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BAD encouraged by Minister’s stance on ending conscription

Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD) has welcomed new Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley’s comments in favour of abolishing conscription.

Mr Dunkley told

The Royal Gazette this week: “I support doing away with conscription; it’s something that we are investigating and I would hope that we can make it happen.”

BAD has been fighting through the courts since 2006 to get the policy abolished. They have described it as “modern-day slavery”.

Reacting yesterday to Mr Dunkley’s comments, BAD leader Larry Marshall said he had hope that the annual Regiment Recruit Camp which begins on Sunday will be the last one where conscripts are made to serve.

“We are very pleased — I cannot overstate how encouraged we are,” said Mr Marshall, 56, of Devonshire.

“I commend Minister Dunkley for his conviction and courage in dealing with the conscription issue. I’m very encouraged by this recent development but in no way surprised, having talked with Minister Dunkley on numerous occasions over the past seven years. He’s been the representative for Constituency Ten where my family lives, and many of the young men on the original writ (launching legal action on behalf of BAD.) They are pleased as well and I commend the One Bermuda Alliance for dealing properly with this issue. I anticipate it will be abolished and replaced with either a full time army or a part time army with well-paid volunteers.”

Mr Marshall added: “Ideally, I would like to think that 2013 would be the last time conscripts go through the gates [of Warwick Camp.] We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The news came four years after the UK Government’s Foreign Affairs committee recommended: “The [UK] government should encourage the Bermuda Government to move away from conscription and towards the Bermuda Regiment becoming a more professional organisation, with voluntary and paid elements.

Conscription was scrapped in the UK in 1960, and Bermuda is the only Overseas Territory where men must do mandatory military service. Conscripts are selected by a random ballot of males aged 18 to 33 who must then serve for three years and two months on a part-time basis. The policy has been in place since 1965.

The Progressive Labour Party mooted the idea of abolishing it before the OBA won the election, outlining the aim in the Throne Speech in November 2012. However, Mr Marshall met the speech with scepticism, saying he believed the party had “absolutely no intention to end conscription”.

Encouraged: File picture of members of Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD), from the left is Larry Marshall Jr., Jamel Hardtman, Larry Marshall Sr, Eugene Johnston, and Lamont Marshall.

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Published January 08, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 07, 2013 at 11:17 pm)

BAD encouraged by Minister’s stance on ending conscription

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