Status policy produces divisions in families
The recent judgment in the case of Giles Templeman v Chairman of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Minister for Home Affairs is an example of the unfairness of and deficiencies in Bermuda’s laws and regulations relating to the granting of Bermuda status.
The case, in short, is that the statute and regulations do not permit Mr Templeman, who was born in Bermuda in 1993, to acquire status even though he has lived all his life in Bermuda — apart from education abroad — and his parents now have Bermudian status. In his judgment, the judge, noting his sympathy for Mr Templeman, highlights, not for the first time in the Supreme Court, Bermuda’s non-compliance with its international treaty obligations. The treaty obligations referred to are those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which came into effect, I believe, in 1976.
One of the issues with the existing law, as in the Templeman case, arises from parents who acquired status under Article 20B — ie, in broad terms, those who were resident before July 1989. Generally, these parents would have acquired their status from June-July 2014 onwards, after the Carne/Correia judgment in May 2014. However, some or all of their children, as in the Templeman case, might have been born in the 1990s.
Under the law, in terms of children acquiring status, that works provided the children were 17 or younger when their parents acquired status, meaning if they were born between July 1989 and 1997, they will not be able to acquire status. That produces unjust and intolerable divisions in families, where some children can acquire status while their older siblings cannot.
On immigration, the Bermuda Government has stated its intention to complete comprehensive reform to ensure the rights of Bermudians are advanced and protected, and Bermudians will be put first. Some may draw unfair inferences from that statement, but surely we should expect our government’s intention to be inclusive of all Bermudians. Mr Templeman’s parents are Bermudian and should reasonably expect that our laws allow their son, born in Bermuda, to acquire the same rights they have as Bermudians.
The Government should do what is right and incorporate its treaty obligations into law, which would allow individuals such as Mr Templeman to acquire status. How the Government balances this with the expectations of its grassroots electorate is another matter, but not one that should be shirked.
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