Bermudians Against the Draft lose their court case
Three Bermuda Regiment conscripts yesterday lost their battle to get their mandatory military service outlawed.
The Supreme Court rejected an application from Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD) campaigners Jamel Hardtman and brothers Larry Jr and Lamont Marshall.
The men have lost previous court cases based on human rights arguments, including an attempt to take their fight against conscription to the Privy Council in London in February last year.
Their lawyer Eugene Johnston maintained that the group’s “core belief” was that conscription went against a person’s right to choose what they do and how they devote their time.
Puisne Justice Norma Wade-Miller said in order for that complaint to be valid the applicants needed to make their beliefs known by appearing before the Defence Exemption Tribunal (DET).
Mr Johnston also argued that the BAD members were “aware of a plethora of atrocities that took place in the Regiment and they don’t wish to be placed in the circumstances where that is possible.”
He said both Larry Jr and Lamont Marshall and Mr Hardtman were held in confinement in a cell with poor conditions.
Mr Hardtman was also arrested in public and taken from his job when the Regiment knew he was a conscientious objector, said Mr Johnston.
Accordiing to Mrs Justice Wade-Miller, authorities believe that ill treatment has to fall “within a minimum level of severity” to qualify as being inhumane or degrading.
She said that in her assessment, the applicant’s complaint did not go against the Constitution.
In total, the BAD members gave six reasons for why they should not be expected to serve:
n Their right to be protected from forced labour was violated.
n The Exemption Tribunal was not an independent tribunal and was biased in that its membership includes high ranking Regimental officers who were appointed by the Governor.
n Their right to believe whatever they wish and to manifest that belief was violated.
n They were deprived of their liberty.
n Lamont Marshall should have been discharged as he had served his time.
n Considering all things that have taken place, the Bermuda Regiment has subjected them to inhumane or degrading treatment.
Mrs Justice Wade-Miller dismissed all six arguments and said: “Before concluding I would add that all the material before me was given full consideration and the fact that any item may not have been mentioned does not mean it was not given due consideration for these reasons the Constitutional application fails.”
Mr Johnston could not comment on his client’s behalf, but said his instructions were that they would be appealing the ruling.
Larry Jr and Lamont Marshall and Mr Hardtman are understood to be off the Island and could not be reached for comment last night.
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