Immigration appeals tribunal clears Senate hurdle
A bill establishing an independent immigration appeals tribunal was given the green light by the Senate yesterday.
Introducing the bill, Junior National Security Minister Jonathan Smith said Bermuda’s democracy was strengthened by the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2011, which “puts right a wrong for which no blame needs to be cast”. The old route of appealing immigration decisions before Cabinet was deemed incompatible with Bermuda’s Constitution.
Nine to 14 members will instead comprise an independent tribunal, overseen by a chair and deputy chair of barristers and lawyers with at least five years’ experience.
Shadow National Security Minister Michael Dunkley voiced the Opposition’s support. Noting that three members from the tribunal can be appointed to hear each case, Senator Dunkley asked if more than one hearing could go on at the same time.
Sen Dunkley asked also if the decisions of three-member panels would be final. Independent Senator Walwyn Hughes said he had the same issues.
Independent Senator Joan Dillas-Wright supported the bill but questioned the number of panels that would hear objections. Senate Leader Kim Wilson said decisions could be appealed at the Supreme Court within 21 days.
The bill was passed without objections.