which will end its deliberations this month. He added the proposed legislation, which drew criticism from the Human Rights Commission, among others, was designed to “bring back into law processes and practices that go back more than 40 years”. Brown mentioned the Paula Tavares case, in which a woman born in Bermuda to non-Bermudian parents won a judicial review over a rejected application to work on the island without restriction. Mr Brown said that recent decisions by the courts had combined the questions of “what is a function of government and what is a service”? He added: “It opens the door for literally thousands of people to make that claim to a backdrop of high unemployment.” Mr Brown said that The Human Rights Commission will be a member of a bipartisan immigration reform group due to start work next month.
2017. October 19. The Human Rights Commission has been invited to make submissions over controversial amendments to immigration legislation. The HRC and home affairs minister Walton Brown released a joint statement yesterday, in which they said they had held “candid and constructive” talks over Mr Brown’s plan to make immigration regulations lawful even if they contradict the Human Rights Act. Mr Brown said he is committed to accepting submissions on future amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act, while the HRC welcomed an invitation for one of its commissioners to join the Immigration Reform Committee. The minister has previously said the amendments are designed to protect Bermudians and to block court challenges over Bermuda status from non-Bermudians who can argue that immigration law has discriminated against them based on their country of origin. The HRC had argued it was “reckless” to undermine the Human Rights Act, or have it portrayed as a tool for manipulation. Mr Brown and the HRC said of their meeting: “The discussion was candid and constructive. The minister acknowledged the HRC’s fundamental concern at undermining the primacy of the Human Rights Act 1981 as a means of addressing immediate and necessary immigration reform. The minister, a human rights advocate, recognizes the Human Rights Act 1981 is not a tool to be manipulated, nor weakened, and laws should only be exempted from its primacy in a reasonable and balanced way. Equally, the HRC recognizes that Bermuda must have control over its immigration. However, that regulation should be exercised in a reasonable manner that upholds the principles afforded under national human rights legislation. In the interest of collaboration on human rights and immigration issues in the long term, the minister has invited a commissioner of the HRC to join the Immigration Reform Committee and the HRC has accepted this invitation. The minister is also committed to accepting submissions from the HRC and other interested parties on future amendments to the bill, or related recommendations. Both the HRC and the minister will seek to educate the public further on this very important issue and will be providing further information in the near future.”
2017. October 12. The Minister of Home Affairs has dismissed calls for withdrawing a new Bill giving priority to the Immigration and Protection Act over the Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Commission has branded government plans “reckless” and warned that watering down the supremacy of human rights legislation threatens the “shield” that protects international human rights standards and freedoms on the island. But Walton Brown told The Royal Gazette the Bermuda Immigration (No 2) Act did nothing to undermine the HRA and simply provided clarity to “what has been law and policy for decades”. He also revealed the Government would meet representatives from the HRC today after the adverse reaction to the Bill that was tabled in Parliament last Friday. “There is no compelling reason why the Bill should be withdrawn,” Mr Brown said. “Nothing we are doing is weakening the Human Rights Act. It has been clearly thought through and has passed through the various stages before it is presented to the House. We will debate it and I am confident it will pass.” Asked if he was surprised by the reaction to the legislation, Mr Brown replied: “I am used to it in political discourse; I look at laws that will make Bermuda a better place. I do not personalize issues. This is not about personalities.” The Government’s move is designed to prevent court challenges to immigration law by non-Bermudians claiming discrimination on the grounds of place of origin over rights of residence and Bermuda status. Mr Brown said: “The Bill makes clear what has been the law and policy for decades: that those who hold Bermuda status or a PRC have different rights in terms of employment to those who do not have Bermuda status or PRC. As someone who has been an advocate for human rights for 30 years, my track record should speak for itself. I am a strong proponent of rights in the HRA and believe they need to be broadened. We don’t have age discrimination and our Constitution is silent on the issue of gender discrimination. We have fundamental discrimination in Bermuda that needs to be addressed.” The HRC has condemned the Government for pushing ahead with the legislation without “proper consultation”, while warning that the HRA should not be portrayed as “either a tool to be manipulated, or for manipulation”. But Mr Brown countered the assertion saying: “We are not undermining human rights, we are strengthening the rights of Bermudians, while at the same time recognizing the human rights of people remain important. We have to recognize that Bermudians have fundamental rights in their country and these rights are in part protected by the Immigration and Protection Act. This country does not allow anyone to come in and buy land with no constraints, nor does it allow anyone to come in and work without a work permit; there are constraints on that. This is about the issues relating to immigration status, not the rights of women or a gay person, which are protected by the Human Rights Act. This is not immigration reform; this is bringing clarity to a specific area. There was consultation with the HRC and extensive dialogue but we disagreed on the way forward.”
2017. October 11. Bermuda’s civil liberties watchdog called on the Government to ditch “reckless” plans to undermine human rights laws yesterday. A spokeswoman for the Human Rights Commission warned that watering down the supremacy of human rights legislation over immigration law threatened the “shield” that protected international human rights standards and freedoms on the island. The government move is designed to block court challenges to immigration law by non-Bermudians claiming discrimination on the grounds of place of origin over rights of residence and Bermuda status. The spokeswoman said: “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.” The spokeswoman added: “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 spoke out after Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, tabled a Bill of amendments in the House of Assembly last Friday. Mr Brown told MPs the amendments would give the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act primacy over the Human Rights Act. When asked by The Royal Gazette why further consultation was not done on the piece of legislation, the ministry responded: “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.” The HRC spokeswoman said: “The HRC has not yet seen the draft Bill, and therefore cannot effectively address specific questions on the potential implications of the Bill.” But she added: “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 spokeswoman said the HRC was committed to engagement with the Government and had expressed its “urgent concern” over the proposals. She added: “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 urge 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 mineralized. The
2017. September 29. Members of a protest group almost shut down a public forum on immigration reform before the meeting could start last night, as the emotive topic of Bermudian status came up for discussion. Tempers flared as the Immigration Reform Working Group gathered with about 120 members of the public to solicit input for its final report. It was the group’s fourteenth meeting under three different ministers in the 18 months since it was appointed to review and propose amendments to the Bermuda Immigration Act 1956. Its ultimate findings are to be presented to Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, by October 31. The ten-person group was convened under chairman William Madeiros after the One Bermuda Alliance’s proposed Pathways to Status sparked days of protests in March 2016. Last night at Elliot Primary School, Mr Madeiros sparred with about a dozen members of the group Move Bermuda, which protested against the forum splitting into groups and repeatedly called out phrases such as “Bermuda first”. One member said: “If I get into a group, how do I know that what I have stated, and my concerns, are reflected in your final report?” Mr Madeiros eventually called for “a five-minute time-out” to calls of “This is our country”. The chairman returned to urge participants unhappy with the format of the meetings to make their concerns known to the minister. Other participants called for an end to the disruption, with one woman saying: “We want to hear what’s being said. I am Bermudian and I am as passionate as you are, but we are getting nowhere.” As group member Dennis Fagundo attempted to open the discussion on status, black-shirted members of Move Bermuda demanded to know if he was Bermudian, prompting fellow member Senator Crystal Caesar to cut in: “Be quiet or leave.” Mr Fagundo, who is Bermudian, dealt with the core question of the night as to whether long-term residents should eventually qualify as Bermudian, and how. “Right now, the only way that someone who is not Bermudian gets status is by marrying into it,” Mr Fagundo said. “It’s been fairly widely suggested there should be some mechanism, and it has been suggested by others that there should be no mechanism.” He added: “There may be a consensus or there could be completely diverse views. That’s what we have come for.” But Mr Madeiros again had to assert control, telling the more vocal members of the audience to “allow the group to continue its good work”. The meetings proceeded in small groups without incident, with Mr Madeiros later reporting: “We went on without any upset, and engaged in robust and frank discussions.” The chairman said he “completely understood” the intense sensitivity surrounding the vexed question of Bermudian status. Pathways to Status had included an avenue for permanent residency for 15-year residents of the island, which Michael Dunkley, then the Premier, conceded had provoked the most anger. The group has examined other issues such as status for children born in Bermuda, and cases of mixed-status families. The working group continues to solicit views, which can be sent via a drop box on the ground floor of the Government Administration Building on Parliament Street, or by e-mail to email@example.com.
2017. August 25. A new Immigration Act could be introduced next year to address inequities in the present system, according to Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs. Mr Brown also pledged that the new government would “explore with a level of urgency” how to resolve the complications linked to Bermudian passports being printed in the UK. He told The Royal Gazette that he would work to find a way for Bermudian passports to be printed on the island again. “The British are being obstinate and have taken away our ability to produce our own passports,” Mr Brown said. “This, in turn, has created a complication with the coding of these passports, which have been given GBR rather than BMU. This has created a challenge for Bermudians with a Bermuda passport trying to enter the US from outside Bermuda. Some have been told they are required to have the ESTA waiver. However, Bermudian status holders do not require an ESTA; so it is technically illegal for Bermuda status holders to even apply for an ESTA. Our goal is to get the Bermuda passports reprinted with the Bermuda code, and ultimately get the Bermuda passports printed in Bermuda again. Bringing back the code is the short-term remedy. Printing these passports in the UK also creates an unnecessary eight-week delay in getting your passport. We will explore with a level of urgency how this process can be brought back to Bermuda.” Mr Brown also stressed the importance of Bermuda having a voice as the UK pursues its Brexit agenda. He said: “The UK is moving forward to protect and pursue its interests, but those are the interest of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, not the Overseas Territories. Prime Minister May is putting the UK’s interests first and we need to ensure we have a seat to promote our interests.” During his first interview since taking the reins of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr Brown elaborated on how the new Progressive Labour Party would look to implement comprehensive immigration reform. He vowed that his party’s approach would be consultative and collaborative, and involve the creation of a bipartisan committee when the House of Assembly reconvenes on September 8. Mr Brown previously outlined how the existing Immigration Reform Working Group has been given a new mandate to recommend principles relating to mixed-status families: additional categories of Permanent Resident certificates and additional categories of Bermudian status. The group will produce a final report at the end of October, which will then be subjected to public consultation until the New Year. “We know at the end of the process not everyone will be happy,” he said. “I do not expect everyone to be happy, but I expect people to think it was a fair and just process. This is a very important issue which involves laws, rights and privileges that are fundamental. We have seen different interest groups and we have heard rhetoric on many sides; it is politically salient and volatile, so it is fundamentally important we get the right balance. The current work permit policy is being examined and being revised; some tweaks will be coming out imminently that involve security. We have already met with the musicians union to fix the policy which marginalized their ability to work. There are many things in the current immigration policy that are unbalanced and will be addressed. Policy changes are imminent, although some things are technical matters.” Mr Brown told The Royal Gazette: “Our long-term plan is to introduce an entirely new Immigration Act; many components of the old Act have been tinkered with over the decades which has proven problematic. We need a clear and simple framework. I would be frustrated if that took two years; I am inherently impatient and think one year should be more than enough time. But having said that we will still do intervening reforms; like the plight of families who have status but whose children are unable to get work permits. I don’t want to see policies that lead to the fragmentation of families.”
2017. August 17. A woman born in Bermuda to non-Bermudian parents has won a judicial review over a rejected application to work on the island without restriction. According to a ruling by Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman, the Minister of Home Affairs had discriminated against Paula Tavares on the ground of her national origin. The Supreme Court heard that Mrs Tavares was born in Bermuda in 1976, at which time she was considered a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth. She became a British Dependent Territories citizen in 1983 under the British Nationality Act 1981, and in 2002 she became classified as a British Overseas Territories citizen. If either of her parents had Bermudian status, the court heard she would also have had Bermudian status. While Mrs Tavares moved to the Azores when she was 10, she returned to Bermuda with her family three years later. She later pursued higher education in Portugal and the Azores, returning to the island in 2001 with her Portuguese husband. Since then, the couple have had two children who were born and brought up on the island. “Mrs Tavares would like to work,” the decision stated. “However, she states that her employment options are very limited because as matters stand she has to apply for a work permit.” While a March 2016 ruling in a separate Supreme Court case allowed Mrs Tavares permission to work without restrictions, the decision was partially overturned in the Court of Appeal last November. “Mrs Tavares belonged to Bermuda at common law but did not fall within any of the categories of belonged who were protected by the Constitution,” the court stated. “She therefore had to give up her job immediately.” Her lawyer, Peter Sanderson, wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs asking her to give Mrs Tavares specific permission to engage in employment without the imposition of conditions or limitations. That request was denied. The couple sought a judicial review of the decision, with Mr Sanderson arguing that Mrs Tavares had been discriminated against on the grounds of her national origin. “He relies upon the fact that Mrs Tavares is a BOT citizen by reason of her birth in Bermuda and is therefore a common law belonged in that Bermuda is the constitutional unit to which her citizenship relates; that Bermuda is her home and she has lived here almost all her life; and that the vast majority of persons possessing Bermudian status are also BOT citizens,” the judge wrote. “I agree.” The judge also agreed that the minister’s refusal unlawfully discriminated against Mrs Tavares on the ground of place of origin and treated her less favorably than someone at least one of whose parents possessed Bermudian status. The judge quashed the minister’s decision, remitting the matter to be reconsidered.
2017. July 30. New home affairs minister Walton Brown has pledged a “truly inclusive” consultation period before introducing immigration reform. The Immigration Reform Working Group has been tasked with producing a report by the end of October, Mr Brown said, based on the principles that Bermudians come first while the business sector is treated in a friendly manner that encourages growth. That will be followed by a three-month consultation period involving the public, the Opposition and stakeholder groups, before policy and legislation changes are finally proposed, the minister said in a statement. “We want to give the public a fair amount of time to consider the principles put forward by the working group as well as other issues related to immigration reform inclusive of the work permit policy,” Mr Brown said. “The question of immigration reform has been a challenging one, with many distinct groups affected by it. Our intention is to create a truly inclusive and collaborative approach to get the best fit for Bermuda. I look forward to an engaged public on this matter.” In the statement, Mr Brown announced that he is no longer a member of the working group, and has called on the remaining members to take a “principles first” approach. “All laws should be developed or based on sound principles,” he said. “That is why the creation of such principles must come before any amendments to legislation are made or even put forward. “The principles I want to see embraced when it comes to immigration reform are ones rooted in a sense of justice for all parties within the context of ‘Bermudians coming first’ while also maintaining a framework that will foster continued growth in the business sector, using a friendly and accommodating approach.” The group, formed in April last year following public anger over the One Bermuda Alliance government’s pathways to status proposal, had been tasked with proposing amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956. In a letter to the group’s members this week, the Mr Brown stated the terms of reference for the group would be to continue work on their survey to obtain “sound statistics” on mixed race families. The members are also tasked with “recommending the principles” of new policies in relation to mixed status families along with, if applicable, additional categories of Permanent Resident certificates or Bermudian status. “I would like to publicly thank the Immigration Reform Working Group for their participation over the past year,” Mr Brown added. “The group has worked really well together. Their input has been and continues to be invaluable. The work to this point will certainly go a long way in accomplishing the reform of the Immigration Act.”
2016. September 22. The Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group will hold its next meeting at the Berkeley Institute on Wednesday, September 28. The session, from 6pm to 8pm, will focus on mixed status families — with interested parties welcome to attend and share their opinions. Group chairman William Madeiros revealed that the meeting’s purpose was to “inform the public of important statistical information and clarify the definition of a mixed status family”. “During the last series of meetings, the public said they wanted more data in order to make informed decisions on this topic,” Mr Madeiros said. “We hope this information session will answer many questions that the public may have.” Submissions can be made by calling 500-4664, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the group’s drop box on the ground floor of the Government Administration Building on Parliament Street.
2016. August 16. Dozens of long-term residents requesting Bermudian citizenship have been left flummoxed by ongoing and unexplained processing delays. Last month, lawyer Peter Sanderson wrote to his 20-plus clients who are seeking status, advising that those kept waiting should contact the Ombudsman “who can be quite helpful in resolving delays”. All of the applicants have lived on the island for at least 27 years, some much longer, and most hold the Permanent Resident’s Certificate. Douglas Docherty, who applied in September 2014, claimed that the Government’s plodding, apathetic approach to the matter was “ridiculous”. Keith Musson said he was “curious” as to the status of his own application. He has also waited for almost two years, while his repeated requests for updates have been ignored. Permanent Resident’s Certificate holder Mr Docherty immigrated to Bermuda from Scotland in 1977 to join the police service, and has worked in the island’s pharmaceutical industry for the past 25 years. “My application is lying at the bottom of somebody’s tray somewhere with cobwebs on it — as are a lot of other people’s,” he said. “I think the Government doesn’t care. They’re waiting for us to drop dead.” Mr Docherty suggested that, although the “vast majority” of Bermudians did not want expatriates to acquire citizenship, he had the right to apply. “I’ve been here for 39 years, all of which time I’ve been renting, and I’m never in Britain anymore,” said the Glasgow native, who has a Bermudian ex-wife and no children. Mr Docherty said he was not considering taking legal action to force through his application, and that he refused to deal with immigration services as it would be a “waste of time. All I can do is wait and see. If I get it then I get it, if I don’t then I don’t,” he added. Mr Musson moved to Bermuda from England in 1979 and works in the printing industry. He holds PRC status, while his son was born on the island in 1988 and is a citizen. “I would like to become Bermudian as well. I feel Bermudian and I think I’m entitled to citizenship,” he said. “I’d like to vote and I may think about buying property.” After applying in October 2014, Mr Musson has found himself frozen out of proceedings. “In the past year, I’ve heard nothing at all from the immigration department,” he said. “I’ve sent various e-mails asking if they can update me, and whether there’s a problem. I’ve had no reply whatsoever.” Mr Musson said he was more surprised than frustrated by the laborious and opaque nature of the process. “I’m just curious why my application hasn’t come through yet, where it stands and why I haven’t been receiving updates,” he said. A Ministry of Home Affairs spokeswoman said that the concerns of residents awaiting citizenship approval had been noted. “The Ministry is committed to ensuring that applications of all kinds relating to personal services will be processed within a reasonable time without compromising quality, integrity and, most importantly, accuracy,” she added.
2016. July 18. Campaigners supporting the Bermuda Government’s Pathways legislation are calling for immigration talks to encompass those born on the island or who arrived at a young age. The We Support Pathways Facebook group is voicing concern at Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown’s suggestion that the topic would not be part of the next stage. Their statement comes ahead of a series of public meetings on mixed-status families, beginning today, organized by the Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group, which is examining immigration policy after protests sparked by the controversial Pathways to Status legislation. We Support Pathways welcomed last week’s passing of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment (Adoption) Act, which means adopted children with at least one Bermudian parent can apply for status if the application is made before their 16th birthday and completed before their 18th birthday. However, the group said the status of people born in Bermuda or who arrived at an early age was bound up with the question of mixed-status families. A “particular urgency” applied to them because many were at or near adulthood with their futures here still in doubt, the group added. A timetable passing them over would be at odds with the compromise letter agreed on March 17, which envisaged reforms to child and family pathways by 13 May; 15-year pathway to Permanent Resident’s Certificates by the end of the summer, and 20-year pathway to Status by November or December. “Urgent consideration” should be given to its call for persons born on the island or arriving before the age of 6 to apply for status upon turning 18. Meetings, set to run from 6pm to 8pm, are set to commence today at Francis Patton Primary School, tomorrow at the Berkeley Institute and on Thursday at Dalton E. Tucker Middle School. Anyone unable to attend can make submissions via a drop-box on the ground floor of the Government Administration Building on Parliament Street, by calling 500-4664 or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
2016. July 14. A Bill reforming the process by which adopted children can obtain Bermudian status has been passed in the House of Assembly. The Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment (Adoption) Act 2016 specifies that adopted children with at least one Bermudian parent can apply for status if the application is made before their 16th birthday and completed before their 18th birthday, according to the Attorney-General. Speaking on behalf of home affairs minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin, Trevor Moniz explained that presently an adopted child can apply for status between the ages of 18 to 22 if he or she was ordinarily resident in Bermuda for five years immediately preceding the application and was deemed to possess and enjoy Bermudian status for that same period. The new amendments, however, will allow non-Bermudian children, who are Commonwealth citizens, to obtain Bermudian status, if they are under 18 and were either adopted in Bermuda under the Adoption of Children Act 2006 or outside of Bermuda under The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. In both circumstances, one of the child’s adopted parents must be Bermudian and domiciled on the island on the date of adoption. “For a child to be eligible for the automatic acquisition of Bermudian status, the adoption process must be initiated before the child’s 16th birthday, and must be completed before the child turns 18,” Mr Moniz said, adding that the Bill “will give security for the automatic privilege of Bermudian status to adopted children”. He also noted that it was the first legislative reform under the Pathways for Status initiative and was based on recommendations by the Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group. Acting Opposition leader Walter Roban said the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party supported the amendments and PLP MP Walton Brown, who is a member of the working group, provided context to how the act came about. While defending the role of civil disobedience in forcing the Government to collaborate during the protests that brought legislative proceedings to a standstill in March, he also expressed hope “that we can have this kind of collaboration on critical issues going forward because unilateralism doesn’t do well for anyone”. Mr Brown detailed how the working group had reached its decision on adoptions, which he described as a “very rigorous process” that does not lend itself to abuse. He pointed out that on average about five or six foreign-born children are adopted yearly in Bermuda, saying that the “numbers are low enough that it creates no fundamental challenge”. Mr Brown also noted that the Act was the “first part of an ongoing process of collaboration” and that the group would now focus on mixed-status families.
2016. June 17. Government’s bid to grant status to overseas residents was flawed, a former top Bermudian banker said yesterday. Philip Butterfield, former chief executive officer and chairman of HSBC Bermuda, said: “I think it was wrong in how it was addressed to date because it hasn’t been a transparent process and it has ignored a major constituency.” Mr Butterfield was speaking at a Chamber of Commerce meeting held to discuss proposed “Pathways to Status” legislation by Government. He said: “I doesn’t have a ‘we’ element and that’s what needs to be changed, in my view.” Mr Butterfield added that attendees at the Chamber meeting, held at the Hamilton Princess, had come out because of community interest in the proposed legislation. He said: “The reason they are here is because they have an interest in the topic and they are hearing a range of views. That’s how we get a solution, by hearing a range of views.” Mr Butterfield added that Government had failed to communicate with the public over the controversial plans. He said: “When you are politically tone deaf and don’t have effective communication skills, these are the choices you make,” The panel included Lynn Winfield of anti-racism group Curb, Mr Butterfield and Bermuda College economics lecturer Craig Simmons. Mr Simmons said: “It was good to have some open and frank dialogue on the topic at hand. I think we gave a balanced perspective. People have doubts about the original proposal, now we have had time to reflect. I think we need to have more consultation and more discussion on what it means for Bermuda. If we believe in collaboration, we will get the best outcome, rather than it being discussed in small circles.” The Chamber of Commerce in March backed the legislation, designed to give non-Bermudian residents who met minimum residency limits on the island a degree of permanence. The Chamber argued that an ageing population meant that Government needed to increase the population in order to meet increasing social costs and that more people living and working in Bermuda meant more economic activity. Mr Wight said: “The purpose of this meeting was to create a forum for members of the Chamber of Commerce and non-members to hear the views of high-profile names in our community to help shape their views on immigration policy. I think it’s very difficult to determine whether people are in favour or not. The main objective is to raise the level of debate. It was very productive and useful for people who attended.” Government withdrew the original bill after days of strike action and major protests outside the House of Assembly. Redrafted plans will first deal with children who were born in Bermuda or arrived at an early stage, as well as mixed status families and adoptions. The second stage will deal with the granting of permanent residence certificates for residents of 15 years standing, while a third stage will deal with the granting of Bermudian status for residents of 20 years. Ms Winfield said that Bermuda continued to be affected by “ongoing, structural racism and implicit bias”. She added that it was estimated that between 3,000 and 6,000 black Bermudians had moved overseas for economic reasons. Ms Winfield said: “This type of brain drain predominantly occurs in developing countries. It is noteworthy that in Bermuda’s highly developed economy educated black Bermudians feel forced to look overseas for opportunities. This brain drain must be reversed and Bermudians encouraged to return. Creative plans for the provision of job opportunities, introduction of robust legislation to protect black Bermudian work opportunities, an urgent focus on integrating young Bermudians into the workforce, introduction of a living wage and protection for Bermudians who are increasingly being hired for part-time or temporary work with employers sidestepping the need to provide benefits, must all be put in place.” Ms Winfield added that the protests over the proposed amendments to immigration law underlined the racial divide in Bermuda. She said: “The people protesting the proposed legislation on the hill understood the very real risk of disenfranchisement. Curb’s research on immigration and demographics has show that this fear has a very real and frightening foundation based on historical oppression and current economic marginalization.”
2016. June 8. Bermuda Chamber of Commerce will host a panel discussion on the controversial Pathways to Status bill next week. The event on Thursday, June 16, at 8am at the Hamilton Princess, will feature a panel of community activists and industry professionals, including Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda president Lynne Winfield, economist Craig Simmons and former HSBC Bermuda chief executive officer Phil Butterfield. The session will be moderated by Chamber of Commerce president John Wight. A press release said the immigration bill had caused a “stir in the community, with strong views and opinions ... from all sides” and the panel would “weigh in on how this bill would impact Bermuda socially, politically, and economically”. Registration fees for the panel discussion are $50 for chamber members and $75 for non-members. Member tables of 10 are available for $500 per table. Registration is online at bermudachamber.bm or by calling 295-4201 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2016. May 20. About 30 people met to discuss immigration issues surrounding adoption as part of the first public meeting of the Immigration Working Group hosted by the Bermuda Public Services Union last night. Any person who is adopted by a Bermudian is deemed to be Bermudian until their 22nd birthday. In order to achieve Bermudian status, the child must be adopted before they turn 17 and apply for status before they turn 22. However under proposed legislation, children under the age of 12 would be automatically awarded Bermudian status when adopted by a Bermudian. The amendments would make no changes for children above the age of 12, who would still be required to apply for status after five years. The audience was informed that in the last year, around five adoptions were finalized. The majority of those were said to be cases of adoption by a step-parent, and the majority of children adopted were over the age of 12. One of the main questions raised during discussions about the proposed amendments was that of the age limit of 12. Glenda Edwards, a former supervisor at Family Services who helped draft the Adoption Act 2006, said during discussions at that time some expressed concerns over “adoptions of conveniences”. Meanwhile, lawyer Rick Woolridge noted that internationally there are serious concerns about sex trafficking and grooming in cases of teenage children. Some, however, questioned if the requirement for older children to apply for status would prove an additional burden for parents. Other members of the public questioned how many children can be adopted by a home. While the audience members were told that there is no legislated limit on the number of children that can be adopted by a household, all adoptions are strictly and carefully assessed to ensure that the potential parents can support their children financially and emotionally. Another issue raised during discussion was the difference made by the location where a child’s adoption takes place.
2016. May 20. A total of 317 applications for Bermudian status have been approved since January 1, 2013, while a further 523 are pending. The applications have been made under a clause of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956. The latest information was disclosed to the House of Assembly this morning as a result of questions from Progressive Labour Party MP, Walter Roban. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister for Home Affairs, confirmed that the Bermuda Government had not paid any private firms to process Bermudian status applications. She added: “The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Immigration has paid out $142,958 to private firms relating to all immigration matters since January 2013 to present.”
2016. May 16. The Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group will hold its first public meeting this week. The group, which will examine the issue of immigration policy, was appointed after a week of protests outside Parliament sparked by the controversial Pathways to Status legislation. The first meeting will focus on the topic of children adopted from overseas by Bermudians and the rights and privileges that should be extended to them. It will take place on Thursday between 6pm and 8pm at the Bermuda Public Services Union headquarters. The working group has said that it plans to have its policy on the issue formulated by June 10 after consulting with stakeholders. Anyone unable to attend the meeting can make submissions through the group’s drop-box located on the ground floor of the Government Administration Building on Parliament Street, by calling 500-4664 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Every other country in the world, except for Bermuda, gives automatic citizenship to all born there as residents or visitors and after law-abiding continuous residence of at least five years.
But in Bermuda, generally, not given to any non-national unless he or she marries a Bermudian - and then only if they qualify, or if they will qualify under any new (2016 or later) Bermuda legislation. Because of the lack of any so far to address this wrong has not yet been enacted, many Bermudians, especially those who are in the black majority, have reacted furiously (complete with strikes and work stoppages that have hugely inconvenienced many tourists in particular) to an early 2016 bid by the present Bermuda Government to address this Human Rights Wrong by providing a pathway to Bermuda status or local citizenship based on unblemished residence of 15 years or more. It was mentioned in its Pathways to Status Initiative.
2016. December 5. The Court of Appeal has rejected a ruling by the Supreme Court which could have opened the window for British Overseas Territories citizens to seek Bermuda status. While the original ruling by Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman found that Bermuda’s immigration laws were discriminatory, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General appealed the ruling. In a ruling, the Court of Appeal found that the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968 specifies who is classified as “belonging” to Bermuda. The judgment, written by Appeal Judge Desiree Bernard, stated: “I posit the view, in absence of any tendered reasons, that the legislative purpose of section 11(5) was to provide a list of persons who qualify as belonging to Bermuda. “It sought to make clear and remove doubt about those whom the Constitution regarded as belonging to Bermuda. I do not agree with Mr Justice Hellman that the list is not exhaustive. “Unfortunately, persons such as the respondent who was born in Bermuda of parents who did not have Bermudian status were not part of that list. The anomalies [that] creates are unsatisfactory.” In the original case, Michael Barbosa argued that he had been unfairly prevented from seeking status due to his place of origin. While Mr Barbosa was born in Bermuda in 1976, his parents were not Bermudians. As a result, he was declared a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies. He later acquired British Overseas Territories Citizenship in 2002, and was granted indefinite leave to remain in Bermuda in 2013, but remained ineligible to apply for Bermudian status or a permanent residency certificate. Through lawyer Peter Sanderson, he argued that he legally belongs to Bermuda on the basis of common law. In a hearing in March, Mr Justice Hellman ruled in favour of Mr Barbosa, making declarations that Mr Barbosa belongs to Bermuda within the meaning of the Constitution and that he had been discriminated against. The justice further granted Mr Barbosa liberty to apply for a remedy should the Bermuda Government fail to provide a legislated remedy before the end of the legislative session. However, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General appealed the ruling, saying the judge was wrong to find that Mr Barbosa was a person who belonged to Bermuda under the constitution as the Constitution provides an “exhaustive definition” of those deemed to belong to Bermuda. Lawyer James Guthrie, representing the appellants, submitted that the judge had construed the section too broadly and it was not permissible for the judge to add to the categories in the Constitution. However, Mr Sanderson supported the Mr Justice Hellman’s conclusions, stating that Mr Barbosa enjoys BOT citizenship because he was born in Bermuda before 1983, and as such he belongs to Bermuda under the common law. The Court of Appeal judgment aside Mr Justice Hellman’s declarations. In the ruling, Court of Appeal president Sir Scott Baker added: “The key question is the true construction of section 11(5) of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968. The point at which I part company with the judge is his conclusion that the section can be read as incorporating an additional category of persons who are deemed to belong to Bermuda, namely ‘belongers’ at common law. In my judgment, the section is clear and unambiguous.”
2016. April 12. Membership has been announced for a ten-person team looking into amendments to the Pathways to Status Bill, with insurance CEO William Madeiros appointed chairman. Hailed last night in a government statement as representing a good cross section of the community, it includes One Bermuda Alliance backbencher Mark Pettingill and Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown. Other members are Belinda Wright, Warren Jones, Dennis Fagundo, Crystal Caesar, Rick Woolridge, Lynne Winfield and Malika Musson. The pathways initiative for long-term residents to apply for permanent residency and Bermudian status was dogged by controversy shortly after it was announced on February 5. Parliamentary debate of the Bill was called off on March 15 amid five days of protests demanding bipartisan and collaborative reform of the island’s immigration laws. Calling on that occasion for the development of a working group, Michael Dunkley said that the proposed permanent residency for residents of 15 years had proven its most contentious element, and imposed a three-month delay. The Premier added that there had been a consensus on other issues; such as status for children born on Bermuda and cases of mixed-status families. The working group would also examine labour regulations and their impact on Bermudian workers, Mr Dunkley said. Opposition calls for bipartisan reform date back to the early days of the One Bermuda Alliance administration, particularly with the January 2013 decision to drop term limits. In March 2015, a bill brought to the Senate to stimulate property sales to non-Bermudians brought protesters into the Cabinet building, with Mr Brown telling this newspaper that immigration was “immersed in 50 years of race and nationality — the only way to break this is with a consensus”. Last night’s statement commended “the collaborative approach that has been undertaken over the past few weeks, with the end result being a working group that represents a good cross section of the community. “The working group will begin its work and will announce shortly their terms of reference which will form their approach as to how the consultative process will work. This should include the collection of public submissions, consultation with the wider public and stakeholder groups, among other things to ensure a balanced approach to arriving at sound policy recommendations. The public will be kept informed of the recommendations as part of the ongoing communications process.”
2016. April 8. British Overseas Territories citizens could have a legal case for Bermudian status, even though the Government has backed down on its “Pathways to Status” initiative. Immigration lawyer Peter Sanderson made the observation in the wake of recent cases entailing “belongers”, or persons deemed as belonging in Bermuda under the island’s constitution. Mr Sanderson spoke to The Royal Gazette after a “landmark” Court of Appeal ruling upheld the right of Melvern Williams, a BOT citizen born in Jamaica, to work in Bermuda. He called the Williams case significant for “a hidden group of ‘rights-less’ citizens” to secure the same treatment as Bermudians. While he could not put a figure on how many people could qualify for their day in court, Mr Sanderson said complaints based on Bermuda’s international obligations could even be taken before a United Nations tribunal. “My impression is that everybody has focused on Bermudian status for so long that other types of belongers have been completely overlooked,” he said. “However, these recent cases are emphasizing the importance of BOT citizenship in Bermuda’s unique constitutional framework.” As well as the Williams case, local courts dealt on March 4 with the case of Michael Barbosa, a BOT citizen who argued successfully that Bermuda’s immigration laws were discriminatory. “Barbosa is being appealed by the Government, but remains the law unless and until it is overturned by a higher court,” Mr Sanderson said. “Parents whose children were born or brought up in Bermuda may wish to take advice on whether their children are eligible for BOT citizenship.” Mr Williams, born in Jamaica but naturalized in December 2014, lost his job three months later because he did not have a work permit. In that case, Mr Sanderson argued before Chief Justice Ian Kawaley that the Department of Immigration’s requirements had been discriminatory. The Court of Appeal agreed with the ruling by Dr Justice Kawaley, which found that the Bermuda Constitution clashed with the 1956 Immigration Act. Earlier this month, appeal judges found that the work permit requirement for a belonger not possessing Bermudian status “has a disproportionately prejudicial effect on belongers whose place of origin is not Bermuda. “This requirement is indirectly discriminatory, and there is no reason why belongers should be treated differently based upon the distinction as to whether their place of origin is Bermuda or a place other than Bermuda.” Mr Sanderson said the Williams case could open the door for other challenges by naturalized BOT citizens, such as cases against the island’s 60-40 rule for company ownership. Possessing belonger status “does not come with voting rights, nor does it bring any entitlement to Bermudian status”, he noted. However, it had been argued in the Barbosa case that Bermuda’s immigration law unfairly prevented the respondent from seeking status based on his place of origin. Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman also ruled in that case that Mr Barbosa could bring his case back to court if the pathways to status amendments were not enacted. Those amendments were dropped by the Government later in March, in the face of widespread protests. “There have not yet been any cases on the lack of a pathway to status for naturalized BOT citizens as opposed to born BOT citizens,” Mr Sanderson said, adding: “It could be argued that would be discriminatory to deny a pathway to naturalized BOT citizens.” Further, in a 2014 ruling that allowed certain permanent residents the right to obtain Bermudian status, the Chief Justice noted that depriving BOT citizens of voting rights went against the Island’s obligations under treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “Citizens are supposed to be able to participate in a democracy,” Mr Sanderson said. “So, even if a case were unsuccessful in Bermuda’s courts, a complaint could be made to a United Nations human rights tribunal.”
2016. March 23. Progressive Labour Party MPs have called on Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, to resign after five days of protests against proposed immigration reforms. During a heated Motion to Adjourn that ran until almost 6am yesterday, MPs crossed swords over the Bermuda Government’s handling of the Pathways to Status initiative and resulting withdrawal of labour. Opposition MPs took aim at Senator Fahy for pressing ahead with the immigration initiative without public consultation, while others accused Michael Dunkley of weak leadership. Meanwhile, One Bermuda Alliance MPs condemned the PLP for inciting the protest and the Premier ended the fiery exchange, expressing his determination to move forward and carry on working for Bermudians. Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, started the proceedings by accusing the Government of pushing the island to “a precipice. This was serious and it was not just any legislation. The country was pushed to the edge by one minister and that minister should resign.” PLP MP Diallo Rabain scolded the OBA for not speaking directly with the protesters who gathered on the Parliament grounds. “It will only take one boneheaded move from Government to end up where we were last week,” Mr Rabain said. “If they continue down this route then last week was just the tip of the iceberg. This is a stain on Bermuda’s history and a nail in the coffin for the OBA.” Michael Scott, the Shadow Attorney-General, also targeted Mr Fahy in his address, saying: “Keep that minister in place and see if that does not become an albatross around your neck and see how long it is before we are visiting these turbulent waters again.” He said the PLP would not support the resolution reached to end the protest that would create a working group to look at immigration reform. “We will resist it,” he said. Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, then entered the fray, accusing the PLP of “crying crocodile tears” over the protest and claiming the Opposition were behind the “illegal action”. Mr Moniz admitted mistakes had been made by the Government but insisted the PLP had “whipped people up to a frenzy” for their own political gain. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister for Community, Culture and Sport, revealed that Government members had been spat at while on the Parliament grounds during the protest. Ms Gordon-Pamplin focused on the assertion that the OBA had not reached out to the Opposition about immigration reform, saying they had been “castigated” by Opposition Leader Marc Bean previously when trying to collaborate. “Members opposite know they scorched the earth and wonder why the earth is scorched. It is more than disingenuous. Why would one reach out under those circumstances?” Suzann Roberts-Holshouser urged MPs to be careful which words they used when emotions were high, adding: “We need respect for one another but this room does not hold respect, so how can we expect the people outside to respect the people in it.” David Burt, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, said that because immigration was not a platform of the OBA electoral platform, “their mandate cuts to the core of democracy”. He said he had called Mr Crockwell after his resignation to thank him for standing up on principle, saying “he stood up for his children and he stood up for my unborn son”. The PLP’s Lawrence Scott said events could have “easily been avoided” and that his party’s warnings had fallen on deaf ears, adding: “They [the OBA] don’t have the permission of the people to bring this Bill [immigration reform] and the people let them know that.” Government whip Cole Simons spoke out about the importance of education for the success of the country, while PLP MP Lovitta Foggo, described the past week as the most challenging week in her time as a parliamentarian. “The people believed that the legislation had the ability to disenfranchise them. That created quite a bit of alarm,” she told the House. Fellow Opposition MP Jamahl Simmons condemned the Government, saying they only had themselves to blame for the situation they faced. He also warned the OBA that “Judgment Day is coming. It is your policies, your approach, your inability to take a look at yourself and learn ... grow up, take responsibility and look in the mirror,” he said. Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and the Environment, revealed she had received messages saying, “do the right thing, you’re black. It is not about what I look like, I do not support this racial divide,” she said. “We have so much work to be done and I am quite happy to be part of this team.” Mr Dunkley ended the debate by chastising Opposition MPs for inflammatory comments and accusing the PLP of putting a “roadblock” in the way of the resolution reached after the protests. “The agreement is a win-win, the Bill was pulled off the table and we set up a good forum for the working group to form. Now is the time to move forward. In five years’ time we will look back on this experience and, yes, it was historic, and we all have scars that will take time to heal, but we will look back and say we have made progress.”
2016. March 22. Opinion. By Allan Doughty, a human rights lawyer who practices with BeesMont Law Ltd. "I write, in my capacity as a human rights lawyer, to respond to a remark made by the Leader of the Opposition, Marc Bean, in relation to the debate on immigration reform. Specifically, Mr Bean said, on the heels of an agreement reached between the Government and the protesters that: “Your PLP parliamentarians will now work to ensure that the One Bermuda Alliance government does not attempt to bring or introduce the Pathways to Status Bill in a phased approach.” To explain the context of that statement, one must first remember that on March 17, 2016, protesters led by Chris Furbert and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed reached an agreement with the Government, which ended a five-day “withdrawal of labour” and protest that was called in response to the “Pathways to Status” Bill. That agreement required the Government to withdraw the “Pathways Bill” and instead approach immigration reform through a “phased” approach. The agreement further held that the major areas of immigration reform, which would have become law simultaneously with the passage of the “Pathways Bill”, would be broken down into discrete subjects that would be dealt with in order so that the reforms would be passed into law in incremental phases. The agreement also requires that a working group consider each subject before it is tabled and make recommendations to Parliament that may lead to amendments of the framework Bill. The first “phase” of the process will deal with the adoption of non-Bermudian children, the granting of status to non-Bermudian children born in Bermuda and non-Bermudian children who arrived in Bermuda at a young age, and allowing for the grant of status where some family members hold status where others do not. Notwithstanding the terms of the agreement that was reached, Mr Bean now appears to be saying that the Opposition will not co-operate with the Government when it embarks on this “phased” approach. The stance taken by Mr Bean, however, does not appear to take account that on March 4, 2016, the Supreme Court of Bermuda, in the Barbosa case, held that the wording of Section 20B of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act was unconstitutional. In that decision, it was found that the applicant, who was born in Bermuda to expatriate parents and who left Bermuda as a child and later returned as a young adult, had been discriminated against on the basis of his “place of origin”, as there was no legal mechanism by which he could apply for Bermudian status. That ruling was extraordinary because Section 20B is a key section of the Immigration Act, which controls how Bermudian status is awarded to long-term residents. In rendering judgment in the Barbosa case, the court held that, notwithstanding the unconstitutionality of Section 20B, immediate action to enforce the rights of the applicant would not be taken as the “Pathways Bill” had been tabled in the House of Assembly. In making that comment, the court held that the “Pathways Bill” would cure the present unconstitutionality of the Immigration Act provided that it was passed into law. The court also held that if the “Pathways Bill” was not passed, it would be open to the applicant to apply to the court to secure the “enforcement” of his constitutional rights. This means that if the court were to order such “enforcement”, there is a likelihood that it will order that the applicant, and others like him, will be granted Bermudian status notwithstanding the bars that exist in the Immigration Act. Alternatively, there is also a possibility that key sections of the Immigration Act simply may be struck down as being unconstitutional. On reading the decision as rendered in Barbosa, the “Pathways Bill” and the agreement reached between the Government and the protesters, it seems that if only the first “phase” of the agreement is passed into law, that amendment may cure the present unconstitutionality of the Immigration Act. For that reason, I do not think it would be in Bermuda’s best interests if Mr Bean was to continue to oppose the passage of the first “phase” of the agreement. With the greatest of respect to Mr Bean, he had a better position when he said in his Reply to the Throne Speech that: “[The PLP] will create a policy of equal political status for individuals in a family, rather than the current circumstance where one sibling could hold Bermuda status and the other have no rights at all to permanent residence.” Also, David Burt, in a speech made in the House of Assembly on February 26, 2016, made perfect sense when he said: “Let us work together to fix the problems for those who know no other home but Bermuda, but who have no legalized right of permanent abode to what is essentially their home. Let us work together to ensure that we can attract persons to our shores who are willing to invest and bring jobs to Bermuda. Let us work together to ensure that those who have contributed to the betterment of Bermuda can continue to stay in Bermuda to help make our island a better place.” It seems to me, having read the Barbosa ruling, that our Immigration Act is now broken and is in immediate danger of being modified by the courts if the Legislature fails to act. While the protesters have made their point, it seems that their leaders have also realized that doing nothing on the issue of immigration reform is no longer an option. For that reason, I would suggest that both political parties follow Mr Burt’s suggestion and work together. Such co-operation is now needed to ensure that it is the Legislature that decides how the delicate issue of immigration is to be handled, as opposed to the courts."
2016. March 22. Senate president Carol Ann Bassett has called for unifying talks between blacks and whites to heal Bermuda’s racial tensions. Drawing on her family’s personal experiences of racism, Ms Bassett delivered an impassioned speech to the Upper House, declaring herself encouraged by the highly charged demonstrations of last week. Such actions allow for the release of toxic pressure that has been threatening to explode for generations, Ms Bassett said. “We are so divided by racial lines,” she said, before quoting Bob Marley. “He who feels it, knows it. When the people of colour in Bermuda come together and show their displeasure at not being heard, there’s so much under that we don’t understand. If you haven’t lived it, you don’t know it.” She said she grew up in the knowledge that her father had worked as an entertainer in hotels that her mother was not allowed to go inside, while her 91-year-old aunt was a brilliant woman who was held back by a glass ceiling. Her aunt was a staunch protester last week. “Being raised on those stories, that anger and that hurt that comes from that, what I see and what I felt, in the last week there’s so much healing in our community that needs to take place,” she said. And although she said there may be encouraging economic signs, for many people that is not their reality, as they do not see themselves as “getting a piece of that pie. What I really, really witnessed and what encouraged me in the midst of all that is there has to be that clearing, that bubbling up, of all that poison. We have to come to a point where we can march, where we can protest, where we can air what we feel at the core level because if we don’t this island is going to explode. We came close to that. We haven’t even been able to clear out that stuff that being institutionalized instilled in generations. Talking about such issues in a gentle manner is not enough. The protesters were observing on the proposed immigration reform: This is our home. You are not going to do this in our home without saying we have a place at the table. This economy is more than just an economy. It’s people. If we can’t hear and we can’t listen to what people are saying, even if it’s just a small group of people. Bermuda needs to get to that point where we can get around the table and be honest about what we really feel. The conversation of whites only, and the conversation of blacks only, is totally different. Until we can get that unity in our community, where we can be real about what we are really, really feeling — that anger, that hurt, that resentment is real; it’s real, it’s real people that are feeling that anger. It’s about having that honest conversation with each other. It’s about surrounding ourselves not just with the people who are like us but opening up our ears and our hearts to hear the different things that are being said. As long as we continue to butt heads, beat each other up about who did what, there are people out there who are hurting who say, ‘I can’t look at them to hope.’ I encourage my Bermudians to continue to stand for what we believe. Continue to express yourself. Continue to be in order as you express yourself. Continue to know that when you do it in the right mode, love does not fail. We need more of that airing of that stuff so we as a community can heal.” Earlier during the general economic debate, independent senator James Jardine emphasized the importance of population growth as Bermuda tries to get its fragile economy back on track. “A stagnating population will likely result in a stagnating economy,” Mr Jardine told the Upper House. “We have to do something about our demographics. It’s all very well to talk about increased immigration and bringing back young Bermudians, but, if there are not jobs here, why would anyone want to come back?” Mr Jardine outlined a number of stark economic realities in Bermuda, including its small size, lack of natural resources, ageing population, outside economic pressures, more than $2 billion of debt and further liabilities. He quoted David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, who said during his Budget response that Bermuda needs to attract investment and jobs, as well as identifying new opportunities for economic diversification. One Bermuda Alliance senator Lynne Woolridge spoke of the lingering threat of public sector job losses. Mrs Woolridge pointed to job freezes, pay decreases and job losses in the private sphere, which have not been replicated in government. “Certainly, that’s something that does have to be taken into account,” she said. “There are some in the private sector who feel that public servants should feel some of the [same] pain as those in the private sector.” Noting previous protests over furlough days in the public sector, Mrs Woolridge added: “Who champions those in the private sector when they face those same dilemmas?” Reflecting on discontent about social difficulties under the OBA, Mrs Woolridge also said that unemployment and underemployment have been around for generations, not just for the past few years. OBA senator Jeff Baron noted that in past years, the Government has not been able to support charities to the extent that it would like owing to the economic challenges, but that the Cabinet was working to find creative solutions to help. He also noted comments by economist Craig Simmons, saying that while the lecturer has often criticised the Government’s financial decisions, he had offered some praise for the 2016-17 Budget. Government senator Vic Ball, meanwhile, said the two-track strategy was putting Bermuda in the right direction, averting a debt crisis and tackling the issue of debt, noting that last year’s fiscal targets were met or exceeded. He said that increased home sales was a sign that the economic outlook is improving. While he said Bermuda is experiencing international and local “headwinds”, the greatest headwind is the deficit. “If we are downgraded, the international businesses that are based here will also be downgraded,” he said. Mr Ball said he agrees that a bipartisan approach to immigration reform was needed, praising Michael Dunkley, the Premier, for listening to the concerned segment of the population. “If we can all begin to work together and recognise that we are together, then Bermuda can reach the heights that it deserves to reach,” he said. “We are all in this together. The Government, the Opposition and the people.” Independent senator Joan Dillas-Wright said it is imperative for everyone to speak on an issue as important as the Budget, adding that the economy needs tweaking because of the burden of debt. She expressed concern about the less fortunate members of the public, particularly seniors who are struggling to get through the “short-term sacrifices” put in place by the Government, given the high cost of food and healthcare. Ms Dillas-Wright said the island needs to take a closer look at health issues, such as placing a greater emphasis on home care and encouraging healthy lifestyles. While she said she was disappointed not to see an increase in pensions, she was pleased to hear from the finance minister that an actuarial review is being carried out that could lead to a boost for the island’s seniors. The senator also expressed concerns about the level of unemployment and the emigration of Bermudians. Continuing the debate, Georgia Marshall, of the OBA, attacked the financial record of the Progressive Labour Party, saying that finance minister Bob Richards was walking a tightrope between competing interests with the Budget. “It does look like we are moving in a positive direction and that’s good for the community as a whole,” she said. “But we still have a massive problem. Our problem is our national debt.” Mrs Marshall also took issue with finger-pointing from the Opposition. “I ask the PLP, what did you do for these people,” she said. “If they feel disenfranchised, it’s because you disenfranchised them. I would suggest that their anger not be directed to the OBA because we are doing the best we can.” She said Bermuda needs to retain the people it has and make them feel like part of the community, not that they are hated and spat upon and told to go home. Mrs Marshall added that economic recovery is not going to happen if Bermuda is seen worldwide as “a place of unrest, a place that does not welcome people who are not from this land; that is counterproductive.”
2016. March 22. The Progressive Labour Party is to boycott the Senate Budget debate, with Senator Marc Daniels calling for the resignation of Senator Michael Fahy over the Pathways to Status affair. Mr Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, issued a public apology yesterday morning, conceding that he had misjudged the level of concerns of many struggling Bermudians that sparked the five-day demonstration outside the House of Assembly last week. However, Mr Daniels, the PLP’s Leader in the Senate, responded by declaring the Opposition would take no part in the four-day Upper House Budget debate because of its dismay at the One Bermuda Alliance’s handling of the island’s social problems. He later said Mr Fahy’s apology was not enough and only a resignation would suffice. During a tense Senate session, Mr Daniels also questioned the deal struck between union leaders, the People’s Campaign and the Bermuda Government that signaled the end of the protests last Thursday, asking whether it was what the protesters had signed up to. Near the beginning of the sitting, Mr Daniels told senators there was no point in discussing the Budget when Bermuda was facing a crisis that the OBA is failing to address. “What are we really achieving right now when the real work that needs to be done, as we have seen, is here in this country, is taking steps to work towards what is best for each and every Bermudian? Where is the focus and effort to make sure our Bermudians who seek opportunity overseas have a place in their country, can play a part in their country and contribute to their success? All I have seen is silence and contempt and disrespect from this government. How can we come to this table and actually pretend as if we are going to accomplish anything? This Budget and debating the Budget over the next week is not going to alleviate the pain, anger and hurt. There’s nothing that’s been stated that makes me feel that as a result of this Budget that I’m on a pathway to recovery or financial independence.” Mr Fahy had opened the general economic debate by expressing regret at the Government’s failure to communicate its plans more effectively, although he said he maintained Pathways would be for the good of Bermuda and that it could bring economical benefits for all. The minister reflected on the protests, which continued yesterday in small numbers outside Sessions House where MPs also met for the conclusion of their Budget debate. “There are obviously people in this community that continue to hurt,” Mr Fahy said. “That has been shown to be the case in the last couple of weeks. There are many here in Bermuda that feel that they have been excluded, not just from the way the Bill was to be proceeded, but it’s a wider issue than just immigration. I hear a raft of issues: lack of opportunity in entry-level international business, a feeling that children of Bermudians will not be given opportunity in the future. We have people in Bermuda who are long-term unemployed. This government is charged with tackling that issue. It remains my view that this government can do better communicating its plan for success. Despite what some may say that the Government doesn’t listen, and this ministry doesn’t understand the community, I beg to differ. Where this government has fallen down is not communicating why some of the decisions have been made. When this government came into office, we were dealing with something that was very badly broken. I make no apology for doing everything we can to address that. What I do apologies for is that the way we go about things has not been as good as it could have been. It’s hurtful when people make accusations that we are not interested in Bermudians, and I say that as a father of three Bermudian children. I take it very personally for them not to have the opportunity for success in this country. I want people to understand in Bermuda that, as far as I’m able, no matter where I am, we will continue and I will push to make sure we move in a direction to help everyone. We will try to do our very best to bring along these individuals who feel they have not had an opportunity.” Mr Daniels spoke again during the Motion to Adjourn, telling fellow senators: “We have an opportunity for us to try and work together, but we can’t work together in some fictitious, fake sense or pushing things under the carpet and pretending things are OK when they are not. Noting Mr Fahy’s appearance at the vigil in favour of Pathways, he bemoaned the absence of government ministers during the anti-Pathways demonstrations. “Every person on the House of Assembly was chanting, ‘Look at them run and flee’,” Mr Daniels said. “When you have got people knocking on your doors, begging to be heard, begging for acknowledgement, to not walk among them, how disconnected are you?” The Pathways Bill was withdrawn last Thursday, with the Government pledging to set up a consultative group to make recommendations before any legislative changes are made, while immigration reform will now be made through a staggered approach. Bermuda Industrial Union leader Chris Furbert and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of the People’s Campaign, won applause from the crowd when they announced that proposal, but Mr Daniels told the Senate: “Is that what we have signed up to? Does everyone buy into this concept? Can we sit here in good conscience and say everything that was done was in the spirit of one Bermuda? Or was it in the spirit of some Bermuda?” Regarding Mr Fahy’s apology, he said: “What I don’t see right now is any steps of recognition, a resignation.” Mr Fahy responded by backing Senate president Carol Ann Bassett’s call for more open talks on Bermuda’s racial tensions. “The people around this table, we have the opportunity to do that together,” Mr Fahy said. He added that he was extending an olive branch to the PLP’s three senators, Mr Daniels, Senator Kim Wilkerson and Senator Renée Ming. “I’m very sad to hear people felt they had no voice,” he said. “My eyes are open wider, I will do everything I can as I always have done to bring everyone along.” Earlier in the Budget debate, Ms Wilkerson backed Mr Daniels, questioning why Mr Fahy had not sought consultation as he had on other issues. “Why was this rushed to the fore and pressed upon the people?” she said, adding that even when the people rejected the proposal, the Government told them: “No, you are going to have it anyway.” Senator Jeff Baron, of the OBA, also spoke of lessons that have been learnt from the protesters. “All of them were not there simply because of a piece of legislation,” he said. “They were there because of our general economic status in Bermuda. It was about jobs. I took a lot away; there were a lot of lessons learnt. When there are a lot of Bermudians out there who are hurting in various ways, they are going to be emotional.” Referring to the continuing controversy surrounding the airport redevelopment, Mr Baron added: “What we have learnt from last week is having the conversation is never a bad thing.” Ms Ming was absent sick, although Mr Baron said he believed she would attend in the week to discuss the Budget as it relates to St George’s. The Senate debate on the Budget is expected to run until Thursday evening.
2016. March 21. A handful of protesters has continued demonstrations at the House of Assembly today. Eighteen people, with tape over their mouths and holding placards, stood at the entrance to Sessions House urging the Bermuda Government to withdraw the Pathways to Status Bill. While the demonstrators, which include hunger striker Enda Matthie, are standing or sitting at all of the entrances to the House, they do not appear to be blocking people from entering and exiting. One Bermuda Alliance MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin is among those who have been allowed in, as have court staff. Several police officers have also gathered at the building. It comes after five days of demonstration outside the House came to an end last Thursday, when union leaders and the People’s Campaign agreed to a deal for the legislation to be withdrawn so that recommendations can be made by a consultative group. The Pathways to Status Bill was not on the order paper for today, and no union or pressure group has openly called for any action. Slogans today include: “OBA does not care about me.” Meanwhile, Government has tabled a report investigating the potential and feasibility of bringing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Bermuda. While Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development, said that LNG would be more cost effective and produce less harmful emissions, he said concerns have been raised about the manner in which it is extracted, and that it would act as a disincentive to adopting renewable energy due to its lower cost. “In order to assess the viability and trade-offs relating to the potential deployment of LNG into Bermuda, the Department of Energy’s consultants researched the issues and produced the report you have before you,” Dr Gibbons said. “The consultants focused on whether LNG could be part of Bermuda’s energy mix and, if so, if that would be the best strategy for its procurement and development, specifically as it relates to the necessary infrastructure development.” He said the report found the deployment of LNG in Bermuda was feasible if the pricing differences between natural gas and oil are sufficiently disparate and that LNG is available for our island. He added that the decision to pursue LNG would be up to the private sector, but it would be up to the Government to decide if it would approve such a development. Turning to the St George’s hotel project, Mr Gibbons said public meetings will be held this year. Responding to questions by PLP’s Zane DeSilva, Mr Gibbons told the House that developer, Desarrellos Hotelco Group, and the government intended on hosting public meetings in the second or third quarter. Government have previously stated that they expect groundbreaking on the project to take place later this year. The acting tourism minister was also questioned about the board of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. He stated that the board had held a total of 24 meetings since its inception in 2013, and that the board members have been paid a total of $229,996 to date.
2016. March 21. The controversial Pathways to Status immigration legislation was formally withdrawn from the House of Assembly yesterday after five days of protests. Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister for Home Affairs, made the move shortly after the session began. Opening today’s session Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, said he spent last Monday effectively locked in the House with parliamentary staff and St George’s MP Kenneth Bascome as a result of the protests. “All day my attention was drawn to my credenza and the photo of my daughter, son-in-law and their children, my grandchildren. I spent the day reflecting on our history and considering the future of my grandchildren and all of Bermuda’s young people. “It was troubling. On Tuesday I reached out to all sides to urge that they move forward quickly to break the impasse. The deadline to pass the budget was getting tighter and tighter. I was not prepared to resume this House until the impasse was resolved. I am grateful, I am gratified that we are here today to proceed with the people’s business. The agreement is a real achievement of courage and compromise, and I congratulate all that contributed in any capacity to bring us together to sit and proceed with the people’s business.” While the House then continued with its scheduled budget debate, opposition backbencher Rolfe Commissiong questioned the lack of any statement in the House on the subject by Michael Dunkley, the Premier. “I thought it was contemptible for the Premier not to give a statement to not only the Members of Parliament, but the public at large, especially in light of the dramatic events that have occurred over the last three-and-a-half weeks,” Mr Commissiong said. “All of this could have been avoided if they had accepted Walton Brown’s motion weeks ago calling for comprehensive immigration reform to be fleshed out by a joint select committee.” Noting the group of demonstrators that had been outside the House earlier in the day, he said they personified the trust deficit which exists when it comes to the OBA. “They didn’t trust the government to actually pull the Bill,” he said. “They had to witness it, see it themselves.” While Mr Commissiong acknowledged that Mr Dunkley had made statements in the media about the protests, he said it was important that he made a statement in the House. “This is where he was elected to serve as part of our system of representative democracy,” he said. “I think that he showed some degree of cowardice because if he had made a statement, it would have allowed members on both sides, if they so choose, to question him during the question period about the statement he made.” Mr Commissiong also accused the OBA of “borrowing liberally” from a motion he tabled in the proposals to demonstrators last week without acknowledging it. Mr Dunkley offered to “address a living wage and training requirements for Bermudians”, while Mr Commissiong’s motion called on the House to form a Joint Select Committee to “examine the efficacy of establishing a livable wage for Bermuda. “The fact that my motion also called on us to look at the impact over the last couple of decades of low-cost, foreign sourced labour on the Bermuda workforce and economy was also important, and they borrowed liberally from that, as well in their overall suite of proposals,” he said. While he said he was pleased to see Government moving in this direction, he added: “At least give some attribution. I think ethically it was their responsibility to acknowledge that, and I think it would have helped with the bipartisan buy-in. “Everyone in Bermuda knows the former UBP and now the OBA is not a party philosophically or ideologically in favour historically of putting things like a living wage in place Bermuda. The business sector has been a large part of their support base, and this would be anathema to that sort of idea.”
2016. March 19. After a week of protests and heightened tensions, the island must now come together in order to move forward. Sylvia Hayward-Harris, an ordained pastor and addiction counselor, said that communication was the only way to move beyond the lingering issues facing the community. “The primary thing for the Premier and his Cabinet is to do exactly what they said they plan to do. Listen more and consult more,” she said. “That is the whole issue. There are a lot of deep-seated traumatic memories that have come down through the generations that need to be addressed and heard. To not address them and not even attempt to understand what is going on in this community is a recipe for disaster because we have seen what can happen when people get angry and don’t feel they are being heard.” Asked about her feelings as the tensions raised over the past week, she said: “I was scared, frankly. I was scared for the island because it felt like all we needed was just the slightest spark. I know some people were upset that the police didn’t become more involved, but I’m glad they didn’t. I think it would have been a major error. That would have been just what we would have needed to set everybody off.” Ms Hayward-Harris said both black and white Bermudians still carried the weight of slavery and racism, adding: “People still remember. Stories are passed down.” As a result of the tensions, Ms Hayward-Harris launched an open meditation event at Victoria Park to help the public move forward. “Because there was so much damage, not physical damage, but heart damage and spiritual damage and relationship damage, we needed to start healing. We needed some peace, some harmony. We need some attempt to try to see the other side, and that goes for both sides.” While she said the Government needed to set a standard for the community, she said the community itself must also take responsibility. Recalling her experience as an addiction counselor, she said that one thing that addicts were told is that while their parents make decisions for them while they are young, there comes a point when they must make their own decisions and stop blaming their parents if they wish to move forward. “The community as a whole needs healing, and the only way that is going to happen is if the community takes responsibility,” she said. Bishop Nick Dill, meanwhile, said that in light of the recent tensions, the Cathedral on Church Street would be hosting a quiet time for prayer and reflection next Wednesday from noon until 12.45pm. He said: “This occasion is not a time for speeches, banners, marches or debates – but a coming together as brothers and sisters from all backgrounds, from leaders to the man and woman on the street, irrespective of race, nationality, political parties or persuasion to sit together, to pray, to reflect and to go back to our families and communities resolved to love God and our neighbor once again. And as we go to those with whom we may disagree, let us resolve not so much to speak about one another, or to speak at one another, but to speak to one another and to listen carefully as we speak in order to understand and respect each other with whom we will have to live in this small, fragile yet beautiful place.”
2016. March 19. Opposition leader Marc Bean has vowed not to allow the Government to pass its Pathways to Status Bill in future. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, removed the Bill on Thursday evening, in order to allow a working group of key stakeholders to discuss the initiative and make recommendations. This afternoon, Mr Bean released a statement congratulating the leaders of the immigration reform protest movement for their success. He said: “The Progressive Labour Party would like to thank and commend the organizers, led by Reverend Tweed, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert, Bermuda Public Services Union president Jason Hayward, (hunger striker) Enda Matthie and the people of Bermuda, who sacrificed their time and income, showing strength, solidarity and unity over the last five days. Mr Bean said that his party was seeking assurance that the controversial Bill would be withdrawn from the order paper in Monday’s House of Assembly. He added: “We would like the public to be aware that there is still work to be done. “Your PLP Parliamentarians will now work to ensure that the One Bermuda Alliance Government does not attempt to bring or introduce the Pathways to Status Bill in a phased approach.” The first stage of the new Bill, to be tabled on May 13, will deal with children who were born in Bermuda or arrived at an early age, as well as mixed-status families and adoptions. The second stage will deal with the granting of permanent residence certificates for residents of 15 years, and is scheduled to be debated in the House’s summer session. The third stage will deal with the granting of Bermudian status for residents of 20 years, and is due to be discussed in the House in November. Meanwhile, as part of the Government’s deal with the protesters, the injunction against Mr Furbert and Reverend Tweed has been discharged, with no order as to costs. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley had previously said it was “strongly arguable” that those shunning work to demonstrate were breaching section 34 of the Labour Relations Act. The court hearing to determine the legality of immigration reform protesters’ “withdrawal of labour” was held on Thursday, and was set to resume next Thursday before being quashed by Mr Dunkley.
2016. March 18. Immigration reform campaigners celebrated last night after the Government withdrew its highly controversial Pathways to Status Bill. The resolution also means that public services will resume island-wide today following five days of disruptions, as civil servants end their “withdrawal of labour” protest. Shortly after 6pm yesterday, Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign read aloud a letter from Michael Dunkley, the Premier, to the crowd outside the House of Assembly. Loud cheers greeted the news that the One Bermuda Alliance would withdraw the Bill, which protesters claimed ignored the concerns of the Bermudian public. In accordance with the demand for a bipartisan approach, a consultative working group of key stakeholders will now discuss the initiative and make recommendations before any legislative changes are made. The first stage of the new Bill, to be tabled on May 13, will deal with children who were born in Bermuda or arrived at an early age, as well as mixed-status families and adoptions. The second stage will deal with the granting of permanent residence certificates for residents of 15 years, and is scheduled to be debated in the House’s summer session. The third stage will deal with the granting of Bermudian status for residents of 20 years, and is due to be discussed in the House in November. Mr Tweed also explained that the Labour Advisory Council would concurrently delve into issues including amendments to work permit policies to address a living wage and training requirements for Bermudians, cracking down on unscrupulous business tactics that undermine Bermudian labour and working with the international business sector to provide summer job opportunities for Bermudians. Mr Dunkley’s letter concluded: “All sides are committed to working for the betterment of Bermuda. I trust that this fair and reasonable offer will be accepted to help resolve the current situation.” Following on from Mr Tweed, Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown told the crowd: “This agreement gives us everything we’ve been calling for in the last month. We will shape that consultative committee. All of us who worked so hard, and you the people, have made this possible. This is what we wanted. This is what we demanded. All the power is with the people.” Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert assured the crowd that no official response would be given without their approval. He said: “It’s for you to decide if (the agreement is) sufficient. I believe we’ve delivered exactly what we were asked to deliver.” He asked for a show of hands to approve Mr Dunkley’s offer, and was met with near-unanimous support. Mr Furbert added: “We’re certainly not going to be open to giving the country away. Let’s not tear apart all the good work that we’ve done over the last five days. We need your input. Put your suggestions in so we can protect who we need to protect: the children. All I hope for, going forward, is for the Government to finally start listening to the people and hearing what the people are saying.” Mr Furbert thanked the protesters for sacrificing a week’s wages by participating in the demonstrations, adding that he had asked the Premier whether their time off work can be counted as paid vacation leave. Speaking to The Royal Gazette shortly after the announcement, Mr Dunkley called the agreement a “good deal”, adding: “The basic principles of the Bill are still there and the envisioned time frame isn’t too different.” Mr Dunkley denied that the Wednesday night resignation of Shawn Crockwell as Minister of Tourism Development and Transport had proven a tipping point for the Government in dealing with the Pathways furore. “That’s a separate matter,” he said. “Obviously Mr Crockwell was very frustrated through this whole approach, and I’m very disappointed to lose a colleague of that stature in Cabinet.” When questioned about the potential for negotiatory stalemates within the working group, he replied: “That is always a possibility, but I don’t think we’ll see that because of the genuine intent of everyone and the need for immigration reform. Sometimes democracy can be messy, and it always has to be a learning experience.” A further Government statement from Mr Dunkley revealed that MPs will next convene at the House of Assembly on Monday, rather than today as planned, as they prepare to pass the 2016/17 Budget. He added: “The agreement will see us press the reset button on the immigration reform schedule, setting the stage for wider input into the specific reform proposals. What has emerged is better community understanding of an issue that is critical to individual lives, our collective future and the meaning of our island home. We’re going to get back to the business of the people, working to restore security and prosperity for all Bermudians.” Late last night, a pro-Pathways group released a statement expressing its “disappointment” that the Bill had been withdrawn. A spokeswoman for We Support A Pathway to Bermuda Status added: “We still have hope that the Government is dealing with the important parts of the legislation in a staged approach. We will continue to monitor developments and to hold the Government and all community stakeholders accountable. We also hope that this will be an opportunity to improve the legislation.” Throughout the day, Mr Furbert addressed the crowd outside the House of Assembly, urging the protesters to be non-violent and courteous, and warned that anyone with alcohol would be asked to leave. He also apologized to four white children who he said came to Wednesday’s demonstration and were told they were not welcome. “It doesn’t matter if we’re black, white, pink or green. We made a call for all people. Those of you that have those kind of agendas, you can be gone. Get right off the Hill.” He later added: “Anybody that curses a white person and is caught, they are going to get a cut tail. You shouldn’t be doing that in this type of setting.” He said that “guest workers are invited to be here ... people should be careful about attacking those people.” Yesterday’s crowd was much smaller than on previous days. By 9.30 there were only some 300 demonstrators surrounding the House, including PLP MPs Walton Brown, Zane DeSilva and Wayne Furbert. Noting that commentators had questioned why police had not cracked down on the protesters, Mr Furbert said: “We are not doing anything to break the law, and the police are about protecting law and order. They are not going to be put in the middle of anything. They will not be used like that.” Before the Bill was withdrawn, a court hearing to determine the legality of immigration reform protesters’ “withdrawal of labour” was adjourned until next Thursday. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley had previously said it was “strongly arguable” that those shunning work to demonstrate were breaching section 34 of the Labour Relations Act. In the case involving the Minister of Home Affairs versus the BIU, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed, Crown counsel Gregory Howard told Dr Justice Kawaley there was “no evidence” that the named parties had been in violation of the incitement order, which was served on Friday last week. Announcing the adjournment, Dr Justice Kawaley said he wanted to “avoid a situation where the matter drifts without any mooring. " Yesterday’s events as they happened. 8.30am: The One Bermuda Alliance releases a statement saying Michael Dunkley, the Premier, retains the faith of his MPs in spite of the blistering attack and resignation from Cabinet from Shawn Crockwell. Fewer than 100 protesters, with a handful of police officers, mark a quiet start to the day outside the House of Assembly 9.30am: The crowd grows to about 300, including the Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign, Chris Furbert of the Bermuda Industrial Union and a handful of Progressive Labour Party MPs — Walton Brown, Zane DeSilva and Wayne Furbert. 10.35am: Addressing the crowd, Mr Furbert says there are things to share that are “very disturbing”, adding that there were some people on the Hill who have been saying things they should not. He adds that if this behavior continues, those people will be identified and asked to leave. 10.40am: Mr Furbert says four white children came to yesterday’s demonstration and were told they were not welcome. Mr Furbert says he wants to apologize to the children, inviting them back. “It doesn’t matter if we’re black, white, pink or green. We made a call for all people. Those of you that have those kind of agendas, you can be gone. Get right off the hill.” 10.50am: Mr Furbert makes mention of the critical letter from backbencher Leah Scott, discussions with Sir John Swan, the former Premier, and last night’s resignation by Mr Crockwell. He says during the second march on Wednesday, the Police Commissioner thanked him for the behavior of the protesters. He says the Commissioner asked Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, if the House could be reconvened at 2pm rather than 10am tomorrow. Noting that commentators were questioning why police have not cracked down on the protesters, he says: “We are not doing anything to break the law, and the police are about protecting law and order. They are not going to be put in the middle of anything. They will not be used like that.” 11.05am: Mr Furbert says that dock workers have gone to unload refrigerated containers from the Bermuda Islander, but they would then return to the protest. He adds that the protesters should not agitate members of the public while marching, noting that there are white people participating. “Anybody that curses a white person and is caught, they are going to get a cut tail,” he says. “You shouldn’t be doing that in this type of setting.” He says that guest workers are invited to be here, saying people should be careful about attacking those people. 11.40am: The crowd now numbers about 400, much less than on previous protest days. 11.40am Grant Gibbons is announced as the interim Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, in addition to his role as Minister of Economic Development, following the resignation from Cabinet of Mr Crockwell. 12.30pm Numbers dip while protesters go to fetch lunch. The atmosphere is friendly and calm. 1.15pm: During a conference call with the Court Registrar, Mr Furbert was told there were concerns about the noise on the Hill. Meanwhile, Mr Furbert says, since there was no security issue, “we are not giving up the grounds tomorrow.” Mr Tweed says: “We have confirmed that during the time that court is in session, the House will not be in session. We have to remember our target was never the court. Our target was Parliament.” He says they were not helping their cause by inconveniencing the Court of Appeal. A second meeting between Mr Dunkley, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed is scheduled for 2.30pm 3.05pm: Sir John Swan, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed meet at BIU headquarters. 3.10pm: PLP MP Rolfe Commissiong takes the mic and thanks all those who have support the protest but says they are still waiting for an answer. “Mr Dunkley, we are waiting,” he says. He questions if the Premier will put the country ahead of the OBA’s political agenda. 3.15pm: The crowd is reminded once more not to drink alcohol on the grounds, with two groups of people reportedly removed for drinking. 3.40pm: Drummers play in front of the House of Assembly after making their way around the building. 3.50pm: The meeting at BIU has ended. Walton Brown tells The Royal Gazette: “At this point we’re very close to a resolution.” 4pm: More than 20 representatives from the group enter the Cabinet building. 4.30pm: Zane DeSilva and Derrick Burgess arrive at Cabinet. They wait outside the building. 5pm: The court hearing to determine the legality of immigration reform protesters’ “withdrawal of labour” has been brought to the Chief Justice’s chambers. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley had previously said it was “strongly arguable” that those shunning work to demonstrate were breaching section 34 of the Labour Relations Act. In today’s hearing of the case involving the Minister of Home Affairs versus the BIU, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed, Crown counsel Gregory Howard tells Dr Justice Kawaley there was “no evidence” that the named parties had been in violation of the incitement order, which was served on Friday last week. Noting that he wanted to “avoid a situation where the matter drifts without any mooring”, Dr Justice Kawaley arranges the next hearing for 2.30pm next Thursday. 5.20pm A press conference has been called for 5.45pm 6.10pm From the House of Assembly, Mr Furbert says: “We have an agreement but it’s for you to decide if it’s sufficient. We believe it is. I believe we’ve delivered what we were asked to deliver.” 6.12pm Mr Tweed tells the crowd: “The government will withdraw the Bill.” Massive cheers. Government promises consultative working group for Bill. 6.15pm: It is explained that the first stage will deal with children, to be tabled in House on May 13 — children who were born in Bermuda or who arrived here at an early age. The second stage will deal with PRCs of 15 years, which will be debated in the summer session. The crowd seems uncertain but Mr Tweed implores them to listen. The third stage will deal with status after 20 years, during the new session in House in November. Government will look into training opportunities for Bermudians. “All sides are committed to working for the betterment of Bermuda.” 6.20pm: Walton Brown says: “This agreement gives us everything we’ve been calling for in the last month. We will shape that consultative committee. I think that all of us who worked so hard and you the people have made this possible. All the power is with the people.” 6.25pm: Mr Furbert says: “We are where we need to be.” He promises “we’re certainly not going to be giving the country away”. “Let’s not tear apart all the good work that we’ve done over the last five days,” he adds. “Put your suggestions in so we can protect who we need to protect — the children.” He asks the people to put their hands up if they are in favor of the agreement. Lots of hands shoot up. Who is not in favour? A few hands go up. Mr Furbert thanks Sir John Swan. 6.30pm: A 89-year-old protester says: “I believe I should congratulate you, but there’s only one thing that I’m a bit perturbed about. That’s the point of status after 20 years. I think that needs more consideration given the size of this island.” He urges them to be “very careful what you agree to” when consulting in the future. He thanks businesses who helped and the police for their “mutual respect”. Mr Furbert says: “All I hope for going forward is for the government to finally start listening to the people — and hearing what the people are saying.” He shouts out to hunger striker Enda Matthie and thanks the people for sacrificing a week’s wages. He said he has asked the Premier if they could see if they can list the time they’ve taken off as vacation time, therefore paid. 6.40pm Mr Tweed says: “If there’s one regret, it’s that it took this long. But I hope that what we have achieved together will not be squandered. I believe that this is not just a victory for us, but for Bermuda.” He compares the situation to Joshua and the walls of Jericho. Hip-hip hoorays. Mr Tweed closes with a prayer and the protesters head to the BIU headquarters. 7pm: More than 500 march along Church Street, chanting “the people united will never be defeated”.
2016. March 18. Michael Dunkley has sent a message to the black community that under his leadership the One Bermuda Alliance will concentrate on unity and creating opportunities for “all of Bermuda.” Mr Dunkley said valuable lessons had been learnt following a week of protests, and that in future the OBA would “always listen” and “get the consultation that is required”. The Premier’s comments came a day after Shawn Crockwell resigned from his position as Minister for Tourism Development and Transport, accusing him of being out of touch with black people and the struggles they endure. Speaking shortly before the Pathways to Status Bill was withdrawn yesterday evening, Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette: “When you have critical issues like this they get very emotional and divisive and this one has done so along racial lines to a great extent. So that is what we will be concentrating on and that is why we are working so hard and listening to those who are protesting against it to find the best way forward for all of Bermuda. Everyone agrees that there is the need for immigration reform and that is something we have to accomplish. I think it would be important for me to let the people know that we face tremendous challenges in the community and the impact of the economic troubles have gone very deep in our community and specifically the black community. We have tried to do everything we can to right the ship and create opportunity for everyone across Bermuda. I think the decisions we have had to make are against the backdrop of there being no easy avenues. We continue to work hard every week to help us move forward on one issue after another.” Among Mr Crockwell’s criticisms of the Premier and his party was a lack of foresight over the potential for civil unrest. Asked if he would have done things differently with hindsight, Mr Dunkley said: “Hindsight is 20/20 vision and it is not something for me to share publicly. “We have learnt some very valuable lessons that we will continue to improve on and I can assure the people of Bermuda that we will always listen and will always try to move forward and get the consultation that is required to bring about the best decisions to help the people of Bermuda.” Mr Crockwell will remain a member of the OBA as a backbencher in the interest of continuity and to avoid the destabilization of the government. Minister for Economic Development Grant Gibbons has been made interim Tourism and Transport Minister and the Premier said an announcement for a permanent replacement will be made shortly. Mr Dunkley said he deeply regretted Mr Crockwell’s resignation and wished he had had the opportunity to persuade him to remain in his position. “We spoke in our caucus meeting and I spoke to the press afterwards. I was very disappointed to be given the news. I consider Shawn not only a friend but a trusted party colleague and he has done great work in the time that he has been minister of tourism and transport. He should be recognized and thanked for that. I reiterate that I have tremendous respect for Shawn — he was a valuable Cabinet Minister and I am very disappointed that he has made that decision. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to work with him to resolve some of those issues but I am glad to see that he has committed to working on the back bench so our work for the people of Bermuda can go forward. He will continue to have my ear.” The future of the OBA remains precarious — it would only take a couple of defectors to topple the government’s majority and risk Parliament being dissolved. “I think everybody is well aware of that slim majority and have been since the last election. This has made our position even more difficult as we govern. That is not new and we will continue to have to work with it. We are the democratically-elected government and people are counting on us to lead. Even MP Crockwell said we have made a lot of positive changes but there were some areas he had concern with. The message was received loud and clear. Any opportunities and challenges we have we will deal with those among ourselves so we can continue to put ourselves in the best position to serve the people of Bermuda. I know many people are very concerned, not only the people on the hill but many people across the island from all walks of life and we hear those and we are working day and night to try and bring a resolution.” Asked whether the unrest in his country was affecting him emotionally, the Premier said: “Leadership positions always are very strenuous — the Premier of Bermuda is one of those positions that is seven days a week. Obviously during tough times the pressure builds up but I try to keep myself in a regime to keep myself moving forward and to keep myself fresh. Tough times don’t last. Tough people do. So I will continue to be open and accessible, work with people and try to get through issues and look for the support from colleagues as we continue to try to make progress knowing full well that we still have a lot of work to do. We certainly appreciate the tensions throughout the community and as I said at the beginning of the week I ask the people to be patient, show understanding to their brothers and sisters wherever they may be. We will work through this, come to a proper resolution and allow people to get back to their lives and allow us to get back into the House and conduct people’s business.”
2016. March 18. The fear of foreigners taking jobs from Bermudians is considered to be the top reason why registered voters oppose the Bermuda Government’s Pathways to Status Bill. Meanwhile, the main reason given by people supporting the controversial legislation, according to a poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette, was: “It is the right thing to do.” Earlier this week, this newspaper reported how 56 per cent of voters were in favour of the Pathways bill, which has been the subject of industrial activity for the past week, with 29 per cent against it, and 15 per cent unsure. A breakdown of reasons provided by participants has now been released by Global Research, the company which carried out the telephone poll earlier this month. Of those in favour of the bill, 25 per cent said it was the right thing to do, with 16 per cent saying people born in Bermuda or contributing to the society should have the opportunity to get status. Another 16 per cent said long-term residents deserved rights and security, and another 16 per cent said it was an added revenue source during a tough economic period. Other reasons included human rights, the need to increase the population and to help international business. Of those opposing, 36 per cent said they were taking jobs from Bermudians, with another 15 per cent saying the island needed to take care of its own citizens and future generations. Other reasons were that the island was too small, more information was needed on the subject, it will mainly benefit expats and the One Bermuda Alliance was hurting Bermuda with its policies. The telephone poll of 400 Bermuda voters was conducted between March 7 and March 14.
2016. March 18. The five-day protest has affected the arrival of goods into Bermuda by sea and forced one shipping line to charter another container vessel to ensure supplies from the east coast of the United States reach the island. Port workers temporarily returned to Hamilton Docks on Tuesday and Thursday to ensure that essential items including perishable produce and animal feed from the Oleander and the Bermuda Islander could be unloaded and delivered. However about 400 full and 200 empty containers remain on the dockside, some of which have been there since last Thursday. Meanwhile the Oleander and the Bermuda Islander both remain alongside in Hamilton with more than 150 full containers and other cargo on board. Neither vessel can leave until the full containers have been unloaded. As a result of the disruption the Oleander’s operators, Neptune group, have had to charter another container ship, the MV Birk, to bring in the next cargo of goods bound for Bermuda from the US. That vessel is expected to arrive in New Jersey on Sunday and make to Hamilton next Tuesday if the weather remains good. Warren Jones, chief executive of Stevedoring Services Limited, said: “Staff were on-site first thing Thursday morning to tie-up the Bermuda Islander, move the Oleander and discharge essential cargo. They completed this process by approximately 12pm. The Oleander, and now also the Bermuda Islander, sit alongside number 7 and 8 berths in order to be discharged once the present situation is resolved. Approximately 150 containers and other cargo remain on-board the two ships.”
2016. March 18. The Government has told one of the people featured in its Pathways to Status publicity campaign to hire a lawyer to find out if she already has the right to Bermudian status. Nicole Fubler, 21, appeared on a flyer issued last month by the Ministry of Home Affairs in support of the proposed immigration reform. The description accompanying her photograph said she was born in Bermuda to a Bermudian father and Jamaican mother and her father died when she was just five months old. “Despite having lived here all her life, and having a Bermudian brother, she is neither Bermudian nor a permanent resident certificate holder,” said the flyer. “She is also unable to work, which she says puts a strain on her mother as the sole breadwinner of the householder ... She has no passport at all, making her unable to leave Bermuda.” The flyer went on: “Under the Proposed Pathways legislation, Nicole would be granted Bermudian status and finally be able to travel, study abroad and work in Bermuda.” The flyer does not detail why the CedarBridge Academy graduate is currently ineligible for status and a request by The Royal Gazette for a full explanation from the Ministry of Home Affairs was stonewalled. Researcher LeYoni Junos said she was perplexed since amendments to various laws appear to suggest Ms Fubler is already eligible for status. Under the Immigration and Protection Act 1956, anyone born in Bermuda to a Bermudian parent should enjoy Bermudian status themselves. Although Ms Fubler’s parents were not married at the time of her birth, a 2002 amendment to the Children Act 1998, which came into force in 2004, removed any distinction in law between children born in or out of wedlock. According to Ms Junos, that amendment led to the removal of a clause in the Immigration Act which required children to be born in wedlock to gain status if only one parent was Bermudian. It also led to the removal of another clause relating to the domicile or status of the mother alone being used to determine whether or not a child could acquire status. Ms Fubler was born before both clauses were removed from the Immigration Act but the Children Act states that the abolition of the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children applies to “any statutory provision made before, on or after the day this part comes into operation”. Ms Junos said her layman’s interpretation of the law was that the Children Act amendment was retroactive, meaning Ms Fubler had been eligible for Bermudian status since she was nine years old. And she suggested that the Bermuda Government had misinformed the public by using Ms Fubler in its Pathways campaign. “If what they have said is true about her circumstances, then Miss Fubler is entitled to a declaration that she has had Bermudian status since the day she was born. Any Minister of Immigration, since 2004, could have granted Miss Fubler the Bermudian status that should have been her legal right at birth. Miss Fubler does not need a ‘Pathway to Status’. She already has one.” A Home Affairs spokeswoman did not provide an explanation for why exactly Ms Fubler was ineligible. She said: “We have advised Ms Fubler to take legal advice. But up to now she has not had success in her endeavors to gain Bermuda status.” Questions about how many applications had been submitted and rejected by Ms Fubler went unanswered.
2016. March 17. Tourists commenting on a popular travel website have questioned if they should change their plans as a result of the ongoing labour unrest. While some contributors on TripAdvisor’s Bermuda forum said they had been “severely impacted” by the events, others urged potential visitors not to be put off. The “buses and ferries not running” thread was started on Tuesday by a contributor from Boston calling themselves “9thtimes”, who questioned how long the island’s public transportation would be shut down. That person said they had friends planning to visit next week “but they are not sure if they should change their plans to another destination”. While some contributors suggested that the protests should come to an end soon, others explained the situation and impact the events were having on tourists and locals. “BostonYaYa” wrote on Tuesday that they were in their sixth week of an eight-week stay in St George’s and described the situation as “very, very sad to see. We planned bus trips this week to the dockyards to meet a local artist to commission a work, a trip to Hamilton to watch a concert and donate to the cause sponsoring the concert — and then eat dinner in a local restaurant. Instead, we cannot move and we are developing a very sour taste.” Meanwhile, “Rebecca R” said yesterday that she and her husband had been in Bermuda on a two-week trip but had to leave early “thanks to the transportation mess. I suggest you reschedule unless you’re willing to invest a lot in taxis,” she added. And “expat52” from the Netherlands wrote on Tuesday: “We have been on the island for eight days with another eight to go. Our plans are seriously impacted. Having initially thought we had found the perfect holiday destination, we would now seriously think twice before considering visiting again. There are plenty of affordable destinations that are far more welcoming and a lot less expensive.” The commenter added yesterday: “It is hard to relax and enjoy a vacation when there is tension in the air. This week feels rather different to last when I thought I had arrived in heaven.” But “KDKSAIL” from the United States responded that “the issues in question deeply affect Bermudians and their futures — individually and nationally — and go well beyond the convenience or inconvenience of the vacationing tourists. Canceling a trip is certainly any traveler's prerogative,” the contributor wrote, “but an overreaction to the current situation and circumstance.” “Doug K” from Massachusetts, added: “To be fair, tourists are not their concern presently; it’s the future of those living and working there as residents.” One commenter, “travelpatty” from Townshend, Vermont, asked if there were any safety concerns. This drew a mixed reaction with some suggesting people avoid the areas where the protests were happening. Contributor “Matt_UGA” suggested those who were able to should get a refund and cancel their trips. “The Government is shut down until Friday when they will try and reconvene. You shouldn’t have any safety concerns provided you stay away from downtown. Going there during the protest probably won’t result in physical violence but you will definitely have protesters yelling at you. This happened to me.” But most insisted the protests were “peaceful”. AK0620”, from Boston, wrote: “My husband and I are on the island currently for vacation. We were wandering around Hamilton today and walked right by it. If we hadn’t of known about the situation, we honestly would’ve thought it was a reggae festival of some sort. We felt perfectly safe. We are having to eat more taxi fares than we like and probably won’t make it to some further out destinations we wanted to see, but we’re still having a great time and wouldn’t have cancelled if we knew ahead of time.” Meanwhile, others offered to assist visitors or detailed the helpful nature of Bermudians. “Markbermudagooner” wrote: “Please do not change your plans. If you need any assistance just let me know as I can help.” Attention was also drawn to an advisory issued yesterday by the United States Consulate General in Bermuda, who said: “The demonstrations have been largely peaceful but as general guidance, we urge citizens to avoid areas of demonstrations and ask that they exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.” The Bermuda Tourism Authority yesterday apologized for any inconvenience experienced by guests because of the unrest, but stressed that there had been no reports of arrests or violence. “Since March 11, peaceful demonstrations have been held on the island surrounding proposed immigration legislation. This has resulted in labour issues affecting public bus and ferry services,” Glenn Jones, the director of public and stakeholder relations, said. “The peaceful demonstrations have been confined to the City of Hamilton and there has been no reports of violence or arrests. Although visitors are still enjoying their Bermuda experience, we apologize for any inconvenience these labour issues are having on other guests. We are optimistic a resolution will be reached soon. Visitors are advised to use private transport to get around the island in the interim. Private transport information is available on our website or by calling the Visitor Information Centre at 441-295-1480.”
2016. March 16. Hundreds of protesters marched through Hamilton twice today after the Bermuda Industrial Union and the People’s Campaign rejected an offer by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, to a series of concessions to Government’s controversial Pathways to Status plan. A meeting between protest leaders and Mr Dunkley, which former Premier Sir John Swan attended, finished with the Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign suggesting that a resolution could soon be reached. Speaker of the House Randy Horton had adjourned today’s scheduled session until Friday but by 7am some 50 demonstrators had already gathered to continue their protests and by 9am the crowd had swelled to around 1,000. Mr Furbert told the crowd this morning: “I received a letter yesterday evening (from the Premier) . . . they are testing us. This issue is bigger than a furlough day, and this is directed to all employers, not just Government. “They are trying to play our children against their children, saying they want to make sure there is a pathway to status that everyone would agree with. They are setting us up. At least they are trying to set us up. That letter is going to the people.” Mr Furbert said it was “totally irresponsible” to release the letter to the media, saying the decision belonged to the people, not him.” BPSU chief Jason Hayward said: “Mr Premier we have listened to the contents of your letter. The people have heard it, digested it and rejected it. Please do not send any further communication to this Hill unless you’re communicating that the bill has been withdrawn.” It was then that the protesters moved to Court Street to begin their march, along Front Street, up to Church Street and back to the House, chanting “justice” and singing “We Shall Not Be Moved”. A second march took place through Hamilton late this afternoon, causing police to shut off major roads including Church Street at rush hour. The Progressive Labour Party, in a statement released just after midnight, made clear its objection to Mr Dunkley’s “olive branch”, which was contingent on the family and children pathways being implemented. “The position of the PLP remains the same,” Marc Bean, the Leader of the Opposition, said. “That the OBA withdraw this Bill and take a bipartisan, comprehensive approach to immigration reform.” Bus and ferry services are still suspended. The Royal Gazette will provide updates on this story throughout the day: 9am: Despite occasional showers, hundreds of demonstrators have again gathered outside the House of Assembly for a fourth day. While the numbers are not as great as Monday, when more than 1,000 people marched on the House in protest of the controversial Pathways to Status legislation, crowds have still surrounded all entrances to the building, some huddled underneath umbrellas. 9.20am: Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of the People’s Campaign, have arrived at the House with a crowd of supporters. 9.30am: All of the demonstrators have gathered in a group around Mr Furbert, who is about to speak. 9.40am: Mr Furbert tells the protesters: “I received a letter yesterday evening. That letter was read on the news. They are testing us. This issue is bigger than a furlough day, and this is directed to all employers, not just Government. They are trying to play our children against their children, saying they want to make sure there is a pathway to status that everyone would agree with. We are not trying to deny them anything. I’m sitting at my desk and the phone rings. It’s a reporter with The Royal Gazette,” he said, adding that he had also been sent the letter. They are setting us up. At least they are trying to set us up. That letter is going to the people.” Mr Furbert said it was “totally irresponsible” to release the letter to the media, saying the decision belongs to the people, not him. “It’s for you to decide. You decide where we go after we read to you what’s in the letter.” 9.45am: Mr Tweed read the letter. “It maintains that everything they do is aimed at providing and decrying job opportunities for Bermudians, including the America’s Cup.” Mention of the letter prompts raucous laughter from the crowd. 9.50am: Jason Hayward takes the mike: “Mr Premier we have listened to the contents of your letter. The people have heard it, digested it and rejected it. Please do not send any further communication to this Hill unless you’re communicating that the Bill has been withdrawn.” Mr Furbert reminded his “brothers and sisters” that they are in control. He said: “There are high-profile people within the community that are trying to get this matter resolved. This matter has to be resolved on behalf of the country. I told them we are not going to the table without the people. The people have spoken and the people have to be involved. So there’s no way we’re going to meet with you without a representative of the people.” 9.55am: Mr Furbert said they must go to the table with a minimum of ten people. He said: “We’re going down there not for the Premier, not for the OBA government, but for the people. It doesn’t cost the Government one dollar to hold this Bill for a while.” He added: “If they want to take me to jail. Let them take me to jail. If they want to handcuff my mouth like that, I may as well put down this mike.” He told the crowd that now was the time to demonstrate and asked anyone with weapons, alcohol or drugs in their possession to leave now. They applauded the efforts of the Bermuda Police Service. “We have been law abiding citizens and we want to keep it that way.” Mr Furbert added: “It has to be about us and how we get the result for our children and our children’s children. When I think about this country and where we are, I get a bit emotional. You know why? Because it hurts.” Mr Furbert is crying. He’s trying to tell the crowd about his love for his 15-year-old daughter. “She wants to be involved because she understands what it’s about.” He criticizes the Minister of Finance for cutting the budgets for education and seniors while raising the tourism allowance. “This country is being taken away from us,” he said. 10.15am: The crowd are now marching north up Parliament Street, making their way to Court Street. They are now on Front Street, chanting “Justice”. They being led by the children in the group. 10.20am: Front Street has been closed to traffic. 10.50am: The marchers are touring the city, and are now heading back to the House of Assembly. 10.55am: They are chanting: “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now,” and singing “We shall not be moved.” 11.20: The Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport confirms that there would be no bus or ferry services until further notice, as a result of the industrial action. “The Ministry apologizes for this development and will keep the public advised of the status of service. In the interim, please note that other available transportation includes the island’s taxi services listed in the telephone directory and the minibuses. 11.25am: Around 1,500 protesters have arrived at the House. Brandishing flags and banners, they are chanting: “Reject the bill on the hill.” 11.40am: Mr Furbert said they would be marching again this afternoon. The children will lead, followed by seniors and then the rest. Mr Furbert added: “If you didn’t know before that it was a national issue when you have international press calling, you know now. The Premier likes to say, ‘I’m listening’. But is he hearing? They’re telling us we need to find a pathway for these individuals that have been here for 20 years, but in the Premier’s letter he’s telling us they’ve gone home.” He confirmed a meeting between himself, elected representatives and the Premier would take place at 1pm 11.45am: Mr Tweed told the crowd: “When the people hurt, the island suffers. I’m not going to be drawn into an us and them. One community ought not be more valued than another. Despite the disparities in wealth, progress in this island was built on the backs of our ancestors. It is the blood of our ancestors that has drained into the soil of this island. We are deeply opposed to being taken advantage of and being pushed back anymore. We are committed to a process that will be to the benefit of everyone on this island.” 11.55am: Mr Furbert urged the crowd to stand their ground and not return to work. He said delaying was a “divide and conquer” tactic used by the Government. He said: “If it is about a dollar, what are you prepared to sell your child’s future for?” 12.15am: A bag for cash donations is being walked around the House. The crowd seeks shelter from the rain. 1pm: The Premier and Mr Furbert are meeting at Cabinet. Arnold Smith has addressed the crowd, reminding them that they were there for one reason only and that is to have the Bill withdrawn. 1.50pm: The United States Consulate General in Hamilton urges its citizens to stay away from the demonstration areas. “The demonstrations have been largely peaceful, but as general guidance, we urge citizens to avoid areas of demonstrations, and ask that they exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations,” the Consulate says in a statement. 2pm: There will be no garbage collection today due to industrial action, the Ministry of Public Works has confirmed. Residents are encouraged to take their trash to the Tyne’s Bay public drop-off which will be open daily from 8am to 7pm for the rest of the week. The Marsh Folly Depot, Government Quarry and Airport Disposal Site are also not operating today. 2.15pm: The doors to Cabinet remain firmly closed as Mr Dunkley meets with Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed. A few select people have gained access to the building over the past hour including senator Jeff Baron. 2.30pm: Education minister Wayne Scott turns up to Cabinet but says he is not there to join the negotiating table. 2.45pm: Representatives from the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Bermuda International Companies have emerged from the Cabinet Building, but have given no comment on how discussions unfolded. 2.55pm: A general meeting of the West Indian Association of Bermuda has been called for this Saturday at the Manchester Unity Hall. The agenda includes discussing its position on Pathways to Status. 3pm: Sir John Swan, the former Premier, emerges from Cabinet to say: “We have had a long discussion about the matter but it is obviously confidential. I can say the discussions were cordial, productive and informative with the idea that we seek to resolve this as best we can. We have agreed to consult later with representatives and organisations.” Sir John says they will update further when they can. 3.10pm: The crowd moves back to the House of Assembly grounds, where Mr Tweed addresses them to say: “We may have reached a point where a resolution is in sight.” 3.15pm: Mr Furbert tells the crowd outside House of Assembly they had met with Sir John this morning and spoke with him for the last two hours. “If we don’t talk, we won’t get a resolution,” he says. Mr Tweed says their meeting covered the whole range of issues. They demanded the Bill be withdrawn. “I believe there is potential for a resolution. I would respectfully say that the less detail I expose, the better it will be.” Waiting to hear back from other parties and hopeful it will be good news. 3.20pm: Crystal Caesar of IRAG says: “We expect a cordial resolution to this cause.” Arnold Smith tells the crowd: “brothers and sisters, it is not over yet. We are going to march at 4.30.” 3.25pm: Mr Tweed says discussions were extensive. Addressing the crowd he said: “We made it clear that fundamentally to move forward the Bill would have to be withdrawn. I believe there is a potential resolution and way forward. Hopefully a decision will be made in the best interests of all Bermudians. We are hopeful it will be good news.” Mr Furbert said that now they await a response from the Government and expects that that will come by Friday. 3.28pm: Speaking of some of the issues laid out by Government yesterday, including the promise of a living wage, Mr Furbert said: “These are things we expect Government to be doing anyway” rather than them being tied to immigration reform, hence they were not part of the negotiations. He said he had made it clear that “if we can’t talk there is no resolution. This is a matter of national urgency.” 4.15pm: The rain has started pouring 15 minutes before the protesters are scheduled to begin their march. 4.40: Mr Furbert says 25 per cent of the money collected could go to hunger striker Enda Matthie “for the sacrifices she’s made”. Crowd agrees. 4.45pm: Protesters are marching down Church Street, chanting “Take it off the table.” The march is heading onto Front Street, via King Street, led by the Gombey drummers. 5.30pm: The march heads up Bermudiana Road. Police clear Church Street as protesters approach, passing City Hall. 5.45pm: The protesters walk past the House of Assembly and are waiting to go down Court Street, seemingly on their way back to BIU headquarters. 6pm: Marchers are now back at Union Square. 6.10pm: Mr Furbert marks the end of another day of protesting by telling the crowd: “See you tomorrow.”
2016. March 16. With tensions surrounding immigration reform threatening to boil over, the Bermuda Government last night offered a series of concessions to its controversial Pathways to Status initiative. The announcement came shortly before the House of Assembly session scheduled for today, which was due to feature a debate on the legislation opposed by hundreds of protesters, was adjourned until Friday by Speaker of the House Randy Horton. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, announced he had contacted Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert to lay out the concessions. They would include a three-month delay on implementation of the “15-year pathway” — allowing those who have lived in Bermuda for 15 years to apply for permanent residency — which he revealed had caused the most widespread concern. In the meantime, a working group would be established “comprising representatives from various stakeholders”. The group would offer recommendations on this matter as well as a living wage and training requirements for Bermudians, unscrupulous business tactics that undermine Bermudian labour and summer job opportunities for Bermudians via the international business sector. However, Mr Dunkley underlined his desire to shore up children and family pathway issues “in short order”. He said that there was general agreement on both sides of the debate that immigration reform legislation needs to address children who are born in Bermuda or arrived here at a young age, those who have remained on the island for 20-plus years and mixed-status families. Mr Dunkley also highlighted the Government’s continued commitment to Pathways, as well as its belief that the Bill is in Bermuda’s best interest. “Everything that we have done is aimed squarely at investing in our people and in job opportunities for Bermudians,” he said. He also downplayed suggestions that the OBA was hoping to bolster the island’s white populace in order to secure more votes. How new Bermudians may vote plays no part in our policymaking process,” Mr Dunkley said. Notwithstanding this, the Government would be committed to discussing questions pertaining to the timing of voting rights and implementation date of the 20-year status pathway.” The Premier criticised protesters’ decision to physically block MPs from entering the House of Assembly on Monday by forming a human barricade, calling the move “simply unacceptable behavior. This government is always willing to listen. We have always said that we take no issue with people expressing their democratic right to voice their opinions and have their views heard. But bolting the doors of the House posed a danger to everyone inside the building and the disruption also prevented the courts from being able to go about their business, with several trials having to be moved.” Mr Dunkley ended his correspondence on a conciliatory note. Noting that the past few days had been “challenging” for the island, he added: “The discourse and the tensions regarding immigration reform have been distressing for many in Bermuda. The decisions we make as a government have always been taken with the best interests of Bermuda at heart. Yet, we recognise that if we are to achieve any progress, we must address this issue collaboratively, for the greater good of Bermuda and for our future generations.” When contacted by The Royal Gazette, Mr Furbert declined to comment on the matter. However, earlier in the day he had detailed his previous discussions with the OBA to the crowd of protesters at Sessions House. “The Government (said) they would take everything else off the table, or put it on hold, and we can deal with the children part of it. We said no. The whole Bill has to be taken off the table.” Last night, Opposition leader Marc Bean described the announcement that the House of Assembly would remain adjourned until Friday as most surprising and unusual. “We can only hope that this is not a desperate attempt by the OBA to delay answering to the people of Bermuda,” he said. “As the official Opposition we have not committed nor rejected any new approach put forward by Minister Fahy and Minister Moniz. The position of the PLP remains the same, that the OBA withdraw this bill and take a bipartisan, comprehensive approach to immigration reform. After rejecting the offer to form a Joint Select Committee on this matter, the OBA have made it abundantly clear that they are not willing to compromise nor negotiate as honest brokers. The PLP believed that a bipartisan comprehensive approach to immigration reform would address not only the immigration issues that have divided families, but will also address protecting Bermudians from being marginalized from jobs and opportunities in our own country. The issues surrounding immigration in Bermuda are complex and carry with them significant baggage from historical misuse and abuse of immigration policies. For that reason, we will continue to stand strong for an approach that is inclusive, addresses the full spectrum of issues and concerns surrounding immigration and that strengthens the job and economic security for Bermudians."
2016. March 16. Supermarkets were this week bracing themselves for some shortages, particularly imported fresh produce, as a result of a withdrawal of labour that has hit the docks. The movement of shipping containers came to a halt on Friday due to work stoppages connected to protests against Bermuda Government’s Pathways to Status proposals. A fresh batch of containers were offloaded from the Oleander yesterday, but it was not immediately clear if they would be delivered or simply stacked alongside 200 containers that have been left at the dockside since the protest action commenced. As of yesterday some supermarkets were reporting dwindling stocks of certain fresh produce, and it is predicted more shortages will become apparent in the coming days unless the delivery situation changes. Wednesday is a popular grocery shopping day for many residents due to discounts offered by a number of retailers. “People will soon start to notice things running out,” said Frank Arnold, owner of Arnold’s Markets, explaining that the island’s supermarkets are set up for ‘just-in-time’ delivery. “If deliveries are out ‘x’ amount of days then the projections go out,” he said, noting that meat, chicken, fish and other fresh produce are particularly sensitive to delivery holdups. Mr Arnold said the supply situation was not yet critical, but people will notice a difference this week. Giorgio Zanol, president of Lindo’s Group of Companies, which owns the Lindo’s supermarkets in Warwick and Devonshire, said all the island’s supermarkets are in the same boat. He reported a few shelves were beginning to look bare, particularly in the fresh produce section. “Normally our containers come in on Monday morning so we have a good display of produce. That has not happened this week and has already meant some customers have been unable to buy certain produce. There will be some disappointed customers." The supermarket has a good supply of non-perishable goods, such as breakfast cereals and tinned items, which should last for anywhere between a week and a month depending on demand. “We just hope this thing is over soon,” added Mr Zanol, referring to the dispute. Gary Shuman, president of MarketPlace, the island’s largest chain of supermarkets, yesterday afternoon said it was too early to make a comment as there were conflicting reports on whether containers with perishable items were being released from the docks.
2016. March 16. Deputy Opposition Leader David Burt has reiterated calls for Government to withdraw Pathways to Status immigration in favour of open and constructive consultation. “The approach taken by the Ministers Michael Fahy and Trevor Moniz thus far has caused discord in the community and heightened tensions to the point where many persons in our vital international business sector are justifiably worried. The Premier’s belated attempt at a ‘compromise’ falls far short of what is needed to end the impasse that continues to cripple the island. The Premier’s compromise amounts to letting the OBA pass their controversial Pathways to Status plan while temporarily delaying the implementation of some elements for three months — that is not a compromise as permanent residence and status are not temporary, they are permanent. It is a fundamental premise of public law that consultation must take place at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage. The OBA Government have not met that basic standard; therefore, they must engage in a proper consultation process, including a sustainability impact assessment, before any fundamental changes are made to Bermuda’s immigration laws.” Noting that the OBA had pledged it would engage in public consultation prior to amending immigration in the 2015 Throne Speech, he said that government needs to withdraw the legislation in a show of good faith as the first step in diffusing the situation. As a next step, he called on the government to hold public consultation on the issues of children born in Bermuda and mixed-status families so new legislation can be tabled this summer. “Most groups agree that those who know no other home but Bermuda through no choice of their own should be given certainty to live and work in Bermuda,” Mr Burt said. “However it is irresponsible to ask Parliament and the country to consider any such proposals on short order without the required public consultation that enables feedback and allows unintended consequences to be considered. Following this consultation, Parliament can debate a bill and resolve many of these complex issues before Cup Match.” Mr Burt added that further reforms, involving permanent residency and granting status to those who originally came to Bermuda on a time-limited work permit, would require genuine collaboration with all stakeholders, including the opposition, trade unions, business groups and other interested parties. “We have recommended a Bi-Partisan Joint Select Committee, on which the OBA members would still be in the majority, however the OBA have twice rejected that approach,” he continued. “Whatever form of consultation the government ultimately decides should result in a green paper examining the various options that will be published for public comment and will be debated in parliament. The business of the country is on hold, the country’s budget has not been passed, public services have been affected, trash continues to pile up on the streets, racial tension is escalating, community leaders have been threatened with arrest, and a brave woman is on a hunger strike. Is Sen Fahy’s agenda more important than Bermuda and our international reputation as a stable democracy? We again urge Premier Michael Dunkley to withdraw this bill so that the country can step back from the precipice. Our reputation as a stable democracy that keeps its word to the electorate and follows through on its Throne Speech commitments depends on his willingness to stand up to Sen Fahy.”
Presently, Bermuda Status is only given to a non-Bermudian who first legally marries a Bermudian; has personally lived with that same Bermudian in Bermuda for at least ten continuous years (three in other countries); satisfies another residential qualification and is of good character and conduct. When the application is made, the Bermuda Government issues a public notice in a local newspaper of record giving notice of the application, the name and address of the applicant. Any person who knows if any of the provisions have not been fulfilled, or why Bermuda Status should not be granted to the applicant, should send a written statement to the Chief Immigration Officer, Department of Immigration.
In contrast, Bermudians since 21 May 2002 can get full British/EC passports but Bermuda does not come under EC laws); can live and work in UK and any EC country; buy any property they can afford; can register there to vote immediately and can do so in any UK or EC election; and if they physically live in the UK instead of returning to Bermuda on holiday, can get internal UK educational fees and more. But Britons and European Economic Community (EEC) citizens do not have any of the same rights in Bermuda to live, be domiciled, be employed and retire here as they do in the United Kingdom or EEC. For those who want to work in Bermuda, Work Permits apply just as much in every way to Britons and Europeans as to Philippine nationals or Mongolians. Britons who are not also Bermudians have none of the rights that Bermudians in the UK now have if they apply for UK passports. It was the UK Government - and presumably the EEC too - that approved quite recently that Bermudians could have, on application, a UK passport and be treated as full UK nationals in every other way, but that Britons in Bermuda who are not also Bermudian would not have reciprocal rights.
If and when Bermuda obtains political independence from the UK, only those Bermudians born in the UK or with a UK grandfather or possibly a grandmother are likely to remain British.
There is no equivalent in Bermuda of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. A search-engine check under "Long Term Residents" - see below - for which they can apply - will reveal how they are treated compared to Bermuda's Long Term Residents (not treated nearly as well legally as they are in Europe).
2014. June 7. Around 1,500 residents stand to obtain Bermuda status thanks to a recently discovered immigration loophole, affirmed in a ruling by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley. And it was claimed in the House of Assembly, as MPs clashed over the rulings implications, that a slew of Permanent Residents Certificate (PRC) holders have already applied to Immigration to get Bermuda Status. However, Government has declared that all current applications have been put on hold until the matter is clarified. Attorney General Trevor Moniz told MPs yesterday that Government had reached no decision yet over the surprise ruling, which could still be appealed further. However, he said the One Bermuda Alliance refused to back a premature amendment proposed by the Opposition to strike down the culprit section of the law. In the meantime, Junior Immigration Minister Sylvan Richards told the House that Government had enlisted a Queens Counsel with a specialty in human rights law to review the case. The debate touched also on long-held sensitivities over the history of discretionary status grants, which were discarded in 1989. Introducing the amendment for its second reading was Shadow Minister of Immigration and Home Affairs Walton Brown, who called it a stopgap measure that allows us to step back and fully consider the most appropriate immigration policy for this country. Otherwise, he said, Mr Justice Kawaley's ruling has created a situation in which legislation was decided by a judge instead of by Parliament. The occasionally stormy debate saw Progressive Labour Party MP Walter Robain tell Government to tread carefully, adding: "There are a whole lot of hypotheses about the purpose of this." Shadow Health Minister Kim Wilson warned the OBA that "Bermudians were listening, and listening very intently" while PLP MP Glenn Blakeney, accusing the OBA of already having its mind made up, told Government: "I warn you, it will be at your peril." However, Mr Blakeney got a reprimand from Speaker of the House Randolph Horton when he said: "This situation, for political expediency, to increase the voting registry, is exactly what's intended by the OBA." The Devonshire North Central MP subsequently withdrew his remark. The five-hour debate emanated from a ruling in May, in which Mr Justice Kawaley upheld a decision by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal for PRC holders Rebecca Carne and Antonio Correia to win full status. In so doing, the Chief Justice ruled against Governments repeated appeal of the Tribunals decision, and many PLP MPs questioned why the OBA didn't support the Opposition legislation after Government had contested the status move in court. However, the Attorney General said "Government's motive for the appeal had been to obtain clarification from the Chief Justice's ruling. The position of this side is that its premature to decide exactly what the ramifications of this decision are." According to the Department of Immigration, there are 1,340 PRC holders who potentially qualify, plus 150 children under the age of 22 at the most, he said. The loophole technically became active in 2002, when the PLP government introduced PRC legislation but the significance of the obscure clause 20B (2) (B) of the Act was only recently spotted. Ms Wilson urged Government to support Mr Brown's amendment, calling the status ruling a clear case of what is known as judge-made law. "It's an application or interpretation of the law that is contrary to the intent of Parliament," she said, accusing the OBA of opposing the amendment solely because it was raised by the Opposition. We're talking about 2,000 people that, at the discretion of the Minister, can get Status tomorrow with the flick of a pen." But Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell responded that "status in this case rested on eligible PRC holders meeting the criteria of immigration law. It's not a matter of one individual making arbitrary decisions, saying I want this person to get status," Mr Crockwell said, characterizing it as primarily a human rights issue. We're not talking about people who just showed up here, these are people who have been in this country for at least 25 years. These are our neighbours, these are our friends." The Attorney General told MPs he agreed with Opposition concerns over the numbers of people who could become full status Bermudians. Pointing out that even 1,000 people was a very large percentage on Bermudas scale, Mr Moniz said people were entitled to be emotional about it, particularly in light of the difficult financial circumstances the country finds itself in. While Government didn't support Mr Brown's proposed amendment, the AG promised: "This will be before the House in the not too distant future." Opposition leader Marc Bean who compared the OBA to prostitutes said that the loophole had been created under a PLP Government, and it was the party's intent to close it. "It's a loophole that the One Bermuda Alliance is looking to exploit, it's clear." Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin hit back: "To be told we are nothing more than ladies of the night willing to be sold for 30 shekels is disgusting." And she dismissed as ridiculous that the OBA intended to exploit the legal loophole for political ends. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said Government would not support the bill "because of the fact we would like the Opposition to recognize we can put in abeyance any applications which have been made until the implications of the ruling had been discussed, and grounds of appeal to the Privy Council were considered."
Persons who apply for the PRC are usually referred to as Long Term Residents. Bermudians who object to them becoming citizens despite their long continuous period of residency - which would more than qualify them by international standards - can refer to the Coalition for the Rights of Long Term Residents. It is believed to include members of the Bermuda-Portuguese Association, West Indian Association and others.
Minor concessions were granted in 2002 to some non-Bermudians with over 20 years of continuous residence and demonstrated good character and conduct. They were given Permanent Residents Certificates (PRCs).
They took effect on October 31, 2002 with the enactment of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2002. Having a qualifying Bermudian connection is key to getting Bermuda Status (citizenship) after 20 years. Otherwise, there is no chance at all of getting it, even if born here, unless a parent is also Bermudian. Those whose brothers and sisters are Bermudians, or who were registered as voters on the Parliamentary Register before May 1, 1976 are entitled to apply for Bermuda Status if they qualify. All others can apply for Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) if they qualify. So far, some 800 persons have done the latter. Application criteria include being ordinarily resident in Bermuda before 31 July 1989 and for a period of 20 years immediately before application; are at least 40 years of age; and are of good character and conduct. Their full names, addresses, parishes and postal codes are published in the Official Gazette. Those with a Working Resident Certificate (WRC) - introduced in 1998 - must still apply for a PLC as some years have passed since they proved their eligibility. Having a PRC will provide security of employment and residence to long term residents. But having either a PRC or WRC does not entitle any non-Bermudian to buy lower or mid-priced real estate. They too are limited to the top 5% in price and Annual Rentable Value (ARV).
All other applicants for the PRC must also demonstrate good character and conduct and must prove that he or she was ordinarily resident in Bermuda before August 1, 1989 and be at least 40 years old on the date of application.
Bermuda voters in general and other elections or referenda are at least 18 years old and are either Bermudian by birth or status, or if non Bermudians, citizens of the (British) Commonwealth of Nations who were otherwise registered and qualified to vote in 1979, have remained residents since then - and, like Bermudians - have registered annually to vote.
Although there have been numerous non-Bermudian incomers since 1979, all British Commonwealth of Nations nationals including Australians, Britons, Canadians, New Zealanders and West Indians and all other non Bermudians of good character and reputation who have been long term residents of Bermuda for 20 or more years but were refused Bermuda status if they applied for it and were not registered to vote in 1979, are NOT allowed to register to vote. There is no longer any mechanism providing for any other individuals who may be also be long term residents of Bermuda, but who do not have close family ties with Bermudians, to become local citizens. Without this designation, they can never vote. And because they cannot, nor can they ever own mid priced real estate by Bermuda's standards. They are limited to the top 5% in price and Annual Rentable Value (ARV).
The above is purely a guide to Bermuda citizenship matters. It is written by someone who is not a Bermuda Government employee. It is designed to be helpful to Bermudians and non-Bermudians including new or potential professional newcomers, business visitors, retirees to Bermuda and tourists. It is produced in the absence to date of any similar website document produced by the Bermuda Government, the regulatory authority on all citizenship matters. For further information on the topic do not ask this author, instead, contact the proper regulatory authority, the Bermuda Government's Bermuda Department of Immigration, Chief Immigration Officer, Ministry of Labor, Home Affairs & Public Safety, Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12, Bermuda.
February 15, 2019
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